‘My soul is still in Rwanda’: 25 years after the genocide, Roméo Dallaire still grapples with guilt

CBC News
Retired Lt.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire James Alexander Michie

Retired Lt.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire speaks with The Sunday Edition host Michael Enright for the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. (Sinisa Jolic/CBC)

Roméo Antonius Dallaire (born June 25, 1946) is a Canadian senator, writer, and retired military officer. Dallaire is known for having served as commander of the UNAMIR forces, the failed United Nations peacekeeping mission in Rwanda between 1993 and 1994, and for trying to prevent the genocide that the Hutu extremists carried out against the Tutsis and the moderate Hutus

Now, 25 years after the genocide, Roméo Dallaire still deals with guilt. Likewise, retired Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire spares no words when he talks about Bill Clinton, who was president of the United States during the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

Likewise, in an interview with the presenter of The Sunday Edition, Michael Enright, on the 25th anniversary of the genocide, Dallaire heard a speech in 1998 in which Clinton regretted not having acted before.

Guilt lies in wait

Dallaire was in charge of the UN peacekeeping mission during the genocide against the Tutsi minority. In 100 days, more than 800,000 Rwandans, most of them Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were killed by the Rwandan army and the Hutu militia.

It is necessary to emphasize that during the months prior to the genocide, Dallaire repeatedly warned the UN Security Council that something catastrophic was brewing. However, he says that world leaders were too concerned to prevent the victims of peacekeepers from letting him act.

As expected Dallaire returned to Canada devastated and angry. Since he was persecuted for his inability to avoid genocide or to convince the international community to do more to stop him. That being the case, the guilt was stalking him, in fact, the same one that still does.

“I am almost 20 years old, almost, of therapy, they have tried, by all possible means, to take away my guilt”, said Dallaire.

“The command is something like being a woman who is pregnant, you can not be pregnant during the week, and on weekends you have a break … There is no, ‘I did the best I could and I’m sorry’. There’s nothing you can take away from that, and it should never be anything”.

“I keep saying that a large part of my soul is still in Rwanda”, he said.

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Source: CBC Radio

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