Lies in the name of peace? A report so sensitive that the UN denied its existence for 16 years finally appears on the internet
The “Gersony Report” is the name given to the unpublished 1994 findings made by a team under Robert Gersony under contract to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that identified a pattern of massacres by the Rwandan Patriotic Front rebels after their military victory in the civil war in post-genocide Rwanda. The findings were suppressed by the United Nations and involved governments for political reasons, and its existence was denied…
The contents of Gersony’s findings were leaked to the international press, infuriating the RPF government. Great Lakes historian Gérard Prunier writes that the UN promised the Rwandan government that they would embargo the document and instructed Gersony to never discuss their findings. Alison Des Forges, Rwanda expert for Human Rights Watch and publisher of some of the key materials on the ‘Gersony report’, goes further in writing that Gersony was told to not write a report and that his entire team was told to keep silent about their findings.
A three and a half-page memorandum was drafted for internal use, from which a two-and-a-half page memo was prepared for the special rapporteur on Rwanda of the UN Human Rights Commission. When the special rapporteur attempted in April 1996 to learn more about Gersony’s findings, he received the reply, “We wish to inform you that the ‘Gersony Report’ does not exist...“
And here’s a less readable version that includes a cover note purportedly from Paul Kagame to the former Burundian President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza. I’m sceptical about the veracity of this cover note for two reasons. Firstly it seems almost ‘too good to be true’ from the point of view of someone seeking to implicate Paul Kagame, Pierre Bagaza and the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in a joint pan-regional conspiracy masterminded by Kampala, repeatedly referring to “notre plan”, openly talking about “les Hutus”, and tying Kagame into a plot to “paralyse” Burundi’s then ruling party, FRODEBU. Secondly, the cover note is dated 10th August 1994 – two months before the Gersony report is actually supposed to have been written.
Update – International Criminal Tribunal defence lawyer Christopher Black is reportedly the source for the above documents. He writes:
I possess copies of these two UN documents from October 1994 because they are part of the evidence-base at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where I serve as the lead defense counsel for Hutu former General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, once the Chief of Staff of the Rwanda Gendarmerie. The documents were found by my legal assistant purely by chance while scanning the prosecution’s Electronic Disclosure System, which contains hundreds of thousands of documents that are not indexed in any order. My assistant came across them as part of a package of material organized by Robert Gersony himself while he was assigned to the UNHCR. It must be assumed that Mr. Gersony thought the documents relevant, as they affected the fate of the Hutu refugees.
At the ICTR, the brief cover letter by Francois Fouinat bears the index number “R0002906.” The next 14 pages of R0002906 contain the Gersony report and are numbered sequentially with an ‘R’ — prefix number used by the ICTR for documents contained in its Rwanda files.