Nyarugunga is one of four sectors in Kanombe district, Kigali. It is divided into five cellules: Nyarugunga, Kamashashi, Gihanga, Nonko and Rwimbogo. According to testimonies from different groups, the killings in Nyarugunga sector began on the night of President Habyarimana's death, so that a number of the targeted families had no opportunity at all to leave their houses. Several families who took refuge at Kanombe commune office were driven back by the soldiers and communal policemen who were patrolling there, and headed for Masaka parish where they later met their deaths. In two of its sectors, Nyarugunga and Busanza, gacaca trials have got underway. They began in Nyarugunga the day after the official launch of gacaca activities in June and in Busanza in November 2002, with the second series of pilot sectors.
THE HISTORY OF THE GENOCIDE IN NYARUGUNGA SECTOR
A Collective Account
1. INTRODUCTION TO NYARUGUNGA SECTOR
Nyarugunga is one of four sectors in Kanombe district, Kigali. It is divided into five cellules: Nyarugunga, Kamashashi, Gihanga, Nonko and Rwimbogo. The international airport is situated in Nyarugunga, along with Rwanda general stores (MAGERWA), Kanombe military camp and Kanombe military hospital. Before the genocide Nyarugunga was considered a soldiers’ stronghold. They lived there primarily because of their jobs and most of them—particularly those originally from Byumba, Gisenyi and Ruhengeri préfectures—had moved their families there. Workers from these préfectures came to Kigali in large numbers and settled at Nyarugunga, attracted by the presence of influential friends or relatives in the army and other public services. These friends would find work for them. Many of the immigrants worked at the international airport, at MAGERWA and at Kanombe military camp and hospital. They also worked at EFOTEC, the well-known secondary school for technical training inside Kanombe military camp, which was primarily attended by the children of high-ranking soldiers.
President Habyarimana and the préfet of Kigali, Tharcisse Renzaho, had residences in this sector, in Nyarugunga and Kamashashi cellules respectively. These were guarded by soldiers, including some from the Presidential Guard (GP). Other ordinary soldiers and top officers had also built private homes there, which were either rented by civilian tenants or occupied by their owners.
Before the genocide, Kanombe commune was part of Kigali-Ngali préfecture. As a result of the last administrative carve-up four sectors—Busanza, Kanombe, Masoro and Nyarugunga—were incorporated into the city of Kigali to make up the current Kanombe district. In two of its sectors, Nyarugunga and Busanza, gacaca trials have got underway. They began in Nyarugunga the day after the official launch of gacaca activities in June and in Busanza in November 2002, with the second series of pilot sectors.
According to the Department of Gacaca Courts, proceedings began in sectors which had been selected because of their facilities, accessibility, and because of the presence of a relatively high number of people who lived there during the genocide and who have taken part in the confession and guilty plea procedure. In the specific case of Nyarugunga sector, these criteria have not, for the most part, been met. When we visited each gacaca court in the cellule, almost all held their sessions in the open air, subject to the hazards of the weather. At times the blazing sun caused great discomfort to the general assembly, at other times the smooth running of the hearings was hampered by rain. Even if the members of the co-ordination committee can find shelter from the sun or the rain, that isn’t the case for the majority of the people who make up the general assembly. The trees and little plastic sheets put up shortly before the meetings take place don’t provide a comfortable shelter. In addition, the number of confessions received in the sector is limited, as shown by the interviews carried out for this report with its former inhabitants, now held in Remera (better known as Kimironko) prison.
According to testimonies from different groups, the killings in Nyarugunga sector began on the night of Habyarimana’s death, so that a number of the targeted families had no opportunity at all to leave their houses. Several families who took refuge at Kanombe commune office were driven back by the soldiers and communal policemen who were patrolling there, and headed for Masaka parish where they later met their deaths.
People also stated that the massacres were carried out so rapidly that local civilian and military authorities did not visit most cellules in order to raise public awareness about the genocide and so convince them to participate in the killings. People supported the genocide immediately, and some of them guided soldiers, identifying Tutsi houses, as the murders were carried out from house to house. The victims were often buried in unknown locations, which further complicates the task of identifying them.
Most of the people who live there now, were not residents of the sector before and during the genocide. They include former refugees from 1959 who have returned and immigrants from other regions of the country who settled there following the genocide. It is rare to find genocide survivors still living there. The immigrants from before the genocide, who mainly came from the préfectures mentioned above, have abandoned the sector. Some are in exile, others have gone back to their places of origin, and others have gone to live in different areas of Kigali. At the time of our research, the task of identifying genocide victims in Nyarugunga had shown that 1042 had died.
We visited each of Nyarugunga’s cellules in turn, speaking to people who were resident there at the time of the genocide to draw up its history. We conducted interviews with survivors and with other people who witnessed the genocide. We also visited Remera prison which holds 156 detainees resident in Nyarugunga sector during the genocide. Those we interviewed gave us a detailed account of the history of the genocide in their sector.
2. THE HISTORY OF THE GENOCIDE BY CELLULE
2.1 Kamashashi Cellule
a) The Detainees in Remera
Before the Genocide
The residents of Kamashashi had no experience of divisions between ethnic groups prior to the October 1990 war. Hutus and Tutsis lived together peacefully with each another. When the genocide began we realised that Habyarimana’s government had been trying to incite hatred against the Tutsis. All the attempts to torment Tutsis started on 5 October 1990. People in Kigali had spent the previous night in a state of confusion, due to shooting all around the city. Then, the following day, soldiers from Kanombe camp ransacked our cellule, supposedly searching for RPA infiltrators and their accomplices. All the inhabitants of Nyarugunga and Kamashashi cellules were gathered together at Nyarugunga sector office. Anyone without an identity card was sent to Kanombe communal jail, so the communal authorities could examine their case carefully. However, two Tutsis by the names of Jean Munyakayanza and Appolinaire Niyonzima were branded as accomplices of the inkotanyi, without any valid reason. They got six months imprisonment in Kigali central prison. After their release, soldiers from Kanombe camp picked them up again covertly. We don’t know what happened to them after that.
During the multi-party period, the residents of Kamashashi cellule and those of Kamashashi sector in general took no interest in meetings held by the party leaders; nor did they respond to the interahamwes’ call to hunt down the Tutsis. Several incidents took place in our cellule, but the residents of Kamashashi had no part in them. The first act was the destruction of the houses of Gatare, Nkamayombonye and Gasore. Gasore was a Hutu whom the interahamwe had labelled an accomplice of the Tutsis. The perpetrators were the interahamwe from Kabeza and Nyakabanda in Kicukiro who had founded an MRND militia called inyange. The militia killed our Tutsi neighbour, Kayigamba, the son of Hitamusinga, the barman at Chez Lando hotel. They killed him outside our cellule, in a place known as Good Years in Kicukiro. Even if unpleasant incidents against Tutsis did occur, the people of Kamashashi remained united since they weren’t responsible for the things that happened.
The Start of the Massacres
On 6 April 1994, at around 8:30 at night, the people of Kamashashi were stunned when two shells were fired at an aeroplane heading for Kanombe airport. The aircraft immediately burst into flames and fell in our neighbouring cellule, Nyarugunga. Not long after that gunshots rang out, and they increased as the night went on. The news of President Habyarimana’s death was first communicated to us by RTLM at around 9:00 p.m. Others learnt about it from Radio Rwanda. All night, the soldiers from Kanombe camp patrolled through our cellule. They made everyone stay shut in their houses. A ban on more than one person being outside was announced. Several gunshots sounded in our cellule at daybreak on 7 April: it was the start of the slaughter of the Tutsis by the soldiers. They carried out massacres from house to house. By sunrise, the great majority of Tutsi families had already been killed. They were:
· Innocent Niyoyita and his wife, eight children and two domestic employees;
· The Hitamusinga family: eight relatives and their landlord, a Hutu named Ntabashwa;
· Marie Claire and her two children;
· The Kabatsi family: four victims;
· The Karengera family: three victims;
· Jean Ngamije and his child;
· The Karekezi family: eight victims;
· Bugambira’s wife and two children;
· Bosco, Bajyagahe’s son;
According to the bourgmestre of Kanombe at the time, Jean-Paul Ntiyamira, who is in prison in Remera, soldiers had already begun killing the Tutsis shortly before daybreak, because there were some Tutsi families taking refuge in the commune office at around 4:00 a.m. From among ten or so Tutsis, he was able to recognise the following:
· Mrs Karemera from Nyarugunga cellule;
· Dative Uwerumubiri, from Kamashashi;
· Marie Mukandori, from Kamashashi.
Some people managed to dodge their way through the hail of bullets that night to reach Ndera. Most of them met their deaths there. Among the victims were:
· Claude, Claire’s son;
· The wife of Majyalibu and her 2 children;
As Ndera didn’t provide any security at all for the refugees, some decided to go back and die in their own homes. They were:
· Michel Habyarimana, killed;
· Adeline, still alive;
On 8 April, lots of corpses were strewn around the courtyards of Tutsi houses. So, the authorities at the military camp sent a yellow Nissan lorry to clear them. Two military drivers, Ngubara and someone else, were in the lorry. One of the prisoners explained how the clearing-up operation was organised:
Two soldiers in a yellow Nissan lorry found us in Kanombe trading centre, commonly known as Kajagari, very early in the morning. I was with Augustin Nkaka, who is currently at liberty, and Uwamahoro, alias Cyembe, also free. The soldiers were with a group of people given the job of collecting the bodies. They enlisted us in the team. We started to load up bodies from Kajagari. There were many victims. To make their work easier, the soldiers ordered us to carry all the corpses to the side of the road. There were some people, barely breathing, among the corpses, who asked us to kill them. But we didn’t have time and threw them all in the lorry any old how. We didn’t know where the bodies were being taken as the soldiers left by themselves and we stayed behind collecting up the other bodies. They went in the direction of Nonko or Gihanga. We put at least thirty people in the lorry. Some people who were supposed to be working felt tired and left without the soldiers knowing. That was why the soldiers brought the MOC (civilian labour force) from BM (military buildings) to give us support. I too slipped away from the work on the third round.
From that day onwards, the interahamwe started to join the soldiers in the killings. Bishirandora and his wife were the first case we know of. They were killed by Karangwa, Ndeze’s son, with an unknown soldier.
The Role of the Soldiers
The soldiers from Kanombe camp were responsible for most of the carnage in our area. Just two days, 7 and 8 April, were enough to plunge our cellule into mourning. After that period very few soldiers remained in the area. They were assisted by the interahamwe from Kamashashi and Nyarugunga cellules who continued with the killings. Their mission was to search for Tutsis in the bush. The interahamwe we know of are:
· Ziyadi from Nyarugunga cellule, in Kimironko prison;
· Karekezi, in Kimironko prison;
· Wangu, in exile;
· Mugabonake, in exile;
· Katiyuriza, in Kimironko prison;
· Laurent, Rwanamiza’s son.
The ordinary people of Kamashashi were not against the Tutsis at all. Soldiers took the important decisions. That was why lots of roadblocks were erected, aimed at ensuring the security of our cellule. Many roadblocks were put up on 12 April. To support us in action, Chief Warrant Officer Ayigisenyi went to Kanombe camp to bring us guns and grenades. It was at this time that our councillor, Sebantu, received a gun. Among the other people who obtained guns were:
· Abias Bizimana, now dead;
· Nzabazumutima, free;
· Rurangangabo, alias “chief warrant-officer”, now in exile;
· Jovin Rurangwa, now deceased.
People received regular visits from soldiers from Kanombe camp, to encourage them to stay at the roadblocks. A few roadblocks were guarded by the interahamwe. They were:
· The roadblock near Sanani’s house: guarded by Bije, gardener for the late President Habyarimana.
· The roadblock near Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho’s house. It was set up by Tharcisse’s police bodyguards, including Godfroid Bamenya, Tharcisse Nduhuye and Charité. Voiture, a formidable interahamwe, often went there. Two victims died there—Kayiranga, the son of Gasagure, and Rutagambwa, the son of Hitamusinga.
Confusion arose when they wanted to know who was responsible for the killings, with guns and grenades, of Tutsis within Tharcisse Renzaho’s enclosure.
The two policemen interned at Kimironko said, in their defence, that the Tutsis were killed during an attack on Tharcisse’s house by the inkotanyi. They maintained they only just managed to escape the incursion on 20 May. The victims were Mitali, his two children and five unknown Tutsis.
· Wangu’s roadblock. Rurangirwa, alias Warrant Officer; Mbanjineza, alias Tank; Mugarura, alias Gicumba; and Wangu were there. It was on the asphalt road leading to Kibungo. All the interahamwe carried guns and had grenades. We don’t know their names.
· The roadblock near Antoine’s house. Antoine, who is in exile; Neretse, who had a gun and is now in prison at Kimironko and Lance Corporal Murekezi were there. Michel died there.
Soldiers manned the following roadblocks:
· The roadblock near Déo’s house; near Rose’s house; near Ngamije’s house, at the junction of the roads going to Nonko; near Mulindi station; near Gérard’s house, by the road that goes to Ndera; near the Nyarugunga sector office and the roadblock erected at the fork in the road towards Ndera, at the place called “Kuri 15.”
Civilians and soldiers guarded the following roadblocks:
· The roadblock erected by Alexandre Nzabazumutima, near Habimana’s house. He had a gun. He died in prison at Kimironko;
· The roadblock by Mukuku’s house. A group commanded by Sergeant Major Ruzindana established the roadblock. The following people were often present at the roadblock:
· Mukuku, a Tutsi in prison at Kimironko. He maintains that he was unjustly accused by his Tutsi neighbours. He also denies that his imprisoned companions played a role in the massacres of Kamashashi’s Tutsis;
· Gervais Mbitezimana, in exile, whereabouts unknown;
· Ntabana, a soldier, whereabouts unknown;
· Rudasingwa, a soldier, whereabouts unknown;
· Léonard Munyanziza, in Kimironko prison;
· Elias Biberaho, in Kimironko prison;
· Jean Habimana, in Kimironko prison;
· Eugènie Mukankubito, in exile.
The prisoners said there were no cases of rape in their cellule. They pointed out that in light of the huge massacres committed by soldiers, they had no other mission than to exterminate Tutsis and didn’t concern themselves with other issues.
Looting and the Destruction of Houses
In our cellule, the soldiers and interahamwe looted everything of value as soon as they invaded the homes of Tutsis. It’s difficult for us to know what goods were looted since this happened on the nights of 6-8 April, when the soldiers killed many Tutsis. Ordinary people played a particularly prominent part in removing metal sheeting and destroying houses with walls made of wood.
The List of the Key Génocidaires
Apart from the interahamwe who were particularly conspicuous in the violence against Tutsis—Ziyadi, Pascal, Karekezi and Wangu—the people of our cellule behaved themselves well. If we knew the soldiers who led the massacres of 6-8 April, we would certainly mention them on the list.
Remera prison holds 37 prisoners accused of genocide from Kamashashi cellule. This history is the result of an interview conducted with 11 of them who have taken advantage of the confession and guilty plea procedure.
b) The Genocide Survivors and Other Witnesses
Situated directly opposite Kanombe military camp, Kamashashi cellule borders on Nyarugunga cellule to the east, Gihanga to the south, and Nonko to the west, all in Nyarugunga sector. To the north of the cellule is Kinunga, in Ndera sector, within Kabuga town.
Like Nyarugunga’s other cellules, before the genocide, Kamashashi was home to a large group of people from Ruhengeri, Gisenyi and Byumba préfectures because of the huge military camp of Kanombe where the majority of soldiers from the northern region were based. Many of them had settled their families there. In addition, the late Habyarimana’s residence is near Kanombe camp. The presence of Presidential Guard (GP) was significant here. Since the October war, Habyarimana’s government had been forced to recruit a large number of soldiers to face the RPA attacks. This further increased the number of soldiers that civilians from Nyarugunga encountered. Kanombe camp proved to be incapable of housing all the soldiers in its charge because of this massive recruitment. A system was adopted whereby soldiers could take out loans to build their own lodgings. Kamashashi became a mixed residential area of civilians and soldiers. Soldiers and civilians got to know each other as a result of their day-to-day relations. This gave the soldiers the opportunity to identify the Tutsi families in the area. They were deemed accomplices of the inkotanyi, as a result of the ethnic hatred preached by extremists.
Because Tutsis had been identified during the turbulence caused by political parties, soldiers were able to decimate them immediately on the night of Habyarimana’s death. One of the major problems that the gacaca trials must face up to is locating the current whereabouts of the génocidaires denounced by the population.
The Start of the Troubles
Tutsis came under threat at the beginning of the October 1990 war. The whole population spent the night of 4 October in a panic because of the hail of bullets flying all over Kigali. The next day, the soldiers from Kanombe camp overran Kamashashi and Nyarugunga cellules to search all the houses. Everyone was brought together at Nyarugunga sector office. Our two Tutsi neighbours, Apollinaire Niyonzima and Jean Munyakayanza, were named as accomplices of the inkotanyi. They spent six months in Kigali central prison. A few days after their release, the soldiers from Kanombe camp kidnapped them. We don’t know what happened to them after this.
In 1992, Kayigamba, the son of Hitamusinga, was beaten to death by the interahamwe at Remera in the course of an MRND demonstration. As multipartyism took hold, a band of criminals backed by Tharcisse Renzaho was established in our cellule. The group was presided over by Ziyadi. It comprised:
· Pascal, Semana’s son, from Nyarugunga cellule, in exile;
· Voiture, in exile;
· Mugabonake, in exile;
· Ziyadi’s mother;
· Katiyuriza, in exile;
· Karekezi, in prison in Remera.
Around this time, the interahamwe militia engaged in cruel acts against Tutsis and some Hutus accused of collaborating with them. Incidents we know of are:
· The destruction of Gatare’s house, a Tutsi, in Mulindi quarter;
· The looting of Ngamije’s shop. He was a Hutu in Mulindi.
The Night of 6 April 1994
Around 8:30 a.m., two shells were launched at an aeroplane preparing to land at Kanombe International Airport. The plane immediately caught fire and exploded in Nyarugunga cellule. As we were neighbours of Kanombe military camp, we were forced to go back to our homes. The soldiers immediately began patrolling throughout the district. Several minutes later lots of gunshots rang out in Nyarugunga cellule, the area that was home to President Habyarimana. Confused by the situation, RTLM broadcast a statement informing all Rwandese that some enemies of the country had just brought down the aeroplane carrying Presidents Juvénal Habyarimana of Rwanda and Ntaryamira of Burundi. It added that the precautions taken because of the situation meant that everybody had to stay at home and that it was strictly forbidden for two people to be together. The statement really terrified us, seeing as we were in an environment frequented by soldiers from Kanombe camp. The next day, we learnt that soldiers had shot several Tutsis from Nyarugunga cellule. All the Tutsi families residing in the quarter known as Kajagari, adjoining Kamashashi, had been decimated during the night. They were:
· The Murasira family;
· The Nyarwaya family;
· The Mwara family;
· The Rwabukumba family;
· The Karemera family;
· The family of Léodomir Nzakamwita;
· The Gasirikare family.
The next day, killings of Tutsis by soldiers reached our cellule. The soldiers had no problem in singling out Tutsi families because they were familiar with our area. The majority even had acquaintances in the district. They often used to go there to have a beer. Some were womanisers. Moreover, as the President lived around there, the area used to be teeming with intelligence agents. Our cellule was also home to Habyarimana’s nephew, Joseph, who is held at Remera. He gave a great deal of information to the Presidential Guard.
The soldiers from Kanombe camp overran all the houses of Tutsi families. The killings began at first light. As they had come up with a simple strategy—banning people from circulating—the slaughter went from house to house. The killers, armed with guns and grenades, often turned up in groups of five or six. The following Tutsis were murdered:
· Kabatsi’s family: his wife and two children;
· Karengera’s family: his wife and two children;
· The whole family of Innocent Niyoyita, including eight people;
· Hitamusinga’s family: more than five victims;
· Théophraste Mutabaruka;
· Two unknown children, killed at Nyarugunga sector office;
· Séraphine and her two children.
The killings that day went hand in hand with the looting of Tutsi goods. The soldiers would grab goods of value, such as refrigerators, radios, televisions and so on. All sectors of the population, men, women and children, took household utensils and provisions. Roofs and doors of houses were taken afterwards. Wooden walls were totally demolished.
The Role of the Interahamwe in the Massacres
In our cellule many Tutsis met their death on 7 April. After that date many soldiers—the authors of the massacres—returned to barracks. As most of the work had been accomplished, the interahamwe were given the job of continuing to drive out the Tutsis who were still alive. This band of criminals was already in existence beforehand. The best known among them were:
· Ziyadi, Nyarugunga cellule, in prison at Kimironko;
· Pascal, Nyarugunga cellule;
· Karekezi, imprisoned at Kimironko;
· Mugabonake, in exile;
· Katiyuriza, in Kimironko prison;
· Wangu, in exile;
· Laurent, Rwanamiza’s son.
Godfroid Bamenya and Nduhura, who are both in prison in Kimironko, and two policemen who worked as bodyguards for Tharcisse Renzaho were also in this group. Because of the massacres suffered by Tutsis on the night of 6 April and the morning of the 7th some took refuge at Ndera. On 8 April, the interahamwe launched an attack there. Most people were killed; some others went back to the rubble of their houses. From then on the interahamwe, bolstered by the soldiers, opted for the same system used the previous day. They’d go in to each Tutsi home and kill everybody. They’d also loot all the goods they found. The doors and roofs of houses were immediately taken off. All these horrors were committed between 8 April and 21 May, the date the inkotanyi took the Kanombe area. During that period, the following families died in attacks on their houses:
· Ngamije, his wife and their two children;
· François Munyentwali, his pregnant wife, their four children, two visitors and a small child;
· Karekezi, his wife, three children and his sister;
· Kaberuka’s family: two victims;
· Gasagure’s family: five victims;
· Six members of Harelimana’s family;
· Mugambira, his wife and two children;
· Kayiranga, his wife and child;
· More than 12 victims from Munyawera’s family;
· Michel Habyarimana’s family, more than five members of the family;
· Côme Rutiyumba;
· Gatembe, his mother and two daughters;
· Mututsi’s wife and two children;
· Théogène Muhange and his wife;
· Bishirandora and his wife.
The Strategy Adopted for the Extermination of the Tutsis
“Security” roadblocks were erected in all corners of the cellule to monitor the movement of Tutsis who were still alive. They were put up by soldiers and local men were all expected to take turns in manning them. The group of interahamwe named above supervised all the roadblocks: the one by Sanani’s house, one near Habimana’s house, and others by Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho’s house, Mukuku’s house, Wangu’s house and Antoine’s house, and at the spot known as “Kuri 15.” This last one was under the control of some soldiers.
Some other roadblocks were set up in our cellule under the supervision of soldiers and the interahamwe, notably near Déo’s house, Rose’s house, and Ngamije’s house by the junction of the roads leading to Nonko. There were others by Mulindi station, near Gérard’s house on the road to Ndera and right by the Nyarugunga sector office.
Some so-called pacification meetings were organised by Warrant Officer Gervais Twagirimana, who’s now in prison in Mulindi, and Voiture and Wangu, who are in exile. They used to incite the population to drive out the Tutsis who were in hiding. That was how Rutagambwa and Kayiranga were found in a sorghum field and executed at Tharcisse Renzaho’s roadblock. Côme had his throat cut by Voiture, in the bush near the road to Mulindi. Voiture also had a dog for hunting down Tutsis.
Between 6-8 April, soldiers took the things of value, like fridges, radios and so on. Following the example set by the other cellules, the interahamwe would remove the roofs of houses and take the metal sheeting. Lots of metal sheets were used to make shelters at the roadblocks, because of the rain. The Tutsis from our region didn’t have much livestock, but the soldiers and interahamwe gave people the green light to eat the few that were there. People seized household utensils every time the soldiers or interahamwe finished exterminating a Tutsi family.
People aren’t aware of acts of sexual violence. This is due to the way massacres of Tutsis were carried out in the cellule, with soldiers going into victims’ houses.
Prominent Leaders of the Genocide
Interviewees place the following people at the forefront of events:
· Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho. In his position of authority, he never came to the aid of the massacred Tutsis. His role in the genocide is illustrated by the roadblock set up in front of his residence. Two Tutsis died there. Some people even lost their lives within the enclosure of his house. Among the executioners were policemen who used to escort him.
· Councillor Vénant Sebantu, who ensured the distribution of guns;
· Warrant officer Twagirayezu, who distributed guns and led meetings;
· Voiture, one of the leaders of the interahamwe;
· Ziyadi, who coordinated the massacres carried out by the interahamwe in Kamashashi and Nyarugunga cellules;
· Pascal, an interahamwe leader.
2.2 Gihanga Cellule
a) The Detainees in Remera
The people of Gihanga lived in peace with each other prior to the war of 1 October 1990 and Hutus and Tutsis inter-married. The relationship changed slightly when the inkotanyi attacked in October 1990. The soldiers said Tutsis had invaded the country. But this had no significant negative impact on people’s lives. When the “ibyitso” (accomplices) were arrested, Hutus and Tutsis were affected. The word ibyitso was used for the first time on 5 October 1990. On that date, soldiers arrested:
· Joseph Kabalisa, reported disappeared;
· Hamad Gatongore, still alive;
· Emmanuel Mucumbitsi, who died in 1994;
· Gasagure, deceased in 1994.
The introduction of political parties in Rwanda didn’t arouse any discord in Gihanga. The population always maintained their good relations. That, however, didn’t prevent supporters of certain political parties from chanting their slogans when they’d had a few too many drinks.
The situation changed markedly after the plane crash involving Juvénal Habyarimana, President of Rwanda. The news was broadcast by RTLM on the night of 6 April. Intense shooting was heard throughout the sector, especially in Kanombe military camp. Everyone was afraid.
By the morning of 7 April the noise hadn’t died down. At the same time, a statement came over the radio saying that nobody was authorised to leave their house and that, until further notice, it was forbidden for more than two people to be together. As we couldn’t leave our houses, we heard gunfire all over the district. The same morning, between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m., the soldiers were virtually everywhere and were ransacking the houses. Tutsis were the main targets, but the wrongdoers took advantage of the opportunity to eliminate Hutus with whom they had disputes. They asked certain local people to identify victims’ houses. It was only after their departure that we heard the gunshots. They massacred:
· Rudandia and his wife;
· Karwana’s family;
· Bigirimana’s family: seven victims;
· Nkundanyirazo, his wife and his two children;
· André Rubayiza, his wife and child;
· Mucumbitsi, his wife and child;
· Anselme Gafurumba;
· Three of Mukakabano’s children;
· Sebisaho and his wife;
· Patricie Nyirabarera, his daughter and his great-grandson;
· One of Karwana’s children;
· Ruzindaza, his wife and brother in law;
· Five members of the Kabalisa family;
· Kalisuku and his three children;
· Gasagure and his wife;
· Karegeya, his wife and child;
On 8 April soldiers killed:
· One of Nkundanyirazo’s children, nicknamed “Nyarishotori”;
· Malingumu and his two sons.
On 9 April the cellule responsable, Jean-Baptiste Habarurema, ordered people to bury all the bodies still scattered on the ground. He said he had received this instruction from the soldiers. The bodies were put in rubbish pits or other available pits. The Tutsis who hadn’t yet been exterminated helped us. Afterwards, a soldier called Karake arrived and told us that it had been decided at a meeting that all Tutsis should die. The responsable told people that they should ensure their own security. Certain young men had guns and collaborated with the soldiers. Among them were:
· Ezéchiel Ngarukiye;
· Théogène Nturambirwe;
· “CDR” (a nickname).
At the same meeting the responsable advised us to set up roadblocks to help us to control our security. All the men had to present themselves there. We were asked to check the identity cards of natives of other sectors. Those without cards had to be presented to the responsable. He also asked us to look for the inyenzi. There were roadblocks at the bus stop at a place called “Ku cyapa” and at “Ku Rugano” in the bamboo. A third was at Christophe’s house, a fourth at Gasagure’s house and a fifth at Gisuperi’s house; he’s a genocide survivor who was also present there. They were put up in the middle of the road. We were told that the inyenzi had tails, long ears and long noses. But we never saw any one who looked like that. Tutsis who were still alive joined us at the roadblock, people like Baritonda, Ernest Karangwa, the man with the nickname of “Gisuperi” and Kinyogote. After 9 April they went back home and some of us hid them in our houses.
Houses where there were no survivors were looted. The soldiers were the first to loot. They took fridges, metal doors, suites of the best quality, bicycles, metal sheets, radios, televisions, André Rubayiza’s Peugeot car and so forth. People stripped the rest. Then came the destruction of houses and the slaughter of the victims’ livestock, such as goats, cows and chickens. The soldiers doing the looting were ordinary troops, soldiers or corporals. The crops in the fields were also taken and those that weren’t yet ready were abandoned in the fields when we fled. Maybe they were harvested by survivors, as they returned to the area after Kanombe International Airport and military camp were captured. The houses were demolished after the soldiers had torn down the metal sheets, the windows and doors. The civilian population appropriated the wood from the framework of the houses, for heating. Certain houses were partially destroyed but their walls collapsed following the heavy rains.
After 9 April, some other people met their deaths at the “Ku rugano” roadblock. Among these victims was a man who had been discovered in Gakorokombe. They said he was an inkotanyi and assassinated him at night. The other victim was Malingumu, killed behind the enclosure of an old woman called Odette Mukankundiye.
Generally speaking, the weapons used by the criminals were guns, but there were also some machetes, because three families, including Malingumu’s, were killed with these tools.
On 10 April war broke out between the armies of the government and of the RPF [The war had in fact started on 7 April]. As the explosions and bangs had become intense we fled towards Kicukiro, passing through Kabeza and Samuduha. The FAR was in disorder.
The success of the genocide was due to the political parties who had stirred up peoples’ minds and spirits. The crash of the presidential plane presented the opportunity to start the massacres, as Tutsis were said to have brought it down. It was within the authorities’ capabilities to stop the genocide, but they supported it. Further proof implicating the authorities is the illegal possession of firearms by the interahamwe. The cellule responsable also had stocks of guns to distribute to the population, supposedly for self-defence. The military reservists had them too. An astonishing thing is that the cellule responsable was reinstated to his post after the war.
Thirteen genocide detainees from Gihanga cellule in Remera prison provided this testimony.
b) The Genocide Survivors and Other Witnesses
The boundaries of Gihanga cellule are with Kamashashi and Nonko cellules to the north, Kanombe military camp to the east, Busanza sector to the south and Kanombe sector to the west.
The Start of the Threats Against the Tutsis
In our cellule, threats against the Tutsis began with the October war. On the night of 4 October, all the inhabitants were taken by surprise by the continuous sound of gunshots all over Kigali. The next day several Tutsis were arbitrarily arrested, one after the other, without any valid reason. Most of them were taken to Amahoro stadium, others to Kigali central prison where they were incarcerated for six months. A few were put under surveillance in military camps. To mislead the international community, the government of the time said that the arrested people were accomplices of the inkotanyi, who had invaded the country. People in our cellule were also subjected to arrests like these. Césarie, who’s still alive, and his four children, spent four days, 4-8 October, in Kanombe communal jail. They were victims of a plot fomented by Jean-Pierre Turatsinze, currently at large, who accused them of shuttling between Kigali and Kampala to convey messages to the inyenzi. The second unfortunate case was the seizure by soldiers of Joseph Kabalisa. He was taken to Kanombe military camp and killed there. Other people imprisoned during this period were Emmanuel Mucumbitsi, who died during the genocide, and Gatongore, who’s still alive. Our neighbour, Alexis Bizimana, nicknamed “Rwabayidadi”, was tortured to death in Gisenyi. He had been handed over by Major Christophe Kabera. All these Tutsis were betrayed by their Hutu neighbours, including:
· Théogène Nturambirwe;
· Turatsitse, ex-communal tax collector, at liberty;
· Sengoga, at large.
Between 1992-1993, a time when strong opposition political parties had developed, the MRND equipped itself with a gang of interahamwe. Certain young men from our cellule were enlisted into the militia. They were Théogène Nturambirwe, Ndangira and Félicien Karangwa. None of them live here at the moment. Before starting the violence against the Tutsis, they went off to Byumba préfecture to be given training, similar to that given to the commandos. On their return they instigated acts of violence against Tutsis. They walked around freely with grenades, guns and bayonets. They insulted and tortured Tutsis in full view of everyone. The best-known case is that of Malingumu, who was kicked to the point of death. As the interahamwe undermined the physical security of the whole population, despite the fact that they were not originally from our locality, the Gihanga responsable, Jean-Baptiste Habarurema, made a complaint to the bourgmestre of Kanombe. He ordered that these criminals be expelled from the region. Some of them were imprisoned, including Sengoga and Karangwa. These two used to grab the beer in Innocent Gashabizi’s bar on the basis that he was a Tutsi. The MRND and CDR parties ordered the immediate return of the expelled people to the cellule. They also demanded the unconditional release of the interahamwe in prison.
Around ten of the Tutsis employed in Kanombe military camp were given the sack, in breach of the labour laws. Among them were residents of our cellule, Rutabana, killed in April 1994, and Alexis Bizimana. When Colonel Mayuya died, a soldier named Twizeyimana, alias “Gatuza Ninja”, threw a grenade on to Innocent Gashabizi’s roof, falsely stating that he collaborated with the inkotanyi and that they colluded with the perpetrators of Colonel Mayuya’s murder.
On 6 April, at around 8:20 in the evening, an aeroplane heading towards Kanombe airport was hit by two shells and exploded instantly. Without the smallest interval, the sounds of all kinds of weapons started ringing out and continued until morning. The soldiers from Kanombe camp swarmed throughout our cellule, and began to patrol. We were made to stay under our own roofs. Around midnight, Radio Rwanda and RTLM broadcast continuous statements announcing the death of President Juvénal Habyarimana. Very early in the morning, all the families of the soldiers that were living in our cellule packed their bags and returned to Kanombe military camp. After their departure, a group of soldiers from Kanombe camp, mixed with other soldiers who provided security at the airport, overran Tutsi families. The attackers are well known:
· Lance Corporal Mudende, from Byumba;
· Lance Corporal Gafaranga, a native of Byumba;
· Lance Corporal Twizeyimana, alias “Ninja”;
· Lance Corporal Korubani who had had a leg amputated;
· Lance Corporal Paul, Mukamoteri’s husband;
· Lance Corporal Alexis Niyibikora;
· Lance Corporal Bugingo;
· Lance Corporal Sebazungu.
We hear that many of them have been incorporated into the Rwandese Defence Force (RDF). The band, armed with guns and grenades, set itself to the task of systematically exterminating the Tutsis. Between daybreak and dusk on 7 April, the majority of the Tutsi population of our cellule lost their lives. This is the list of victims from that day:
· Donat Bizimana’s family: his wife, Mariam Kalisuku, his two daughters, Médiatrice Mukamana and Emérance Ingabire, and Akingeneye, Mukamana’s daughter;
· Rudandi’s family: 7 victims. His granddaughter Chantal Mukamuligo had her leg amputated and is still alive;
· Mucumbitsi’s family: his wife and two children. His neighbour, Damascène Gafurumba also met his death there;
· Célestin Ruzindana’s family: 6 victims. There was also a landlord called Jean-Claude Bizimana, who’s currently a soldier in the RPA, who was hit by shrapnel from a grenade;
· Patricia Nyirabarera’s family: 3 victims;
· Sebisaho’s family: 2 victims.
They went from house to house. The victims had no options for escape open to them because Gihanga cellule was located almost inside the military area, between Kanombe military camp and Kanombe International Airport. The soldiers had interahamwe guides living in the cellule who pointed out the Tutsi families. The most well known are Félicien Karangwa and Katanu, in Kimironko prison. The latter has pleaded guilty to having looted Tutsis’ belongings after the slaughter of each Tutsi family by the soldiers.
When they went to eliminate the families, they would first throw grenades on to the roof and open the doors with gunfire. And so the killing would begin. They would proceed straight away to looting property. The soldiers only interested themselves in objects of value, like refrigerators, televisions, radios and mattresses. A soldier called Mudende, from Byumba préfecture, stood out particularly in the looting on 7 April. He used the Toyota Corolla car that belonged to André Rubayiza, who he had just killed, to transport the goods. Local people took advantage of the opportunity to grab basic foodstuffs and domestic utensils. Some deny their role in the looting, and others agree to compensate the survivors for the things that were stolen. The interahamwe who collaborated with the soldiers in killing Tutsis and looting their property are:
· Katanu, held in Kimironko prison;
· Mbarimombazi, nicknamed “Mafene” in Kimironko prison;
· Fidèle, in Kimironko prison.
The Tutsis’ houses weren’t spared either. When they had brick walls, whether adobe or baked, they only took off the metal sheets and the doors. If a house had walls made of wood, everything was taken. All the cows, goats and chickens were slaughtered. The interahamwe and ordinary people used to come back with pieces of meat.
Murder by the soldiers and their associates named above continued on 8 April. The largest number of people who died were Tutsis who had taken refuge the previous day at the house of the responsable, Habarurema. Habarurema currently occupies the same position. He is recognised as a man of integrity and honesty who gives a lot of information about the history of the genocide in his cellule. That day, four soldiers—Mudende, Alexis Niyibikora, Twizeyimana (alias “Ninja”) and Bugingo—guided by Bucyana, who’s in Kigali central prison, invaded the house of the responsable. They strongly rebuked him, accusing him of collaborating with the Tutsis. They ransacked all the bedrooms, making all the Tutsis who were there come out. They took them away and killed them with guns and grenades near Nyiramatama’s house, adjoining a forest. The shooting accounted for a significant number of victims:
· Kabalisa’s family: Immaculée Mukagasana, Louise Kangabire and her two children, Emmanuel Twahirwa (nicknamed “Pusuri”), Umulisa and Kapiteni;
· Karegeya’s family: Gaspard Karegeya, his wife Isabelle Mukamwezi and their three children, Kananura, Demeci and Ndahimana;
· Gasagure and his wife Goretti Kampororo;
· Mukakabano’s family: Nyandwi, Droca and Bazizane.
14 people managed to jump over the fence and to survive.
· Mama Bébé and her five children;
· Four of Kabalisa’s children;
· One unknown person.
On the same date, Anselme Nzabamwita was shot dead at his home by Lance Corporal Gafaranga. Between 8-10 April, Lance Corporal Mudende shot eight members of Bigirimana’s family.
Nobody in authority pleaded in favour of the Tutsis. We realised that the death of the Tutsis was something expected by the authorities. And they were killed by the soldiers who should have protected them.
The Establishment of Roadblocks and the Distribution of Weapons
On 9 April, when the victims were being buried in mass graves, Habarurema informed the population about the instructions given by the soldiers from Kanombe camp. The next day, all the adult men would have to erect roadblocks in strategic spots in the cellule, so as to ensure their security. So on 10 April, the roadblocks were put up as follows:
· At the place known as “Ku Rugano”;
· At the edge of Kanombe airport;
· Near the place called “Ku Cyapa”, by what is now the entrance of the Military Police;
· At the spot known as “Ku Gitare”;
· There were two roadblocks at Nyarutovu, one separating Gihanga and Karama cellules from Busanza sector, the other just by the fence of Kanombe camp.
To begin with, three guns were distributed for use at the roadblocks. They went to three demobilised soldiers, namely:
· Lance Corporal Jean-Pierre Ntibarubika, in exile;
· Second Lieutenant Kalimbanyi;
· Sergeant Major Shyirambere, recently deceased.
Several days later, Bikorimana and Nshizirungu, both demobilised soldiers, received a gun each. Each adult male was obliged to present himself at whichever roadblock was near him. No victims died at the roadblocks, except two cases noted at the one near the current entrance to the Military Police. A man named Turatsinze, who was at the roadblock, said that the two victims were taken away half-dead by some soldiers. They were driven away by Lance Corporal Rukara who was in charge of burying soldiers who fell on the battlefield.
Between the 20th and 21st, the inkotanyi were besieging Kanombe camp. As they fled, the soldiers sent various weapons to the people of Gihanga. They told them to stay there to face the eventual attack by the inyenzi, and that the soldiers were going to prepare a lightning attack to repulse the inkotanyi as far as Uganda.
Massacres Carried Out by the Interahamwe After 15 April
The slaughter perpetrated by the soldiers stopped on 10 April. The interval from 10-14 April was given over to looting and the discovery of the hiding places of Tutsis. From 15 April, a team of interahamwe militiamen continued the killings. Here is a list of the most formidable members of the group:
· Félicien Karangwa, whereabouts unknown;
· Ndangira, whereabouts unknown;
· Sengoga, in exile;
· Théogène Nturambirwe;
· Ezéchiel Ngarukiye, in exile.
During this period, Tutsi families who were still in their homes were killed. They were:
· Malingumu’s family: his sister Odette Mukankundiye and three children
· Four of Karwana’s children.
The interahamwe removed them from their houses and killed them in the forest below the “Ku Rugano” roadblock with clubs and machetes. Their murderers included:
· Faustin Muyenzi, in exile;
· Kalimbanya, dead;
· Kamanzi, in Kibungo;
· Ngoga, in exile;
· Gitije, in Gikondo prison. He played a major role in the abduction of the victims.
Several women were accomplices of the interahamwe. A typical example is Mukaruhanika. When she discovered Murorunyurwe she first hit her with a stick and then handed her over to her brothers, Ezéchiel Ngarukiye, Ndangira and Muzerwa. Their accomplices were soldiers called Korubani and Ruhamanya, originally from Ndiza, who often come to the Remera area. Another known case is the death of Rukimirana. He had gone to take refuge at Paul Mukwandi’s house in Busanza sector. Mukwandi’s daughter, Agnès Musanabera, betrayed his hiding place to the interahamwe led by Félicien Karangwa. The gang didn’t kill him straight away. Their chief took him to his house. He handed him over to Mbirikanyi, who is in Kimironko prison, who in turn delivered him to Lance Corporal Munyankumburwa, an agronomist, to be executed. The same day the soldier killed Damascène Nsengiyumva and Nyarishotori. All three of them met their deaths in Kamashashi sector.
In our district, the last Tutsi to be killed was Jean de Dieu Mukwiye. His house was invaded by lots of militiamen. They killed him in his courtyard. The gang was made up of:
· Second Lieutenant Kalimbanyi, recently deceased;
· Habagatsi, in Kimironko prison;
· Gitije, in Gikondo prison;
· Katanu, in Kimironko prison;
· Samvura, in Kimironko prison;
· Lionceau, in Kimironko prison;
· Ezéchiel Ngarukiye;
· Jazi, from Busanza sector;
· Samuel, in Kimironko prison;
· Kaje, in Kimironko prison.
Unknown Victims and Others Who Died in Mysterious Circumstances
Local residents discovered two people who were not natives of Gihanga. Many suspect they were from Rubungo, because an identity card found in the pocket of one of them had been issued in Rubungo.
The following are Tutsis originally from Gihanga; the circumstances of their deaths are not known:
· Two of Kinyogote’s children, Mugenzi and Rubanzabigwi;
· Pierre Muyenzi;
· Ali Ukwishaka;
· Sebisaho’s child;
· Joseph Azakorishaka.
At the time of our enquiries, no trace of their deaths could be found from any source.
The Burial of Victims
On 9 April, under instructions issued from Kanombe camp, the cellule responsable Habarurema ordered people to bury all the corpses scattered everywhere. A burial worthy of the name was not organised. The victims were thrown into latrines, rubbish pits and other pits near the places where they had been killed. Other victims killed afterwards met the same fate. The people who took part in these inhumane burials played an important role in identifying where the bodies were, enabling the current authorities to exhume them and bury them properly in Gisozi. There were 85 genocide victims in the cellule.
People haven’t yet heard of any sexual violence committed in the cellule during the genocide.
· Apollinaire Munyandamutsa, president of the interahamwe in Nyarugunga sector. He selected the interahamwe to go for training in Byumba préfecture. The majority of these interahamwe were prominent in the killings;
· Second Lieutenant Kalimbanyi and Lance Corporal Marcel Mudende. They led the massacres of the Tutsis in the cellule;
· Sengoga, an interahamwe prominent in the April massacres.
The ex-FAR who were living in Kanombe military camp are blamed for many incidents during the genocide. People don’t know their current addresses. They’ve heard that many of them have been integrated in to the new army. As the majority were originally from Gisenyi, Ruhengeri and Byumba préfectures, it would be difficult to find them. People therefore suggest that the government consult all the lists of the accused and take account of the names of the soldiers mentioned. They could attempt to identify them, starting with the files of names of current members of the national army.
2.3 Nonko Cellule
a) The Detainees in Remera
Nonko cellule is situated to the west of Kamashashi cellule, east of Rwimbogo cellule and south of the tarmac road which leads to Kanombe camp. It lies north of the main road from Kigali to Kibungo. Before the genocide, the majority of the people living in Nonko cellule came from the north of the country. Some of them, called the “Abashiru,” were originally from Gisenyi, the home region of the former President Habyarimana. Others, called the “Abarera” came from Ruhengeri and others still were natives of Byumba, called the “Abakiga.” These people didn’t come back to Nonko after the genocide. They decided it’d be better to stay in their home regions.
We’re very close to Kanombe camp and to the former residence of Habyarimana, so a lot of us worked in these places. Others worked at Kanombe International Airport. There were also many soldiers living in our cellule. In fact when, in October 1990, the RPA launched a lightning attack against the ex-FAR, in Umutara, there was an unprecedented level of recruitment so that Kanombe camp was saturated and couldn’t even house all those who were living there. Tthey weren’t in a position to welcome new arrivals into the camp. To relieve the pressure, in 1992 some of these soldiers got loans to build houses in the town. So soldiers had been living in Nonko cellule since then.
History of the Genocide
When the Arusha Peace Accords were signed between the government and the RPF in August 1993, the soldiers in our cellule didn’t hide their discontent. They used to say openly that some of them were going to be demobilised, and others would be retireed before the standard age as they were going to merge the two armies, the RPA and the FAR. These soldiers repeated this endlessly in bars or in groups when they were having a conversation.
On 6 April, people were going about their daily business as normal. All the same, we knew that the President was in Arusha for peace negotiations. Around 8:30 p.m., we heard the hum of the engine of the presidential aeroplane and everyone said it’s the “Mystère” arriving back from Arusha.” People living in the airport area knew the hum of the presidential plane perfectly well. After a few seconds we heard the first detonation of a weapon. We looked over to the airport area and saw that the aeroplane still had its headlights on. Then all of a sudden, we heard two successive blasts from a sophisticated weapon and the plane fell. We immediately observed huge flames. The sky lit up and some little explosions could be heard. There was a general panic because many soldiers were moving around. The soldiers from our cellule went to Kanombe. As soon as they returned, they let everyone know that the father of the nation had just died. We heard officially that the President was dead on the radio news at 9:00 p.m.
Around 10:00 p.m., RTLM also announced the death of the President, but with hate speech inciting the Hutus to be vigilant and to target the enemies they blamed for having launched this assault upon the presidential plane. During that fateful night, the soldiers executed Tutsis from our cellule. Evariste Nkurunziza, Mukantabana, Augustin Karegeya and Aloys Bagiraneza died that night. Some of the corpses weren’t found the following day. On the night of 6 April, dumper trucks transported the bodies of victims until the early hours of the morning. Their remains were taken to the military cemetery in Kanombe. A bulldozer machine carried out this work that night and the following night. Jean Bangamwabo revealed that a soldier from Kanombe camp had told him this but he could no longer remember his name. Jean was a heavy goods vehicle driver at Electrogaz. He recalled that the soldier who gave him this information worked for the company responsible for military buildings at Kanombe camp.
On 7 April, the Tutsis scattered and fled everywhere as the soldiers chased them. While running away, Sumaili was killed by soldiers. Tutsis escaped on the little paths that led to the Junior Seminary of Ndera, situated in commune Rubungo. The soldiers, having learned that certain Tutsis had got away from them, pursued them as far as Ndera and executed them. The killings lasted almost three days. The last Tutsi to be killed in the cellule was Gasasira. He was killed after the meeting held by the responsable of the cellule, Pascal Turikundege, near the home of Fidèle Mulindahabi, alias “Segahutu.” The cellule responsable knew where Gasasira was hiding and ordered the people named below to go and find him. These were:
· Mukiga, who fled the country;
· Kabwana, also in exile;
· Nzeyimana, who has since died;
· Mukampabuka’s husband, now thought to be in the Congo.
People didn’t go on patrols before the genocide. This work was reserved for soldiers. The patrols were established on 9 April, along with the roadblocks. Warrant Officer Ngirukwayo and the responsable, Pascal Turikundege, held meetings in our cellule. These meetings took place in a small forest in the middle of our cellule. The aim of the night patrols was to prevent infiltrations of the inyenzi during the night. The roadblocks were set up to control people who didn’t have identity cards or who had cards which identified them as Tutsis. Any Tutsis caught were automatically murdered. A lot of Tutsis lost their lives at the roadblock located near Hadji Saidi’s house. We don’t remember their names now. Those who manned the roadblock were armed with guns. Aside from the numerous small roadblocks, the cellule had three principal roadblocks, namely:
· The “central” roadblock, near Kayiranga’s house. It was located at the fork in all the routes leading to the centre of the cellule;
· The roadblock situated near Hadji Saidi’s house. Issa was head of this roadblock. He never separated himself from his gun. He’s supposedly in the Congo;
· The roadblock at Philibert Gahindo’s place. He was a Zairean national.
Every morning, the residents of the cellule had to meet up at Warrant Officer Ngirukwayo’s house to receive instructions. This soldier and the responsable called upon people to intensify their vigilance for fear that the enemy would attack them. They also said it was necessary to unearth the enemy anywhere he could be found. Ngirukwayo was in charge of security in the cellule. He carried out this work with some other soldiers like Chief Warrant Officer Gervais Twagiraimana, responsible for security in Kamashashi cellule.
It’s difficult for us to identify huge massacres because the victims of our cellule lost their lives in different places. People who died on the night of 6 April were taken away to unknown destinations. It’s said they were buried in Kanombe camp, as stated by Jean Bangamwabo. Some victims were thrown into toilets or into anti-erosion ditches. Other Tutsis from the cellule died in Ndera at the Junior Seminary. The guns and clubs belonging to the interahamwe were the main weapons used for the killings.
The property of the victims was looted. Fridges, televisions, mattresses and radios were reserved for the soldiers and the interahamwe known for their exceptional cruelty. Ordinary people only made do with the things abandoned by the soldiers, like chairs, wardrobes, beds, cooking pots and the little things of small value. Foodstuffs found in the houses, like beans and rice, were taken by the people who found them first. A few Tutsis had cows, goats and chickens and local people looted these.
People also harvested bananas. The fields of sorghum were given to local residents, although during this period, the sorghum still wasn’t mature. However any State land renowned for its fertility was reserved for the soldiers. They monopolised them and demarcated them using plants intended for making a fence, commonly called “imiyenzi.” With the help of young men, the soldiers destroyed the houses completely with the aim of getting landowning concessions. Some houses were half-ruined since people didn’t need the bricks. The tiles were stolen by anyone who had the strength. The soldiers and the interahamwe carried off the metal doors. People totally demolished the houses built of wood because they needed wood for heating. They didn’t even leave the wooden roofs as it was during the rainy season and we were experiencing a shortage of wood.
We aren’t aware of any cases women and young girls who were raped in our cellule. The reason for this is simple. Having learned of the death of the President, the soldiers became like madmen. They didn’t have time for this. Their primary objective was to wipe out the Tutsis wherever they could be found. Anger had taken them over in such a way that they didn’t think of committing such acts. All the same, it may be that the interahamwe committed actions of this kind in an isolated fashion.
Lastly, we have trouble in being clear about the level of responsibility of our local officials. Firstly, the killings took place all of a sudden. We never saw either the bourgmestre, or the councillor of our sector coming to campaign about the extermination of the Tutsis, except for the responsable and Ngirukwayo. We didn’t know if they’d been appointed by their superiors. All the same, we recognize that these two people were behind the massacres which took place in our cellule. Ngirukwayo knew all the Tutsis in the cellule, and when they were killing them, it was certainly he who guided his group. Ngirukwayo must be in exile in the Congo, while Pascal Turikundege, who was originally from Byumba, is said to have returned from exile in 1996 to move back home to Byumba.
There are 18 detainees from Nonko cellule in prison, only one of them was pleading guilty at the time this testimony was taken.
b) The Genocide Survivors and Other Witnesses
On 1 October 1990, when the RPF attacked Rwanda from Umutara, the Tutsis inside the country were treated as accomplices. Nonko cellule was the home of a lot of people who came from Gisenyi, Ruhengeri and Byumba. These residents from the north didn’t hide their aversion to Tutsis because they were pro the Habyarimana regime and their family members held high-ranking positions within it. We remember that there was a procession for the burial of Fred Rwigema and that day, if the demonstrators met a Tutsi going for a walk, they’d beat the person up very badly.
In 1993, at the time of multipartyism, people became very agitated. Most of the population of our cellule claimed to support MRND or CDR. In spite of this political stagnation brought about by multipartyism, Tutsis were not being killed then. All the same, the warning signs that the Tutsis would be killed were visible. Two important events occurred within the cellule and these only served to increase our fear.
· Firstly, Warrant Officer Ngirukwayo began training the interahamwe in the Nyandunga valley. He was a member of the state’s anti-aircraft battalion. He gave this training with the following soldiers: Corporal Bembereza; Sergeant Major Michel Ntawuyirushintege alias “Gasenda” and Warrant Officer Jean-Baptiste Nturanyenabo who was attached to the Kanombe military base. All these four interahamwe trainers have fled the country.
· Secondly, a vehicle came to the cellule more than once to drop off machetes. This vehicle arrived around 2:00 a.m. and unloaded at the Church of Friends, situated in “Ku Gasaraba.” At this time the church pastor was called Bernard. He must now be in Kicukiro or Kimihurura. The residents of the neighbourhood surrounding the church were woken up by this vehicle in the late hours and saw what happened.
In 1993, Kanombe military camp was overflowing with soldiers. In view of this, the camp allocated a sum of 10,000 francs per month to the soldiers for rent so they could pay for lodgings in the town. This sum varied depending upon the rank of the soldiers. The basic fee of 10,000 francs was for those ranked as corporals. Some of them preferred to build houses for themselves. That’s how a lot of soldiers moved into Nonko cellule. These houses were built quickly as the soldiers who were leaving for the front in Umutara came back from there with metal windows and doors. This building material which had been looted enabled them to build without too much difficulty. Other soldiers dressed in civilian clothes had already infiltrated the cellule and were living there in complete secrecy.
Before the genocide, lists of Tutsis living in the cellule were drawn up. To put together this list, Ngirukwayo had turned to an old man who knew exactly who was Tutsi or Hutu. This old man was among the oldest people living in Nonko cellule. He’s called François Gashumba and is detained at Remera prison. It was his son, Nzabandora who passed on this information to us. He lives in the cellule.
On 6 April 1994, we knew that President Habyarimana was in Arusha for peace negotiations. It was around 8:00 p.m. that we heard weapons being detonated. We thought that the soldiers from Kanombe camp were drunk and were shooting at each other. At 9:00 p.m., RTLM announced, through the voice of its journalist Valérie, that the presidential plane had just been shot down by people as yet unidentified. At 10:00 p.m., RTLM confirmed the death of the President with his army Chief of Staff, Déogratias Nsabimana. That night, the killings of Tutsis began in the neighbouring cellule of Kamashashi. The soldiers surrounded the Tutsi houses in our cellule. They were guided by our Hutu neighbours who knew the Tutsis’ houses very well. During this unfortunate night, civilians in our cellule didn’t sleep.
The next day, 7 April, a communiqué from the Ministry of the Interior and Security was broadcast on Radio Rwanda. It informed people that they should remain calm following the unexpected death of the Head of State. What’s more this communiqué called upon people to stay at home until further orders. Gatherings of more than two people were strictly prohibited. Around 8:00 a.m., the carnage had just begun officially in our cellule. The Tutsis who heard this communiqué wanted to flee to CND where the RPF soldiers were camped. Unfortunately, these Tutsis found themselves in the grasp of soldiers, since they had already crisscrossed the cellule before combing it. Tutsis tried to save themselves by taking the narrow paths to reach the Junior Seminary of Ndera, but in vain. People stopped them. Some reached Ndera, others were brought back to the cellule on the orders of the bourgmestre of Kanombe commune. The bourgmestre gave these instructions when he was on the main road which leads to Kabuga at a place named “Kuri 12.” This bourgmestre is in prison at Remera.
A lot of Tutsis died in Nonko cellule. We don’t know how to give you all their names because there are so many. The bodies of our victims thrown into toilets, anti-erosion ditches and communal graves in Kanombe, still haven’t been dug up right up to the present day. There weren’t mass graves in our cellule but even now, we don’t know where the bodies which were lying near the roadblock at Hadji Saidi’s house were thrown. Other bodies were thrown here and there. That was the case, notably, with Gasasira and his daughter who were the last Tutsis to be lynched. They weren’t in a rush to kill Gasasira because he was dying and felt his end approaching. He was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver. His daughter, Numukobga, was looking after him. While she was at the bedside of her father, youths from the cellule used to come and rape her. She went to find the cellule responsable to tell him how these men raped her. When he found out that there were still Tutsis in the cellule, the responsable ordered that she and her father be killed.
Guns, machetes and clubs were the weapons most used during these killing sprees.
Before the attack led by the RPF in 1990, there weren’t any patrols. However, during the war, patrols were set up to confront the anticipated infiltrations of the inyenzi. They were reinforced when the battalion of the RPA soldiers left Mulindi to set themselves up at CND [December 1993]. Roadblocks were set up the day after the death of the President. We only know of two roadblocks:
· Near Gahindo’s house. Those who mounted guard there were armed. It was guarded by: Pierre Célestin Ryamukuru, in Remera prison; Barora, now dead and Safari, who lives in the cellule.
· At Hadji Saidi’s place. It was guarded by Issa. He used to work at Electrogaz and is in exile in Tanzania. A lot of people lost their lives at this roadblock. People refuse to say where they threw the corpses. During the gacaca trials, Hadji Saidi was silent on this question and didn’t reveal much.
Meetings were held at a place called “Ku Munanira,” at the heart of the cellule. They were presided over by Warrant Officer Ngirukwayo and the responsable, Pascal Turikundege. These two people exhorted the rest to pursue the enemy. For this reason, people had to be responsible for their own security. Everyone who was strong enough, especially the men, had to take part in obligatory patrols. Only the sick were exempted from this work. Every morning, people had to meet up there to give an account of the work accomplished. The interahamwe reported on the people they’d killed or those who were still alive. It was during these meetings that residents informed them that certain Tutsis had escaped them and taken refuge at the Junior Seminary of Ndera. The interahamwe didn’t hesitate to pursue the refugees at Ndera.
The cars belonging to rich Tutsis were stolen by soldiers, as were televisions, tape recorders, radios and fridges. The interahamwe had become like soldiers and also gained the lion’s share by appropriating the most valuable property. People also seized chairs, wardrobes, clothes, blankets, sheets and bedspreads, as well as household utensils. Cows, goats and chickens were looted by the strongest. People harvested the abandoned crops of victims, like bananas or sweet potatoes.
Certain of the victims’ houses were completely destroyed. Other houses were half-destroyed and you can only see the used bricks there because of the heavy rain over more than eight years. People pulled out the tiles, windows and doors because after the genocide, these materials were still kept in their homes. The structural beams and wood were used for domestic purposes as firewood.
In our cellule women and young girls were raped.
As regards the responsibility of our administrative authorities, the cellule responsable, Pascal Turikundege, played a primary role in the genocide committed in Nonko cellule. The responsable might be in his home region of Byumba now. He didn’t carry out this disastrous plan alone. Chief Warrant Officer Ngirukwayo and Corporal Rwabulindi, alias “Kirasumutima” killed and organised the killings of a lot of Tutsis in the cellule. Another person who contributed in an indirect manner to eliminating the Tutsis is the old man François Gashumba. He did not only incite the Hutus to kill the Tutsis, but also participated in establishing a list of Tutsis from the cellule. He presented it to Ngirukwayo who was in charge of the combing operations. We regard him as an accomplice because in drawing up this list, he helped to identify victims, knowing that they would die.
2.4 Rwimbogo Cellule
a) The Detainees in Remera
Rwimbogo cellule was home to officials who worked in various State departments or in the private sector. As is normal in all towns, each one of us took care of our own affairs without taking an interest in the private lives of our neighbours. People lived in the same cellule and didn’t recognise each other. Except of course, everyone knew the local officials, notably the cellule responsable or the person responsible for ten households, the nyumba kumi. This person held the lists of the people who lived in his district. A visitor to the cellule had to go and register with the nyumba kumi to enable the administrative authorities to control the security situation. In short, it was the nyumba kumi who knew the location of Tutsis’ houses. There were some young refugee boys who’d come to look for work in the town living in the cellule. These boys came from the Nyacyonga refugee camp. They’d been displaced after fleeing the fighting between the inkotanyi and the FAR in the Byumba region. Moreover, these youths killed a lot of Tutsis in our cellule.
On 6 April 1994, the situation was calm and we couldn’t have imagined that the evening would be fateful. We believed that the President was returning from Arusha that day. Whenever the President went abroad or when he returned, the Presidential Guard (GP) used to criss-cross all along the tarmac road and soldiers could be seen on rotation in all directions. It was the same situation in the course of that evening. We were used to this type of movement. We saw it as normal since we were living near Kanombe International Airport. At around 8 :00 pm, we heard loud explosions Suddenly, we noticed flames near Kanombe camp. Most of us were in the bars having a glass of beer. We quickly went back to our houses. At 10:00 p.m., RTLM announced the death of the President of the Republic with his Chief of Staff, Déogratias Nsabimana. The soldiers surrounded our cellule that night so that they were present at every step.
On the morning of 7 April, a communiqué aired on radio announced that residents should stay in their respective homes until further orders. We could see very many soldiers from Kanombe airport through our windows. They’d already besieged us. We knew them and the regiments they were attached to very well. They were:
· Soldiers from the State anti-aircraft battalion (RA);
· Soldiers from the air force (ESCAVI);
· The Presidential Guard (GP);
· Soldiers from the airport brigade;
· Other soldiers from Kanombe camp.
The first person to be killed in our cellule was the director of the control room of Kanombe airport, Vénuste Murasandonyi. He was also the president of the CDR. He was murdered by the GP in his shop. He’d just gone to get some money from his worker who spent the night there. He was Hutu and a fervent supporter of CDR; we don’t know why he was killed so quickly that no one could believe it. The second person to be executed by the militia was named Karangwa. Everybody who dared leave his home felt threatened. Only the interahamwe militia could wander around freely. The soldiers were driven to the homes of Tutsis by the interahamwe who knew them. The guide for the soldiers was a top figure in CDR, Jean Bosco Rusagara. The attack of the interahamwe was led by their boss, named Nshagaye. Before the genocide, this militiaman wore MRND clothes, but at the time of the genocide he was in military dress.
Here is the list of the interahamwe who from our cellule:
· Nshagaye, now dead;
· Jean Bosco Rusagara, who has passed away;
· Mivumbi, who is also dead;
· Emmanuel Mandevu, president of the interahamwe within the cellule. We don’t have any news of him;
· Eugène Twagiramungu, a cellule resident, whose whearabouts we don’t know.
There were some other youths who’d styled themselves as militiamen. These young people came from the Nyacyonga refugee camp and had come into the cellule in search of work. They were commonly called “abapagasi.” They killed a lot of people. A list of their names is given below:
· Innocent, alias “Capitaine,” now dead;
· Mugoyi and his friend nicknamed “Sans cuisse”; we don’t have any news of them;
· Elizaphan Rugemankiko. He used to roast meat on skewers. During the genocide he used to wear grenades;
· Ndikubwimana, who lives in Muhororo in Gisenyi province.
The killings in our cellule lasted practically three days. The soldiers killed with guns and bayonets. The interahamwe militia and ordinary people used grenades, bludgeons, clubs and machetes. The bodies of victims were thrown in the toilets. There were mass graves in the cellule where the victims were thrown. A famous mass grave was situated at Janvier’s house, at the place they called “Muri Mapengu.” The second mass grave was located in the plot at Kayihura’s house. Another mass grave was also to be found at the home of the gendarme. We can’t remember his name. This grave was near the “Welcome” restaurant. The interahamwe came to stock up with arms and other supplies at this restaurant. After the slaughter, they went there not only to assuage their thirst and hunger, but also to share the booty. Other bodies were buried on the plots of the victims. Notably, this was the case with the Kayumba family who were killed with their visitors, Jeannette and Richard; the Callixte family and the Apollinaire family. In the two days following Habyarimana’s death, there were numerous corpses. To get rid of this bad smell, the responsable, Marcel Nkurikije, who has since died, ordered them to be thrown into the mass graves mentioned above. This was an order from the responsable and from other soldiers. The people only obeyed the orders they were given.
There were numerous bodies lying everywhere. The instigator and leader of these attacks was Lieutenant Sebarera. He was responsible for the security of Kanombe airport and was part of the field artillery battalion, BAC. He was renowned for his notorious indiscipline and had been demoted for that. His fellow trainees had reached the grade of major. He’d had a fight with Captain Bwanakweli, who had ordered him to stop the massacres because he’d said it was too much when he saw the bodies of victims strewn all along the paths and roads. This captain is locked up at the military prison of Mulindi and was lately judged. The court martial recently imposed a death penalty or life imprisonment. As for Sebarera, we haven’t any news of him.
Meetings that took place in the cellule to plan the elimination of the Tutsis were presided over by soldiers and held in dialogue with the responsable and the members of the cellule. These meetings took place in bars where a lot of interahamwe had gathered. Nshagaye and Rusagara never separated themselves from the soldiers. Meetings were often held in Rusagara’s bar. Unskilled workers, known as “abapagasi” were often found there in the evening for similar criminal meetings.
Before Habyarimana’s death, there weren’t any patrols. The reason for this is simple. Our cellule is not far away from the international airport, where security had been reinforced, even in the vicinity of it. After the attack on the presidential plane, the soldiers stepped up patrols. On the morning of 7 April, the soldiers and interahamwe put up roadblocks. Tree trunks, even empty barrels, were placed in the middle of the road to prevent access for people who could try and flee with their vehicles. There were a lot of roadblocks, but these were the most important ones:
· “Ku Bigega” guarded by the para-commando battalion;
· Near Ndekezi’s house, on the road leading down to the home of César Kagabo. He’s dead now, but his wife is alive;
· At Bangamwabo and Ruhashya’s house;
· “Kuri 12” which was near the Nyandungu road going into the district. This roadblock was strategic because it had to prevent the inyenzi from going through there. Moreover, it was there to face up to an eventual attack of the inyenzi coming from Mulindi. Another thing specific to this roadblock was that at the time property was looted, a lot of things passed through there. went through there. That’s why Colonel Bangamwabo and Captain Bwanakweli looked for people to guard this roadblock for fear that their property would be taken away by these looters. These two high-ranking personalities in the army paid these people privately. Colonel Bangamwabo lives in Kigali. Not a single inyenzi was caught at this roadblock.
The property of victims was looted in our cellule. Soldiers took the cars of rich Tutsis. They also took television sets, fridges, and tape recorders. The houses which had metal doors were smashed by firearms so as to get inside. Other property worth a bit was taken by the interahamwe recognised for their savagery. Lastly, people carryied off the rest: foodstuffs; clothes; tables; cupboards, wardrobes and utensils for cooking. There wasn’t a lot of livestock and the rare goats and few cows were taken by the interahamwe. The interahamwe had installed small butcheries in the cellule and a kilo of meat was selling at a very low price. A kilo cost 50 francs. When meat shortages were experienced, a kilo rose to 100 francs.
In the first hours of the massacre, the soldiers lit the houses of Tutsis with the help of petrol, as with the houses of Karangwa and Kabiligi. Other houses were demolished by local people, beginning with the metal doors and windows, tiles and frames. Houses built of wood were razed to the ground since the residents needed firewood. In certain places, it is possible to find traces of them; elsewhere bricks have collapsed because of bad weather or heavy rain. When it comes to the land and crops of the victims, they were almost non-existent except for the little orchards which were to be found in the enclosures. In reality, in our cellule, there wasn’t any space for fields.
Cases of rape of young girls and women haven’t been identified in our cellule. The soldiers and the interahamwe didn’t have time to commit such acts. All the same, we can’t be sure because these kinds of actions are committed on an individual basis.
Concerning the responsibility of people who committed the genocide in our cellule, we can confirm without any risk of being wrong that the soldiers of the Presidential Guard and the State anti-aircraft battalion played a leading role in the extermination of the Tutsis. Lieutenant Sebarera was at the centre of the attacks because he knew our cellule well.
These soldiers were guided by the interahamwe and the “abapagasi” from Nyacyonga who knew the houses of victims perfectly. On 18 May, the war redoubled its intensity because the FAR were battling with the inkotanyi at Kanombe airport. We had to flee our homes at midnight because the airport had just fallen into the hands of the RPF and the FAR were scattering around our district. On 19 May, a lot of Hutus were killed by the inkotanyi. If by chance they found you armed with a gun, a spear, a machete, a club or even a stick, they killed you on the spot.
54 people from Rwimbogo were detained in Remera when this testimony was taken.
b) The Genocide Survivors and Other Witnesses
Rwimbogo cellule is one of the most overpopulated cellules in Nyarugunga, mainly because of the small businesses which have developed strongly there, as the district called “Mu Kajagari” illustrates. The cellule is the site of the international airport and the tarmac road from Kigali to Kibungo borders it to the south.
After war broke out in October 1990, the security situation became precarious. The Tutsis who didn’t speak the same language as the authorities couldn’t enter a bar. Some people were arrested and treated as accomplices, for example François Munyarugamba and his wife. She was working at Rwanda Motor and he worked in the control tower at Kanombe airport. Both survived the genocide. Uwimana Gidensi was also imprisoned. She was working at Sakirwa and died after the genocide. Gakara and his younger brother, Gahigana, businessmen, were also arrested. Gahigana died during this period, but the others were released after they were imprisoned for a few months. Karamaga, now the responsable in Nonko, was also imprisoned as an accomplice.
People handed over individuals to be imprisoned, accusing them of being inyenzi, although this wasn’t the case. To give an example, Oda Nyirahakizimana, married to a white man named Shimiti, handed over Bosco Nkundunkundiye, accusing him unfairly. He’s still alive.
When multipartyism was introduced, we saw that people belonging to the MRND and the CDR were united. However, the “abanyanduga” were not easily accepted. They were suspected in the same way as those who came from mixed parentage of Hutus and Tutsis. There was also the MDR. The CDR was represented by Pascal Bashoboyiki, in exile, but his wife is still lives in Rwanda. Butera and his wife, teachers, were also members. Butera was part of the committee of directors and distributed clothes and hats with the CDR logo to his pupils. And Niyitaye, who is now living in Ruhengeri, where he is originally from, was a member. He was a driver at MINITRAPE. He has just finished training at the solidarity camp (ingando). His wife still lives in Rwimbogo cellule. Théodore Bantegeye, imprisoned in Remera, kept the CDR flag when Niyitaye moved house. Mariro and Byansi, both peasants, were members of CDR. A young girl from Ntamukopo was the secretary of the CDR. Alphonse Kabananiye, who had studied abroad and was working within the MRND party, was a member of CDR. At the moment he’s in Belgium.
As for MRND, it was represented by Charles Banzi and Nshagayintwali, alias “Nshagaye.” He was a businessman and is now deceased. Charles was an employee of Air Rwanda and is living in exile. There was Théoneste Kalimunda from Gisenyi, also an employee of Air Rwanda and Kwitonda, a businessman and a native of Gisenyi who is now a refugee. Rusagara also waved the flag for MRND; he was a businessman and the younger brother of Nshagaye. Then there was Ndikubwimana, Nshagaye’s brother. He is living at home in Kibilira at the moment, near Muhororo in Gisenyi province. Chief Warrant Officer Rudakangwa, nicknamed “Crap,” originally from Gisenyi, was involved. At the sector level, it’s worth mentioning a man called Aboubakar Turatsinze who brought weapons. He came from Gikondo and must now be dead.
The MDR was represented by Gasore, a former commander of the FAR who was part of the moderate wing of this party. He was even threatened during the genocide. It seems that he was originally from Gikongoro and is currently living in Remera.
The Liberal Party (PL) party was represented by Straton Byabagamba, who was killed in 1992. He was attacked in his home at around 3:00 p.m. by CDR, who accused him unjustly of having given his dog the name of “CDR.” His trial didn’t produce any concrete evidence. Among those who were imprisoned following enquiries into the affair was Mutombo, a peasant from Gisenyi, Byansi, in detention in Remera, and Nshagaye, now deceased. From this moment on, PL didn’t have any more representatives because its top people had just been removed. Two other people were killed in 1992: Serukerenke and his younger brother, Kanonko, respectively 22 and 20 years old. Serukerenke had hearing difficulties. They were killed immediately after they’d marked the mourning period at Byabagamba’s house. When they arrived at the doorstep of Théodore Bantegeye who got married that day, they were murdered on the spot by CDR members who were present there, including the policeman Ntezilyayo. The latter is still in the Congo. Their bodies were loaded on board a military wagon and were buried by prisoners at the 1930 prison in Kigali. They’d been falsely accused of having been given a grenade to throw at Théodore’s house by the driver, Kalisa (a Tutsi who was living in Rwimbogo). No enquiry was made.
People were often beaten without reason; Harerimana, a Tutsi with a Hutu mother, was often beaten up and imprisoned. Kalisa was also seriously beaten up on the grounds that he had brought the inyenzi. Fortunately, he was helped by a judge, Isaac Nsengimana, who realised that he was being harassed without any justification. This judge is still alive. Because of this situation certain Tutsis families, including the people listed below, were forced to flee before the genocide:
· Berchmas Rwakabayiza—he took refuge in Kibuye but the genocide began when he had come back to the cellule to collect money there. He was an employee of the Embassy of France. His wife and his children stayed in Kibuye at the time of the genocide;
· François Munyarugamba also found refuge in Nyamirambo;
· Dr. Marcel Bugingo moved to Kacyiru after it was liberated.
On the evening of Habyarimana’s death, the Presidential Guard were at the airport. At 8:00 p.m. in the evening, a youth by the name of Pierre, a member of the CDR and working for Sakomo, took a stick, a machete and a whistle. He called out several times for help from other interahamwe with this whistle. He was originally from Byumba. During the night, cliques formed and met at Rusagara’s house. Around 11:00 p.m. they met up at the home of Innocent, nicknamed “Captain” by the interahamwe. They set up a roadblock there. A lot of militiamen were at the meeting, including the one nicknamed “Zambia” and a lot of others. They spent the whole night there drinking and smoking. This place is situated opposite Médiatrice’s house. During this time, the GP had already surrounded the airport. When Kalisa was going back to work, he passed the airport. He was with a lady named Amina. The GP told them that if Habyarimana had died, they’d be exterminated. The GP were usually at the airport when the President was due to arrive. Sporadic gunfire could be heard.
The following morning, all the interahamwe met up in front of François’ house for a meeting to prepare the massacre. They had already established the lists of people to kill. There were a lot of people, especially those from the CDR and MRND parties. They were armed with guns, grenades, machetes, hatchets, little hoes and so on. We can name the following people among those who attended this meeting:
3. Butera, the teacher;
5. Patrice Banyeretse, an employee of the cooperative, TRAFIPRO;
6. Boniface Munyabarenzi, an Air Rwanda employee;
7. Pascal Bashoboyiki;
9. Claude, he’s a lawyer and must be dead;
10. Lambert Sugira, he’s in detention in Remera;
11. Dorumurari, nicknamed “Drum.” He was a musician and employee of Air Rwanda. He could be in South Africa;
12. Gakwerere, in detention in Remera;
13. Jason Munyampeta, in detention in Remera;
14. Marcel Nkulikije, the cellule responsable, deceased;
15. Rukundo, chauffeur, a major militiaman in exile, he was from Kibuye;
16. François Nsanzumuhire, Médiatrice’s husband;
17. Parmehutu, in detention in Remera;
18. Rwubusisi, luggage handler at the airport and who dressed in an Air Rwanda overall;
19. Kabiligi, he was the civilian commander of the airport, he’s a refugee;
20. Edouard Rutesiya, an airport employee, he lives in Kenya;
21. Munana, imprisoned in Remera;
22. Murangira, in detention;
23. Gaspard, he was a biker at Jason Munyampeta’s place;
24. A man nicknamed “Rodrigue”, who is at liberty, the brother of Hodari Ilyagaragayeen, who’s in detention in Remera;
25. Zambia and his brother-in-law, Edouard, son of Muganguzi, and Edouard’s younger brother, John;
26. Bategejo, in detention in Remera;
27. Byansi, Mutiganda and Mutaganzwa, the brother of this man, all in prison in Remera;
28. Zaïrois and Mbonigaba, alias “Kiragi”;
29. Philippe Dusabimana, in detention in Remera;
30. Seruhinja, Mukaruziga’s son;
31. Sergeant-Major Kalimunda, he’d be in Gisenyi at the moment;
32. Rwandege and his sister, Kidederi, who was studying at secondary school. They’d have gone back home to their place in Ruhengeri;
33. Pascal Mbaraga, he was living below Rugamba’s house;
34. Rugemankiko, a well-known interahamwe, deceased;
35. Michel, Karaha’s younger brother who studied meteorology and currently lives in Kiyovu in Rugenge sector;
36. Ndagije, Kijyambere’s son, in Cyangugu;
37. Noël, a judge in Gikondo, originally from Byumba; he must be in Rwanda;
38. Deburi and Clotilde’s daughter, called Mukakibibi;
39. The man nicknamed “Kwasa Kwasa,” deceased;
40. Fabien, Kanyarabonye’s brother-in-law;
41. “Crap”, mentioned above; he brought ammunition and killed women and children;
42. Théoneste Kalimunda, a retired sergeant-major;
43. Herman who carried a gun, son of Joseph Bagirigomwa. He’d just finished his secondary studies and now lives in France;
44. Kimonyo, a simple peasant, now in detention;
45. Emmanuel, an employee of La Rwandaise;
46. Birori, an employee of Rwanda-FOAM, in detention in Remera;
47. The man nicknamed “Cassius” who came from Gisenyi;
48. Alexis alias “Goliath”, deceased, and his little brother;
49. Candali, a refugee;
50. Kajugujugu, who came from Gisenyi;
51. A soldier nicknamed “Corporal”, who’d just finished his training;
53. Jean de Dieu alias “Swindler”;
54. J.P. Nzaramba, deceased;
55. Samuel, son of Mugande;
56. Ngarambe and Rutaganira, Kimonyo’s sons;
57. Rwankiko’s son who currently lives in Munini, Kanombe;
58. Emmanuel Rubanguka, a driver, who’s in detention;
59. Cyrille Ruberangeyo, a judge-president, in retirement in Nyabikenke;
60. Bangamwabo alias SOCOBICO, an ex-FAR at liberty in Kigali.
The slaughter on 7 April was systematic and went from house to house, orchestrated by soldiers and civilians. Most of the victims were shot, but some of them were killed in an inhumane and humiliating way, especially Berchmas Rwakabayiza who we called “Militant.” The number of victims was very high. Afterwards, the hunt for Tutsis was continued by the Hutu population including the militiamen named above.
In Rwimbogo cellule, the mass graves were at Kayihura’s place, immediately below Pascaline’s house; at Janvier’s house; in the toilet at Tanganyika’s house and at Sentabire’s house, below Kijyambere’s house. There was also the septic pit at Gérard Ntezilyayo’s; the toilet at the home of Munana, the tailor, and the one at Naramabuye’s house, in Louis’ plot. Bodies are still in the toilet at Ndamage’s house and in the toilets of Apollinaire Rwakarenga and Cyrille Nzanana. There’s another grave at Rwubusisi’s house, one at Annonciata’s house (25 victims); one at Kaberuka’s house (10 people); near Oswald’s house at Kanogo and in other places. Some people have built on top of the bodies of victims such as Bizimungu’s family which lost three people.
The looting was organised. The best things went to the leading militiamen and the others took the rest. The destruction wasn’t usually total. They took doors, window, furniture, tiles and so on. Cows were stolen from the homes of Louis, Emmanuel Ntaganda and Byabagamba.
Soldiers and interahamwe raped women and young girls.
2.5 Nyarugunga Cellule
a) The Detainees in Remera
Before the war of 1990 broke out, the Tutsis and Hutus from Nyarugunga cellule used to live in peace. They used to marry one another, give each other plots of land. If problems arose, they got together to resolve them.
The 1990 war didn’t change the good neighbourly atmosphere, except that certain Tutsis were imprisoned by soldiers of the GP. The agronomist, Apollinaire, and Munyakayanza, were labelled as accomplices of the inyenzi and later killed. Munyakayanza used to work at the military camp of Kanombe. Around this time the soldiers searched nearly all the houses in Nyarugunga cellule.
With regard to political pluralism, Mulindi district was the site of some antagonism between the parties. The MRND faced the PL and MDR. The supporters of the MRND removed the flags of the other political forces. Certain members of the opposition parties were threatened. For example, they destroyed the home of Gatera, the president of PL in Nyarugunga cellule. He was forced to move. A man called Léopold also left the place because of threats. Léopold died, while Gatera escaped the genocide.
On 6 April 1994, in the evening, we saw flames in the skies. This was followed by the sound of gunfire until the following day. We were afraid; we thought it was the FAR battling with the inkotanyi in Kanombe. Some of us found out that it was the plane carrying President Habyarimana, who had been killed; others learned the news the following morning. Even on the night of the 6th, certain Tutsis were assassinated, for example some members of the Murasira family. The other members of this family were finished off the next day. Most of us didn’t know what was happening.
On the morning of 7 April, soldiers were present almost everywhere in the cellule. They shot at anybody. The soldiers who had spent the night outside the camp were subjected to the same fate. That day numerous Tutsis were wiped out. First they asked for identity cards and people identified as Tutsis were immediately killed. Here are the names of the Tutsi families who were exterminated.
· Charles Kabiligi’s family;
· Léodomir Nzakamwita’s family;
· Léopold Rudacogora’s family;
· Vincent Kajangwe, three people;
· Dorothée Mukankusi’s family;
· Zacharie Habiyakare;
· Murasira’s family;
· Nyarwaya’s family;
· Karemera’s family;
· Murara’s family;
· Gasirikare’s family;
· Elias Niyonshuti’s family;
· Bishumba’s family;
· Mudenge’s family;
· François’ family;
· Modeste’s family;
· Chief Warrant Officer Ndamage’s family;
· Issa Rugema’s family;
· Ignace Rulinda’s family;
· Léopold Ngarukiyintwari’s family;
· Philippe’s family;
· Sarasine’s family;
· The family of the late Munyakayanza;
· Pascal and his family;
· Narcisse Niyongira;
· Gaëtan’s young daughter;
· Potien Rubibi’s family;
· Bigirimana’s family.
Soldiers murdered all these people on the night of 6-7 April. The victims were surprised because they found them in their houses at a time when they were still in bed. The murderers knew the houses of the victims well, one reason why it didn’t take long to kill them.
On the night of 6 April, there were numerous soldiers in Mulindi, on the Kigali-Kibungo road, especially in the market square. The next day, around 11:00 a.m., roadblocks were set up on the orders of Captain Kandekwe, in collaboration with some other soldiers. The first was put up at the bus stop in Mulindi. The second was on the road which leads to the tomato factory, SORWATOM, while the third was located in the market centre. This one was headed by Mugabonake who was a well-known interahamwe. Only the residents who lived close by went there.
On 8 April in the morning, civilians at the roadblock were replaced by soldiers who lived in Mulindi. The objective of the roadblocks was to check the identity cards of passers by. Those who came from other préfectures had to show a travel permit. People who didn’t have an identity card were driven to the Kanombe military camp. We know of one man only who had come from Kibungo. Civilians devoted themselves to the genocide in the same way as the soldiers. Zigama’s family was killed on the night of 7 Apri, stabbed in an attack led by Sindayigaya, a civilian. On the same date, the soldiers searched all the houses in Mulindi. They assassinated the family of Louis Gakuba, made up of seven people. The victims were hiding at Karekezi Uzabakiriho’s house. He’s now in prison in Remera. They killed a man called Ndabacahe, a Hutu tenant of Karekezi’s, mentioned above. These soldiers had come from Kanombe camp.
In the meantime a lot of people took refuge at the commune office of Kanombe, but the soldiers chased them away. The Hutus who were part of this group went back home while the Tutsis were massacred after they were expelled.
It was difficult to find a hiding place in Nyarugunga. So on 7 April the Tutsis who didn’t go to the Kanombe commune office took the road to Masaka parish. When they arrived there, the priests separated the men from the women. The next day the communal policemen from Kanombe came in their vehicle and proceeded to kill them. The communal police force, Froduald, and the assistant bourgmestre Emmanuel Karengera, now in detention in Remera, were among them. They quickly set up a roadblock and gave instructions to the local people that no one should go through it. The roadblock was situated at the centre known as Biryogo. When they arrived at the parish, they shot in the air and began to ask the people fleeing to show their identity cards. They lined up the Tutsis on one side and the Hutus were asked to return home. However, anyone who didn’t have an identity card was grouped with the Tutsis, who were immediately killed.
Still in Nyarugunga, on Friday 8 April, the soldiers ordered the people to collect up all the bodies and put them in a lorry. We didn’t know their destination. But according to rumours, it could be that they were dispatched to the shooting ground at Kanombe military camp. On the same day, they killed Jovial Gérard and Omar Gafurama.
People didn’t do night patrols in Nyarugunga cellule. It was the soldiers who took care of this. In our cellule we didn’t have security meetings. The massacres came to an end, more or less, on 8 April. People presumed that security had returned. The bars and shops reopened their doors. That was how Josepha, otherwise known as Mututsikazi, was executed, in her bar, by soldiers. Nyirandegeya is another person killed after 8 April.
Certain soldiers distinguished themselves in the killings: one of them was Corporal Bachelier. He was in the para commando battalion. Mparayabo was another. We don’t know where they are now. The main weapons used were guns but bladed weapons were also used as Sindayigaya showed. He is in prison in Remera and pleads guilty of having killed someone with a spear. He’s the only one that we’ve heard saying he used this weapon.
The slaughter was followed by looting and the destruction of houses. The following people’s houses were demolished:
· Théodomile Nzakamwita;
· Zacharie Habiyakare;
· Léopold Rudacogora;
· Vincent Kajangwe.
Musoni’s house was demolished on the orders of his brother-in-law Christophe, who’s in exile. Doors and windows and tiles were taken away. Household tools and other property looted were loaded into military vehicles. They chose the property of major value. The civilian population took the rest. The life style of the victims varied from one family to another. Among them you found car owners like Théodomir and Louis Gakuba; there were also state officials, teachers and the officials of national or multinational companies, private or public.
There were no acts of rape in Nyarugunga cellule.
As far as the role of the authorities in the genocide is concerned, in general the army had the power to control the whole country. But the responsable for Nyarugunga, Vincent Kabera, was a high-ranking criminal. He had a military bodyguard, armed with a gun. His acts showed that the regime in place had the chance to stop or even to prevent the genocide.
There are 34 prisoners from Nyarugunga locked up in Remera prison.
b) The Genocide Survivors and Other Witnesses
Before the 1990 war, the Tutsis and Hutus didn’t have a problem living together. They shared everything, giving each other cows and intermarrying. Things changed in 1990 when the inkotanyi attacked Rwanda. Then, the Hutus said that the Tutsis inside the country must have some measure of responsibility for the fact that the inyenzi had invaded the country. They were hated and their daughters couldn’t marry soldiers any more. Primary school children were capable of telling the difference and began to fear each other. The death of Fred Rwigema created conflicts in secondary schools. At the School of Technical Training (EFOTEC) for instance, the Tutsi pupils were badly treated, because it was said they’d refused to participate in the demonstrations at the burial of Rwigema. It was difficult for the Tutsis in the commune to get official papers. Problems linked to regionalism also came to light. Those who were originally from Gitarama or Butare were considered to be traitors. A time came when the soldiers searched taxis and when they came across an unknown person, they killed them deliberately without any enquiry.
In Nyarugunga cellule, the war of 1990 led to the arrests of certain Tutsis called ibyitso, accomplices, like Munyakayanza and the agronomist, Apollinaire Niyonzima. Released after some months, they were killed in 1992. The introduction of multipartyism aggravated the situation and provoked the death of a lot of people. MRND was at the head of these killings. During this period, the Tutsis were subjected to different forms of torture. They didn’t even spare those who were supporters of their movement. They weren’t invited to party meetings. Certain things were hidden from them. When MRND organised demonstrations, the Tutsis who weren’t taking part saw their houses sacked and looted. Only pure Hutus had the right to be recruited into the army, that’s to say not people of mixed Hutu and Tutsi origin. Sometimes they doubted the identity of Hutus who weren’t from Gisenyi or Ruhengeri. Certain houses belonging to Tutsis were set alight, like that of Gatare, a supporter of PL who was living in Mulindi.
The news of Habyarimana’s plane crash was reported to us by RTLM, on the night of 6 April. The gunshots were heard all night and the families of the Tutsis who were neighbours of President Habyarimana were executed, including :
· Murasira’s family, more than six members ;
· Gasirikare’s family, more than ten people ;
· Niyonshuti’s house where more than ten people were killed;
· Nyarwaya’s family, at least six people;
· Murara’s family, five people;
· Karemera’s family.
The bodies were left on the ground. These families were known because they had good relations with the President. The latter often used to invite them to his house and when they had arguments among themselves, he also used to participate in the search for solutions. The assassins were soldiers of the Presidential Guard, (GP). Family members who weren’t killed the same night couldn’t sleep. Some of the soldiers told us that all the Tutsis and all those who were associated with them would be wiped out.
On the morning of 7 April, the soldiers continued the massacres between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. They were guided by civilians who pointed out the homes of Tutsis to them. That shows that there was a plan for genocide, no meeting had been organised to convince people about the killings. Certain Hutus used to say, shortly before the genocide, that the Tutsis should go and look for somewhere to take refuge because their death was imminent. Civilians like Mugabonake and Mugubiri collaborated closely with the soldiers in the massacres. The killings were followed straight away by looting and the destruction of houses.
Guns, grenades, clubs, machetes etc… were used. A lot of Tutsis who had escaped the killing spree of the night of the 6th and the day of 7 April headed for Masaka to take refuge in the church. Some went to the chapel at Kanombe military camp, but they were quickly thrown out by soldiers who said that only the wives of soldiers and their children could go into the chapel. Forced out of the chapel, they returned home to be killed. The refugees who had left for Masaka died there.
It’s difficult for us to tell the identity of the soldiers who executed the Tutsis. But among the interahamwe who kept them company were:
· Joseph, President Habyarimana’s nephew;
The bodies of victims from the night of the 6th and the 7th were loaded into the military lorry on the 8th and thrown onto the military camp’s shooting ground. The other bodies from the days that followed were thrown into toilets, into anti-erosion pits or simply abandoned on the hills. The ones we know were thrown into the toilets were relatives of Rudacogora, Kajangwe and Dorothée. There were about 20 of them.
To destroy the houses, they took off the metal sheets, the doors and the windows and the rest of the structure served as firewood. There were houses that they completely destroyed, like Nyarwaya’s, where you wouldn’t know there’d been a house. The others were obliterated to the level of the walls. The crops which weren’t ripe like sweet potatoes, beans, and bananas were looted by the women. Although they didn’t participate in the attacks, they revealed the hiding places of Tutsis.
The Tutsis of Nyarugunga cellule had an average standard of living. We counted that four of them had cars. A lot of them were solvent and managed to pay school fees for their children in private schools.
The rape of women and young girls was another weapon used by the génocidaires. Women and especially girls were raped before being killed.
The authorities led the killings. Vincent Kabera, the Nyarugunga responsable, now deceased, walked around with a hatchet and had a gun. He didn’t miss any attacks. The councillor, Sebantu, handed out arms to the killers and proclaimed himself the bourgmestre of Kanombe commune, after the flight of the former bourgmestre, Jean-Paul Ntiyamira. In general, strength and power was measured by the number of murders caused and the degree of nastiness a person showed.
From the interviews with the accused, the survivors and other witnesses of the genocide in Nyarugunga, it was clear that the testimonies, for the most part corroborated each other. Gaps in the information are always to be found at the level of the organisation and planning of the genocide. The soldiers, in collaboration with the followers of the MRND and CDR parties, played a leading role at the time of the execution of the genocide. But from the way that the sector was sealed off and the systematic nature of the killings in the hours directly following the attack on the presidential plane on 6 April 1994, it is possible to conclude that the plan for the genocide in Nyarugunga had been conceived at a much earlier time and with the greatest of discretion. It has not been possible to identify the soldiers who set the sector on fire. However, the witnesses agreed that many of them had returned from exile, although they were not in a position to give details about their current place of residence, their occupations, their grades during the genocide, their military detachments at the time and so on. More worryingly, they did not know their names. First names, often accompanied by nicknames, are not sufficient to identify them. It might be better to request the assistance of the Office of the Military Prosecutor and the National Commission for Unity and Reconciliation, especially given the fact that some of the soldiers mentioned must have been reintegrated into the RPA. Some, like Isidore Bwanakweli, have been pursued and judged by the courts and military tribunals. Others would have been at the solidarity camps, “ingando” with the National Commission for Unity and Reconciliation.
Similar problems have cropped up when it comes to tracking down the civilians suspected of having committed the genocide in Nyarugunga. The sector was inhabited by a lot of immigrants during the genocide ; these people preferred to return to their home sectors after the fall of Kigali, for fear of being spotted by their former neighbours and brought to justice. The people interviewed for this report brought up the names of a lot of immigrants who must be in their home provinces today, in Ruhengeri, Byumba and Gisenyi. They remember their nicknames and not their real names which complicates the task further. It is therefore necessary to establish more details about their identity to make it easier to trace them.
From the testimonies which have been gathered, there emerge some cases which could easily be documented and lead to judicial proceedings. Tharcisse Renzaho, the former préfet of the town of Kigali, in detention in Arusha, is one of them, along with certain executives who were working at Kanombe International Airport. A lot of them are currently living in Europe, notably in Belgium.
In our enquiries in Nyarugunga, we discovered, surprisingly, that the property of people suspected of involvement in the genocide who went into exile has, for the most part, been sold by their relatives who turned up after the genocide, equipped with the power of attorney. This happened even in the case of people whose names are on the list of those sought in connection with participation in the genocide. According to the witnesses we met, it was often their wives or children who arrived for the sale and then rejoined them in exile immediately afterwards. As a result, the survivors worry that it will be impossible for them to be compensated. Their other concern is the lack of information about the whereabouts of genocide suspects whose wives and children are still living in the sector. Their neighbours state that these families know where their husbands or parents are but refuse to hand them over. The survivors blame the gacaca judges who don’t call the family members concerned to ask them questions although the law authorises them to do so, and punishes the refusal to testify about facts within your knowledge.