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TitleWe Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories From Rwanda
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Total Pages259
Table of Contents
                            Title Page
Part One
Part Two
Praise for
Copyright Page
Document Text Contents
Page 130

criminality of the state.
Similarly, in France, during the months immediately following World War II,

between ten and fifteen thousand people were killed as fascist collaborators in a
nationwide spasm of vigilante justice. Although nobody looks back on those
purges as a moment of pride, no national leader has ever publicly regretted them.
France, which considers itself the birthplace of human rights, had a venerable
legal system, with plenty of policemen, lawyers, and judges. But France had
been through a hellish ordeal, and the swift killing of collaborators was widely
held to be purifying to the national soul.
The fact that most states are born of violent upheaval does not, of course,

mean that disorder leads to order. In writing the history of events that are still
unfolding in a state that is still unformed, it is impossible to know which
tendencies will prevail and at what price. The safest position is the human rights
position, which measures regimes on a strictly negative scale as the sum of their
crimes and their abuses: if you damn all offenders and some later mend their
ways, you can always take credit for your good influence. Unfortunately, the
safest position may not necessarily be the wisest, and I wondered whether there
is room—even a need—for exercising political judgment in such matters.

THE CAMP AT Kibeho had been one of dozens of camps for “internally
displaced persons”—IDPs—established in the When the French
withdrew in late August of 1994, the camps held at least four hundred thousand
people, and they were placed under the supervision of the refurbished UNAMIR
and an assortment of UN and private international humanitarian agencies. The
new government had wanted the camps closed immediately. Rwanda, the
government claimed, was safe enough for everyone to go home, and significant
concentrations of Hutu Power military and militia members among the IDPs
made the camps themselves a major threat to the national security. The relief
agencies agreed in principle, but insisted that departure from the camps should
be entirely voluntary.
The IDPs, however, were not eager to leave the camps, where they were well

fed, and provided with good medical care by the relief agencies, and where
rumors that the RPF was exterminating Hutus en masse were being circulated by
the who maintained a powerful influence over the population. As
in the border camps, agents didn’t hesitate to threaten and attack
those who wished to leave Kibeho, fearing that a mass desertion of the civilian
population would leave them isolated and exposed. The also made
frequent sorties out of the camps to terrorize and steal from the surrounding

Page 258


Because Rwanda and Burundi were administered as a joint colonial territory,
Ruanda-Urundi; because their languages are remarkably similar; because both
are populated, in equal proportions, by Hutus and Tutsis; and because their
ordeals as postcolonial states have been defined by violence between those
groups, they are often considered to be the two halves of a single political and
historical experience or “problem.” In fact, although events in each country
invariably influence events in the other, Rwanda and Burundi have existed since
precolonial times as entirely distinct, self-contained nations. The differences in
their histories are often more telling than the similarities, and comparison tends
to lead to confusion unless each country is first considered on its own terms.

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