Guest Post by Ghost Girl
In the mid 1990s much of the world became obsessed with a bloody glove. O.J. Simpson’s bloody glove: the cornerstone of his case. But we might have been tricked into worrying about the wrong bloody glove. For there was another glove incident across the world in Rwanda during that same time period. One that few–if any– ever received news of…
The Ghost Diaries recently attended an underground viewing of The Last Just Man, a documentary of first hand accounts of a violent coup d’état and a genocide that built up through 1993 and ended in 1994. A film that is banned in the United States. We find out that the right hand man of a UN peacekeeping operation commander Romeo Dallaire found the glove early in his time in Rwanda, at a massacre site. And he found it to be quite out of place.
Let’s backtrack here. At the time, Hutus and Tutsis were trying to make peace, and it seemed as if this was about to happen. But then this strange massacre marked a shift in the path to peace. So finding the glove was strange, for one, as it seemed far too obviously placed. When a UN peacekeeper had directed his translator to ask the people nearby who had done this. In the film he describes how his translator spoke for far too long and repeatedly spoke the name of a specific group. Then, of course, everyone started to vehemently agree with him. As that group was commonly known to wear gloves as part of their uniform–but had no reason to leave one behind– the peacekeeper theorizes that it was PLACED at the massacre site by extremist government forces trying to frame the other side.
The peacekeeper then recalls the final clue that led him to think that was some sort of conspiracy– how the people had been killed. They had been strangled by rope cord. Whereas the other side usually hacked people up with machetes, all government forces had been trained to use rope cord and wore it on their persons at all times.
At that point, the peacekeeper admits that he felt shammed. There had been no talk of these extremist forces, and he feels they were deliberately misled as to their existence (by the UN!!!). Since the massacre happened on the same day UN peacekeeping operation headquarters had officially opened, he felt that a deep connection between the two existed.
As the peacekeepers could not technically interfere with locals, there was little the UN team could do when intel surfaced that extremist government forces were starting to stockpile weapons. Peacekeepers received anonymous intel that these extremists planned to first extricate the UN by murdering soldiers and then to proceed with a coup d’état and a genocide… even when the intel was proven to be spot on, and weapons stockpiles were discovered.
No one listened to the commander of the peacekeeping operation when he requested assistance. His requests to confiscate the stores of weapons, denied. The U.S. was particularly against intervening and refused to approve any efforts to stop extremist forces. Meanwhile, Hutu and Tutsi children were starting to be segregated at school. Racial identification cards were issued to all citizens. This was clear preparation for genocide.
All at once everything came crashing down around the peacekeepers. On April 6th, the president of Rwanda was killed. That very day it became obvious that a coup d’état had begun. The Prime Minister, who should have come into control, was denied her position and she and her husband murdered. Roadblocks were set up all over, and people were being executed. Though the peaceekeping commander asked for assistance, they were advised that this was a Civil War and thus they still could not intervene. In fact, the UN pulled troops OUT. The commander and his right hand man both defied orders to leave because they felt a moral obligation to help.
Unfortunately, with so little backing there was not much peacekeepers could do. Over the next one hundred days, 800,000 Tutsi were killed. Most of them were hacked death with machetes. Soldiers accepted payments of thirty-two dollars as fees for killing by gunshot instead of machete.
The commander developed a plan:
1) Stop the Rwandan radio stations from broadcasting, as the broadcasts were literally encouraging the massacres.
2) Involve the media to drum up support from the world.
3) Confiscate weapons.
4) Kill key leaders.
5) Set up refugee camps.
His plan began to work, and then finally, the U.N. approved intervening and sent support.
Now, back to the bloody glove. The media knows how to distract people. Were the mid-90’s double bloody glove scenario a coincidence? PROBABLY, yes. MOST LIKELY, yes. But have media and governments figured out how to make us pay attention to one thing and not to another. ABSOLUTELY. Note how the commander himself used the media when the UN and US failed to act!!
As Marshall McLuhan put it: “All media work us over completely.” A vet I was watching this movie with began to have smell flashbacks. I was tearing up when the commander talked of the multiple times he had tried to commit suicide, feeling responsible for all of those deaths.My confidence in ‘peacekeeping’ operations was definitely complicated by this wonderful documentary, one that I wish everyone could see…