From .............. Catholic International

January 1996

page 3


A week-long international conference, examining the role and culpability of individuals and organizations in the bloody ethnic clashes in Rwanda that left more than a million people dead last year, wound up with the issuance of recommendations on how to prevent a reoccurrence of the tragedy. The conference, held Nov. 1-8, 1995, was attended by experts on genocide, holocaust survivors, psychiatrists, and human rights proponents.

According to the Tutsi-led Rwanda government, which organized the conference, the deliberations will help the country deal with the aftermath of last year's genocide. The conference came about as government resentment was mounting over the failure of a UN-organized international tribunal to indict a single instigator of the massacre after a year's investigation. President Daniel Moi of Kenya, whose country harbored many of the refugees from the blood bath, refused to cooperate with the tribunal and vowed to apprehend any of the tribunal members who entered Kenya.

According to reports, the conference, among other areas of investigation, examined the role played by the Roman Catholic Church. Some [Roman] Catholic clergy allegedly assisted in the killings of Tutsis, many of whom were put to death in [Roman] Catholic churches. However, diplomats in Rwanda expressed skepticism about the conference, saying they expected few results from it. But the government defended its agenda.

"We invited genocide experts from all over the world to explain that the genocide in Rwanda was different from what the Nazis did in Germany," a government official said. The conference featured expert opinions from participants from South Africa, Chile, and Argentina. The government was expected to release soon the findings of the conference.

Meanwhile, Zaire, a neighboring country harboring approximately one million refugees from Rwanda and Burundi - which has its own history of Tutsi-Hutu clashes had threatened to forcibly expel the refugees by the end of 1995. Zaire authorities informed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that it wants all Rwandan refugees to leave Zaire. A human rights group has warned of a potential disaster if the threat is carried out. The group appealed to the governments of Rwanda and Burundi to create conditions that would allow the refugees to return to their respective countries. The group reiterated its opposition to human rights abuses in Rwanda, particularly the practice of arbitrary arrests, summary executions, and the detention without charge or trial of an estimated 55,000 prisoner in "conditions amounting to torture."

CI, Lagos, Nairobi Burea [Dickson Adeyanju]


Catholic International the Augustinians of the Assumption

Assumption Communication

101 Barry Road, Worcester, MA 01609-1178 USA