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A disturbing story

December 10, 2007

In October, 1998, Belgian journalist Peter Verlinden spent three hours interviewing an African-born Belgian rancher, Marcel Gerin, and his Mexican-born wife Gloria Martinez. The couple managed the Mpanga Ranch in southeastern Rwanda, a popular tourist stop near the southern extremity of Akagera National Park.

Gerin and Martinez were witnesses to (and almost consumed in) a little known episode of the Rwandan genocide. The episode raises serious questions about the behavior of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, in its campaign to crush the Hutu regime and end the 1994 genocide. And it begs the larger question: When does military action to stop genocide, become genocide itself? And why has no tribunal ever formally investigated the actions of the army that “won” the 1994 war?

(You can find my documentary Rwanda: Out of the Darkness here.)

Verlinden, a reputable Dutch-speaking journalist and writer, produced a documentary based on the couple’s testimony, called “The Killing Fields.” It drew considerable attention in Europe, but almost none in Africa, or North America . One can only guess at the reason: Perhaps allegations of atrocities by the “good guys” in the conflict--the RPF--only serve to confuse (or render overly complex) the accepted narrative of the events of 1994.

In any case, Verlinden summarized the story, and his researches around the story, in a statement, dated September 28, 2004, which he offered to the International Tribunal in Arusha. He said he was acting as an “intermediary and spokesperson” for the couple, who had left Rwanda, and were no longer willing to talk about the events they witnessed in 1994, for “very personal reasons.” One can only guess what those reasons are.

Here are the main elements of their story.

One week after the shooting down of Hutu President Habyarimana’s airplane in Kigali--the event that launched the genocide--Gerin and Martinez found themselves with 1500 to 2000 refugees at Mpanga Ranch. “They were counting on the two whites to protect them.” Verlinden writes. “There were no Rwandan soldiers (in the vicinity) and no Interahamwe. "

Around the 22nd or 23rd of April, they heard heavy gunfire a few kilometres away. Three days later a small group of soldiers arrived at the ranch. They spoke English and Swahili. Gerin described them as soldiers, but they were not in uniform. He concluded they were Ugandan. They arrested the couple, and their Rwandan helper, by the name of Innocent Katete. A short time later, one of the group fired three bullets into Katete, and ordered that no one should help the young man, because he was a “dying dog.”

The rebels (they were clearly members of Kagame’s army, advancing from bases in Uganda) took the couple into custody and brought them along on the route to the town of Mulindi. “There were barricades all over the road,” Verlinden writes, “manned by English-speakers.”

In Mulindi, Gerin and Martinez saw “a very large number of bodies. The corpses were obviously fresh.” It was April 26. The couple noticed that a lot of the armed militia were children. Later that day, the column decided to return to Mpanga. Martinez was with them when they stopped at the home of a man getting ready for bed, without interrogating him, cut off his head. They told her he was a traitor and a member of the Interahamwe.

Back at the ranch, Martinez says the leader of the rebel group, whom she named as George Kelinde, gave instructions to the rebel group that they should “wipe out everyone who moved.” No one, he said in Swahili, should be left alive. “She immediately alerted her husband,” Verlinden writes, “but for reasons of personal security, they were not able to intervene.”

Back again in the town of Mulindi “there were many corpses.” Verlinden quotes Gerin as saying that “the blood was still flowing, that these were people who had just been killed.” They numbered in the hundreds. The odor of death was “overwhelming.”

“He (Gerin) told of a child who was crying. A commander ordered a soldier to ‘make it keep quiet.’ Immediately after, the child was killed by a bullet.”

The couple pleaded with their captors to let them go. On the night of April 27, the militia agreed to take them to Kibungo.

“Along the road Gerin and Martinez saw with their own eyes how child-soldiers killed with machetes those whom they found on the roads (mainly the elderly, woman and children.) The rebels accompanying the couple told them, speaking about the Hutus: ‘We’ll win the war with their uniforms and their methods; we’ll do the same thing (as they do)’.

“On the main road, on the way to Kinbungo, Mr. Gerin drove through the blood of the victims who had just been killed. He said freshly killed bodies could be found all along the road. He insisted they were fresh corpses, because the blood was still flowing . . . The next day, the corpses had been taken away, and placed in common graves along the road.

“In Kibungo, again, a large number of fresh cadavers. The couple heard shooting everywhere during the night of the 27th and 28th. They saw no soldiers who spoke anything other than English and/or Swahili, and according to them, all the Interahamwe had left the area and all the barricades were occupied by new soldiers, and they could only conclude that these soldiers were responsible for a large number of the killings. The killers were not uniformed, but were well armed.

“According to the couple, at the same time as they were being questioned, Rwandans were being interrogated by the rebel soldiers and executed, the bodies added to those already in the church at Gahini. They insisted these were fresh bodies, added to the older corpses already in the church.”

Eventually, the couple were “rescued” by a Reuters news team in the area, and taken to the Tanzania border, and safety.

Concludes Verlinden:
“From a journalistic point of view, this testimony is very important, and probably also from the point of view of justice and of history. Marcel Gerin and Gloria Martinez did not stand to gain anything from these declarations—quite the contrary. For them this is a fight against the general opinion of the Rwandan tragedy. Accordingly they, and more and more academics and journalists, are beginning to better understand that what we know today (about the full story of the Rwandan genocide) is incomplete.

“Based on my researches of 1998-99 into this story and other researches on other aspects of the Rwandan story, I dare to conclude that we do not yet know all those responsible for what happened in 1994. If my testimony on this story can contribute to the completion of the dossier, I am prepared to give it.”

* * * * * * * * * 

Witness to Genocide -- A Personal Account of the 1995 Kibeho Massacre
by Paul Jordan

This excerpt is taken from an article which can be found in its entirety at

It is an account of what 32 members of the Australian Defence Force Medical Support Force witnessed at the Kibeho displaced persons' camp, a refuge for Rwandan Hutus, in April 1995. At the time the camp was surrounded by two battalions of Tutsi troops from the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), formerly the RPF, which regarded Kibeho, five hours west of the capital city Kigali, as a sanctuary for Hutu perpetrators of the 1994 genocide.

"On one side of the road, my half-section covered the hospital that contained fifteen corpses. In the hospital courtyard we found another hundred or so dead people. A large number of these were mothers who had been killed with their babies still strapped to their backs. We freed all the babies we could see. We saw dozens of children just sitting amidst piles of rubbish, some crouched next to dead bodies. The courtyard was littered with debris and, as I waded through the rubbish, it would move to expose a baby who had been crushed to death. I counted twenty crushed babies, but I could not turn over every piece of rubbish.

"The Zambians were collecting the lost children and placing them together for the agencies to collect. Along the stretch of road near the documentation point, there were another 200 bodies lined up for burial. The other counting party had seen many more dead than we had. There were survivors too. On his return to camp, Jon saw a baby who was only a few days old lying in a puddle of mud. He was still alive. Jon picked the baby up and gave him to the Zambians. At the end of our grisly count, the total number recorded by the two half-sections was approximately 4000 dead and 650 wounded. . . .

" . . . At 2.00 p.m. that day, we were rotated out of the camp. We felt sick with resentment at leaving the job incomplete, but there was very little that we could have done for those people. We estimated that at least 4000 people had been killed over that weekend. While there was little that we could have done to stop the killings, I believe that, if Australians had not been there as witnesses to the massacre, the RPA would have killed every single person in the camp."


Anonymous said...

Oh, Claude, your stories bugger the mind!

Why would you believe that outsiders who had lived in Rwanda could not be in cahoots with the genocidaires?

Ever heard of Father Theunis, the Belgian priest who appeared in a Gacaca court in Rwanda?

Gloria Martinez and Marcel Gerin are even in league with Hassan Ngeze of Kangura and Kantano of RTLM who attempted to propagate the silly idea that RPA soldiers were not Rwandans and therefore spoke only English and Kiswahili (because they were Ugandans!).

Surely that cannot wash with anybody! Tell me, what gutter depths are you prepared to sink into, to sell your story?

I know you will not publish this, but at least you'll read it!

Ingina (Mr.)

keith harmon said...

Hello Claude

I think your reporting this story is courageous and honest and sobering. The extent of the RPF rebels and Kagame's crimes has been widely suppressed due to fear, massive propaganda, and the efficacy of their terrorist methods. Ditto Uganda and the dictator Museveni, a real piece of work, his crimes covered up by the western media and "human rights" establishment.

Did you read HOTEL RWANDA: HOLLYWOOD AND THE HOLOCAUST IN CENTRAL AFRICA? check out the interview I did with Rusesabagina as well.

To your unnamed commenter above, it is always instructive to me, when discerning truth or deception, honesty or cowardice, to note that people who complain and ridicule often hide behind anonymity.

blessings Claude
keith harmon snow

Anonymous said...


Surely I am not anonymous, it's only that Claude's blogspot prefers to name me so. Ask Claude, we've known each other and locked horns for quite some time now.

For you information, you are the type of chauvinistic know-it-alls that come to 'dictatorial' Africa with your minds made up about articulating the state of the 'waste-baskets' of Africa on behalf the so-called oppositinists.

Just a little example: why do you lump Museveni and Kagame together? Be sincere to yourself: is Rwanda a replica of Uganda, and is there no difference you can discern between the two economies?

Ingina y'Igihanga (Mr.)
Kigali, Rwanda

keith harmon said...

Dear Anonymous

I'm sure you live a happy life in Kigali, sharing some reponsibility for war crimes committed by Museveni and Kagame and benefitting from the resources plunder and apologizing for it and then calling people who tell the triuth names just so it makes you feel better. There will be a reckoning, and Kagame and Museveni will go down together.

Anonymous said...

Keith Hanon...first of all, you sound silly by jumping to every thing you see.. there are many reasons as to why someone would choose anonymity... and its a personal choice. secondly, yor attack on mr Ingina is also silly. You don't even know how he lives so stop the stupid threats. Thirdly, Kagame just like Museveni came in at a time when their coutries were going through death! And now, you say they are the ones who are to blame? How sadist can you become? In no post of yours do you blame the interahamwe...probably they are your heroes. Your silly comments are annoying. It'd best you keep them to yourself coz they are stupid!

allthingspass said...

The Rwandan Patriotic Front did not "Stop the Genocide" as this story above suggests at the fore, they committed it. Even the one-sided victor's justice Rwandan Tribunal (ICTR) has not found a single credible case of "conspiracy to commit genocide" by any Hutu leaders or otherwise.

Here's more of the real story:


I have two copies of Alison Des Forges resume, one from 1995 where she clearly delineates her work with the Pentagon and State Department and US media -- meanwhile producing intentional nonsense about genocide in Rwanda -- and one from circa 2003 which was wiped clean of her compromising, vested interest, history.

Truth will prevail and Kagame and his henchmen in Rwanda and Congo and Darfur will one day soon be held to account for the millions upoin millions of innocent lives they have casually snuffed out.

keith harmon snow

keith harmon snow is the 2009 Regent's Lecturer in Law & Society at the University of California Santa Barbara, recognized for over a decade of work, outside of academia, contesting official narratives on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide while also working as a genocide investigator for the United Nations and other bodies.

Claude Adams said...

Re: Harmon "exposing" Alison Des Forges:

Keith, let me see if I have this scenario right: Des Forges (for reasons unstated) “contributed” to the takeover of the RPF, testifies “without proof” at the trials of enemies of the RPF regime, is party to the “cover-up” of the complicity between the US government and Kagame, and then is assassinated by Kagame’s ninja agents when she criticizes his regime, the very regime that she helped to install and legitimize. Have I got that right?

And as one of your sources, you use Chris Black, a legal mind of the first order who implies without a scintilla of evidence that Kagame’s hit team found a way to ice the wings of the aircraft that went down with 50 passengers. (Kagame, of course, having no compunction about committing such an act of terror against a country that put him into power!)

Keith, as a tireless purveyor of analysis by innuendo you have no equal. I’m surprised that in your Dan Brown cast of comic book characters and mayhem that you left out the duplicitous Fergal Keane and the dastardly Romeo Dallaire. Has anybody bought the screen rights?

allthingspass said...


As usual, you don't have it right. Perhaps you should try reading the story I just posted with an open mind before you slam it with pure reactionary nonsense.

Actually , so many many people put out the idea that Des Forges was assassinated. I did not. But that is not at all the point of the story, which is the role that Des Forges played in fabricating evidence and criminalizing innocent people.

How do you explain her sanitizing her own resume?

As a journalist, you could investigate such things as Des Forges being slammed for being un- or in-credible by the Canadian court.

You could also investigate Romeo Dallaires support for the RPF -- moving RPF troops into Kigali under a UN flag etc etc.

And you could look more honestly at the role of Fergal Keane in framing an innocent people - many innocent men -- in London and Rwanda. Of course, my report about that was validated by the English court finding that the four Rwandan men framed by Keane so unfairly and with such arrogant hubris -- a.k.a. white supremacy -- deserved to be released and would face persecution in Rwanda.

Or did you miss that too?

You should also read the indictments of 40 top officials by the Spanish Court.

You accuse me of being a "tireless purveyor of analysis by innuendo" instead of dealing with the actual issues at hand.

And you use "anonymous" people to criticize. Is that "debate" ? Journalism?


Claude Adams said...

I have read the post, carefully, along with your Des Forges "essay" and the fact that you would use a completely baseless quotation from Chris Black about the plane crash, along with other off-the-wall and unsubstantiated character assassination quotes from Onana about a person who is unable to speak in her own defence, seriously undermines your case. It also doesn't help the people who are trying to take a fair, comprehensive, and balanced look at what is happening in central Africa, people who understand that the world is not black and white but grey and ambiguous and highly complex.

That's what I mean by "analysis by innuendo." As polemic, it has a certain resonance and appeal. As journalism, it's odious. I'm talking verification. I'm talking documentation and corroboration, those old-fashioned concepts you don't seem to like. I'm talking double-sourcing and fact checking, filtering out the ideologizing. (I know, I know, it's tiresome, but it's the only protection we have against demagogues with an agenda.) Demonizing the people you disagree with (i.e. Keane, Dallaire, Des Forges) is fine if you have the goods, if you can show me that they really wear horns. But you can't. You're playing with half-truths and soft theories and wink-wink; it's the old good-guy bad-guy manichean shit, and it's lame.

allthingspass said...

In fact, Alison Des Forges had plenty of time to speak "in her own defense" and you seem to forget the millions of dead AFRICAN people in Rwanda and Congo due to Kagame and the RPF -- who were so perpetually validated and protected by Des Forges, at least in the 1990s -- who cannot speak for themselves and whose voices are silenced forever. So please don't use that tired refrain of "can't criticize someone who is dead" (Des Forges) which is based on some absolutely ridiculous white supremacist standard about morality or ethics.

Even after evidence emerged, as it continues to emerge, Des Forges NEVER spoke up about:

[1] the illegal RPF invasion in 1990 and onwards to 1994;
[2] the double presidential assasinations;

She never corrected her own records. Instead, what she did, was to redesign her resume to hide her involvement with the Pentagon, State, and others who clearly compromised her legitimacy and her credibility and her human rights "reporting".

As far as Keane, I made that case rock solid, but you reject it because of your own interests -- your friendship with Keane.

What is tiresome is the establishment "journalists" -- Keane, Gourevitch, Melvern -- who continue to peddle absolute nonsense.

wink wink.

Most interesting is the amount of money they get paid to do so. Show me the money and I'd be happy to meet your (double) standard.

And take a moment and read the indictments out of Spain. Or do you dismiss those as "innuendo" as well?

And I dont see you exposing the multinational corporations involved in plundering Central Africa -- who work with these so-called "journalists" who are also completely silent.

wink wink.


Claude Adams said...

Furthermore, to say that the RPF "committed" the genocide, instead of the followers of Hutu Power who provoked a frightened population, is more than anti-history, it's laughable.

I strongly encourage you to read Jean Hatzfeld's trilogy on Rwanda

Claude Adams said...

Just one more thing Keith:

You try to nail Des Forges for not speaking up about:

"[1] the illegal RPF invasion in 1990 and onwards to 1994;
[2] the double presidential assasinations;

What you really mean is that she didn't share your perspective on these events, isn't it? Unlike certain intuitive "investigators," she was a little more careful with the facts.

And your sly suggestions that she was somehow a stooge of the State Department and the Pentagon do you no credit. It's a small man who seeks to promote himself by eviscerating larger, more compassionate people who have gone before him . . .

Claude Adams said...

Let’s look at how KHS pursues “the whole truth” by taking some examples from his work.

He writes that Samantha Power “confirmed” the fact that HRW is an “intelligence conduit” to the United States government. Thus, HRW, through the use of conspiracy-speak, becomes an intelligence gatherer, a spying agency, a stooge of the White House. But then we read Power’s actual quote: HRW “supplied exemplary intelligence” and “lobbied” the administration in April and May, 1994. Obviously, the “intelligence” concerned the ongoing genocide, and the lobbying presumably involves appeals that the US do something about it. But with KHS’s insidious use of language and innuendo, a human rights activist who seeks to save lives becomes an intelligence agent, a spear carrier, for US interests. Nice!

Another example: He quotes Jean Marie Vianney Higiro, a former Rwanda official, as saying “Alison des Forges contributed to the RPF/A takeover of Rwanda. I have no doubt about that.” Okay, the inquiring journalist here would raise an eyebrow and interject, and ask: “How do you know that? Are you saying that a high profile human rights activist was working for Kagame? Or for the US government? In what way did she contribute? Do you have any evidence?” But, alas, there is no inquiring journalist present, or if he is, he doesn’t pick up the obvious cue. So Vianney segues to a conversation he had with des Forges about testifying at the ICTR. What’s the link? How is this germane? We are not told, but we are left with Higiro’s inference: Des Forges had a nefarious agenda . . .

Or how about this: “I hold a strong belief in the plane being crashed,” says Remigius Kintu. “These international cabal members have no mercy . . . “ Kintu is a “Ugandan human rights” activist. What informs his strong belief that the plane crash was a terrorist act? Who are these dreadful cabal members? We don’t know, because Keith Harmon Snow doesn’t ask. It’s enough to say they exist, and are busy. Say it often enough and that will make it so. This is the same Kintu who, earlier in the article, maintains that Kagame “assigned some people” to help Des Forges “in fabricating and distoring stories to suit Tutsi propaganda plans.” This is a serious charge. Which people, and what stories, an inquisitive journalist would ask? But these questions are never asked. It’s enough to say it, and have KHS quote it, and it will be so. It’s with brittle building materials like this that great cathedrals of conspiracy are built.

Might sources like Higiro and Kintu, and Charles Onana, not have agendas. We don’t know? This is never explored. The only hidden agendas KHS cares about are those of Des Forges and her ilk, who represent the enemy. Might sources like Chris Black and Paul Erlinder, who are defending accused genocidaires in Arusha, not have agendas of their own? This is never discussed.

KHS quotes Baldwin. I’ll quote Webster: “The world is governed more by appearances than by realities, so that it is as fulyl necessary to seem to know something, as to know it.”