About the Author

Judi Rever

Books by this Author
In Praise of Blood

In Praise of Blood

The Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front
also available: Paperback
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The UN documents leaked to me amount to historical vindication for Kagame’s victims. They also stand as a testament to the courage of young Tutsis who had been part of a brutal regime yet broke free, risking censure and death to tell the truth. Kagame has grossly miscalculated the mix of fury and shame that many of his men felt after committing acts of depravity. A soldier who was part of a mobile killing unit in Ngondore told me that before they were shot, dozens of Hutu men, women and children were tied up and forced to sit on the edge of a steep hill near a tea plantation, their backs facing the soldiers. He admitted that, day after day, it was the same operation: he and the other soldiers methodically unloaded their guns into the bodies of a total of two thousand civilians on that hill in April 1994. The memory of these executions has never left him.

In 1997 I went to Congo and met refugees in the forests south of Kisangani and in transit camps. I traveled to the equatorial town of Mbandaka then down to the capital, Kinshasa. Then I went back to Goma and crossed the border on foot to Gisenyi, Rwanda, before going through Ruhengeri to Kigali and its surrounding rural areas. That trip, in particular my foray into the Congolese jungle, was a crucible where I discovered a level of suffering that overwhelmed me. For a very long time, I doubted if I could ever truly tell the story of what I heard and saw.

It took me two decades to reorient myself, to shake down the emotions and observations from that trip. But I continued to speak to victims and observers of the violence that has gripped the region. Over the last five years I have devoted myself full-time to understanding the dynamics of Kagame’s violence prior to, during and after the genocide. What has inspired me throughout my reporting is the power of memory and the way it works to conquer fear. This book is a testament to the courage of some two hundred direct and contextual witnesses of RPF crimes, including officials who worked at the UN tribunal set up in the aftermath of the genocide. I am grateful to all those who shared their stories and let me into their profound inner world. As their testimony reveals, Kagame did not commit these crimes alone. He operated—still operates—with significant political cover. I continue to be astonished by all the ways he has got away with it.

Violence is never abstract for the victim or the perpetrator. In Praise of Blood puts a human face on the violence in Rwanda and Congo. It names those alleged to have orchestrated the most heinous of crimes. For reasons of safety, however, I cannot identify by their real names most of the witnesses who talked to me or provided me with documents for this book. Kagame remains a powerful, protected and dangerous figure.

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