VII. FILLING THE IMIDUGUDU: THE USE OF COERCION
When houses were completed in the early phase of the imidugudu program, many of the intended beneficiaries-including Tutsi returnees-declined to occupy them. They refused for different reasons: because promised support services had not been provided, because land for farming or pasturage was not being distributed at the same time, or because they found the property they then occupied more attractive than that offered in the site. The early occupancy rate was so low that it raised questions among donors and implementing agencies about whether housing was really needed and, if it were, why the program was not meeting the need.70
By mid-1997 local officials in Kibungo began pressing people with growing urgency to move to imidugudu. In repeated public meetings and in visits to the homes of the recalcitrant, officials delivered the same message: that people must move.71 Some officials may have deliberately misstated the situation by saying the new policy was "the law." A man in Kibungo remarked, "It is only the law that says we have to live grouped together."72 A woman in Umutara expressed the same idea. "It's the law that the whole population has to live in imidugudu." Although she had been in the settlement for two years, she said, "I don't know if I can say we live here. That's the way it is-we are here because we must obey the law, that's all."73 Whether or not officials explicitly stated that the policy was law, the impact of their words was the same. The power of the authorities, ubutegetsi, so far surpassed that of the individual that most citizens felt compelled to obey. As one man who had to sacrifice his own home in Bicumbi commune explained, "You know our state, you know its orders. We just execute them. We can't ask why. We just do it."74
Officials combined the carrot and the stick in their efforts to get people to leave their homes. They promised assistance to those who moved promptly and threatened the recalcitrant that they too would have to move and would receive no help, either then or in the meantime. This tactic was especially effective with the weak and vulnerable who knew how difficult it would be to set up a new house alone. A Tutsi woman from Muhazi commune whose husband was killed during the genocide related how she came to move to an umudugudu:
Another Tutsi widow, distressed by having to destroy the house which she had labored to rebuild after the genocide, said that she knew of no one who had been imprisoned or fined for refusing to move. She added, "They only terrorized us, that's all."77
Security was a serious concern for officials and citizens alike in many parts of Rwanda during the period when the habitat policy was being implemented. Although providing protection had not been among the first stated objectives of the policy, officials at thenational and local levels soon began claiming that the settlements offered greater safety than did dispersed homesteads. Some persons, particularly the elderly or women living alone, moved to imidugudu because they expected to be safer living there.79
A man from elsewhere in the same prefecture, who was Hutu, described how people had left the hills for the umudugudu in his sector. He said that Tutsi survivors of the genocide returned to their own lands after the RPF victory in July 1994, even if their homes had been destroyed, and began rebuilding their houses. Then soldiers of the former Rwandan army and Interahamwe began raiding from across the Congolese border, stealing cattle, shooting at houses, and trying to entice local Hutu to go back across the border with them. The witness continued:
With this growing insecurity, genocide survivors moved near the road and livedtogether. At first, we were alone because most other Hutu were in Zaire [now the DRC]. Those who stayed behind were few. The people in the umudugudu said that our staying on the hills could lead to attacks by the Interahamwe, for example, if we harbored them in our houses. So we were supposed to move to the umudugudu to better protect security.Some didn't go right away-we had good, solid houses. . . . In the meantime, men in uniform whom we recognized came and killed a cousin a few meters from my house. We went to the authorities to complain. They replied, "If you stay there, we can't ensure your safety." So I built a house [in the umudugudu].83
Officials also used the argument of security to coerce people into moving from places and at times when no immediate threat existed.84 An elderly Tutsi widow and genocide survivor from Rutonde commune, Kibungo, returned from a period in the hospital to find that the young people who had been living with her had been put out and that the local authorities had confiscated the keys to her house. She sought out the councilor and asked for the keys back. He told her that if she returned home, she might be suspected of harboring Interahamwe. He also warned that if Interahamwe came to kill her, the authorities would not intervene to save her. When asked if there had been a risk from Interahamwe at that time-March 1999-, she replied no and added "but I think that there was a law saying that all people must move to imidugudu."85 So she moved.
Although most citizens who were coerced by the authorities eventually gave in, some found ways to appear to comply while making minimal changes in their way of living. Residents in some communes in Ruhengeri and Umutara built houses in imidugudu but continued occupying their original homes. They passed the night in imidugudu, but each morning headed off to spend the day in their homes. One woman explained that she feared official reprisals if she did not at least seem to be living in the umudugudu. She said, "We are afraid to sleep in our own houses."86
70 Anonymous, "Imidugudu," pp. 6, 10, 37; RISD, "Land Use," paragraph 3.3.1.
71 Human Rights Watch interviews, Rutonde and Muhazi, Kibungo, April 15, 1999; and Cyeru, Ruhengeri, July 3, 1999.
72 Hilhorst and van Leeuwen, "Villagisation in Rwanda," p. 43.
73 Human Rights Watch interview, Umutara, March 16, 2000.
74 Human Rights Watch interview, Bicumbi, Kigali-rural, March 17, 2000; for similar sentiments in Gikongoro, see RISD, "Land Use," paragraph 3.3.1.
75 Human Rights Watch interview, Muhazi, Kibungo, November 30, 1999.
76 Human Rights Watch interview, Muhazi, Kibungo, November 25, 1999.
77 Human Rights Watch interview, Rutonde, Kibungo, March 14, 2000.
78 Human Rights Watch interview, Muhazi, Kibungo, November 30, 1999.
79 Human Rights Watch interviews, Nkumba commune, Ruhengeri, November 18, 1999; Mutura commune, Gisenyi, November 22, 1999; and Umutara, March 16, 2000; ADL, Etude, p. 37.
80 Human Rights Watch interviews, Nyamugali, Ruhengeri, November 18, 1999.
81 Human Rights Watch interview, Cyimbogo, Cyangugu, May 16, 2000.
82 Human Rights Watch interview, Kamembe, Cyangugu, May 17, 2000.
83 Human Rights Watch interview, Kigali, May 19, 2000.
84 Researchers found officials in Kanzenze commune, Kigali-rural, using the argument of security to justify the need to move to imidugudu when there was no apparent threat in the area. Hilhorst and van Leeuwen, "Villagisation in Rwanda," p. 45. For a general statement of the security argument, see Nkusi, "Problématique du Régime foncier," p.29.
85 Human Rights Watch interview, Rutonde, Kibungo, March 14, 2000
86 Human Rights Watch interviews, Umutara, March 16, 2000 and Ruhengeri, December 7, 1999.
87 Human Rights Watch interviews, Muhazi, Kibungo, November 30, 1999. Hilhorst and van Leeuwen, "Villagisation in Rwanda," p. 35.
88 Human Rights Watch interview, Muhazi, Kibungo, November 30, 1999.