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Canadian journalist challenges Rwandan genocide narrative in new book

Judi Rever's In Praise of Blood says now-president Paul Kagame oversaw the slaughter of Hutus

Posted: April 02, 2018
Last Updated: April 08, 2019

Judi Rever's new book In Praise of Blood challenges the dominant narrative about the Rwandan genocide and the role of now-President Paul Kagame. (Random House Canada)

This story was originally published on April 2, 2018.

Canadian investigative journalist Judi Rever claims there was a second genocide in Rwanda that has never been properly accounted for. 

In her new book In Praise of Blood: The Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, Rever argues the killing in Rwanda in 1994 was "bidirectional." 


"I'm not a genocide denier. I do recognize and believe, because there's compelling evidence that shows the Tutsis were killed in massive numbers," Rever told  As It Happens host Carol Off. 

"Am I a revisionist? I guess I am. Because the official narrative of the genocide stipulates that there's basically one group of people who were targeted ... and, in fact, that's not true."

( Julian Uzielli/As It Happens)

On April 6, 1994, then-Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana was killed when his plane was shot down, sparking 100 days of frenzied violence during which between 500,000 and one million Tutsis were slaughtered by Hutu militias. 

The violence didn't end until a force of Tutsi rebels, led by then- Col. Paul Kagame, fought its way into the country and took control. 

Kagame, who is now Rwanda's president, has been widely credited with ending the genocide.


But Rever believes it was Kagame who assassinated Habyarimana and she says he should be held accountable for war crimes.

In Praise of Blood claims Kagame and his top commanders engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Hutu men, women and children as they advanced on the capital of Kigali.

Kagame has not responded to the book, but he has long denied having anything to do with Habyarimana's assassination. 

Rever bases her claims on several years of investigative work and interviews with RPF defectors.

Her narrative clashes with the well-documented version of the genocide, including that of Canadian Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire, who witnessed it first-hand when he was the force commander of the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda 

Rever implies Dallaire ought to have known about the second genocide she claims took place. She also questions his judgment in supporting Kagame at the time, and criticizes him for being friendly with Kagame after the fact. 

Dallaire declined to respond to Rever's claims, saying his perspective can be found in his book  Shake Hands With The Devil.

To hear more of Rever's interview with Off, listen in the player above.