Montreal, 8 October 2008 (FH) - Romeo Dallaire, former military head of the United Nations at the time of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, will take part on 14 October in a conference organized at the University of Montreal on the topic: "From Rwanda to Darfur; the Work of Peacekeepers and the Role of the Media".

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Also in attendance will be François Bugingo, a Canadian journalist, who covered Rwandan genocide at the height of the killings , which according to the United Nations estimates, claimed about 800 000 lives mostly of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Born in Kisangani of a Rwandan father who had sought refuge in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), Bugging, who is Vice-President of Reporters Without Borders, has since not stopped blaming the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), directed by Mr. Dallaire, for not having gone against the rules of engagement of the UN to save lives of innocent Rwandans.

"At the time, all the observers present in Rwanda understood the role of the Radio Mille Collines (RTLM): It broadcast hate messages to incite people to commit the massacre. (...) Each time that we ask Dallaire: "But why did you not bomb it, even by accident?" he responds: "I did not have the order", Bugingo told Hirondelle Agency.

The former UNAMIR Commander, who suffered from a serious depression following the genocide, became an icon in his country and was appointed to the Senate in 2005. He often repeated that he had the feeling to have been "abandoned" by the international community because Rwanda represented a weak geo-political interest.

The three-star General believes that the media did not sufficiently alert the world of what was happening in the tiny central African country. During a conference organized in Montreal in 1994, Dallaire had already developed this theory as several journalists present at the time of the facts had explained the opposite to him.

"My soldiers put their lives in danger to accompany journalists and to have stories come out. However, that did not mean that it was going to play on the radio or on television elsewhere in the world. The facts were not always relayed", he stated recently to the Forum Newspaper, the official weekly of the University of Montreal.


© Hirondelle News Agency