The other face of the Rwandan genocide

By Jean de Dieu Tulikumana

April 2012 is another annual remembrance month of the Rwandan genocide. The Rwandan Patriotic Front [RPF] led by Paul Kagame rules in Kigali. Every year since 1994 the Rwandan president and his government has made Rwandans and the general public at large to believe in one narrative of what happened when and well after the former president Juvenal Habyarimana was assassinated on April 6th, 1994. Jean de Dieu Tulikumana, in his following article, which initially appeared in French in a newsletter of FDU-Inkingi, a Rwandan political party of the opposition, shed new light on the tragedy that Rwanda experienced eighteen years ago.
On the eve of the 18th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, who better than the one who witnessed the tragedy in its atrocious moments to tell the horrors suffered by the Hutu population, long collectively considered as the executioners of Tutsi by a certain audience.

So let’s let Lieutenant Ruzibiza, Tutsi officer of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) in power since July 1994 in Rwanda, who courageously wrote down the wide spread mass killings that he undoubtedly qualifies as genocide against Hutu committed by his Tutsi peers members of RPF, before, during and after the genocide of Tutsi, explains.

We take this opportunity to pay tribute to his tenacity and his sense of duty. God bless his soul. [In 2010, he mysteriously died in Oslo-Norway where he was exiled after denouncing RPF’s crimes]

Here are some excerpts from his book “Rwanda: secret history” published in 2005 by Panama Editions:

“At Ndera as well as Masaka, when we had finished piling up the corpses, ready for incineration, Lieutenant-Colonel Jackson Rwahama and Lieutenant Colonel Karake Karenzi sent trucks full of barrels of gasoline from the military gas station of Kacyiru or the gas station of Kabuye near the old tanks of Petrorwanda company. This occurred twice every week. Using bulldozers, we would throw the ashes in remote locations, often in the Nyabarongo river. In the first five months, i.e. until December 1994, I estimate that over fifty thousand people were killed in Masaka only, without adding to the figure those killed in Kami and Ndera.

Before concluding this chapter I would like to list the main perpetrators of those massacres. At the top of the hierarchy was Colonel Kayumba Nyamwasa who was under the direct command of Major General Paul Kagame.

Then came:

– Lieutenant Colonel Karake Karenzi,
– Lieutenant Colonel Jackson Rwahama Mutabazi, DMI Assistant,
– Major Steven Balinda
– Lt. Joseph Nzabamwita,
– Lieutenant Francis Mutangana,
– Captain Geoffrey Shema,
– Lieutenant Richard Isoke (he was murdered),
– Sergeant John Cassius,
– Sergeant Tharcisse Idahemuka,
– Sergeant Augustine Hodari,
– Sergeant Jerome Mukunzi,
– Sergeant Innocent Gasana who represented the Republican Guard.

The rest consisted of ordinary soldiers acting under orders from their leaders. I won’t forget to mention the fact that the soldiers who were in Masaka, two units with over 250 men, were all from the Tutsi ethnic group, and tasked only with killing and cremating bodies, either on site or at Akagera National Park. There were other killing sites: Gabiro Rwinkwavu and Nasho in Byumba area, Kidaho and Nkumba in Ruhengeri. It was easy to capture and kill large numbers of Hutus because RPA soldiers were scattered in all municipalities of the country.

I will not forget to remember that many municipalities were run by the military, called abakada (“cadres”). There was, for each group of 10 soldiers, a soldier of Intelligence (Intelligence Staff) and a soldier acting as political commissar. Arrests of people to be killed were ordered by intelligence officers of the battalion in agreement and help of PCs (Political Commissars). They received orders from the DMI and G5.

Whenever there was a detachment of 100 soldiers or rather company, they would manage to find a big house they turned into a dungeon. If such [improvised] prison was located in an inconspicuous place, all prisoners were killed during the night. But when the said prison was situated in such a place that, when there were killings during the night, this news risked spreading the next day, we proceeded otherwise. We waited until the informal prison was full, then we came up with the pretext that some of the prisoners had to be transferred to the municipality offices or other prisons, and all transferred prisoners were killed before getting to destination.

These massacres continued until early 1995.

The gendarmerie, even if it was acting as a police force, it consisted only of well selected military soldiers. It was renamed “National Police”, but it is only led by the military. What I want to demonstrate here is that the small size of the police at that time did not constitute a constraint to arrest, disappear and kill thousands of people. The presence of Kayumba Nyamwasa at the head of the gendarmerie made more expeditious mass killings of civilian population by the police than the army.

In setting up the new structures of the gendarmerie, notorious executioners had been selected for their competence and speedy performance for the dirty work. They did not all join the unit at the same period. The following soldiers’ leaders continued to excel in the massacres of innocent Hutu civilians.

– Colonel Kayumba Nyamwasa,
– Lieutenant-Colonel John Bagabo,
– Major Sekamana Damascene,
– Captain Dan Munyuza,
– Captain John Zigira,
– Captain Gacinya Rugumya,
– Captain Augustine Macumu,
– Lieutenant Celestin Kayitankore,
– Lieutenant John Karangwa, etc…

All these military officers and many others have shed the blood of innocent civilians whose number I can not estimate such so high it is.

If I refer to the concept of genocide that I gave above, I will use this same term to describe what the Tutsis and Hutus have suffered. From what I explained in the section on planning the systematic massacre of Hutu or its preparation, setting up of  oversight structures for its implementation and the cover up of possible compromising evidence, I can confirm that this was a genocide. ”

We can not punctuate this painful chapter without mentioning the advice of Mrs. Maryline Hermans who wrote an enlightening study on the massacres committed by the RPF-Inkotanyi from April to August 1997 in the town Ngenda in Bugesera. She was then a doctoral student in criminology at the University of Rotterdam:

“Never forget your victims, they were your children, cousins, parents, husbands or wives, friends, neighbours, classmates or fellow teammates, groups or just your generation. They must be remembered in spiritual gatherings if you are believers. One day their voice will demand justice and we are sure that their murderers will be brought to court before they are accountable for their acts before the Creator.

They suffered all kinds of atrocities: shooting, burning, raping, killing with industrious tools, (such as “agafuni”, machetes, etc..). Please, do not think of revenge doing the same thing as their assassins, as only weak minds imitate what they saw. Instead, claim justice, it will be the only [laudable] way to honour their memory.

Do not lose courage if such justice takes long to come. Delays, in fact, are part of the process of human action. While waiting for justice, avoid rejection, rebellion, hatred, revenge, anger, and indignation, for all this gives neither strength nor joy of life. “

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One response to “The other face of the Rwandan genocide

  1. I am fascinated by this quote “Delays, in fact, are part of the process of human action”. We are such a hurry, hurry culture that we forget that things take time; and, that mistakes are also a part of it all. Thanks for sharing this.

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