Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page


Some of the earliest attacks as well as some of the worst massacres of the genocide took place in Gikongoro. MRND supporters launched the violence at three points and from there spread it into adjacent areas, much as they expanded disorder outward from Kigali and its vicinity into the prefecture of Gitarama. In some communes, like Musebeya, Kivu and Kinyamakara, administrators opposed the genocide and initially drew strength from the people in their communes who refused to kill. But as prefectural authorities failed to act against the violence and national authorities pressured for more and faster slaughter, they lost power to local rivals who saw the killing campaign as an opportunity to establish or reestablish their power. The dissenters judged continuing opposition futile and dangerous and either withdrew into passivity or themselves took up the role of killers.


The government created the prefecture of Gikongoro shortly after independence, largely to weaken the Tutsi influence that continued strong around the former royal capital of Nyanza. It attached the southern and western outskirts of the Nyanza region to a highlands area further west inhabited largely by Hutu. Like Hutu of northern Rwanda, these “hill people” were sometimes called Bakiga and like them, they resented Tutsi control that had been imposed during the colonial period.1 Thus cobbled together, Gikongoro lacked the cohesiveness enjoyed by other prefectures as a result of geography or history. It was also one of the least favored prefectures. Its only real town, also called Gikongoro, had a population of fewer than 10,000 in 1994. It was not much more than a motley collection of shops, offices, and a bank stretched out on either side of the one paved road that passed through the region. Perched high on one hill overlooking the road was the recently built prefectural office. On another more distant hill sat the newly established Catholic bishopric of Gikongoro. The town had no more history or coherence than the prefecture it served.

Secondary schools were few and local people lacked the opportunity for higher studies needed to obtain important government posts. With few people in power, Gikongoro had little chance to win the foreign-supported projects that could have improved opportunities for its residents. The most promising of the political leaders from Gikongoro, Emmanuel Gapyisi, had been assassinated in 1993 and a second,the minister and PSD head Frederic Nzamurambaho, was killed at the start of the genocide.

As elsewhere in Rwanda, most people in Gikongoro eked out a living from the soil. The one bright spot in the beautiful but bleak landscape of wind-swept hills were tea plantations where some farmers were able to earn small amounts from this cash crop. But control of the local tea factories at Kitabi and at Mata as well as of OCIR-Thé, the national tea marketing office that ran them, remained in the hands of people from the favored regions of northwestern Rwanda, linked by loyalty and kinship to the Habyarimana family.2 The stagnation brought on by the war aggravated the poverty of the region. In addition, as multiple parties began to flourish, some people began refusing to pay their taxes as part of the rejection of the MRND and authorities seen to be related to it. The income of the communes fell off by some 20 percent in 1993 and communal authorities were obliged to lay off employees.3 Fighting to counter the decline, the prefect encouraged communes to exploit to the fullest the few foreign-aided projects in their areas, but even some of them were beginning to suffer cutbacks from foreign funders. Several years of poor growing conditions cut food production. At the end of 1993, the prefect estimated that 64 percent of the population faced food shortages and that 48 percent were in real danger of famine during 1994.4

During the 1960s and again in 1973, Gikongoro was the scene of serious violence against Tutsi, but there had been no major attacks on them right after the October 1990 attack by the RPF. Janvier Afrika, who confessed to helping organize slaughter of Tutsi in northwestern Rwanda in 1991 and in Bugesera in 1992, told the International Commisson investigating human rights abuse that Gikongoro was supposed to be the next place for him to cause trouble. But after a falling out with others of the akazu, he was imprisoned and never put the plans into effect.5Following the death of Burundian President Ndadaye and the arrival of thousands of refugees from Burundi in late 1993, Hutu in several parts of Gikongoro attacked Tutsi. In the commune of Nshili, assailants burned the homes of Tutsi and drove them across the prefectural border into Butare.6

From the start of the war, some local authorities depicted Gikongoro as virtually besieged by the RPF. There was no real basis for such concern, but authorities feared that a dense stretch of rain forest that covered the western 20 percent of the prefecture could serve as a natural route for RPF infiltration from Burundi into the heart of Rwanda. Local people, however, seemed little touched by the war before 1994, except for those who became soldiers to escape the lack of opportunities in the region.7

Once multiple political parties were permitted, prefectural authorities—then all representatives of the MRND—fought hard to hinder the growth of the new parties.8 They had little success, however, and during 1992 and 1993, the MRND was losing support steadily, primarily to the MDR, but also to the PSD and the PL.

Throughout 1993, prefectural and local authorities participated in the measures described above that later facilitated the genocide: the efforts to locate former soldiers, to identify families of young people said to have left the country, and to increase the arsenal of communal police.9 During the months preceding the genocide, the commanders of the National Police in Gikongoro and in Butare posted small detachments in several locations around the prefecture. One group had been sent to Musebeya after some protests over non-payment of salary at a local development project in August 1993; they had been kept there, although the dispute was long since settled. Another group had been dispatched to Nshili following conflicts between MDR and MRND supporters, but once more that problem hadbeen resolved and yet the police were still there in April 1994. Another detachment was located at the tea factory at Mata in commune Rwamiko and another under the orders of the sub-prefect at Munini. According to one account, National Police were posted to the sub-prefecture of Kaduha for no apparent reason several days before the plane was shot down.10

Despite the presence of National Police, attacks on persons and property increased in 1993, whether from political or simply criminal motives, with such incidents as the burning of communal reforestation projects, attacks by grenades, and the attempted assassination of a former burgomaster and his wife.11 The number of firearms also increased in the region. In late 1993, the burgomaster of Nshili reported that some persons in his commune had a stock of seventy grenades, one of which he was able to buy for the equivalent of three dollars U.S.12 The burgomaster of Musebeya, who belonged to the PSD, was attacked in his home as was the burgomaster of Kivu, who was a member of the MDR. Aware that their enemies from the MRND and the CDR had access to firearms, they asked the prefect for guns of their own. 13

Bypassing the Prefect

Hutu attacked Tutsi in several parts of Gikongoro beginning on April 7. The prefect, a MRND loyalist, was one of the first officials to come out in support of the interim government on national radio but he seems to have been less important in the early onset of violence and in its later expansion than some of his subordinates, such as Damien Biniga, and some party leaders who were not part of the administration at all, such as retired Lt. Col. Aloys Simba.

The prefect, Laurent Bucyibaruta, was originally from Gikongoro and had devoted himself to the service of party and state through the decades when the two were identical. An administrator, subsequently a deputy in the parliament, and then again an administrator, he came home to Gikongoro in 1992 after several years as prefect of Kibungo in eastern Rwanda. A man who took his responsibilities seriously, he had been openly loyal to the MRND until the new regulations of the multiparty era required that administrative authorities treat all parties equally. He then dutifully professed objectivity and rarely showed his preference publicly. His MDR opponents taxed him with favoritism from time to time. Occasionally a partisan phrase escaped him, such as when he indicated that demonstrators of other parties should be prepared to take the consequences if MRND members reacted negatively to their demonstrations.14 But to judge from his correspondence generally as well as from evaluations by observers from other parties, he appears to have executed his duties responsibly, frequently cautioning subordinates against being influenced by party loyalties. In a hotly contested election in Musebeya commune in June 1993, for example, he gave the victory to the PSD candidate over that of the MRND and defended his decision when challenged by superiors. That same month, he directed the burgomaster of Rwamiko to look into the case of a man whose identity card had been changed from “Umuhutu” to “Umututsi” over his protests. Bucyibaruta refused the above-mentioned requests of the PSD and MDR burgomasters for their own guns and he also ordered all his subordinates to divest themselves of any weapons that they might have appropriated from the communal police. If they needed protection, he told them, they were to rely on the communal police as guards; they must not keep police weapons in their own possession. When notified that the burgomaster of Nshili had bought a grenade, he directed him to hand it over promptly to the National Police because the communes had no right to have this kind of arms.15

Sub-Prefect Damien Biniga

One of Bucyibaruta’s immediate subordinates was the sub-prefect Damien Biniga, who was in charge of communes in the southern part of Gikongoro, adjacent to the border with Burundi. Described by others in the administration as “brutal” and “hard-core MRND,” Biniga had served as deputy in the parliament and as a member of the prefectural committee of the MRND. Once a sub-prefect in Ruhengeri, he maintained ties with military from that region. According to a witness who was himself an official in Gikongoro at the time, Biniga came to the prefecture to organize the Interahamwe. Supporters of the MDR clashed with Biniga and in September 1992 organized a demonstration against him, hoping to get him removed. At one point, the people of Kivu commune—presumably adherents of the MDR—were so angry at his favoring the MRND that they barred the road to prevent him from passing through their commune.16

Biniga was active also at the national level of the MRND. Trading upon his status as party loyalist, he bypassed the prefect to communicate with President Habyarimana himself or with other high-ranking officials in Kigali.17 Bucyibaruta disapproved of his subordinate’s open favoritism of the MRND and tried unsuccessfully to interrupt his direct links with Kigali.18

Once the genocide began, Bucyibaruta supposedly encouraged Tutsi to assemble at the Murambi technical school, site of one of the worst massacres in the prefecture, and he visited students at the Kibeho school just before they were attacked and slaughtered.19 But Biniga seems to have been the more dynamic figure, seen inciting to killings in many parts of the prefecture as well as in Butare. Given Biniga's close links with Habyarimana's circle, they may have chosen to deal with him directly rather than with the prefect.

Lieutenant Colonel Simba

One administrative official commented that throughout this period, “military figures were deciding government strategies and actions” increasingly and that civilian administrators were losing power proportionately.20 One of the soldiers who exercised this power in Gikongoro was retired Lieutenant Colonel Simba. A native of Gifurwe sector of Musebeya commune, Gikongoro, Simba had followed the military path to success. He was of the same generation as Habyarimana and had been one of the small circle of officers who had helped install him as president in 1973. Retired from active duty, Simba had made a second career in the MRND, serving as deputy in the parliament. Although based in Kigali, he became president of the MRND for the prefecture of Gikongoro and occasionally returned home to steer local activities. In January 1993, for example, he directed a rally against the Arusha Accords in the town of Gikongoro just when MRND and CDR leaders were launching violence elsewhere in the country to stall the peace process.21

Simba drew his power from his old military contacts and links with the president rather than from a local base. He had apparently been away too long and had done too little for his home commune to be considered a favorite son. So alienated was he from Musebeya that its burgomaster initially refused to support his candidacy for parliament in 1988 and then did so only because of pressure from Kigali. Because the burgomaster had opposed him, Simba had joined forces with some locally dissatisfied MRND members, including teacher Jean-Chrysostome Ndizihiwe, to use kubohoza tactics to oust him. After the burgomaster was forced to resign, a limited form of communal election was held to replace him in June 1993. Simba arrived to use his influence—some say his money as well—to ensure that his protégé Ndizihiwe was chosen. He was accompanied by Daniel Mbangura, minister of higher education, also a member of MRND and at the time the only minister from Gikongoro.22 Ndizihiwe was narrowly defeated—one more sign of the general ebbing of MRND influence throughout the country—and Simba was humiliated. When the results were announced, the youth wings of the parties that had opposed Ndizihiwe, the Abakombozi of the PSD and the Inkuba of the MDR,joined together in singing “Simba has failed.”23 As mentioned above, Prefect Bucyibaruta played a correct role in this contest, apparently putting the requirements of administrative neutrality above any preference for the MRND.

Soon after Habyarimana’s death, Simba came home to Musebeya, in a Mercedes-Benz belonging to the MRND, to spread the message that the enemy was the Tutsi. According to one resident of Musebeya, Simba went around “...dressed as a colonel, with his stars, his uniform, his escort, saying ‘The situation is dangerous. Even I have been recalled to military service to help hunt Tutsi.’”24 Simba at first stayed with his sister in the sector Gifurwe, but the location was distant from the center of the commune and had no easy means of communication. After a few days, he moved to a house belonging to the Crête-Zaire-Nil (CZN) project, a foreign-funded development project that was closely linked to the MRND and the akazu. There, at a place called Gatare, Simba found adequate quarters for his guard, which grew from a modest six soldiers to an impressive eighteen. There he presumably also had the use of the CNZ short-wave radio for communication. During his time in Musebeya, he had access to a supply of fuel, which he sold to favored traders who needed the gasoline to carry on commerce. His control over this scarce commodity gave him one more lever of power in the community.25

While Biniga apparently became one of the most active civilian leaders of genocide in Gikongoro, he remained in principle subordinate to the prefect. Simba, as a high-ranking military officer, had no such restrictions. Not long after his arrival, he was “co-chairing” prefectural security council meetings with Bucyibaruta.26 His control was later formalized by his appointment as “counsellor for civil defense.”27

According to a number of well-placed witnesses, another military figure important in directing the genocide was Captain Sebuhura, a National Police officer from northern Rwanda. He was nominally subordinate to Major Christophe Bizimungu, commander of the Gikongoro post of the National Police, who was from the southwestern province of Cyangugu. But Sebuhura seems to have eclipsed his superior much as Biniga did Bucyibaruta. Because there was no army post in Gikongoro, the National Police were the only important force in the prefecture, essential to either spread or suppress the genocide. One witness then part of the civilian administration reported that at first “Major Bizimungu was not officially replaced, but he had no voice....[I]t was his assistant Sebuhura who had the real power. It was he who organized things, sending teams of National Police right and left.”28 As Bizimungu attempted to control his subordinate, the hostility between the two officers extended into the ranks and the National Policemen in the Gikongoro camp lined up behind one of the two, ready to fight each other in late April or early May. The general staff sent an officer to calm the situation and finally resolved the conflict definitively by removing Bizimungu. His replacement, Captain Gerace Harelimana, shared Sebuhura’s views and worked well with him.29

First Attacks

The attacks in Gikongoro began at three different centers on April 7 and April 8. Two operations were launched in the south, one in Rwamiko commune, an area under Biniga’s direct supervision, the other in neighboring Mudasomwa commune. In both communes, tea factories dominated local economic and political life. The directors of the factories were from the north, a man named Denis Kamodoka at the Kitabi factory in Mudasomwa and another named Ndabarinzi at Mata in Rwamiko. Their employees, many of them supporters of the MRND or the CDR, led the first attacks with the help of local administrators.30

Just as assailants were burning the first houses in Mudasomwa and Rwamiko on April 7, other attackers were preparing to kill Tutsi in Muko, a commune tucked away in the mountainous northwestern corner of Gikongoro. Muko was remote from the prefectural center, but in the early days of the genocide, the telephone still functioned and connected communal authorities with others elsewhere in the regionand even in Kigali. Muko was also far from Biniga’s area of administrative responsibility, but it was his commune of origin and, according to several witnesses, Biniga maintained close ties with the Muko burgomaster, Albert Kayihura, who had been in power there for years. As one witness from the area stated, “Biniga came often to monitor developments in Muko.”31

At about 4 p.m. on April 7, Abbé Kumunyange, priest at the parish of Mushubi went the short distance from his church to the commercial center of Muko to check on the atmosphere there. In passing by the communal office, he found Burgomaster Kayihura meeting with the brigadier, head of the communal police, and with the chauffeur for the commune. At the center, all was quiet.

When he returned to the parish, he found a small group of Tutsi had arrived to seek shelter: Michel Gacenderi, the accountant for the commune, his wife and five children; Jean-Baptiste Kaberuka, the head of the health center, and his family; and Emmanuel Bayingana, the clerk of the local court, and his family. Because these men had had problems before with the burgomaster, they feared attack. Two hours later, Burgomaster Kayihura arrived and tried to persuade them to return to their homes. But when the abbé insisted that they be allowed to stay, Kayihura agreed and sent two communal police to guard the parish, as the priest requested.

At about 10 p.m. a crowd of some one hundred people attacked and pillaged the home of the assistant burgomaster, a Hutu, on the pretext that his wife was Tutsi. They continued up the hill to the parish, yelling and screaming. The brigadier of the communal police, armed with a rifle, led the way along with the communal chauffeur, Mucakari, and his brother. The cook of the parish, Manasé, joined them as well. Among the assailants were several boys, aged between twelve and fifteen. The attackers forced their way into the parish house, a single-story building constructed around a garden. They broke down the door to the priest’s room with a large stone. They beat him, looted his room, and then went on to the others. A witness recalls, “Then they broke the door to the other rooms. I heard blows. There were no cries.”32 The assailants killed Gacenderi, Bayingana, and Kaberuka and the wives of the first two. The wife of Kaberuka bought her life for about U.S.$800, but was later killed at the home of her husband’s family. Assailants struck Leo, one of the small children, with a machete. He died from the wound the next morning. The other children were not harmed. The attackers also pillaged the large stock offood stored at the parish for distribution to the poor. They used the vehicle of the commune to carry off the goods and they finally left the parish at 4:30 a.m.33

The next morning, when the abbé called the prefect for help, Bucyibaruta ordered the burgomaster not to harm the priest. The burgomaster locked the priest into an annex to his house and then sent him to the town of Gikongoro the day after.

Moving the Violence Outward

Within a day or two, local leaders elsewhere in Gikongoro launched attacks on their own, following the nearby model, and assailants from the original centers carried the attacks over into areas which had previously been quiet. In Musebeya, for example, the first attacks came from Muko, the commune to the north, and a few days later, also from Mudasomwa to the south. Assailants from Rwamiko raided into neighboring Mubuga and Kivu, while those from Karambo carried the violence into Musange. Attackers crossed prefectural lines as well, with some from Mwendo in Kibuye attacking into the northern part of Gikongoro and others from Gikongoro exporting the violence to Butare.34

National Police, former soldiers, and communal police played an essential role in extending the violence, foreshadowing the even more important part they would play in later large-scale massacres. Assailants who burned and pillaged Tutsi houses in Kivu commune declared that they had been authorized to do so by a passing National Police patrol, apparently including guards of Sub-Prefect Biniga.35 In Kinyamakara, two National Policemen, who described themselves as responsible for security, went through the area telling people along the road to attack the 2,000 Tutsi of the commune. They did it discreetly, speaking to small clusters of people here and there, rather than gathering a public meeting. They told Hutu that if they failed to burn the houses of Tutsi, the police would be back to burn all the houses in the region since, as strangers, they would have no way to distinguish the homes of Hutu from the homes of Tutsi.36 When attackers could not defeat the population—Hutu and Tutsi—of a hill in Karambo commune who were defendinga Tutsi woman from attack, they retreated only to come back the next day with National Police to back their assault.37

In these first days of burning, pillaging, and killing, there was some confusion about who was being targeted. Because it was known almost immediately that government leaders who were Hutu and members of the MDR, PSD, and PL had been slain in Kigali, people elsewhere at first believed that local supporters of these parties were to be attacked also. In Musebeya, for example, Hutu supporters of the PSD or the MDR, particularly those who were thought to be rich, were harassed and threatened by backers of the MRND and CDR. Reacting to the intimidation as if it were a continuation of kubohoza tactics, several wealthy traders moved to protect themselves by resigning from the PSD or MDR and buying off their attackers with money for beer. One Hutu known to oppose the MRND and CDR felt so intimidated that he fled to the Bushigishigi health center for protection.38 In many places Hutu fled together with Tutsi or joined with them in fighting off the attackers who began burning houses on April 11.39

The Radio Targets Tutsi

After the first two or three days of violence, attackers in Gikongoro followed national directives and targeted only Tutsi. Hutu who had sought safety elsewhere were reassured enough to return home. At the church of Muganza, for example, the Hutu who had taken refuge together with Tutsi on April 11 left the following day.40 The focus on eliminating Tutsi resulted from the new solidarity among Hutu and sealed that solidarity. When Biniga learned of the death of Prime Minister Uwilingiyimana, he supposedly bought drinks for everyone in a bar to celebrate the end of hostility between the MRND and the MDR. He reportedly said, “Everything is equalized,” meaning that now both parties had lost their leaders and on the basis of their mutual loss could join together in defeating the Tutsi enemy.41

Witnesses remember that it was the radio that disseminated the message. As one commented:

We found out from RTLM that it was the inkotanyi that were supposed to be killed. This was on April 9, the day they named a new government in Kigali. The government called for calm and stated there was one common enemy—the inkotanyi-inyenzi.42

Another witness declared, “After April 10, the orders to kill were coming from above, and the radio was transmitting them.” He added that the radio station itself went beyond the official pronouncements in “...pushing people to see this as ethnic.” He continued, “People were listening to RTLM which was telling them, ‘You people, ordinary people, the Tutsi killed your president. Save yourselves. Kill them before they kill you too.’”43 On April 17, the telephone link with other parts of Rwanda was broken and the people of Gikongoro depended even more on the radio for information. At most barriers, there was a radio where the guards stayed tuned to RTLM during their long hours of keeping watch. And when patrols went out to kill, they went off singing the songs heard on RTLM, such as those of the popular Simon Bikindi.44

The importance of RTLM was underscored by a group of men from Nyarwungo sector, Musebeya, who stated that from the time of the plane crash, they started listening to the radio. Those who had no radios visited neighbors who had them so that they could know what might be coming next. The genocide, they said, was a concept they understood from the radio, not having known before what it meant.45


As at the national level, so at the local level, relatively few authorities were committed to a killing campaign at the start. One dissenter was Higiro, theburgomaster of Musebeya. This mountainous commune, remote from the prefectural center and bordered on the west by the Nyungwe forest was home to just under 40,000 people in April 1994, only 300 to 400 of them Tutsi. Only one percent of the population, the Tutsi were so few and so well-integrated with Hutu through marriage, friendship, and clientage arrangements—some of them spanning up to five generations—that Musebeya looked unlikely to be a center of virulent anti-Tutsi sentiment. In addition, Higiro was a member of the PSD and hence seen as sympathetic to the RPF and probably to Tutsi in general.

Higiro had defeated Simba’s candidate, Ndizihiwe, to become burgomaster less than a year before and was engaged in an ongoing struggle for power with this MRND leader. He had supported several teachers in their efforts to oust Ndizihiwe as director of their school. Ndizihiwe was then implicated in a grenade attack which killed one of these teachers. He had been removed from the directorship of the school and was facing judicial charges when the genocide began.When teachers at the school were asked to elect a new director, Higiro played a role in defeating Ndizihiwe’s candidate, providing yet one more reason for enmity between the two men. Higiro’s house was attacked in January 1993 and, believing that Ndizihwe was armed, the burgomaster sought unsuccessfully to obtain a gun for his own protection.46

The PSD and hence Higiro had local support partly because the minister of agriculture, who was a PSD leader, had taken the side of local people in a dispute over the use of land by the CZN project. Supposedly intended to increase agricultural production for local residents, the foreign-funded project had been turned to other ends by powerful actors, including high-ranking soldiers linked to Habyarimana. In a region where fertile land was scarce, CZN had been allowed to displace cultivators from plots they had farmed and improved for years. In addition, the project had transformed lightly wooded areas on the edge of the forest into pasturage for the cattle of the wealthy rather than into arable plots for the hungry. Foreign funding for CZN was suspended during 1993. In August, CZN workers went on strike. At this point a detachment of National Police were sent to Gatare, where they still were in April 1994. The director of the CZN in Musebeya was Celestin Mutabaruka, who was president of the Union social des démocrates chrétiens (UNISODEC) political party.47

It was because conflict between the MRND and the PSD in Musebeya was still so bitter that some Hutu also feared attack and fled on April 7 while others renounced the PSD or MDR for a safer haven within the MRND in the days just after the violence began.

The Burgomaster Opposes the Genocide

When Higiro learned of Habyarimana’s death on the morning of April 7, his first reaction was to seek direction and help from above. He began calling his party leaders and other important people in Kigali. No one answered. Those party leaders and other powerful people who might have provided guidance and helped organize opposition to the genocide were all dead or in flight. Higiro recalls, “I was lost.”49 When several important members deserted the local PSD for the MRND, Higiro saw his support from below shrink as well.50 Increasingly isolated, he could rely on an important source of help in trying to keep order: Major Cyriaque Habyarabatuma, a native of Musebeya, who was commander of the National Police of Butare prefecture. Based in the town of Butare, an hour and a half away by road, Habyarabatuma came home to Musebeya right after the plane crash to insist that anyone who killed others would himself be killed. In the first few days, Higiro used this threat to intimidate potential assailants. The burgomaster also had support from the four communal police, who were commanded by a brigadier who was himself Tutsi.51

Beginning on April 8 and 9, assailants crossed into Musebeya from Muko to attack Tutsi in Nyarwungo and Rugano, the two sectors closest to Muko and the two with the highest concentration of Tutsi population. The Musebeya people, Tutsi and Hutu, resisted the attacks. Beginning on April 8, the burgomaster went around the commune, trying to persuade people to stay at home as the government had requested over the radio.52 He also called together the councilors to get information on what was happpening in the various sectors. Later in the day, he closed down the usual Friday market because he feared the crowd might get out of hand. On April 9 he held a meeting in the sector Nyarwungo, to urge people to continue resisting attacks from Muko.53 In testimony about the period, one survivor who had been hidden by a Hutu family commented spontaneously about Higiro:

There was the burgomaster whose name was Higiro Viateur. When people were killing others, he prevented them from killing, saying: “don’t kill.” He held meetings in the sectors to prevent attacks. I know this because the people who were hiding me told me so.54

Meanwhile active supporters of the MRND challenged Higiro’s authority and his message. A group of “intellectuals”—that is, people with higher education and salaried employment—who gathered frequently at a bar owned by a teacher named Etienne Mugema urged others to take revenge against the “accomplices” who were responsible for Habyarimana’s death. These troublemakers, reportedly led by Ndizihiwe, turned Higiro’s request for people to stay at home against him, saying that he wanted to keep people in their houses so that the Inkotanyi could come and kill them there. Ndizihiwe denies this charge, saying that he stayed at home during these days, a contention supported by his wife.55

During the weekend of April 9 and 10, as RTLM pushed people to see the Tutsi as the prime enemy, the raiders from both the north and the south attacked Musebeya and convinced a few residents of the commune to cooperate with them,first by pointing out the homes of Tutsi, then by joining in the attacks.56 By Monday morning April 11, some thirty Tutsi families had been attacked. Seeing a steady increase in the extent and intensity of the attacks, Higiro called for help from the prefect, Bucyibaruta, who sent four National Policemen from the detachment in Gikongoro town.

Higiro put the police to use almost immediately. A Hutu who was protecting Tutsi was attacked and he sent a child to get help from the burgomaster. Higiro went to the place immediately with three of the National Policemen who dispersed the large crowd simply by firing in the air. As the threatened Hutu recalls:

Before the burgomaster and the police left, they spread the word that we should bring everyone who was in hiding to them. “I’ll protect them at the commune,” the burgomaster said. So I looked for those who had hidden in the[fields of] sorghum and in the bush. I brought them to my house. Then, at night, I took them to the commune. We arrived there very early in the morning. Even though this was dangerous, I wanted to do it. I wanted to do it for my friends, my neighbors. I didn’t want them to have problems.57

These Tutsi stayed a day or two at the commune, fed by Hutu neighbors and friends and guarded by the communal and National Police. Then they decided to leave for Butare where several of them had a relative, a brother of the Marist congregation. After a telephone conversation with the brother, they asked Higiro’s help in leaving. He arranged for the health center ambulance to transport as many as possible of the group and he also took care to get the needed fuel. He sent them off with an assistant burgomaster and two National Policemen whom he paid for the service. When the group arrived in the town of Gikongoro, half an hour away from the final destination of Butare, the authorities there refused to allow them to go any further. The Tutsi were taken to the bishopric in Gikongoro town. Soon after they were transported to a still unfinished government technical school set high on a hill at a place called Murambi just northwest of town. There all except one of the Musebeya people were slaughtered with thousands of other Tutsi. The survivor, an eight-year-old child, lay hidden under the body of his father. The childwas found by local people, who took him in and cared for him for two years. In 1996, he was reunited with an uncle, one of the few surviving adults in the family.58

Simba Takes the Lead

Once Simba arrived, he took charge of the genocide in Musebeya as well as in the wider area.59 Relying on his obvious wealth and power, his association with the slain president, his status as colonel, his position as head of the MRND in Gikongoro, Simba effectively countermanded Higiro’s directives about keeping order. He congratulated assailants, pushing them to do more. In the company of his local supporters, Simba supposedly did the rounds of the bars “buying beer for people, saying ‘Organize—you!’ and then going on to the next center to do the same.” Everywhere Simba went, he incited Hutu to “work” and he reportedly distributed money to young men in payment for their assaults on Tutsi. When people objected that the burgomaster had told them not to do such things, Simba supposedly replied, “Whom do you trust? Now the situation is different from what it was.”60 Indeed it was very different from nine months before when Higiro had been able to defeat Simba’s candidate for the post of burgomaster. Now the genocide had begun, proclaimed by national leaders via the radio. As the local leader of that campaign, Simba had grown stronger and Higiro, deprived of protection from above and unsure of support from below, was weakened.

With Simba’s leadership, new recruits joined the original small group of organizers, including former soldiers, staff of the CZN and other assistance projects, teachers, councilors, and local party leaders, including some from MDR-Power as well as MRND and parties related to it. Simba’s son and a soldier whowas a nephew of Ndizihiwe reportedly helped their relatives lead the campaign.61 In the first days, those advocating attacks on the Tutsi had worked furtively at night, but as they grew in number, they became bolder.62

Before April 6, the MRND, the MDR and the PSD had youth wings—some even used the same names as the names used for the militia elsewhere in Rwanda—but they served primarily as singers and dancers for party propaganda sessions. Witnesses agree that they had not been armed or trained to kill, a conclusion that seems reasonable given the continuing conflict between the burgomaster and his MRND rival. It would have been difficult for the MRND or the CDR to have given military training to young people without having attracted the attention of Higiro, who would have had every reason to publicize and oppose such preparations.

In the absence of militia ready to strike, leaders at first gathered assailants informally, often recruiting them from bars in the evenings. After attackers returned from early raids gloating over the goods they had pillaged, others decided to participate as well. As one witness remarked, “They said to themselves, ‘I am poor and young. My friends have gone out and brought back things and here I am with nothing. I’ll go too.’”63 Older people who wanted to recapture the glory and profit of the 1959 revolution remembered having killed and pillaged then without punishment and decided to do it again. MDR-Power leader Samuel Rutasi was reportedly involved in killings in 1963 as well as in 1994. One witness whose families suffered from both these attacks found it understandable that Rutasi would attack again since he had not been punished the first time. He commented, “This is an example of what happens when there is no justice.”64

Sometimes the attackers donned banana leaves, particularly if they were going to raid outside the commune, where they might not be immediately recognized as part of the strike force. Those led by traders or other well-to-do leaders were transported out to the site of the attack and back in vehicles. The others set off on foot, following a leader who usually had a whistle which he blew to attract otherparticipants as the group went along. The chief organizer was entitled to certain benefits, such as possession of any cattle taken in the raid. As the attackers followed the path, they would often sing, both to build up courage and to draw others into joining them. The groups agreed more or less upon “territories” to attack so that they avoided conflict with each other.65

While greed motivated some, fear induced many others to attack or to refuse help to Tutsi. People were afraid of the RPF who, the radio said, were killing Hutu with great cruelty.66 But many Hutu were more immediately afraid of fellow Hutu, including local authorities and political leaders.

At the start, some Hutu opened their homes to Tutsi; but as the violence grew, more and more simply closed the door. A group of women from Nyarwungo sector recalled the genocide as a time when “Everyone was for himself.” They explained:

Life was paralyzed. Children didn’t go to school. Cultivators didn’t go to the fields. The churches and markets stopped. All due to fear....We asked ourselves if night would come to be followed by a day that we would wake to see....We knew it was the time to hide, just hide and not look so they wouldn’t kill you.67

A witness from another sector spoke in the same vein: “People wanted to stay at home so as not to see anything awful. But, of course, you heard things anyway.”68

Another resident traced the role of fear in transforming Musebeya from a place where Tutsi were protected to a place where most Tutsi were slain.

On the first day, those who went out were people from the MRND, the CDR, and former soldiers. But on the following days, others joined...those who refused to participate were called “accomplices” (ibyitso) and the others threatened them:

“Come with us and join us or we will kill you.” Pushed to go out with their neighbors, they were pushed again once they were out with them. Forexample, the group would capture someone and then say, “Now kill her to show that you are really with us!”69

The Barriers

With the burgomaster opposed to executing the genocide, local leaders of the CDR and MDR-Power put up the first barriers, followed soon after the appearance of a total of three roadblocks in the vicinity of the project headquarters at Gatare. Those who maintained the barriers counted on robbing their victims, but they also enjoyed regular support from the patrons who had established the roadblocks. Government employees “financed”—that is, supplied the beer for—the guards at the barrier at Gatovu, an important intersection with the road that went to Kaduha.71

After national authorities insisted that everyone must participate in the work of barriers and patrols as part of the “self-defense” effort, the burgomaster and councilors also put up barriers and ensured that they were carefully guarded particularly towards the end of April, when the flow of displaced persons from the east increased.72 Ordinarily at least one former soldier was posted at each of the most important barriers, those at Gasenyi, at Gatovu, at Kwitaba, and at the CZN project.73 In describing how the officially-sanctioned barriers functioned, one resident of Musebeya stated:

All men worked at the barriers. This was required. It was organized by the councilor of the sector who compiled a list of those who would work. Hewould go to the families and write down the name of the head of the family and all those boys over eight years old. The councilors and the cell leaders verified who went and who did not....The cell leader did much of the listing of who lived in his cell. It was not random choosing. There was hierarchy and politics involved in the choice of who would work....Also the councilor and the cell leader had to find the place to put up the barrier. Then they had to find the people...and inform them which day they had to go to work.74

She then went on to make a distinction between guarding a barrier and actually taking lives: “Going to work at the barrier was obligatory. But killing was by choice. Authorities required people to work at the barrier, but not to kill.”75 Those barriers where guards were disposed to kill easily were known and identified by witnesses as more dangerous than others. A witness recounted that the one at Gatovu was particularly difficult to pass and that a number of people fleeing from killings at Kaduha and Mushubi, some of them already wounded, were slain by machete there. “At the barrier, you showed your identity card and they killed you if you were Tutsi.” Another witness stated that a Hutu relative of his was killed at a barrier because his identity card included the notation “I.” which was taken by the guards to stand for Inkotanyi and the person was killed.76

“We Must Exterminate Them All!”

Many survivors have testified about the dogged tracking of Tutsi throughout the genocide. A woman of Musebeya related the narrative of her weeks of hiding as if in a trance, the twisting of her long hands and the goose-flesh on her arms the only visible signs of emotion. First attacked on April 9, she was not safe until early July when French troops arrived in Musebeya.

The witness had been born in Karambo commune. A widow with three daughters, she had married a widower with four sons who lived in Musebeya. The family lived in the sector of Rugano, near the border of Karambo on the east and Muko on the north. She learned of the killings in Mushubi parish, Muko, on April 7 and, she says, “The next day, Friday the 8th, I stayed at home. I was waiting to be killed.” The attackers reached her home the morning after, April 9, at 10 a.m.As the family ran away, the attackers pillaged everything in the house. Her husband fled with his sons toward Kaduha parish but he was killed on the way “because he ran more slowly than the boys.” She fled to a neighbor but was found the next morning. The attackers permitted her to return home because she was a woman and had only daughters with her. Three hours later they came again, demanding money. When she said she had none, they said they would kill her, but they left her under the guard of one of their group while they went after other Tutsi. The guard permitted her and her daughters to escape. She declared:

I fled, following a small river. The attackers saw us and said, “Ah! Catch that little animal who is fleeing!” As we ran, I knew that we were being pursued. We went toward the bush. I saw a man and asked him, “Are they nearby?” He told me, “They are looking for you in the banana grove. Other people say you have passed there.” This man who helped me was named Faustin.77

I crossed into Karambo commune where I spent the night at Faustin’s house and hid there the next day, all day. Faustin had a brother in the National Police, who is now in Zaire. The leader of the attack told Faustin’s brother, “We must find the Inkotanyi who have gone back to their home communes.” Faustin hid us, telling his brother that there was nobody there.

On Monday, April 11, a group of about forty people from Musebeya attacked the hill where I was hiding in Karambo. The whole hill from Karambo went to resist the attack at the Rurongora River. The Karambo people asked those coming from Musebeya, “What are you looking for?” The Musebeya people replied, “We are looking for this woman.” The Karambo people asked, “Why are you seeking her, did she do something bad?” The Musebeya people said, “Because we killed the others and to complete our work, we must kill her too.” Then they began to fight, with the Karambo people saying, “You’ll take her after you die in this attack!”

The Musebeya attackers fought for some time and then said, “You are strong. We will go and get the National Police and come back with them tomorrow!” Among the National Policemen was Faustin’s brother. Faustin told us, “I’ve got to move you away from here to save you.” He brought us to a small forest. We rested there, hiding. We saw people passing through, coming from pillaging....I told the children, “Do not scream!” They stayed quiet. Later Faustin brought food for the children to the forest. He had to return home fast because he did not want anyone to notice.

While we were hiding in the forest, we saw old women who could not flee together with their grandchildren. They were being killed on the Musebeya side of the river. The old women were wearing pagnes [lengths of cloth] and the attackers took them off and killed them all with machetes. I left the forest and went on to sector Rusekera [back in Musebeya.] When I got there, I met some friendly families who took one of my children, and another family took another, and I was left with only the youngest child. I left my children with these families in order to hide. But still attackers were coming to look for us.

Most people in this sector did not participate in the genocide. In fact, when the attackers came, the people chased them away. This occurred every day I was there and I stayed there for some time. The family that hid us sometimes told us that we could go out and stretch ourselves and get some exercise. When I went out occasionally, I could see what was happening on the nearby hills because this was during the day. I could see—and they told me—that attackers were still searching on the nearby hills. People came to the house to give the news that even Tutsi girls who were married to Hutu men were being killed.

The attackers in Musebeya wore banana leaves, especially around their heads like a kind of crown, and carried spears, but the people in Karambo wore banana leaf belts and other leaves tied around their shoulders and chests. They carried wooden clubs studded with nails. I saw National Police who shot at the houses that were made of durable material, because the walls were not so easily broken as walls of mud and packed earth. I saw the houses doused with gasoline to make them burn more easily.

The attackers made lots of noise and blew on whistles. And they shouted, “We must exterminate them all.” Even if people were hiding, the attackers could find them in the night and then they blew on whistles to call the rest of the group to come. Sometimes they seemed intoxicated on marijuana.78 Women came behind the attackers to pillage. They also did a kind of security detail to see who was hiding. For example, they would keep track of who was in a house by the kind of laundry that was put out to dry.

During that time there were also barriers. They stopped everyone at the barriers to see if they were from my family and if they were, they would be killed. Those who were fleeing at night accidentally ran into barriers. When I was leaving the forest, I passed at Gasenyi and saw a fire. The fire showedthat there was a barrier. If there had been no fire, I would have walked into the barrier.

In the final week, the family who was hiding me met the burgomaster79 and he said, “Get out of here! You are hiding Inkotanyi. But on Monday, I’ll be coming!”

Fortunately, on Saturday the French came and they took us away to Gikongoro. The family that had hidden me did not go with us to Gikongoro. When the attackers saw the vehicle leaving, they said to that family, “You said you never had any Inyenzi at your place, but now we see that they are leaving in a vehicle for Gikongoro!”80

“No Words for Solving the Problem”

Like the burgomaster of Musebeya, some other authorities apparently reacted initially by trying to stop the violence. The burgomaster of Kinyamakara imprisoned those whom he caught pillaging and burning in the first few days.81 In Kivu commune, the burgomaster set off with communal police, the Judicial Police Inspector and other judicial authorities to halt the burning and theft that began on April 11. They frightened the criminals by shooting in the air and then arrested three.82 On April 8, the sub-prefect of Kaduha also began arresting assailants and by April 20 had imprisoned eighty-five persons accused of attacking Tutsi.83

Having given at least a semblance of an appropriate response, these administrators looked to the prefect, Bucyibaruta, for guidance and support. The prefect, however, had decided to support the interim government and had dutifully answered the summons to a meeting with his fellows and national authorities in Kigali on April 11. When Bucyibaruta returned to Gikongoro, he gathered together his sub-prefects and burgomasters to review the security situation. According to an administrator who attended, the burgomasters of Gikongoro, like those of Gitarama, received no support in trying to quell the violence. He declared:

In that meeting, there were no words for solving the problem. They were lost. Some said, “exterminate.” Others were afraid. This is why it turned into a catastrophe. They were saying, “We have to stop this,” but those who were making decisions did not know what to do.84

Another official present at the meeting made a similar assessment:

There were never any directives. In the meetings of the burgomasters, we were never told what to do. Each burgomaster would just report what was happening in his commune, how many people were killed, where there was violence. And then the meetings would close. We would just make reports, but we were never given any guidance. The burgomasters were just left on their own. 85

The absence of support for efforts to protect Tutsi was a powerful, though unstated, message. Administrators did not need to be told “kill Tutsi” to understand that this was the approved policy. Bucyibaruta does not seem to have been an enthusiastic supporter of the genocide, but, a loyal bureaucrat, he failed to oppose his superiors and left those who were opposed to the killing without a model and without protection, making it unlikely that any of them would take risks to stop the slaughter.

Attacking Dissenters

Although the burgomaster of Musebeya had received no encouragement or direction from the April 12 meeting with the prefect, he was still willing to try to halt the killings. In the early afternoon of the next day, April 13, a crowd attacked Tutsi in sector Rugano. En route home, they passed not far from the communal office, screaming and blowing their whistles. Higiro, backed by the Judicial Police Inspector and four National Policemen, went out to confront the assailants. They numbered about 150 people, mostly from Mudasomwa but strengthened by some from Musebeya. Under the command of a former soldier, they were armed with machetes, swords, bows and arrows, and spears. Higiro’s police went after the leader and beat him badly. His followers carried him home to Mudosomwa where he died almost immediately. After the struggle, Higiro went back to the office andtelephoned the sub-prefect and the prefect, who supposedly listened to his report and “said nothing.”86

Organizers of the genocide within Musebeya found Higiro was hindering their efforts and they sought to get rid of him. Borrowing a tactic often used in kubohoza to oust unpopular local officials, they wrote to higher authorities, including the president and the minister of defense, complaining about Higiro and asking for his removal. The first letter, dated April 14, the day after Higiro had confronted the killers, declared that the burgomaster had helped Tutsi flee to Butare, referring to the group whom he had helped get as far as Gikongoro several days before. It said that these Tutsi intended to go to Burundi to join up with the RPF so that they could return later to attack Rwanda. Between April 18 and April 24, the group sent other letters to the National Police at Gikongoro. They asked for help in getting rid of Higiro whom they accused of being paid by the RPF.87

Higiro had often been called an “accomplice” privately in the months before, but it was only during the genocide that opponents dared bring the charge openly against him. One day the councilor Innocent Ngiruwonsanga, a protégé of Ndizihiwe, and others caused a commotion in the market by blowing whistles and shouting that they had seen Inkotanyi at Higiro’s house. A crowd gathered and went to surround Higiro’s house. He called the four National Police from the communal office to come defend him and then permitted his house to be searched. The crowd found nothing. After this incident, his wife begged Higiro to flee Musebeya that night but he refused to do so.88

On another occasion, Higiro tried to take some Tutsi past the CZN barrier run by the head of the CDR. He was detained by aggressive guards who demanded to know who were these Inkotanyi. He was able to continue on his way only after long discussion.89

In the commune of Kinyamakara, the burgomaster Charles Munyaneza—though a member of the MRND—tried to quell violence against the Tutsi during the early part of April. The son of a Tutsi mother, he was known for his good relations with Tutsi. But, as in Musebeya, local political leaders wereready to act if the burgomaster refused to support the slaughter. After National Policemen passing through the commune had given the signal to start killing Tutsi, a sector leader for MDR-Power reportedly brought together about one hundred assailants who burned and pillaged first in his own sector of Kiyaga, then in other sectors.90 An official who observed the spread of violence remarked,

Before this time, there had been killings in Mudasomwa and no one had reacted. There had been killings at Nyamagabe and no one had reacted. Killings were going on in Kivu and Nshili. So it is not surprising that it also started in Kinyamakara....[When it began] the councilors had no power to stop the attacks because they had no guns. They continued to have power only if they cooperated with the attacks. [T]he burgomaster was the only one who could oppose the attacks because he had guns at his disposal.91

When the burgomaster did try to stop the killing, he was labeled an “accomplice” of the enemy. A crowd attacked his house where he had hidden Tutsi who had fled from slaughter in the neighboring commune of Nyamagabe. In the assault, Munyaneza and those with him managed to fight off the assailants, killing five in the process.92

National Authorities Spur the Slaughter

Just as the interim government and its political and military collaborators decided to extend the genocide to Gitarama and Butare, so they decided to intensify and accelerate it in Gikongoro. To implement this decision, Interim President Sindikubwabo came to Gikongoro in person on April 18 or 19, just before his visit to Butare. He met with the prefect and a few others, certainly including the commander of the National Police in Gikongoro and his second in command. The message he delivered was not broadcast, but everyone could surmise what he had said because his speech in neighboring Butare was transmitted on the national radio. Everyone understood. Dissenters, particularly among local authorities, found themselves increasingly threatened. A burgomaster expressed the isolation and futility that he felt:

The burgomaster, who is the immediate head of security for the commune, has to report to the sub-prefect and to the police commander. The burgomaster has to submit to the system. The sub-prefect, who was my direct superior, and to whom I reported, did nothing. The police commander of Gikongoro, who is in charge of security, did nothing. Ultimately, the system to which I submitted did nothing to help me.93

With the unmistakable signs that those bent on genocide were in control, those who had opposed the killing withdrew into passivity or themselves took on the active role of genocidal leaders.94

Kivu: Evading Responsibility

The burgomaster of Kivu, Juvénal Muhitira, reportedly tried to avert a tragedy at the church of Muganza, located in his commune. He chose to do so in a way which offered the least risk to himself, even though it was also the least likely to guarantee protection to Tutsi who had sought refuge in the church.

He began correctly enough by posting four communal policemen at the church where hundreds of Tutsi, many of them women and children, had gathered.95 Around 10 a.m. on April 12, a crowd of 300 to 400 armed people moved towards the church, some of them from the sectors of Kivu commune near Mudasomwa, others from neighboring Rwamiko commune. When the burgomaster confronted the attackers they demanded that the Tutsi, as the “chief enemy” be chased from the commune.96 The burgomaster used his authority to calm the crowd and then went to summon the Sub-Prefect Biniga. The sub-prefect came back, talked some with the leaders of the assailants, and told them to disperse for the moment until he had time to talk with the prefect. Biniga did not return or communicate further with the burgomaster until three weeks later when he came back, “singing victory,” and boasting about the slaughter of the Tutsi and the MRND victory.97

With no word from Biniga and the crisis unresolved, Muhitira decided to take the issue to the prefect. By this time, the commune no longer had a working telephone. Instead of sending a messenger to the prefecture, as was usual, he set off in the communal vehicle, knowing it was in poor repair. He spent the entire day going to and from the prefecture, with no result because the prefect was dealing with another crisis and unable to see him. When he returned home, he learned that the church had been attacked in his absence and that one of the assailants had been killed.98

When Muhitira went to the church the next morning, he found that many more Tutsi had streamed in from the communes of Rwamiko, Mubuga, and Nshili as well as from Kivu. He estimated the crowd as numbering 16,000, with no food and, for most, no shelter. The Tutsi themselves supposedly asked him to appeal once more to the prefect both for protection and for food. Rather than send a written appeal, Muhitira set out once more for Gikongoro the next morning, Friday, April 15. He was finally able to see the prefect in the afternoon and was sent on to Major Bizimungu who commanded the police brigade. Presented with the request for National Police, the major responded that since so many of his men had been transferred to the front to fight the RPF, he had none to send to protect the church. But he told Muhitira to go ask for help from the police post at Nshili, in the commune next to Kivu, and he gave him a note to the officer in charge there.99

Muhitira returned to Kivu that evening, April 15, to learn that the assailants had again attacked the church. They were people from Kivu commune, sectors of Shaba, Cyanyirankora and Kivu, led by former soldiers or National Policemen. The assailants had been driven back by the Tutsi and had then gone to the communal office, where they had overpowered the communal policemen and stolen some guns and ammunition. The attackers returned to attack the church once more. This time they killed twenty-four Tutsi and lost one or more of their own number. According to Muhitira,

The attackers fought until the bullets were all used. Then they fled....And they left behind a threat for me. “They’ve got guns,” I told myself. I couldn’t sleep at my house. I slept outdoors with two policemen. My family left the house also.100

The same kinds of political realignments that had weakened the burgomaster of Musebeya were also taking place in Kivu. Muhitira was a member of the MDR which together with the PSD had displaced the MRND as the leading party in the commune. With the new focus on the ethnic issue, with the increasingly angry accusation that the PSD was a party of the Inkotanyi, and with the slaughter of their leaders in Kigali, PSD members felt threatened and quit the party. They rejoined the MRND, leaving Muhitira and his MDR supporters now in the minority. Muhitira had been hearing threats against himself for several days, but he took them more seriously after the assailants captured the communal guns and ammunition.

Muhitira left at daybreak April 16 for the police post at Nshili. To avoid being seen by the assailants, he took a less traveled road through the forest instead of the usual road that passed by the church. At Nshili, the lieutenant in command had gone to Gikongoro and none of his subordinates could help Muhitira. He states:

There were already twenty-four dead and now there was no help [to be had]. This overwhelmed me. I had planned to get the National Police and then conduct a meeting in the commune. But now I had no National Police.101

During the night of April 15 to 16, the vast majority of people at Muganza church fled. They had heard of a horrible massacre the previous day at Kibeho church and anticipated the same fate for themselves if they did not act. When the assailants arrived at the church on the morning of April 16—no doubt at about the same time when the burgomaster was deliberately taking the other road away from the church—they slaughtered those who were left, those too old, weak, or injured to have fled with the others. Fewer people were killed at Muganza than at other churches, probably hundreds rather than thousands of people, but the relatively low death toll was due to Tutsi having taken the initiative of fleeing, not to officials having succeeded in protecting them.102

At about 10 in the morning of April 16, Muhitira returned to discover the slaughter at the church and once more took the road to Gikongoro to tell the prefect what had happened. The prefect said he was “sorry.” At this point, Muhitira tried to resign, apparently out of concern for his own safety as much as from revulsion against the genocide. In addition to the threats on his life, he had been attacked at a barrier in Rwamiko, where the windshield of his vehicle was broken. The prefectpersuaded him to stay on. Muhitira says, “He told me to follow the orders of the military,” meaning the National Police.103 Muhitira then went to the National Police headquarters, where he saw the second in command, presumably Captain Sebuhura, who had with him the lieutenant from the Nshili camp. They promised to assure his security and gave him a National Police guard. Muhitira and the guard returned to the commune, where the National Policemen organized the burial of the bodies.

Eliminating the Tutsi at Musebeya

On April 18, a crowd of some 300 assailants massed outside the Musebeya office, where there were then forty-seven Tutsi taking shelter. The attackers were mostly local people, armed with spears, machetes, and clubs, but included also some former soldiers armed with grenades.104

The burgomaster Higiro reasoned with the crowd until late in the afternoon. Although he had police to back him up, he did not order them to shoot. In the opinion of one witness, even had Higiro done so, his order would have been ignored.105 At the end of the afternoon, Higiro convinced the assailants to go away and come back the next day. That night he arranged to transport the Tutsi to the parish at Kaduha, near the center of the sub-prefecture. Tutsi from Musebeya and other communes had taken refuge at Kaduha in prior times of trouble and some, anticipating that they would again have security there, had fled to the Kaduha church spontaneously as early as April 9. The commune had no vehicle large enough to transport the Tutsi, so they took up a collection for the money needed to rent a truck. The next morning at 4 a.m., Higiro, along with some policemen, escorted the Tutsi to Kaduha and installed them in one of the classrooms at the parish school with the help of the sub-prefect Joachim Hategekimana and other officials. He then returned to Musebeya.106 As with the earlier attempt to send Tutsito safety in Butare, the transport to Kaduha in the end only postponed the slaughter. Higiro may well have anticipated or even known that such would be the result; taking them to Kaduha removed them from the commune but may not have completely ended his responsibility for their fate.

Also on April 18, some seventy Tutsi were taken from the small church at Gatare and were slain beside the road in the forest belongiong to the CZN project. The Tutsi had been promised transportation to some safe place, perhaps to Kibuye or to Kaduha. Sergeant Sothere, in command of the National Policemen in Musebeya, came with six of his men in a blood-soaked vehicle to report the deaths at the communal office. He told the brigadier of the communal police to inform the burgomaster that the people from Gatare were dead. A witness reports, “They didn’t explain anything. They just told the brigadier, ‘Tell the burgomaster that the people from Gatare are dead.’”108

The lure of safety at Kaduha was used to get Tutsi to embark willingly on a journey to death in the neighboring commune of Muko as well. The burgomaster loaded the Tutsi men who had been camped at the communal office for about ten days into vehicles, promising to deliver them to the church at the sub-prefectural center. They were all massacred en route. Those who had stayed at the communal office, women and children, were killed some time after.109

Massacre at Kaduha

The church at Kaduha sits high on a hill, with a primary school just above and a hospital down to the left. At the time the Human Rights Watch/FIDH team visited the site in February 1995, authorities had recently exhumed hundreds of bodies after rains had washed away the soil from three shallow mass graves near thechurch. Between 500 and 1,000 bodies lay on two biers, each about ninety feet long. There were other mass graves near the school and twelve more across the road from the church and school. At the time of the visit, classes had recently resumed at the school. Clothing and bones were still strewn about the site. Some school children played next to scattered rib-bones of other small children. The church buildings showed signs of forcible entry and desperate struggle. The kitchen area had been blown apart, probably by a grenade. Some of the doors had been pried open. Bloody finger streaks were on the walls, as were marks of machetes. Windows and walls were pocked with bullet holes.

Soon after the news arrived of Habyarimana’s death, “intellectuals” began spreading the rumor that Tutsi were preparing to kill Hutu. Sub-prefect Joachim Hategekimana called for National Police from Gikongoro on April 7. Three policemen were sent but instead of protecting Tutsi they arrested four that same evening, supposedly for having violated the curfew. They detained them, including two employees of the Projet de Développement Agricole de Gikongoro, for several days and beat them badly before releasing them.110

The sub-prefect brought together his administrative subordinates early in the crisis and, like the prefect, directed them just to ensure that information was reported up the chain of command, from the heads of cells to the councilors to the burgomasters to the sub-prefect. According to an administrative official, they “were to follow [each incident], reacting after something happened but not in advance.”111

The sub-prefect arrested assailants beginning on April 8, when he went to investigate the killings at Mushubi church in Muko.112 When he came across a group besieging a Tutsi house, he and the police with him gave chase and shot and killed one of the assailants. A week later, on April 15, he and some policemen disarmed a large crowd of people at the Masizi market who were massing to attack Tutsi who had sought refuge at the Musange communal office. According to a witness, the police fired in the air and the crowd dispersed, leaving behind enough spears, machetes, clubs, and other weapons to “nearly fill a room.”113

But Hategekimana declined to take responsibility for protecting Tutsi at his own office. One witness who arrived at the sub-prefecture at about 6 p.m.on April 9 with a group from Muko explains, “We went there because it was the seat of government power for the region and we thought we would get protection there.”114 The hope may have been all the greater because Kaduha was the home region of the prefect himself and people trusted that he would not allow massacres in his own backyard. The sub-prefect collected the machetes and spears which the Tutsi had brought with them and directed them to Kaduha church, saying there was no refuge to be had at his office. At this time, the churches had not yet become slaughterhouses and the Tutsi willingly took shelter there.115

As the attacks expanded from one hill to the next and from one commune to another, Tutsi found it impossible to stay in their homes and increasingly difficult to hide with Hutu neighbors. Assailants in Muko, for example, were threatening to make Hutu protectors kill any Tutsi whom they had sheltered.116 First hundreds, then thousands of people from Musebeya, Muko, Karambo, and Musange communes gathered at Kaduha parish center, in the church itself, in the adjoining schools, in the health center and in all the spaces in between. Tutsi from more distant regions, like parts of Muko, came first. Tutsi in the immediate vicinity of the church moved there only about April 14, when they were threatened with attacks by Hutu from the hills.117 Many Tutsi had come on their own, but some had come with the help of local officials, like those transported from Musebeya.118 In Muko, and perhaps elsewhere, the burgomaster had at first refused to help Tutsi flee to Kaduha, but later changed his position and began encouraging them to go there.119 Some survivors believe that authorities decided at a meeting at the sub-prefecture to attract Tutsi to Kaduha for one enormous massacre rather than to continue killing them in smaller numbers throughout the area. Such a decision would have been consistent with the pattern of killings elsewhere in the country.

Hategekimana installed five National Policemen to protect Tutsi at the church center. For the first week or so, the situation was calm, with Tutsi even going home when necessary to replenish their food supply. According to one witness,

During all of this time, Hutu and Tutsi in the community remained close together. Hutu neighbors brought food and brought the livestock that their Tutsi neighbors had left behind. Some people went home themselves to get things they had left.120

The witness indicates that the situation changed dramatically on April 17, just after the adoption of the more aggressive policy at the national level and the arrival of a new National Police officer, Sergeant-Major Ntamwemezi. She continues,

But, beginning the 17th, they began to prevent people...from bringing food and the Tutsi could no longer leave the church freely. They were stopped by people who put up barricades. If you decided to go out, if you decided to go home and get some food, they could kill you. Some people who went out were killed.121

On April 18, the newly arrived police sergeant-major together with the sub-prefect reportedly forced Tutsi to leave the hospital and go to the church area. A German nun, Sister Melgitta Kösser, who ran the health center was allowed to keep only Tutsi patients who appeared seriously ill.122

On April 19, the sub-prefect stopped arresting people for attacking Tutsi. On April 20, an administrative official observed that “all around there were groups who were organizing to come to Kaduha and exterminate the camp [i.e., the Tutsi camped at the church].” He stopped to speak to young people whom he did not recognize in the neighboring commune of Musange. They claimed to be from the area. He reports the exchange:

I saw that these young people were strangers and wearing military uniforms. But I could not really question this. I could not interfere with the military, but I suspected that they had been sent secretly. I saw that they were not from ourregion. I sensed that the situation had changed. I asked the head of the National Police, who was from Ruhengeri, but he said, “Don’t worry.”123

According to one witness, the sub-prefect himself searched Kaduha church for weapons the same day.124

Just before noon on April 20, the crowd raided livestock and other property of the people at the church. The Tutsi turned back the assailants with no loss of life. The National Police guarding the church were said to have persuaded the raiders to give up, perhaps because they realized the force was too small to overcome the Tutsi. Some witnesses say that the National Police advised the attackers to “go search for others and then return.”125

That day, the parish priest, a Burundian named Father Robert Nyandwi, sought out a Tutsi teacher at the parish elementary school who was hiding at her home. The teacher lived near a bar that was known to be a gathering place for the CDR. The priest told her that the attack would be launched from there. He reportedly insisted, “I’ll take you to the CND,” an ironic reference to the Conseil National de Développement, the national parliament building which was serving as RPF headquarters in Kigali. The teacher relates:

He grabbed me by the arm and...dragged me out into the street and we started to go on foot to the church. But when we got to the path, I saw there was a huge crowd of people wearing banana leaves and carrying machetes. I broke free from him and ran. I went to hide in the home of a friend. He [Father Nyandwi] wanted to turn me over to the crowd that was preparing to attack the church.126

The final attack began before dawn on April 21 when assailants threw grenades into the house where a number of Tutsi men had sought refuge, including those first arrested and beaten on April 7. When morning broke, a crowd of thousands from Musebeya, Muko and other communes attacked, supported by National Police, soldiers in civilian dress, and former soldiers. After several hoursof shooting and throwing grenades, the assailants paused temporarily while awaiting new supplies of ammunition. During that period, they continued killing by machete, spear, club, and other weapons. A witness who was in hiding nearby recounts,

I could hear gunfire and the explosion of grenades and the cries of people being killed. The attackers fired their guns and threw grenades into the crowd and then groups of killers with traditional weapons came in and killed those who were still alive. This began early in the morning on the 21st and it continued all day Thursday and all day Friday. On Friday, they mostly searched for people who were hiding.127

Another witness, present in the church, said that the grenade explosion served as a signal for the attack. He states:

The National Police who were supposed to protect us were lodged in the agricultural school. When we awoke and found we were surrounded, we tried to defend ourselves. We were more than they and so we were able to force them back by throwing rocks. But the National Police came to reinforce them....They began to organize the crowd. They fired their guns and threw grenades.128

This witness fled in a large group—he estimates it as about 1,000—at about 11 a.m., heading to the southeast. Another group also broke out of the encirclement and fled to the northeast. Each group encountered military and civilian assailants waiting along the roads for them. A new radio antenna had been installed in Kaduha shortly before and it may have made it easier for the police to inform their troops about the movements of the refugees. When the military encountered the fleeing Tutsi, they ordered them to sit down and then began firing on them and throwing grenades into their midst.129

The same day, assailants in Kaduha killed Oscar Gasana, the assistant prosecutor, his Tutsi wife and several of their children. Gasana was a moderate Hutu who had refused to cooperate in anti-Tutsi measures before the genocidebegan. He was one of those who could have mobilized resistance to the genocide in Kaduha. The bodies of Gasana and his wife were left naked on the street for some days, a mute reminder of the consequences of resisting.130

Simba was in Kaduha the day before the major attack in the company of militia leaders and, according to one witness, he arrived with a detachment of military from Gikongoro to launch the first attack with firearms on the church.131 National Police officers, led by Sergeant-Major Ntamwemezi, former soldiers and local soldiers in active service directed the attacks at Kaduha. A witness remarked on the role played by local soldiers and National Police who had returned home the week before from active duty elsewhere. He declared, “At the church I saw only National Police in uniform. These other soldiers and National Police....were camouflaged in civilian clothing, but they still had guns. I saw them myself.”132 Military also led the ambushes of groups in flight and directed the search for and execution of individual survivors. Militia, including groups brought from outside the region, such as the group sighted in Musange on April 20, backed up the professional military. Secondary school students from the north, temporarily housed at Kaduha, and staff of the health center also joined in the slaughter. One witness relates that the sergeant-major gave a prize of 30,000 Rwandan francs (about U.S.$170) to a student who had been the best killer and that Father Nyandwi rewarded him with a “radio cassette.”133 Here, as elsewhere, “intellectuals,” like teachers, schoolinspectors, and traders with access to vehicles, provided important support with logistics and organization.134

The great mass of assailants was made up of ordinary people from the surrounding communes, particularly Musebeya and Muko, as well as from Kaduha itself. One witness estimates that some 400 people came from Musebeya to kill and pillage. Many of them were transported to the first attack by vehicle, but in subsequent days they went on foot. The same persons who apparently organized the extermination of Tutsi in their home commune gathered together the assailants to kill at Kaduha. The day after the first attack, the organizers could be recognized by the new clothes that they were wearing, pillaged from the vicitims. According to one witness, they included communal councilors, party leaders like the local head of the CDR, and other “intellectuals” and traders. A witness from Musebeya states:

This group had motorcycles, and they went around from sector to sector to organize people to go to Kaduha. The people would come back at night, every night, and meet at Bar Mugema. They would buy drinks for everyone who helped them. Other people were told that if they joined in, they could get drinks bought for them as well. They said, “You can get free beer. Come with us tomorrow and then you can join us at the bar.” Every evening there was a meeting there at the bar to expand their group.135

Two witnesses place the sub-prefect Hategekimana at the church during the attack while other testimonies do not mention his presence.136 He asserts that he was at home at the time. He states that he heard the grenade explosions from his house:

It was in the night, at about 3 o’clock. I was not there. I stayed home, thinking, “This is the end of me.” The shooting went on until 2 p.m....When it stopped, a neighbor who was a methodist pastor came to my house and told me, “They have attacked the camp.” I told him, “Go home.” There were barriers all over the place. At 5 p.m., I did not hear any more shots. I startedtalking to the neighbors. At 6 p.m., I went and I saw the carnage. I saw that the National Police had participated also. I asked what they had hoped to accomplish...[but]they did not have to explain [to me].

I asked myself, “Where will I go?” But there were barriers everywhere. Where could I go with my children. And do what?137

Hategekimana knew the attack on Kaduha was being prepared, but did nothing to stop it, apparently because he was afraid of the military. When it was over, he reported the massacre to the prefect.138 Right after the massacre, “higher authorities” released the eighty-five persons whom Hategekimana had arrested at Kaduha during the previous two weeks and drove off in their car without further explanation. Hategekimana made no further arrests.139

One woman who survived the slaughter saw the National Police come back to the church on April 23 to organize burying the dead. They set about killing the survivors whom they found there. They hit the witness with a hammer and threw her into a pit. She managed to scramble out, but they caught her and threw her in again. She escaped once more and ran into the bush, where she hid for nine days. Then she was able to creep back to the residence of the nuns where she took shelter until the French arrived.140

The slaughter in Kaduha reinforced the message delivered by Sindikubwabo a few days before. Civilian officials understood and “took orders from the military” as the prefect had told the burgomaster of Kivu to do. In Kinyamakara, the burgomaster who at first tried responsibly to suppress the violence apparently became a leader of the slaughter after April 20. He released from the Kinyamakara jail Hutu who had been detained for their attacks on Tutsi and he supposedly mobilized the Hutu of his commune for attacks across the prefectural border into the hitherto peaceful commune of Ruhashya in Butare. “The violence came especially from the military authorities and no one could stop them,” was the assessment of one official.141

Higiro, the burgomaster, gave up public resistance in Musebeya after the Kaduha massacre. Although well aware of the steady erosion of his support within the commune, Higiro had had no sign of official disapproval from his superiors before Sindikubwabo’s visit. But, after that, when he went to Gikongoro town to attend a meeting mentioned to him by the burgomaster of Muko, he found that he was excluded from certain administrative gatherings. The sub-prefect for political and administrative affairs, Celestin Mushenguzi reportedly confronted him in the hall of the prefecture and asked why he had come when he had not been invited. Shut out by the hard-liners, Higiro went home. He states:

I went home in fear. At any time, they could set up a barrier for me and it would be finished. I had no means of escape. They kept me like a mouse inside a house. I was running around looking for hole in order to escape.142

Major Habyarabatuma had also been sent from his post in Butare to the front shortly before, leaving Higiro without a powerful military protector. The burgomaster reports that he hid with friendly families, not daring to stay in his own home. When he felt the need to show up at the communal office, he sent someone ahead to scout out the situation before going himself.143

Tightening Control

By the end of April, assailants had slain Tutsi in one attack after another in churches, schools, health centers, and communal offices. According to one administrative official, by this time “just about all the camps had been exterminated.”144 In smaller incidents out on the hills, assailants had killed large numbers of Tutsi either in the initial attacks or as they fled the sites of massacres. As one witness remarked, “Those Tutsi not killed the first day were pursued everywhere until they were finally slaughtered.”145

“Pacification” in Gikongoro

On April 26th, Prefect Bucyibaruta assembled the sub-prefects and the burgomasters to carry out orders from Kalimanzira of the Ministry of the Interior to tighten control over the killing campaign. Three days later, he issued a long and complex message to the population, summarizing the meeting. He insisted that reckless killing must be halted and remarked with concern, “The troubles are beginning to take on other dimensions [by which he apparently means other than killing Tutsi]: we see that people are being attacked for their property or are betrayed and killed out of hatred.” Later in the text, he elaborated on the different conflicts that were turning people against one another: quarrels over pillaged goods, disputes over land, harvests or other property left by Tutsi, and the desire to settle old scores, all of which caused divisions that could facilitate the advance of the enemy.

The prefect also explained that the disorder in Rwanda had caused foreigners to stop aiding the country. He warned, “As long as we are unable to rapidly stop these troubles, the enemy will profit from this and the international aid that was destined for our country may be delivered to the enemy instead of to us.” He bemoaned the damage and losses to schools, hospitals, and other public facilities in the course of the attacks and the paralysis of international and domestic trade that had resulted from the massive disorder. In great detail he depicted the consequences of the violence on the lives of all in the prefecture: the loss of educational opportunity for children, the difficulty of getting medical care, even the impossibility of getting prescriptions filled with pharmacies closed. He cautioned that involving children in violence now could result in harm to their parents in the future and he called for repentance and returning to God in shunning all evil acts.

After this grim preamble, the prefect announced a series of measures that would replace the looser conglomerate of killers with a more tightly controlled force through the self-defense program. He indicated that burgomasters had been directed to recruit people from each sector who would be given arms and proper training on how to use them. He called for the security committees to meet at the sectoral level to establish barriers and patrols to “discover the enemy who often infiltrates using different disguises.” He then prohibited “massacres, pillage, and other acts of violence of whatever kind” because the enemy could use such acts to blacken the reputation of Rwanda in the international community, causing the loss of much needed aid. He also directed the security committees to “publicly disavow” those who attacked others and he ordered officials to use force, if necessary, to eliminate groups of assailants. He insisted that people taken at barriers or during patrols be turned over to authorities instead of being dealt with by their captors. He also declared that any military materials, such as grenades, guns, uniforms and so on, must be turned in to the authorities before the next week.Persons found with such materials in their possession after that time would be considered “killer[s] or troublemaker[s]...who will be prosecuted according to the law without mercy.”

To avoid further conflict over property, the prefect ordered that land and other goods left by Tutsi would be administered by the communal authorities, who should begin to inventory such property immediately.

Bucyibaruta directed burgomasters to read his message to meetings of the population in their communes, for which he prepared a schedule. He delegated a prefectural official to be present at each meeting along with the burgomaster. Bucyibaruta informed the burgomasters that they were free to add their own ideas if they found something missing in his words, but they were to do so only after having read his message. Perhaps the presence of the prefectural officials was meant to ensure that this order be obeyed.146

Bucyibaruta himself took the liberty of adding to the message transmitted to him by the Ministry of the Interior. His text stretches to seven pages, while the original directive is less than a page long. Rather than merely mouthing the usual appeals for order, he crafted what appears to be a real and well-argued plea for ending the violence, stressing, of course, its unfortunate consequences for the population in general rather than the loss of lives among the Tutsi.147

The “pacification” meetings took place and the message was delivered, but the killing did not stop. Indeed, in many cases, the message simply presaged new slaughter as Tutsi were lured out of hiding. In the commune of Kinyamakara, the burgomaster held the meeting to announce the reestablishment of order, as directed, on April 29. Taking the directive to be genuine, an official brought his young brother-in-law to the meeting. He had been protecting the Tutsi at his house, which had been attacked twice. Anti-Tutsi leaders like the MDR-Power sector leader who had launched the first attacks in the commune (see above) and the head of the MRND youth wing wanted to attack both the official and his Tutsi relative immediately. A witness declared:

At the meeting, some asked, “Is it time to stop the killing while there are still Tutsi alive?” They had no shame asking that, even in public. It was the timeto kill. They did not even see that it was a human being that they were busy killing.148

In this case, the burgomaster protected the threatened persons, announcing that anyone who killed them would himself be pursued. But, after the meeting and its declaration of renewed security, says one witness, “authorities continued to meet with the leaders of the band to plan and direct searches for the [other] remaining Tutsi.”149 In many cases, Tutsi who emerged after the proclamation of the “peace” were immediately killed. The regularity with which the slaughter followed the statement of reassurance makes clear that the promise of safety was not a sincere guarantee which authorities were simply unable to enforce but rather a deliberate tactic to carry forward the genocide.

“Civilian Self-Defense” in Gikongoro

As is clear from the prefect’s message of April 29, burgomasters had already been charged at this time with recruiting young men for the self-defense units, which were to be organized by sector. But it was only on May 18 that the prefect notified burgomasters of Col. Simba’s appointment as “Civil Defense Counsellor” for the prefectures of Gikongoro and Butare, an arrangement which replicated the formal military structure with its commander responsible for both prefectures.

Sometimes people who had played little or no role in the genocide joined the self-defense program, but often it was the very same persons who led the killings at the start who later directed the self-defense recruitment.150 In Musebeya, the group who gathered regularly at Mugema’s bar are said to have organized the self-defense group, which took the name “The Nyungwe Battalion.” Those who were intended to do the fighting, however, were younger men who were trained by former soldiers and communal police as well as by Interahamwe militia who arrived from outside the region.151 Simba was in charge of distributing the guns which were then handed out, usually by the burgomasters in each commune.152

Simba eventually led some of these units, such as those from the communes of Kinyamakara, Rukondo, and Karama in attacking RPF troops near the town of Nyabisindu in Butare prefecture. The attack occurred at night and cost many, perhaps hundreds of lives, among the self-defense units. Poorly trained and inexperienced in handling their weapons, they were no match for the battle-hardened RPF troops. After this one experience, the self-defense units from Gikongoro apparently did not go to combat again.

The stated objectives of self-defense included not just fighting against the RPF but also “obtaining information about the actions or presence of the enemy in the commune, the cell or the neighborhood” and “denouncing infiltrators and accomplices of the enemy.”153 As the self-defense units were trained, they began to replace the less skilled and less structured groups on the barriers and in the patrols. According to one official, there were two kinds of barriers: “barriers against the war and barriers against an ethnic group, and these [i.e., the latter] were far away from the war.”154

Authorities put increasing importance on catching Tutsi at the barriers in May and June when many tried to flee, hidden in the tens of thousands of displaced persons who streamed into Gikongoro from the north and east, often en route for Cyangugu and eventually Zaire. They hoped that the self-defense units, commanded by people with military training, could be kept focused on eliminating the remaining Tutsi instead of drifting off into attacks for profit or for reasons of private vendetta against other Hutu. The importance of tightening control over the violence was underlined in mid-May when a group of Hutu killed Charles Nyilidandi, the Hutu burgomaster of Mubuga commune, apparently when he was trying to stop them from pillaging the property of a local development project.155

With the self-defense units being set up, ordinary citizens were in part relieved of the burden of killing and were supposed to return to “normality.” In accord with orders from the Ministry of the Interior, the prefect and his subordinates haddirected everyone to return to work on May 2.156 In early May they pressed hard to have schools reopened, which was done several weeks later. But beneath the veneer of normality, the killing continued. The massacres were finished, but individuals remained to be tracked down. In a new burst of activity in mid-May assailants intensified their searches, combing the bush and the fields of sorghum for survivors. At this time, they slaughtered many Tutsi women, including wives of Hutu, spared in most communities until then.157 Hutu husbands in Musebeya, for example, had been able to buy the safety of their Tutsi wives, to defend them by force, or to hide them successfully until May 16. On that date, many of these women were killed.158

Removing the Burgomaster of Musebeya

Under attack by local rivals, outweighed by the power of Simba, and unsupported by his superiors, Higiro had little authority to command the attention of local residents.159 His power slipped further when the four National Policemen who had been supporting him were recalled to the prefecture. His opponents then came around threatening him, “singing outside my office, that they were in control, that I was an Inyenzi accomplice. When I went to have a drink, they would announce as I went by in the bar, ‘There goes the Inyenzi.’”160 Higiro’s growing alienation from many local people came to a head over his failure to stop a group of pillagers who attacked the sector of Bushigishigi to raid cattle from wealthy Hutu. Higiro claimed he had not intervened because he had feared an ambush, but other accused him of having been in league with the pillagers.161

Higiro was removed as burgomaster following a meeting of prefects with higher members of the government at Gitarama on May 28, 1994. The sub-prefect of Kaduha, Hategekimana, informed Higiro of the decision immediately, but it was not announced until June 17. According to an official, Higiro was removed because“he was not dynamic, was leaning towards the RPF and was running a business in pillaged materials.”162 A Tutsi survivor from Musebeya had another assessment:

People said, “Give us a burgomaster who thinks as we do.” So they overthrew Higiro and they put in Ndizihiwe who was the chief of the attackers and the barriers. The family who was hiding me met Ndizihiwe Jean-Chrysostome at the market. Ndizihiwe was there saying, “Who favors Inkotanyi?” When he saw them, he confronted the family who was hiding me. He confronted them and intimidated them, saying, “It is thanks to Higiro that you are hiding Inkotanyi. You are doing this because he favors you. I will kill you all!”163

The sub-prefect Hategekimana arranged a semblance of consultation with the population and installed Ndizihiwe as burgomaster.164 The decision only confirmed officially the suffocation of opposition to the genocide that had happened over a period of weeks.

Symbolic of the change was the reaction of the new burgomaster to a call for help from a wealthy Hutu trader with a Tutsi wife. His home was attacked six times during the genocide. The first time, when assailants sought to kill Tutsi whom he had been sheltering, he had called for and received help from Higiro who had come with National Policemen to drive away the assailants. When assailants had returned on four subsequent occasions demanding his wife, the Hutu had bought them off or fought them off with the help of neighbors. When a crowd approximately one hundred strong appeared on July 2, anxious to kill one of the few Tutsi left in the community, the Hutu hurried to the commune for help. This time, the burgomaster was Ndizihiwe and there were no more National Police in Musebeya resisting the genocide. Ndizihiwe refused to help. When the husband returned home, he found his wife and her mother had been captured by the crowd. Fortunately, his neighbors had followed the attackers and persuaded them to relinquish the women.165

By early July, there were no more authorities to provide protection to Tutsi in Gikongoro. The prefect, able to craft a convincing appeal for an end to violence, never tried to back his words with action. The sub-prefect, who had found that themilitary owed him no explanation, had shut his door on preparations for a massacre. Muhitira of Kivu had given up public opposition and was “following the orders of the military” and Munyaneza of Kinyamakara was organizing attacks into the prefecture of Butare. Higiro of Musebeya, who had stood up to crowds of assailants on several occasions, had lapsed into inaction and had finally been replaced by Ndizihiwe.

The only ones left to protect the Tutsi were ordinary people, without authority but with a sense of common humanity.

1 René Lemarchand, Rwanda and Burundi (New York: Praeger, 1970), p. 224. 2 Michel Bagaragaza, head of OCIR-Thé, was from Habyarimana’s home region. In March of 1992 the tea marketing office delivered one million dollars worth of tea and mortgaged future crops as part of a six million dollar arms deal with the Egyptian government. Human Rights Watch Arms Project, “Arming Rwanda,” pp. 18-19. 3 Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, telegram to Monsieur le Sous-Préfet (tous), February 1, l993 (Gikongoro prefecture). 4 Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, to Mininter, fax no. 244/04.09.01/4, December 13, 1993 (Gikongoro prefecture). 5 Field notes, the International Commission on Human Rights Abuse in Rwanda, January 19, 1993. 6 Joachim Hategekimana, Sous-Préfet, to Préfet, Gikongoro, no. 114/04.17.02, February 8, 1993; Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, to Commandant de Groupement Gendarmerie, Butare, no. 161//04.17.02, February 12, l993; Augustin Gashugi, Bourgmestre, to Préfet, Gikongoro, no. 573/04.17.02, November 29, 1993; Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, to Monsieur le Responsable du CLADHO, no. 116/04.09.01, December 30, 1993 (Gikongoro prefecture). 7 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Butare, August 18, 1995; Kigali, July 16, 1995. 8 See the case of Nshili commune described in chapter one. 9 Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, to S/Préfet Munini, Bourgmestre Nyamagabe, telegram no. 94/004/04.06, January 20, 1994 (Gikongoro prefecture). 10 Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, to Monsieur le Bourgmestre, Musebeya, no. 28/04/17/02, April 1, 1994; Prosecutor Celse Semigabo to Commander of Brigade, Groupement Gikongoro, No. D/776/D.11/A/PRORE, September 2, 1993 (Gikongoro prefecture); Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, October 19, 1995; African Rights, Rwanda, Death, Despair, p. 317. 11 Celse Semigabo, Procureur de la République, to Monsieur le Commandant de la Brigade, Gikongoro no. D/776/D.11/A PRORE, September 2, 1993; Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, to Monsieur le S/Préfet (tous), Monsieur le Procureur, Monsieur le Bourgmestre de la Commune (tous), no. 227/04.17.02, November 18, 1993 (Gikongoro prefecture). 12 Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, to Bourgmestre, Nshili, No. 200/04.17.02, October 14, 1993 (Gikongoro prefecture). 13 Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, to Muhitira Juvénal, Bourgmestre, Kivu, no. 243/04.06, December 7, 1993 (Gikongoro prefecture). 14 Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, to Monsieur le Ministre de l’Intérieur et du Développement Communal, no. CN 132/04.17.02, December 14, 1992 (Gikongoro prefecture). 15 Laurent Bucyibaruta, Prefe, to Bwana Ministri w’Ubutegetsi bw’Igihugu n’Amajyambere ya Komini, no. 647/04/09.01, July 8, 1993; Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, to Monsieur le Bourgmestre, Musebeya, no. 0961/04.09.01/9, October 21, 1993; Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, to Monsieur le Bourgmestre, Rwamiko, no. 528/04.07, June 9, 1993; Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, to Bourgmestre, Nshili, No. 200/04.17.02, October 14, 1993 (Gikongoro prefecture). 16 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Butare, August 20, October 12, October 19, 1995; Sous-Préfet, Munini, to Préfet, Gikongoro, telegram 130950 B, October 13, 1992; Sous-Préfet, Munini to Préfet, Gikongoro, telegram 130830 B, November 13, 1992; Sous-Préfet, Munini, to Monsieur le Ministre de l’Intérieur et du Développement Communal, telegram 201330B, November 21, 1992 (Gikongoro prefecture). 17 Sous-Préfet Munini to Présidence de la République, telegram, 200900B, November 21, 1993 (Gikongoro prefecture). 18 Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, to Monsieur le Sous/Préfet, Munini, no. 452/04/01/01, May 10, 1993 (Gikongoro prefecture). 19 African Rights, Rwanda, Death, Despair, p.300. 20 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, August 20, 1995. 21 Préfet Gikongoro to Mininter, fax no. 006/04.09.01, January 20, 1993 (Gikongoro prefecture). 22 Apparently comfortable in such company, Mbangura would continue as minister of higher education in the interim government until he was named counsellor to the interim president, Sindikubwabo. 23 Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, to Mininter, fax no. 006/04.09.01, January 20, 1993; Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kigali, July 16, 1995. 24 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Kigali, July 16, l995 and Musebeya, August 28, 1995. 25 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, August 28, 1995. 26 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Gikongoro, June 19, 1996 and Butare, July 19, 1996. 27 Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, to Monsieur le Bourgmestre (tous), no. 183/04.09.01/1, May 18, 1994 (Gikongoro prefecture). 28 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Gikongoro, June 19, 1996. 29 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Brussels, June 21, 1997; by telephone, Brussels, April 27, 1997. 30 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kigali, June 4, 1996. 31 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kigali, June 4, 1996. 32 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Gikongoro, May 23, 1995. 33 Ibid. 34 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Musebeya, June 1 and June 8, 1995; Maraba, June 14, 1995. 35 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, October 19, 1995. 36 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, August 19, 1995. 37 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Maraba, June 14, 1995. 38 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, June 23, 1995. 39 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Musebeya, June 1 and June 8, 1995; Maraba, June 14, 1995. 40 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, October 19, 1995. 41 Ibid. 42 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, June 23, 1995. 43 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Kigali, July 16, 1995; Musebeya, June 7 and August 28, 1995. 44 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Musebeya, June 7, 1995; Kigali, July 16, 1995. 45 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, June 7, 1995. 46 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kigali, July 16, 1995. 47 Mutabaruka was also a fervent member of the Pentecostal church. According to several observers in the commune, he denied benefits of participation in the project to anyone who was unwilling to join his party and his church. This is disputed by Mr. Mutabaruka. 49 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kigali, July 16, 1995. 50 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, June 23, 1995. 51 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Musebeya, June 23, 1995; Musebeya, May 5, 1995 and January 26, 1996. 52 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, June 7, 1995. 53 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Musebeya, May 5,1995 and June 7, 1995; Butare, June 14, 1995. 54 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Maraba, June 14, 1995. 55 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Kigali, July 16, 1995; Musebeya, June 23 and August 28, 1995; Butare, May 17 and June 14, 1995. 56 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Musebeya, June 1 and June 8, 1995; Maraba, June 14, 1995. 57 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, June 8, 1995. 58 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews Kigali, May 18, 1995, June 4, 1996. At the time of the 1996 commemoration ceremonies for the genocide, victims from mass graves at Murambi were exhumed and laid out in the classrooms before being reburied. Daniele Lacourse, a Canadian film producer, visited the school, where sixty-six classrooms were filled with between forty and sixty bodies each, totalling between some 2,600 and 4,000 victims exhumed. Current Rwandan government sources speak of 50,000 slain at Murambi, a toll difficult to reconcile with the number of bodies exhumed, even assuming that there are graves yet to be opened and that not all victims were buried. 59 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kigali, July 16, 1995. 60 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, May 5, 1995. For Simba’s similar efforts at Byimana in Gitarama, before he came to Gikongoro, see chapter seven. 61 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Musebeya, May 5, 1995, August 28, 1995; Kigali, June 4, 1996. 62 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Butare, June 14, 1995; Kigali, May 16 and May 18, 1995. 63 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kigali, July 16, 1995. 64 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kigali, May 18, 1995. 65 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kigali, July 16, 1995. 66 Chrétien, et al., Rwanda, Les médias, pp. 162, 178, 189. 67 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Musebeya, June 7, 1995. 68 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, June 7, 1995. 69 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kigali, July 16, 1995. 71 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, August 28, 1995; Maraba, June 14, 1995. 72 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, August 28, 1995; interview, Butare, June 14, 1995. 73 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, August 28, 1995. 74 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, June 7, 1995. 75 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, June 7, 1995. 76 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Musebeya, June 7, 1995; Maraba, June 14, 1995. 77 “Faustin” is a pseudonym. 78 Marijuana is grown in Musebeya. Habyarimana’s government supposedly made efforts to control the illegal trade in the drug, but some of those in power may have actually been involved in the business themselves. 79 By this time, Ndizihiwe had replaced Higiro. [See below.] 80 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Maraba, June 14, 1995. 81 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, August 19, 1995. 82 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, October 19, 1995. 83 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, October 12, 1995; Kaduha, June 12, 1996. 84 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, October 12, 1995. 85 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Gikongoro, June 19, 1996. 86 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Musebeya, August 28, 1995. 87 Ibid. 88 Ibid. 89 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, August 28, 1995. 90 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, August 19, 1995. 91 Ibid. 92 Ibid. 93 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, October 19, 1995. 94 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, March 5, 1996. 95 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, October 19, 1995. 96 Ibid. A witness says Muhitira joined in the April 12 attack. African Rights, Rwanda, Death, Despair, p. 333. 97 Ibid. 98 Ibid. 99 Ibid. 100 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview with Juvenal Muhitira, Butare. 101 Ibid. 102 Ibid. 103 These are his words, but, as the context makes clear, he is referring to the head of the National Police group in Gikongoro, not to a military headquarters as such. There was no army post in Gikongoro. 104 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Musebeya, May 5, 1995 and June 8, 1995; Kigali, July 16, 1995. 105 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Musebeya, June 8, 1995. 106 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Musebeya, May 5, 1995, June 7, 1995, June 8, 1995; Maraba, June 14, 1995; African Rights, Rwanda, Death, Despair, pp. 316, 320. 107 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Kigali, May 18 and June 4, 1995; Musebeya, June 8, 1995, August 28, 1995. Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Gikongoro, June 19, 1996. 108 Ibid. The National Police posted at Gatare and at Kaduha were reportedly part of a single detachment and rotated men between the two places. 109 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Gikongoro, May 23, 1995; June 19, 1996. 110 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Butare, August 20, 1995, March 5, 1996, and April 15, 1996; African Rights, Rwanda, Death, Despair, p.317. 111 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, October 12, 1995. 112 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kaduha, June 12, 1996. 113 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Butare, August 20, 1995, March 5, 1996, and April 15, 1996. 114 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kaduha, June 12, 1996. 115 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Kaduha, February 28, 1995; June 12, 1996. 116 African Rights, Rwanda, Death, Despair, p. 326. 117 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kaduha, June 12, 1996. 118 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Muko, June 5, 1996. 119 Ibid. 120 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Kaduha, June 12, 1996. 121 Ibid. 122 African Rights, Rwanda, Death, Despair, p. 320. 123 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, October 12, 1995. 124 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kaduha, February 28, 1995. 125 Ibid. 126 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kaduha, June 12, 1996. 127 Ibid. 128 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kaduha, June 12, 1996. 129 Ibid. 130 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kaduha, June 12, 1996; African Rights, Rwanda, Death, Despair, p. 323. 131 From the context, it is clear that the witness is referring to the first day of the attack, which was actually April 21. Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Kaduha, February 28, 1995, June 12, 1996. 132 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Kaduha, June 12, 1996; Kigali, June 4, 1996; African Rights, Rwanda, Death, Despair, p. 317. The International Commission that investigated the 1993 violence in Burundi noted the unusually high number of soldiers home on leave at the time of killings in their communities. Commission Internationale d’enquête sur les violations des droits de l’homme au Burundi depuis le 21 octobre 1993, “Rapport Final,” July 5, 1994, p. 33. 133 African Rights, Rwanda, Death, Despair, pp. 322-23. 134 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kaduha, June 12, 1996; African Rights, Rwanda, Death, Despair, pp. 321-22. 135 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Gikongoro, June 19, 1996. 136 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kaduha, February 28, 1995. 137 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare. 138 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, July 19, 1996. 139 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, October 12, 1995. 140 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kaduha, February 28, 1995. 141 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, August 19, 1995. 142 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya. 143 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya. 144 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, March 5, 1995. 145 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, August 19, 1995. 146 Laurent Bucyibaruta, Prefe, to Bwana Suprefe, Kaduha, Karaba, Munini; Bwana Umuyobozi w’imirimo uri mu kanama k’umutekano, Bwana Burugumestri wa komini (bose), no. 125/04.17.02, April 27, 1994 (Gikongoro prefecture). 147 Laurent Bucyibaruta, Ubutumwa bwa Prefe wa Prefegitura ya Gikongoro Bwo Kugarura Umutekano Kuri Prefegitura, April 29, 1994 (Gikongoro prefecture). 148 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, August 19, 1995. 149 Ibid. 150 Ibid. 151 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Gikongoro, June 19, 1996. 152 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, August 19, 1995. 153 Kambanda, “Directive du Premier Ministre aux Préfets pour l’Organisation de l’Auto-Défense Civile.” 154 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, October 12, 1995. 155 Laurent Bucyibaruta, Prefét, to Monsieur Hategekimana Jean, Conseiller, Nyarushishi, no. 1365/04.01.01, May 17, 1994; Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, to Monsieur le Ministre de l’Intérieur et du Développement Communal, No. 136/04.17.02, May 18, 1994 (Gikongoro prefecture); Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Kigali, July 16, 1994. 156 Laurent Bucyibaruta, Préfet, to Monsieur le chef de service (tous) et Monsieur le Bourgmestre (tous), no. 127/04.01.01., May 2, 1994 (Gikongoro prefecture). 157 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Maraba, June 14, 1995. 158 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, April 11, l995. 159 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, May 5, 1995. 160 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Musebeya, August 28, 1995. 161 Ibid. 162 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Butare, August 18, 1995. 163 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Maraba, June 14, 1995. 164 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Butare, May 17, 1995; Musebeya, August 28, 1995. 165 Human Rights Watch/FIDH interviews, Musebeya, June 1 and June 8, 1995.

Previous PageTop Of PageNext Page