In 1994 an orgy of violence swept across the tiny land- locked nation of Rwanda, the intensity of which had not been seen the horrors of WWII. Around one million people were mercilessly shot, hacked to death or burnt alive. A group of Australian UN peacekeepers made up of soldiers and army medical personnel was sent to Rwanda under a United Nations mandate to attempt to restore order and offer assistance. They would be exposed to a tragedy they were not prepared for and found hard to fathom. On 22nd April 1995 the horror they had witnessed escalated beyond anything they had previously seen. At a displaced persons' camp in Kibeho, in full view of the Australian soldiers, over 4,000 unarmed people died at the hands of the Rwandan Patriotic Army. Constrained by the UN peacekeeping Rules of Engagement, these Australians could only watch helplessly and try to assist the wounded. Pure Massacre is a record of what happened during this peacekeeping mission. Kevin "Irish" O'Halloran, a Platoon Sergeant at the time, stresses the weaknesses of the UN charter and what happens when "good men do nothing". He pulls together the perspectives of those Australian soldiers who served in Rwanda at this time. It takes a special type of bravery, discipline and compassion to do what these soldiers did. Little did they know when the second tour of Rwanda was over that they would be the highest decorated UN peacekeeping contingent since the Korean War. For many their service in Rwanda would come with a personal toll. No Australians died during and immediately after the massacre at Kibeho, but as Pure Massacre testifies, the suffering and tragedy is embedded in their memories.
Big Sky Publishing Pty, Limited
Aussie Soldiers Reflect on the Rwandan Genocide