A survivor of the 1994 genocide in Rwandan has taken the unusual step of filing a civil lawsuit against the Belgium government. The suit is being brought against the government for withdrawing the soldiers who were protecting her family during the height of the violence.
The summon underlines responsibility of Belgium soldiers in the massacre of approximately 2, 000 Rwandans who had placed themselves under the protection of the peacekeepers at the Official Technical School (ETO) Don Bosco, situated in Kicukiro. The ETO was at the time one of the main barracks, nicknamed “Beverly Hills”, of the Belgian battalion of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) headquartered in Kigali.
The plaintiff and her family had found refuge there on 8 April, just two days after the bloodbath began on April 6 following assassination of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana.
“It was decided by Colonel Marchal, then head of the Belgian battalion KIBAT of the UNAMIR to withdraw during the afternoon of 11 April 1994 peacekeepers(92) from ETO,” claimed the summon.
It added:” By abandoning Rwandan refugees who were there and the fact that the site was encircled by armed militiamen (Interahamwe) of which everyone, including the Belgian soldiers knew that they [Interahamwe] were going to proceed to commit the massacres.”
Belgium decided to withdraw its contingent of UNAMIR peacekeepers following the assassination of ten of its soldiers on 7 April 1994.
The various charges that may result from the trial would likely include violations of international humanitarian law and the “omission to act” to prevent murder, extermination, and persecution of an ethnic group.