In April 1995, elements of the Rwandan People’s Army, while closing a large internally displaced person’s camp at Kibeho in south-west Rwanda, opened fire on its inhabitants. The United Nations peacekeepers that were there, Zambian and Australian, were unable to stand in the way and a large number of the camp’s inhabitants, likely in the thousands, were killed. The outline of events is well known and numerous, often harrowing, accounts of the Australian experience have been produced. This presentation, however, will draw on extensive new research undertaken as part of the Official History of Australian Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold War Operations to outline what was behind the events and why the peacekeepers responded as they did.
Dr Jean Bou is a Senior Lecturer in the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) and the convenor of the War Studies program at ANU. He has also been a member of the team producing the Official History of Australian Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold war Operations since 2006. The lead author for the forthcoming fourth volume in that series, The limits of peacekeeping, he researched and wrote the chapters that examine the Australian mission to Rwanda. Jean is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of ten books on Australian military history.