On Sunday evening, March 5, 2000 Assiel Kabera, an advisor to President Bizimungu, was gunned down just after arriving home in his car. The assailants, three men in military uniform, executed the assassination quickly and in a professional manner. They shot Kabera three times before getting into a waiting vehicle, which had Congolese registration plates, and speeding away. Although the Kabera home is in a part of the city where a number of high ranking officials reside and which consequently has a substantial number of military guards, no one intercepted the assassins as they fled the scene of the crime.
Kabera, an influential Tutsi genocide survivor, was from the prefecture of Kibuye in western Rwanda. Kabera had worked closely with Sebarenzi, who was also from Kibuye. The two served as officers in Solidarité-Kibuye, an organization meant to benefit their home region. After Sebarenzi had fled, Kabera had told relatives he was afraid for his life. The regional tie to Kibuye had been important too in the cases of the men brought back to Rwanda by force. The singer Rutabana was from Kibuye and Nzaramba, another of those detained and beaten, was interrogated about his ties to the region.32
Kabera's two brothers have played important roles in the community of genocide survivors, one as an executive for the national fund for genocide victims. The other, Dr. Josue Kayijaho, has served as vice-president of Ibuka, the most important national organization for genocide survivors. After Kabera's assassination, Dr. Kayijaho tried to leave Rwanda for a brief stay in Belgium. Authorities refused to allow him to board his plane and confiscated his ticket and passport. After a protest by the U.S. ambassador to General Kagame and after being escorted to the airport by the Belgian ambassador and the Swiss chargé d'affaires, Dr. Kayijaho was permitted to leave Rwanda a week later. The executive secretary of Ibuka, Anastase Murumba, has also been publicly berated by politicians close to the government, and has left the country.33
Authorities sought to dispel any idea that the Kabera killing was politically motivated. The day after the assassination, Joseph Bideri, head of ORINFOR, the National Information Office, issued a statement linking the killing to the murder a week earlier of Antoinette Kagaju. Ms. Kagaju had been released from prison shortly before. After nearly two years in detention, she had been acquitted of the charge of having murdered her husband in 1998. Ms. Kagaju was also gunned down at the entry to her home, along with a relative named Valens Gasumizi. Except for the apparent involvement of military officers in both cases, these killings seem not to have been tied to the Kabera assassination.34 In a press release issued two days after the assassination of Kabera, the National Human Rights Commission condemned the killings of Kabera, Kagaju, and Gasumizi (as well as that of Samuel Sargbah, described below) whether they "were motivated by theft or any other criminal motive." It did not mention the possibility of a political motive for any of the killings. 35
32 Human Rights Watch interviews, by telephone, March 27 and 28, 2000. 33 Human Rights Watch interview, by telephone, March 28, 2000; Imboni, Special Issue, February, 2000. 34 Ibid; Shyaka Kanuma, "Kabera's Death Raises Suspicions over Growing Assassinations," Rwanda Newsline, March 20-26, 2000. 35 Communiqué No. 0001/2000 de la Commission Nationale des Droits de l'Homme, le 07 mars, 2000.