Today Rwanda is a stable and contributing member of the international community and a fine example of growing economic opportunity in Africa. In the 1990s it was a very different story.
Following independence from Belgian rule in 1962 and a period of unrest and mistrust in the Rwandan government there was a three year civil war from 1990 to 1993. UN peacekeepers were in place from 1993 to monitor the ceasefire however a bloody campaign of genocide took the UN by surprise with 10 Belgian peacekeepers and hundreds of thousands of locals killed in the violence.
In 1994 the UN Security Council approved the deployment of 5500 peacekeepers to join the 450 still in Rwanda. Australia responded with an offer of 300 personnel, a medical company, an infantry company for protection and logistics support. It was the largest deployment of Australian medical personnel since Vietnam.
The personnel that took part in the peacekeeping mission witnessed horrors that are unimaginable to most of us. Their bravery and professionalism was outstanding with Andrew Miller and Carol Vaughan-Evans both receiving the Medal for Gallantry for their actions.
On 22nd February 24, 2020 the personnel that took part in Operation TAMAR were awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation for sustained outstanding service in warlike operations as part of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda II on Operation TAMAR, over the period July 1994 to March 1996.
Members and supporters of the Veterans Motorcycle Club, Federal Chapter along with Sarge from the Mid North Coast Chapter attended the ceremony to support two club brothers who were involved in Operation TAMAR, Picko from Federal and Chewy from Townsville.
There were many dignitaries on hand such as the Governor-General and politicians at the Peacekeeping Memorial on ANZAC Parade however there was no doubt that the VIPs for the day were the Veterans of Operation TAMAR who attended in large numbers.
Thank you for your service.
Thank you also to Dennis Hebden for some of the pictures and the video.