Gersony Report - Research

Research

Robert Gersony, a freelance American consultant who had extensive experience in war zones in Africa, particularly Mozambique and Somalia, was hired by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to conduct a refugee survey in preparation for encouraging Rwandans who had fled the country in the wake of the Rwandan Genocide and rebel victory in the Rwandan Civil War. Gersony and his assistants began the work broadly sympathetic to the new government of the mostly-Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), as was common among those who saw the effects of the genocide. In the course of their fieldwork, the three-person team became convinced that the RPF had carried out "clearly systematic murders and persecution of the Hutu population in certain parts of the country."

The team were granted free travel by the RPF, who expected the refugee study to help their efforts to repatriate refugees, and saw more of the country and talked to more people than any other foreigners in Rwanda at that time. Specifically, between 1 August and 5 September 1994 the Gersony team visited 91 sites in forty-one of the 145 communes of Rwanda, mostly in the areas of Kibungo, Gisenyi and Butare. They further gathered information on about ten other communes and carried out interviews in nine refugee camps in surrounding countries. Over the course of their work, the team conducted more than two hundred individual interviews and conducted another one hundred small group discussions.

Purported findings of the team include the alleged 2 August massacre of about 150 civilians attempting to cross back into northwest Rwanda from Zaire by the RPF, as well as systematic arrest and apparent forced disappearance of a large number of men in Gisenyi. In Butare, part of Kigali, and Kibungo to the south and southeast, the team reported indiscriminate massacres of civilians who had come to meetings convened by local government authorities, house-to-house killing of civilians, organized searches to kill civilians who were hiding in the brush, and ambushes of civilians attempted to flee across the border into Burundi. The report concluded that "the great majority of these killings had apparently not been motivated by any suspicion whatsoever of personal participation by victims in the massacres of Tutsi in April 1994." Gersony's personal conclusion was that between April and August 1994, the RPF had killed "between 25,000 and 45,000 persons, between 5,000 and 10,000 persons each month from April through July and 5,000 for the month of August."

Read more about this topic:  Gersony Report

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