April 30,1994: Tutsi massacre in Gisenyi Town, Rubavu


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April 30,1994: Tutsi massacre in Gisenyi Town, Rubavu

Yanditswe Apr, 30 2020 17:07 PM

On April 30, 1994, the criminal government continued to implement their plan to exterminate Tutsi. This document points out some of the locations where Tutsi massacre took place on this date in 1994.

1.  Tutsi massacre in Gisenyi Town, Rubavu

Gisenyi genocide memorial is located in Ruriba village, Rubavu cell, Gisenyi Sector in Rubavu district, that place was called Commune rouge” during the genocide. The hatred towards Tutsi in this region of Rwanda started a long time ago especially because President Habyarimana was born from this region as well as other higher officials of the “Akazu government” (a network of individuals well connected with Habyarimana mainly from his Hutu clan) who were at the forefront of hate politics in Rwanda.

The massacre was preceded by abusive language, insults, hatred and everything else that led to the extermination of Tutsi, all of which was published by Kangura. Kangura Chief editor Hassan Ngeze is from Nyakabungo, Gisenyi, Rubavu and is also one of the founders of CDR. Since 1990, when the liberation struggle started, Tutsi from the former Mutura and Rwerere communes in Bigogwe, those from Kayove, Nyamyumba, Kibirira (currently in Ngororero District) communes were gradually killed claiming that they are Inkotanyi accomplices and their bodies were dumped in the pits that had been already excavated in Gisenyi cemetery as part of destruction of evidences. Some others were secretly killed in Gisenyi Prison and thrown in the above mentioned pits. Many Tutsi were killed in the city of Gisenyi during the genocide, in their homes and others were taken near the pits excavated in Gisenyi cemetery to be killed.

Colonel Nsengiyumva Anatole who was in charge of the Gisenyi military base played a key role in speeding up the implementation of genocide in Gisenyi. He is from Satinsyi Commune in Gisenyi Prefecture. Since 1990, Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, Aloys Ntabakuze, Joseph Nzirorera had produced a plot to exterminate Tutsi in Gisenyi prefecture. They started by disseminating hatred, causing riots, training the Interahamwe, handing over guns, preparing Tutsi lists, and killing Tutsi from Gisenyi and Ruhengeri communes.

In Gisenyi, Anatole Nsengiyumva, Bagosora, Ntabakuze and Nzirorera had formed a gang of killers consisting of: Omar Serushago, Bernard Munyagishari, Mabuye, Barnabé Samvura, and Thomas Mugiraneza.

On the night of April 6, 1994 to April 7, 1994, Colonel Nsengiyumva Anatole held a meeting at Gisenyi military base to polish the genocide plan. It was attended by soldiers from the Gisenyi, Gendarmery and senior officials of interahamwe and CDR. Colonel Nsengiyumva instructed them to give guns to the Interahamwe, and to set up roadblocks everywhere in Gisenyi.

On April 7, 1994, another meeting was held at the former market of Gisenyi, Anatole Nsengiyumva ordered Interahamwe to start the killing of Tutsi and they went from house to house. A statement from the Ministry of Defense had ordered all residents to stay home and no one could get out except soldiers and Interahamwe who were killing Tutsi wherever they passed.

Colonel Nsengiyumva Anatole ordered the establishment of strong roadblocks on the border between Rwanda and Zaire so that no one could cross the border to Zaire. The killings were led by Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva himself, along with Major François Uwimana, Second Lieutenant Fidèle Udahemuka, Second Lieutenant Abel Rwasa and Interahamwe led by Bernard Munyagishari, Omar Serushago, Councilor Faziri, and Byahi Councilor.

Col Anatole drove around Gisenyi to monitor how the killing was taking place, asking Interahamwe at the roadblock how the so-called work was being done and how they were killing Tutsi. Major Uwimana François Xavier patrolled the area and monitored how the massacre of Tutsi was taking place. The Tutsi who lived near the Barracks and the Hospital were the first to be killed. The corpses were scattered everywhere and vehicles were picking them to throw them in the pits excavated at the "Commune Rouge".

On April 20, 1994, the attack led by Omar Serushago, Bernard Munyagishari and Thomas Mugiraneza attacked at Saint Pierre Monastery. Those who had taken refuge there including Felicité Niyitegeka were taken to the Commune Rouge for execution. Tutsi who were hiding in St. Fidele School along with others who were in Rwandex were killed by HABIMANA Jean Pierre (nicknamed MUSTAFA).

On April 30, 1994, a truck with loudspeakers passed in Gisenyi town calling upon all Tutsi to unhide because peace had been restored and no Tutsi would be killed again. All those who came out of their hiding places were killed at Commune Rouge.

At the forefront of the killings were Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, Major François Uwimana, Second Lieutenant Fidèle Udahemuka, Second Lieutenant Abel Rwasa, Joseph Habiyambere, Prefect Dr. Zirimwabagabo Charles, Sous prefects Rukabukira and Bikumbi, Hassan Ngeze, Barnabé Samvura, Bernard Munyagishari, Omar Serushago, Councillor Faziri, and Councillor of Byahi, together with citizens led by interahamwe called HABIMANA JEAN PIERRE (MUSTAFA) who fled to Belgium.

Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva was convicted of genocide crime by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and sentenced to life imprisonment, which was later reduced to 15 years on appeal. Omar Serushago was convicted of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), he pleaded guilty to genocide crime and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Bernard Munyagishari was extradited to Rwanda by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and Rwandan courts convicted him of genocide crime and sentenced him to life imprisonment. In 2003, Hassan Ngeze was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of genocide and other crimes against humanity, and in 2007 the sentence was reduced to 35 years in prison.

2.  Tutsi massacre at Mibirizi Parish, Cyangugu 

On the morning of April 7, 1994, gendarmery trucks were circulating Mibirizi area without an apparent reason.  They had a huge number of gendarmes, they would circulate, go back and come back again.  The councillors immediately ordered that no one is allowed to leave home so that no one would flee outside Rwanda. As it had happened back in 1963, 1973, Tutsi of Mibirizi fled to Mibirizi Parish thinking that they would survive there.  

From April 8, 1994 to April 10, 1994, around 8000 Tutsi arrived at Mibirizi Parish with their cows. On 10th April, 1994, many Hutu led by the former Presidential Guard called Dominiko launched an attack that seemed to spy on the Tutsi power and their number. They used stones and other traditional weapons and retaliated the attack.

On April 12, 1994 at around 10am, another attack led by Dominiko accompanied by a huge number of Hutu took off from a place called “ku Ngoro” near the parish and headed to Mibirizi Parish. They were armed with spears, bows, and Dominiko had grenades. The Tutsi fought against it with stones and could defeat the attack.  After realizing that they are defeated, Dominiko threw grenades among them and many were injured including Dushimimana Concorde who finally died.

On 14/04/1994 around 3pm, many Hutu re-organised and attacked the refugees at Mibirizi Parish, the attack was more violent than before. The killers were from near the Parish at Ngoro, others from Runyanzovu, Munyinya, Muhanga, Cyato and elsewhere. The Tutsi also tried their best and retaliated the attack. A serial killer named Kayibanda from Kaboza who was known for killing many Tutsi threw grenades among them. One grenade immediately killed Dominique Nsabimana (Businessman at Ngoro) and killed others around him on the front row. The killers were again defeated and run away.

April 18, 1994 is a day that will never be forgotten in the history of Tutsi who had taken refuge at Mibirizi. Three major attacks in one day took the lives of thousands of Tutsi in Mibirizi. Around 10 am, Killers attacked Tutsi but were defeated after only killing a small number of Tutsi. Killers returned to Ngoro to reorganize and to get new instructions. At around 2 pm, the killers attacked Tutsi at the parish again in a very big number and threw grenades among them and killed many Tutsi. At last, killers were also defeated and retaliated.

Around 3pm, former sous prefet Theodore Munyangabe arrived in Mibirizi with other people. He immediately called on the Tutsi to go back inside, so that he can hold talks with the killers to find a solution and stop the fighting. Tutsi did not realize it was a trap for them. As they were about to enter, thousands of Murderers immediately surrounded the area, threw grenades, others killed with swords, spears and killed anyone they met. Some gunmen had climbed trees around Mibirizi Parish so that they could shoot properly those they wanted to terminate. The attackers had many guns and grenades and Tutsi could not defend themselves anymore.

A large number of Tutsi were killed in various places. On April 20, 1994, the killers in collaboration with gendarmes who were supposed to protect Tutsi refugees at the Parish, they gathered all the remaining Tutsi in the courtyard of the Priests at the parish.  They brought a list and called out the names of anyone they wanted. More than 100 Tutsi were summoned on that date and they were taken to the killers who were waiting for them with swords, clubs, machetes and spears. The killers left dead bodies lying around and came to bury them the next day. Among the detainees on that day was a woman who was a teacher called Angela. On April 20, 1994, after torturing those they had called on the list, killers went to Mibirizi Hospital to kill Tutsi Doctors and nurses who were on duty and Tutsi patients in the hospital.

On April 30, 1994 few Tutsi who had survived were killed. On his way back home, Youssufu Munyakazi, who had just returned from killing Tutsi in Shangi, he decided to pass by Mibirizi to finish off any possible survivor. They were carried by a Daihatsu car and arrived around 5pm and killed about 60 Tutsi with swords and after they left bodies scattered in front of the Parish. On 22/05/1994, the remaining 500 Tutsi, including the elderly, women and injured were packed in busses and taken to Nyarushishi.

Some of the prominent killers who planned and participated in the attacks at Mibirizi were the following:

·  Bandetse Edouard (genocide planner), he was a businessman in Kamembe but he had moved to Mibirizi. He issued instructions, he had guns and meetings were held in his bar;

·  Sous prefet Theodore Munyangabe;

·  Dominique, a former presidential guard who had deserted in the army but he was still equipped with guns;

·  Somayire Celestin, a prominent Interahamwe and was a teacher at Mibirizi; he hated Tutsi;

·  Munyoni Vianney, a police officer; he killed many Tutsi in the attack of April 18, 1994;

·  Rwabukera Fabien, Interahamwe who lived in Kigali but he was born in Mibirizi;

·  Kayibanda (A prominent interahamwe), he killed Tutsi using grenades during various attacks;

·  Councillor of Mibirizi sector, Ndagijimana Pacome, he organised attacks and attended meetings that falsely accused Tutsi of instigating insecurity;

·  Cyato sector councilor, Gakwaya Vianney who also led the attacks;

·  Gendarms who were at the parish: the guns they were given to protect Tutsi  were used to kill them during the attack of April 18, 1994;

·  Somayire Richard, he was a teacher at APEMI;

·  Gerard Ndagijimana, worked in Mibirizi Hospital and was very influential to the killers;

·  Rukeratabaro Theodore from Winteko, he led the attacks which searched for Tutsi from Winteko who had taken refuge at Mibirizi. They hunted for Senuma and after killing him they took his shoes to show his relatives that they had killed him. Rukeratabaro was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Swedish court.

3.  Tutsi massacre at Ngoma Catholic Parish
Many Tutsi who had taken refuge in Ngoma Parish, located in Ngoma Sector, Huye District were killed on April 30, 1994. When the massacre started, Tutsi who lived in Matyazo and Ngoma who had survived killings elsewhere fled to Ngoma Parish. They included many children, young and old who survived the attack of interahamwe and soldiers which was led by gendarmery leader Habyarabatuma Cyriaque. On the 29th, Interahamwe and soldiers who lived at the ELECROGAZ roadblock attacked the Tutsi at the parish. The soldiers entered to check on the number of refugees, falsely telling them that they had come to keep their security.

On April 30, 1994, around 9am, a major attack arrived at Ngoma Parish led by Lt Hategekimana Ildephonse, the commander of the Ngoma Military Base, and S/Lt Fabien Niyonteze, other soldiers from the Ngoma military base as well as interahamwe from Ngoma and Matyazo. Soldiers and the Interahamwe forced their entrance in the church and started killing them and others were killed outside. There have been supernatural killings, such as grabbing a child and knocking him down on the road to death, and others would hit him with clubs and machetes. Girls were also raped before being killed.

At the forefront of the killings was Lt Hategekimana Ildephonse who was the commander of Ngoma Military Base. He was tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and sentenced to life imprisonment.  Gatera, Murekezi Fils, Donati, Vianey from Kibuye (a business man at the fourth street), Abdoulah from Giswayire, many soldiers including one who claimed to be the grandson of Satan, Toni, the sons of Kiburugutu, Commander of the Airport, Ngoma Sector Councilor Habimana Jacques, and other Interahamwe.

4.  Tutsi massacre at Abenebikira congregation center, Taba, Butare

Many Tutsi including those from the families of some of Benebikira sisters had taken refuge at Benebikira Center in Butare (Taba) from April 14, 1994. After the assassination of Prof Karenzi, a former lecturer at the University (UNR) on April 21, 1994, his children and others who had taken refuge at his house fled to Benebikira center. The children were closely monitored by Vincent Ntezimana who was teaching with Karenzi at UNR and Col Tharcisse Muvunyi. Prior to the assassination of Prof Karenzi, Ntezimana and other genocide organizers at UNR had asked Tutsi lecturers to provide a list of all the people that they are staying with so that they can help them to flee.

On April 30, 1994, an attack led by Captain Nizeyimana Ildephonse from ESO, including Lt Hategekimana Ildephonse who was in charge of the Ngoma military base, Lt Ndayambaje and Lt Ngendahimana, and other interahamwe attacked Tutsi who had taken refuge in the Abenebikira center located at Itaba in Butare town. Hategekimana first selected those to be killed and took them to Kabutare and Groupe Scolaire where he killed them. The attackers were armed with guns and other traditional weapons like clubs, machetes and Jerrycans full of petrol.

At the forefront of the killings were Captain Nizeyimana Ildephonse, Lt Hategekimana Ildephonse, Lt Ndayambaje, Lt Ngendahimana, and Vincent Ntezimana and other Interahamwe. Vincent Ntezimanan was convicted of genocide crime by Belgian courts and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Captain Ildephonse Nizeyimana and Lt Ildephonse Hategekimana were convicted of genocide crime by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and sentenced to 35 years (Cpt Nizeyimana) and life imprisonment (Lt Hategekimana).

5.   Tutsi Massacre in the papyrus swamps, Ntarama, Bugesera

As of April 22, 1994, Tutsi who had survived the killing in the mountains, in the sorghum plantations, in the churches and in other parts of Bugesera started to enter in the papyrus swamp because it was the only place they could find a hiding place.

However, with the help of airplane which checked every day to see the whereabouts of many Tutsi, got the information that many Tutsi were in the swamps and they prepared a plan to massacre them. In the first days, they would attack and kill a few because they were initially afraid to go far into that papyrus swamp where you couldn’t even see a person hiding near you.

On April 30, many Tutsi were massacred in the swamp named “CND” separating Ntarama, Rulindo and Mugina in Gitarama. Interahamwe and soldiers from different parts of the country (Gako, Ngenda and Gashora military bases, Gicumbi, Gikomero, Mbogo, Nyamabuye and other parts of Gitarama, Mugina and elsewhere gathered.  In addition, refugees from Ruhuha and Nyacyonga came with ONATRACOM buses in huge numbers, shouting and whistling.  When they all arrived, they formed groups of attackers and surrounded the papyrus swamp.

There were also people from the Kanzenze, Rulindo and Musenyi sectors that surrounded the swamp and others on the Ntarama side.  They attacked and killed them from around 10 am till 4 pm and only stopped because some of them were saying that they were coming from far away and they had to walk long hours.

Soldiers shot and threw bombs in the swamp, and Interahamwe with machetes, spears, spears, clubs with nails, swords and other traditional weapons killed them because they were not able to run in the swamp. Soldiers and interahamwe searched Tutsi that they had already killed and took their clothes away. They raped girls before killing them by placing them in a little dry space or on the papyrus plants that they had cut, and they would finish up by killing them, torturing them, inserting sharp sticks in their private parts and leaving them naked.  

The attacks in the papyrus swamp were led by the Commander-in-Chief of the Gako Military Base, the former sous prefet of Kanazi sous prefecture, GASANA Djuma, Gatanazi Bernard who was the Bourgmestre of Kanzenze Commune, Karerangabo Vincent who was the inspector, Nsabyumuganwa the former director of Cyugaro primary school, Bizimana, former principal of Nyamata Primary School, Pastor Uwinkindi Jean, Gasharankwanzi Sylvestre, a soldier named Sebugingo, Bizimungu who was a police officer and others.

Massacre of Tutsi continued. This was done in a way that every so-called Tutsi would be killed, most of whom were killed while fleeing. On this day many were killed within administrative buildings, communes, churches because people falsely believed that they could survive in such places.

Dr BIZIMANA Jean Damascène

Executive Secretary

National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG)

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