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Pure Massacre


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"On the 22nd April 1995, a crowd of refugees seeking shelter from a storm were fired upon by the Rwandan Patriotic Army. The horror of what followed defies description. However, that horror provided a setting for conduct, on the part of the Australians at Kibeho, which adds lustre to the proud history of Australia’s service personnel in their country’s cause in war and peace." Sir William Deane, former Governor General 1996-2001 Rwanda is no stranger to violence. In 1994, an orgy of killing swept across the tiny land-locked nation and genocide, the size and magnitude unseen since the Hitler horrors of WWII, erupted. Around one million men, women and children were mercilessly shot, hacked to death or burnt alive. To alleviate the suffering and restore order to shattered lives, a group of Australian UN peacekeepers, made up of Army, Navy and Air Force personnel, was sent to Rwanda under a United Nations’ mandate. These Australians would be exposed to a lack of humanity they were not prepared for and found hard to fathom. On 22nd April 1995, the daily horror and tragedy they had witnessed escalated out of control. At a displaced persons’ camp in Kibeho, in full view of the Australian soldiers, over 4,000 unarmed men, women and children died in a hail of bullets, grenades and machete blades 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 under the gaze of the trigger-happy killers. 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. Pure Massacre gives a new and personal voice to the Kibeho Massacre. 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.

About the Author

Warrant Officer Class One Kevin 'Irish' O'Halloran was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1961 and migrated to Australia with his parents, elder brother and two sisters in 1970.He enlisted in the Australian Regular Army (ARA) in 1981. Spending his formative years in 1RAR, he saw non-warlike operational service with C Coy as a Bren Gunner and Group Commander in Malaysia in 1983. He was selected to form part of the Australian Bicentennial Royal Guard. The guard mounted ceremonial duties in England, as part of Queen Elizabeth's Bicentennial celebration in April 1988. He again saw non-warlike operational service with A Coy as a Section Commander in Malaysia in 1989. He saw warlike operational service with B Coy 2RAR, as a Pl Sgt in Rwanda from 19th February - 24th August 1995. He saw warlike operational service as the Company Sergeant Major of C Coy 2RAR in East Timor, between October 2001 and May 2002. In June 2005 he served as the acting ARA Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) of the 16th Battalion Royal Western Australia Regiment until the end of that year. In January 2006 he was internally posted as the SSM of Soldier Promotion Section (SPS) Land Warfare Centre Western Australia (LWC-WA). He was promoted to Warrant Officer Class One on in 2006 and took his position as RSM of 16RWAR. Kevin is married to Michelle and we have 2 children, Sean 7 and Siobhan 5 yrs. In an ongoing military career that has reached 26 years of dedicated service Kevin O'halloran has been awarded the following: Infantry Combat Badge (ICB); Australian Active Service Medal (AASM) Rwanda and East Timor Clasps; Australian Service Medal (ASM) South East Asia Clasp; Defence Force Service Medal (DFSM) with 1st & 2nd Clasps; Australian Defence Medal (ADM); United Nations Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) Medal; United Nations Transitional Administration East Timor (UNTAET) Medal; and Return from Active Service Badge.

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