Testing Phase of the Genocide in Rwanda Before 1994
The genocide committed against the Tutsi has enough proofs showing that the government of Rwanda and its army prepared and executed it. However, some foreign countries like France have been shielding those implicated in the preparation and execution of the genocide against the Tutsi. Judge Theodor Meron who is the president of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, a United Nations’ residual body that replaced the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) upholds his reprehensible release of genocide masterminders like Ferdinand Nahimana and Lt Col Anatole Nsengiyumva and other genocidaires convicted by the ICTR.
As it remains only four months for Rwanda and the International Community to commemorate the Genocide against the Tutsi for the 23rd time, the National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide (CNLG) will, every month inform Rwandans of major dates that characterized the preparation of the genocide to continue promulgating the truth and avoid distortion of the history by some people who still cherish genocide ideology.
1. JANUARY 1991
a) RPF soldiers captured the town of Ruhengeri which became an excuse for the killings of several Tutsi
In the night of 22nd -23rd January 1991, RPF-Inkotanyi soldiers invaded the town of Ruhengeri and release detainees in Ruhengeri prison including Col. Théoneste LIZINDE and others. Most of them joined the RPF to continue the liberation war. This invasion was followed by the killings of the Bagogwe in the communes making up Ruhengeri prefecture especially those nearby the volcanoes. The Government argued that Tutsis living in those communes facilitated the RPF soldiers to reach the town of Ruhengeri. This killing followed the massacres in Commune Kibilira in October 1990 that killed quite a number of Tutsis especially in Muhororo.
b) French soldiers guaranteed hope to Habyarimana’s government to uphold the plan of killings
On 23rdJanuary 1991, president HABYARIMANA requested France to send troops to help him counter the RPF soldiers and remove them from the town of Ruhengeri arguing that they are invaders from the Ugandan army. In his response to HABYARIMANA’s request, Georges MARTRES, France’s ambassador to Rwanda at the time, he accepted the support saying that the Rwandan crisis was more ethnocentric arguing that Rwanda had been invaded by Tutsi from the Hima, a cluster from which he said president Museveni too, is descendant.
On 23rd and 24th January 1991, French soldiers in the opération NOROIT under the command of Col René GALINIE came to Ruhengeri for rescue on behalf of the government of Rwanda.
In a letter he wrote on 24th January 1991, ambassador MARTRES said that they did it with outstanding valor especially in the last two hours preceding the night: “the respect of the instructions did not rule out a certain audacity which the French paratroopers had to show in the last two hours before nightfall. The state of shock in which the displaced population was found did not make it possible for them to undergo the test of a new night of confrontations”.
c) President François MITTERRAND cautioned the minority Tutsi appealing that power in Rwanda ought to be in hands of majority
As revealed by two French writers, Gabriel PERIES and David SERVANAY in their book: « Une guerre noire: enquête sur les origines du génocide rwandais (1959-1994) », on 23rd January 1991, president MITTERRAND held a meeting with his closest advisors including Admiral Jacques LANXANDE talking about RPF’s attack on the town of Ruhengeri and security for French nationals who were living in that town and what they called the role of Uganda in the war in Rwanda.
President MITTERRAND proclaimed that the war in Rwanda was between French and English speakers, which means that France had to fight to protect their language.
He added that they had to warn president MUSEVENI, and would not bear with minority Tutsi to take power and rule over the majority. This shows that the war MITTERRAND and his soldiers were fighting in Rwanda was ethnocentric and bursting with genocide ideology.
He expressed himself in the following words: “We are on the edge of an Anglophone front. Uganda should not allow itself of anything. President MUSEVEN must be told; it is not normal that the Tutsi minority seeks to impose its law on the majority”
On 30th January 1991, president MITTERRAND wrote to president HABYARIMANA informing him that French soldiers would uphold support to him as promised in October 1990 : “I decided (…) to maintain temporarily and for a period of time related to the developments of the situation, the French military contingent sent to Kigali last October .”
This constant military support led president HABYARMANA to feel that he was backed by a powerful country, which caused him to brushing off any attempt to seek peaceful solution.
2. JANUARY 1992
a) Distribution of guns and grenades to Interahamwe militia
On 8th January 1992, political parties that were not in the same streak with the MRND (Mouvement Révolutionaire National pour le Dévelopment) carried out strong demonstrations in Kigali, Butare and Gitarama towns. These political parties were denouncing the way president HABYARIMANA and his party were impeding the peace-talks and sharing of power yet President HABYARIMANA had agreed to reshuffle the government and include some members from opposition parties.
On 30th October 1991, HABYARIMANA tasked Sylvestre NSANZIMANA, then prime minister to reshuffle the government but all selected ministers were members of the MRND except only Gaspard RUHUMURIZA who was member of the PDC (Parti Démocratique Centriste), led by Jean Népomuscène NAYINZIRA.
To quell the demonstrations, president HABYARIMANA ordered that strong youth from MRND should be selected and equipped with guns to counter those from the opposition. Over 300 guns were distributed.
On 22nd January 1992, Col Bernard CUSSAC, who was in charge of military cooperation between France and Rwanda, operating from France’s embassy to Rwanda in Kigali, wrote that the guns were distributed to Interahamwe militia, by Rwandan armed forces and local leaders who were members of the MRND.
b) Creation of INTERAHAMWE Newspaper
In April 1992, INTERAHAMWE newspaper was created aligned to MRND and managed by Robert Kajuga who was the head of Interahamwe at national level. This newspaper, as well as Kangura, Kamarampaka, La Medaille Nyiramacibiri, Echos des mille collines, Umurwanashyaka, RTLM (Radio Télevision Libre des Mille collines) and others, played a big role in spreading hatred and incitement to genocide.
3. January 1993
a) BAGOSORA declared that he would prepare an apocalypse for Tutsi
9th January 1993 is a date that should never be forgotten in the history of the Genocide against the Tutsi. On this date, in Arusha Tanzania, a part of the Arusha peace agreement regarding power-sharing had been signed. Col Théoneste BAGOSORA who was part of the talks but not convinced with the resolutions, infuriated, got out of the room saying: “I am returning home to prepare for an apocalypse”.
One of the resolutions that infuriated BAGOSORA was that MRND had been given only five seats of ministers out of 21 ministries that would make up the transitional government and only 11 seats out of 70 deputies for the transitional parliament. BAGOSORA did not agree with this power-sharing .He instead accused Boniface NGULINZIRA, then minister of foreign affairs of having sold the country.
It should be recalled that in the history of killings in Rwanda, it’s not the first time the words IMPERUKA Y’ ABATUTSI (apocalypse of Tutsi) was used. President KAYIBANDA was the first to use these words in a speech on Radio Rwanda on 11th March 1964 following an attack in Bugesera on 21st October 1963 by some of Rwandans who had been exiled in Burundi. KAYIBANDA said:” if Cockroaches managed to capture Kigali, even if it won’t be easy for them, it will be the fast apocalypse for the race of Tutsi”. This is one of the facts that prove that the genocide committed against the Tutsi in 1994 roots back for years in history.
b) Col BAGOSORA founded an association of killing nicknamed Amasasu (Bullets) within the Rwanda armed forces
As soon as he returned to Kigali from Arusha on 9th January 1993, Col BAGOSORA held several meetings with his faction of extremists including senior military officers like Col Dr Laurent BARANSARITSE who was the head of Kanombe Military hospital, Lt Col Anatole NSENGIYUMVA who was at the time the Commandant of the army in Gisenyi prefecture, Major Protais MPIRANYA who was the commandant of the presidential guard, Major Aloys Ntabakuze who was the commandant of Paratroopers battalion, Major Augustin NTIBIHORA who was the commandant of the military engineering regiment; they jointly founded an association of killings within the Rwanda armed forces and named it AMASASU (Bullets).
They informed president HABYARIMANA about it in a letter they wrote to him on 20th January 1993. This association was presided over by BAGOSORA who nicknamed himself Commander Mike TANGO. This association spearheaded the spreading of genocide ideology amongst soldiers and inciting soldiers to decline living with RPF members, but rather prepare themselves to exterminate the Tutsi whom they alleged of spying for RPF.
BAGOSORA and other extremists did not agree with the section of the Arusha peace accord concerning the mixing of armed forces which provided that government armed forces and RPF soldiers would be merged into one armed force of 19000 men comprising 13000 military officers and 6000 gendarmes of which 60% would be from former Rwanda Armed Forces while 40 % would come from RPF soldiers.
Concerning senior command and the new army, this accord provided that each side would have 50 per cent. BAGOSORA and his colleagues had never agreed with the accord, which they disclosed to president HABYARIMANA through the letter informing him of the creation of their association “Amasasu” saying that its aim was to fight against the Arusha peace accord; and its members would kill whoever they would qualify as betrayer. On the dates of 20th-22nd January 1993, the association carried out Tutsi-targeted killings in different parts of the country especially in prefectures of Ruhengeri, Gisenyi, Kibuye and Byumba.
c) MRND conducted demonstrations against the ARUSHA peace accord, which was followed by massacres in various parts of the country
On 19th January 1993, demonstrations lead by MRND were held in Kigali. On 21st January 1993, Mathieu NGIRUMPATSE, the president of MRND at national level, declared that MRND did not consent with resolutions of the ARUSHA peace-talks concerning power-sharing. The statement he released was followed by other Tutsi-targeted killings in Ruhengeri (Mukingo and Kinigi communes), Gisenyi (Gaseke, Giciye, Karago and Mutura communes), Byumba (Commune of Tumba), and Kibuye (commune of Rutsiro)
d) A delegation of international experts revealed that killings in Rwanda were led by top government officials
On the dates of 7th– 21st January 1993, a delegation of international experts composed of Jean CARBONARE (France), Dr Philippe DAHINDEN (Sweden), Prof. René DEGNI-SEGUI (Ivory coast), Me Eric GILLET (Belgium),Dr Alison DES FORGES (USA), Dr Pol DODINVAL (Belgium), Rein ODINK (Netherlands), Halidou OUEDRAOGO (Burkina Faso), André PARADIS (Canada), and Prof. William SCHABAS (Canada) conducted an investigation on killings in Rwanda at the time. Their report was released in March 1993, and stated that the killings against the Tutsi in Rwanda and members of the opposition were led by top officials including president HABYARIMANA himself, members of his family, and his closest faction: “the responsibility of the Head of State and his immediate entourage, family members among others, is heavily present in the massacres perpetrated against the Tutsi and members of the opposition”.
a) Distribution of weaponry to Interahamwe militia
The month of January 1994 was characterized by relief for some Rwandans who were relieved by the fact that 600 RPF soldiers and their politicians had arrived in Kigali on 28th December1993, pending their admission in transitional institutions as provided for by the Arusha peace accord.
For the government of Rwanda and its armed forces, they were not happy with the move, they instead started genocidal campaigns throughout with enhanced training of Interahamwe militia and equipping them with weaponry; in what was called “civil self-defense”. All these activities aimed at instilling among all the Hutu civilians that all of Tutsi were enemies of the country that thus deserved to be killed.
At national level, civil self-defense activities were coordinated by Col Athanase GASAKE, with other coordinators in each prefecture. In the city of Kigali, civil self-defense activities were coordinated by commandant BIVAMVAGARA in collaboration with the prefet of the town Col Tharcisse RENZAHO. In Kibungo, civil self-defense activities were coordinated by Col Pierre Celestin RWAGAFIRITA, in Kigali Rural prefecture the coordinator was Major Stanisilas KINYONI, Colonel SINGIRANKABO in Cyangugu, and Major Jean-Damascène UKURIKIYEYEZU in Gitarama, Col Aloys SIMBA in Butare and Gikongoro who had assistants including Col Alphonse NTEZIRYAYO who later became the prefect of Butare prefecture during the genocide. In Gisenyi and Ruhengeri prefectures, civil self-defense activities were coordinated by chief army commandants in these prefectures namely Col Anatole NSENGIYUMVA in Gisenyi and Augustin BIZIMUNGU in Ruhengeri.
Late January 1993, and early February, Col BAGOSORA led the distribution of arms to Interahamwe militiamen in the north of Rwanda. In his diary of 1993 presented as witness in his case in ICTR some of its pages indicated that 500 weapons were distributed in communes of Mutura, Giciye, Rubavu, and Rwerere of Gisenyi prefecture.
a) Heightened demonstrations by Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi militia and killings in Kigali
On 8th January 1994, Belgium intelligence institutions wrote a confidential statement indicating that on 7th January there had been a meeting at MRND headquarters that was convened MRND president, Mathieu NGIRUMPATSE, defense minister Augustin BIZIMANA, chief of defense Staff General Déogratias NSABIMANA, Gendarmerie chief of staff general Augustin NDINDIRIYIMANA, Robert Kajuga, the commandant of Interahamwe at national level and other high ranking military and gendarmes.
In the meeting, it was resolved that the arms store should not be made known to the UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda), and should rather be shifted to be stored in houses of top military and gendarmerie officers who were good and faithful members of the MRND. It was also resolved that they should make propaganda among the civilians so that they could denounce UNAMIR, especially Belgian soldiers in the mission.
The meeting was followed by terrible demonstrations conducted on 8th January 1994 in the city of Kigali; backed by leaders of Kigali Urban prefecture and soldiers from the presidential guard disguised as civilians that injured several people in the city of Kigali using grenades.
These demonstrations were followed on 9thJanuary 1994 by lethal talk-shows on RTLM warning the UNAMIR of opposing Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi and aligning with RPF. On 11th January 1994, other demonstrations that brought together MRND and CDR (Coalition for the defense of the Republic), were graced by ministers Pauline NYIRAMASUHUKO and Callixte NZABONIMANA and leaders of the town of Kigali.
On 15th January, Belgian ambassador to Rwanda wrote a letter meant for Belgium’s minister of foreign affairs informing that weapons were being distributed to Interahamwe requesting that UNAMIR should be allowed to confiscate them. On 16th January 1994, a powerful meeting that brought together people from parties with Hutu power in common at Nyamirambo stadium.
In this meeting, Justin MUGENZI, who was the head of the Hutu-power faction in PL (Liberal Party), in his speech he called on people to beware with Tutsi and Belgian soldiers in UNAMIR. During this meeting, several weapons were distributed to members of all power members from different political parties including MRND, CDR, MDR, PSD, PDC and PL.
These activities were denounced by Rwandan human rights groups like PRO-FEMMES Twese Hamwe, CLADHO and CCOAIB. The report conducted by Belgium senate in 1997, disclosed several statements showing that in January 1994, the government of Rwanda was preparing a genocide.
During the night of 21st-22nd January 1994, a French plane of model DC-8 land secretly to Kanombe airport. UNAMIR checked it and found 90 boxes full of ammunitions meant for Rwanda armed forces whereas the Arusha peace accord restricted procurement or distribution of weapons.
On 27thJanuary 1994, RTLM broadcasted noxious shows calling all people upon fighting until they are all finished stating that Belgians soldiers within UNAMIR wanted to offer the country to Tutsi. Those talk-shows followed a meeting that was convened by MRND top leaders including Joseph NZIRORERA, Edouard KAREMERA, Jean Pierre HABYARIAMA (son to president HABYARIAMA), and Robert KAJUGA who was the commandant of Interahamwe at national level. Through this meeting they resolved to instigate among Interahamwe militia men the spirit to fight Belgian soldiers within UNAMIR. An order was also issued allowing Interahamwe to breach the rules given by Belgian soldiers within the UNAMIR. Interahamwe had rather been made ready to counter the Belgian soldiers within UNAMIR and incite people to despise them as much as they could.
b) Declaration of preparation of genocide in UN
On 11th January 1994, one of the powerful leaders of Interahamwe in the city of Kigali, Abubakar TURATSINZE, alias Jean Pierre disclosed secret to general Romeo DALLAIRE who was the commander in chief of UN troops in Rwanda that Interahamwe had been well prepared to kill about 20 000 Tutsi per day, that they had enough weapons stored in Gikondo at Kabuga’s house, that list of Tutsi to be killed had been prepared. He added that since UNAMIR was deployed to Rwanda, over 17000 militiamen had been trained to complement with several others who had been trained before. General DALLAIRE wrote a statement requesting for the right to confiscate those weapons and stop groundworks on the genocide.
On 12th January 1994, DALLAIRE was given an answer that had been signed by one of the UN top leaders called Iqbal RIZA who was the deputy to Koffi ANNAN, then head of UN peace keeping services requesting general DALLAIRE of not involving UNAMIR in confiscation of arms. Iqbal added that the only thing DALLAIRE had to do was to discuss it with president HABYARIMANA and ambassadors of France, Belgium and The United States, to Rwanda. DALLAIRE kept silence until the genocide happened and claimed lives of the people he was mandated to protect.
This few proofs that CNLG exposes in this statement show the perilous scale of the preparation of the genocide committed against the Tutsi. The genocide against the Tutsi was not an accident, it was rather an extermination activity that was meticulously planned and executed by the government of Rwanda and its armed forces with the support from foreign countries especially the French leaders. The international Community was also aware of the ignoble action but did not act in time to stop the genocide. It is a shame to the entire International Community.
It is necessary to keep reminding this as genocide deniers consistently spread their lies, distorting the truth and the history of the Genocide, which demeans the victims who were killed on basis of their nature or because they defied calls made by the killers.
By Dr Jean- Damascène BIZIMANA