Before Kibeho

Jean Bou’s article examines the experience of Australian peacekeepers in Rwanda as part of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR). He focuses on the first rotation of troops sent to the war-torn nation and the immediate pressure they were under to try to bring a level of stability not only to Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, but also to the rest of the country. The Australians faced many challenges, not least from the ruling government’s army, the Rwandan Patriotic Army, whose brutal and antagonistic methods not only threatened the Australian peacekeepers and the wider UN mission at every turn, but terrorised their own people … leading to the Kibeho massacre during the second rotation of Australian peacekeepers there. Although this massacre came to define the Australian experience, those who were present during the first deployment also witnessed the brutality.

The short film ‘Exit Wounds’ is a dramatised account of one Australian peacekeeper’s time in Rwanda and the impact his service there had on his life after returning home. This film is compelling and powerful and can be viewed here:

The Australian M113A1 Land Rover, featured on pages 16-17 of Wartime, is now part of the Australian War Memorial’s collection.

M113A1 Land Rover

This vehicle was in service with the Australian Army for nearly 50 years and saw service in South Vietnam, Rwanda and East Timor.

The second rotation of Australian peacekeepers experienced the Kibeho massacre, which came to define the ADF’s deployment in Rwanda. To read Jean’s article and veteran experiences from the Kibeho massacre during the second rotation of Australian peacekeepers to Rwanda, purchase a copy of Issue 88 here.