Machete Season

Machete Season

The Killers in Rwanda Speak : A Report

Book - 2005
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In April-May 1994, 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis were massacred by their Hutu fellow citizens - about 10,000 a day, mostly being hacked to death by machete. In Machete Season , the veteran foreign correspondent Jean Hatzfeld reports on the results of his interviews with nine of the Hutu killers. They were all friends who came from a single region where they helped to kill 50,000 out of their 59,000 Tutsi neighbors, and all of them are now in prison, some awaiting execution. It is usually presumed that killers will not tell the truth about their brutal actions, but Hatzfeld elicited extraordinary testimony from these men about the genocide they had perpetrated. Herightly sees that their account raises as many questions as it answers.Adabert, Alphonse, Ignace, and the others (most of them farmers) told Hatzfeld how the work was given to them, what they thought about it, how they did it, and what their responses were to the bloodbath. "Killing is easier than farming," one says. "I got into it, no problem," says another. Each describes what it was like the first time he killed someone, what he felt like when he killed a mother and child, how he reacted when he killed a cordial acquaintance, how 'cutting' a person with a machete differed from 'cutting' a calf or a sugarcane. And they had plenty of time to tell Hatzfeld, too, about whether and why they had reconsidered their motives, their moral responsibility, their guilt, remorse, or indifference to the crimes.Hatzfeld's meditation on the banal, horrific testimony of the genocidaires and what it means is lucid, humane, and wise: he relates the Rwanda horror to war crimes and to other genocidal episodes in human history. Especially since the Holocaust, it has been conventional to presume that only depraved and monstrous evil incarnate could perpetrate such crimes, but it may be, he suggests, that such actions are within the realm of ordinary human conduct. To read this disturbing, enlightening andvery brave book is to consider in a new light the foundation of human morality and ethics.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.
ISBN: 9780374280826
Call Number: 967 HATZFELD
Characteristics: p. ; cm.
Subjects: Tutsi (African people) -- Crimes against -- Rwanda -- History -- 20th century.
Hutu (African people) -- Rwanda.
Genocide -- Rwanda -- History -- 20th century.
Rwanda -- History -- Civil War, 1994 -- Atrocities.
Rwanda -- History -- Civil War, 1994 -- Personal narratives.
Rwanda -- Ethnic relations -- History -- 20th century.


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Aug 20, 2018

"The first day, a messenger from the municipal judge went house to house summoning us to a meeting right away. There the judge announced that the reason for the meeting was the killing of every Tutsi without exception. It was simply said, and it was simple to understand."

Simply said, simply understood, and simple to carry out. For the next few weeks, Pancrace Hakizamungli and his Hutu friends and neighbors from the Nyamata district of Rwanda, sometimes assisted and encouraged by troops sent by the government but often on their own, methodically hunted down and slaughtered thousands of Tutsi men, women, and children who had, until recently, also been their neighbors. Most of the killings were carried out by machete, the tool that the killers were most comfortable with, the one they used in their everyday work, clearing land and butchering animals, proving equally handy for butchering people.

Machete Season is Jean Hatzfeld's second oral history of the Rwandan genocide - the first, Life Laid Bare, presented the experiences of the victims. The former is, as might be expected, even more horrific than the latter, both due to the inclusion of atrocities no victim survived to speak of and the insight into the minds of the genocidaires. For the perpetrators, the killing season, in retrospect, acquires the character of a holiday. Ordinary work and even church services were suspended - the men spent their days killing, the women looting, the children helping both, all living off the property of the victims. Indeed, as the Tutsis controlled most of the Rwandan cattle, the plundering Hutus feasted on a previously undreamt-of quantity of meat. Mass murder was not a distasteful task, but something they took pleasure in.

Nov 28, 2013

I do not like how Hatzfeld presented his study. It does not seem as if either he nor the interviewees were capable of understanding or analyzing the root causes of participation in the Rwandan genocide.


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