Testimony of Abdul Ruzibiza about how mistakes by both the Rwandan Government and the RPF led to the Rwandan genocide of 1994
Translated from Original in Kinyarwanda
After learning that an investigation was well under way about the downing of the aircraft carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart, as well as 9 other officials from the 3 countries of Rwanda, Burundi, and France – a civilian aircraft traveling in a non-combat zone – newspapers, radio and TV stations around the world jumped right on the hot breaking story. Being a subject of the reports, I was approached by some of these news organizations as to the accuracy of these reports, and I attested to it.
However, unsettled by the many distortions affecting a news event in the way it is told, I determined it was better to do my own unfiltered story telling, rather than have somebody else do it for me. Not being a man of the law, I could only answer questions asked of me regarding on-going investigations about all I knew. Likewise, others provided answers about what they knew. Of all of them, however, I am the only one coming out publicly with a testimony, while others are deprived of an avenue to say anything publicly lest they be eliminated by Kagame, and he wouldn’t be doing it for the first time.
I had to come out in order to offer an inside-track testimony about the genocide against Tutsis and the mass massacre against Hutus during the conflagration launched by the RPF/APR organization to which I belonged. The need is great for Rwandans and foreigners alike to get a clear understanding of what really took place in Rwanda, because so far the world only knows what the RPF wants it to know.
As we prepare to commemorate yet again our loved ones who perished in the genocide, it is critical that the truth be known, after 10 long years of Kagame claiming to be the savior of Tutsis when in fact he is the one who made the massacres possible, and barred us from taking any intervention action, which we were very capable of doing.
As a supplement to the present press release, I am putting out in the public my full testimony designed to shed light on the truth of what transpired in the higher echelons of the rebel movement. My goal is to set the Rwandan people from free the grips of the big lie that genocide was halted by the action of one man. This might open up the possibility of real reconciliation among Rwandans.
March 14, 2004
TESTIMONY ABOUT HOW MISTAKES BY BOTH THE RWANDAN GOVERNMENT AND THE RPF LED TO GENOCIDE. WAS THE RPF REBEL GROUP REALLY THE SAVIOR OF TUTSIS AS WIDELY REPORTED?
Following the news that an investigation was under way regarding the shooting down of a civilian aircraft carrying 11 dignitaries and high ranking military officers from Rwanda, Burundi, and France, including Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, news media, whose sources of information remain unclear, extensively reported on the event.
For my part, I intend to testify about the inner workings of the RPF and its RPA military branch, having been a member of both organizations before I took the road to exile. My reasons are that in an embellishment effort, the news media have tended to dilute my testimony by lending me words I did not use, thus affording an easy pretext to those with a vested interest in thrashing the truth of what really took place.
First, Identity Disclosure
My name is RUZIBIZA, baptized Venuste as a child. From the early time I joined the organization until I enlisted in the army in 1990, I used the code name of ABDUL. The reason was that successful entry into the rebel army in the bush required recruits to transit through a long chain of RPF members from one region to another, until they reached the final destination in the area where the RPF Inkotanyi rebels were stationed. They already had your name before you arrived from one area to another. Reporting under a different code name than the one in their possession resulted in immediate death by means of an old used up hoe. Such a recruit was seen as an infiltrator into the RPF system. When I became a born-again Christian, I adopted the name of Joshuah. So, I go by all these different names. During all my years in the military, I was known as ABDUL RUZIBIZA. I fled the country in the night of February 3rd to February 4th, 2001. I held the rank of army Lieutenant, with registration number OP1920.
I was born at Gitagata in the commune of Kanzenze, in the Bugesera region, as an ethnic Tutsi in the clan of Abanyiginya and the family of Abahindiro on my father’s side. My mother is also an ethnic Tutsi, from the clan of Abatsobe. So I am a full ethnic Tutsi from my parents, both of whom were killed along with all my 6 siblings during the 1994 genocide. Therefore, I am providing the full account of my testimony as a witness, as a soldier and member of the RPF organization, as a soldier of the RPA as it waged war in combat zones, and also as an ethnic Tutsi. Essentially, I want the readers of this testimony to know the truth about the key characteristics of the RPF in its long journey to power and how it made the fateful mistake that unleashed the tragedy of genocide.
My Unyielding Convictions
I am convinced that it was necessary to wage war against Habyarimana’s regime because it denied certain rights to certain categories of people, many of them Tutsis. However, I also believe that non-violent means ought to have been pursued and exhausted first before taking up arms. We had no access to weapons whatsoever in order to start the long war except through the National Resistance Army (NRA) of Uganda, which alone was in a position to help us. Not knowing what the future of Ugandan politics held in store for us, we had to act quickly. Sour relations within the army between Ugandan and Rwandan nationals, not to mention the increasing daily scorn heaped upon Rwandans in the country they had fought for, all contributed to Rwandans wanting to leave Uganda immediately. We had no desire to wait for results of on-going negotiations, which might easily have lasted perhaps more than 5 years.
I am convinced there was genocide of Tutsis, planned by those in the higher echelons of leadership in the country as well as the leadership of the security forces. It was largely carried out by members of the Hutu population, even though there were Tutsis who participated in the killings, posing as Hutus. I am fully convinced this genocide would never have been possible without a trigger element or detonator, because even if they had been totally mad, Hutus would never have awoken up one morning and started a frenzy of hacking their Tutsi neighbors with machetes up to one million victims. I’m also fully convinced that the RPF, through its RPA army, carried out mass massacres that were planned, ordered and supervised by its leader Paul Kagame. Also, I am convinced that the genocide was the coming to a head of multiple problems compounded and exacerbated by the war itself, especially with the PRA’s reprehensible conduct in the areas under its control. I will elaborate further on this topic later.
I am convinced and assert that the RPA army killed people from all ethnic groups, as I will demonstrate later, with the goal to spread anarchy through which to seize power, even when that meant large numbers of victims.
I do not believe at all that the RPF and its APR army, myself included, ever stopped the genocide in the exact sense of the word. Rather, we drove out the Rwandan Armed Forces, the Interahamwe militia, the Impuzamugambi militia of the CDR and its affiliated youth groups, and when all the defense forces around the government collapsed, we took power. I will elaborate on this as well.
I am convinced and assert that not all large numbers of people killed and buried collectively were indisputably Tutsis, because I personally know of areas where the RPF killed large numbers of people, piled them up with bodies of Tutsis, and later buried them all in one mass grave as labeled Tutsis.
I am fully convinced that if the RPF had so desired, the genocide would not have taken place. Even if the Interahamwe militia and the government had wanted to kill Tutsis on a genocidal spree, the RPF was strong enough to intervene so that instead of one million, maybe only one hundred thousand people would have died. In other words, the RPA army was barred from intervening, and I will explain why.
I am convinced that after we took power, with the revenge campaigns that followed especially the killings of civilians and the jailing of others, plus the invasion of Zaire, it was impossible for the new regime to administer an equitable justice system, because among the people running it were many who had carried out or had been made to carry out heinous crimes on behalf of one man, none other than Paul Kagame himself, the current president of Rwanda.
I believe wholeheartedly that the allegations surrounding President Paul Kagame's role in the shooting down of Habyarimana's aircraft are true. I am not and cannot be the only source for all testimonies about the shooting, because I was not able to physically be present everywhere and eyewitness everything that has been said. Testimonies were provided by different people, either living in the country or in exile. I decided to speak out on international radio and television stations, because I had access to these media. It is no secret that anyone who speaks out, or simply attempts to do so against President Kagame, is quickly eliminated before he or she does. International tribunals or other jurisdictions mandated by law, having determined that the shooting did indeed take place, will decide based on evidence whether President Kagame was responsible or gave the order for the shooting. Let us abide time, and those denying the facts and attesting to them will meet in court. I will say my part, and others will bring their own input, and so forth.
I am convinced that the Rwandan people, in the last 10 years, have been living in a police state run by a leadership educated in the bush. People have zero confidence in one another, people are scared to tell the truth as they see it, and people are kept in the dark about the exact role of the RPF in the war we once called a war of liberation. And yet revealing the naked truth of how the war unfolded would clear up a lot of mysteries, and might actually lead to genuine reconciliation.
I believe with all my heart that Rwandan officials making the rounds of radio and TV stations and strolling in the halls of power in many countries, claiming that these allegations have all been cooked up by the French government, are simply engaged in diversion tactics because they don't have any explanations for their own crimes. President Kagame has dismissed the reports as empty, daily fabricated rumors with nothing to them. I disagree, and it won’t be long before he realizes his mistake, like his other mistake that precipitated the hecatomb.
The Founding of the RPF Organization and its RPA Army
Without delving into a lot of history, the RPF is a collection of several smaller groupings of Rwandan exiles that lived in different countries. The organization enjoyed a significant following among the youth, specifically those aged 15 years and up, who attended school in Burundi, Tanzania, Zaire, and Uganda. They basically served as the recruitment base for the army. The first batch of fighters joined the NRA early on, while others joined later after the Rwandan war had started. A key fact is that when growing up, we had been taught that our forefathers better known as INYENZI had not performed well enough militarily to earn a victory. This way, the RPF cemented in the minds of the youths that the bulk of the hard work would be shouldered by them, meaning the army. The only meaningful ideal for these youngsters was to one day fight for their country anyway. In short, people had come to a full expectation that all problems would be solved militarily. That explains why Kagame, the army’s commander-in-chief, wielded far more influence than even the chairman of the RPF organization.
I detected early on a mistake inherent in this kind of command structure, and the consequences are being felt even today, because the concept hasn’t changed. The army, along with the security forces and intelligence apparatus are the ones running the country in a dictatorship style.
There is a very good reason why the RPF, though still in its infancy as an organization, decided to start the war rather than wait a little longer for negotiations between Rwanda and Uganda about the Rwandan refugees issue to bear fruit or fail.
President Museveni was under intense internal pressure owing to a heavy presence of Rwandan elements in the Ugandan army, many of whom were high ranking officers. Those rumored to be of Rwandan origin, whether they admitted it or not, were the following: Major General Fred Gisa Rwigyema, Major General Mugisha Muntu, Colonel Mateeka, Lt Colonel Adam Wasswa, Major Chris Bunyenyezi, Major Peter Bayingana, Major Samuel Kanyemera (also known as Kaka), Major Paul Kagame, Major Nduguteye, Major Kale Kayihura of Bufumbira who was widely referred to as a “munyarwanda”, or Rwandan. There were other lower ranking officers, namely Captains and Lieutenants, such as Louis Twahirwa, Musitu, Karangwa Bombi, Gashumba, Cyiiza, Bagire, Ngoga, Muhire, Kaddafi, Nyamurangwa, Musana, Bigabiro, etc. The list is long, and the majority of them commanded companies or better.
But the biggest contention among Ugandans was that these Rwandans had been placed in the most important positions in all areas, such as the Intelligence, the military finances, the presidential guard, with yet others in command positions on the battlefield. Ugandan nationals in the army were none too happy about this, and the climate was rather unsettled. Those who decided to start the war on October 1, 1990 may not have had any other alternative at hand.
Opinion is divided as to whether or not Rwandans deserted the Ugandan army, but that’s indeed what happened. It’s not an impossibility that President Museveni may not have been clued in on this by his intelligence team. But then again Museveni’s closest confidant was always a Rwandan, as was the last person to filter intelligence before it reached him. The number of fighters that crossed into Rwanda the 1st and 2nd day slightly exceeded 3,000. That’s a huge number of men in arms to try to stop, and it was good riddance anyway for Ugandans eager to fill the positions left vacant.
Mistakes were made
Fred Rwigyema was gunned down from the get-go by his own men out of bitter rivalry. Those who planned his killing, fearing a backlash if they were to be suspected, did not come out and step up to the plate of the army leadership. But Fred was the only one with a plan on how to prosecute the unfolding war.
Kagame was then dispatched by President Museveni to assume the leadership of the RPA army, but met stiff resistance from his colleagues who accused him of being “Pontius Pilate”. Major Dr. Peter Bayingana told him on the spot: “You are physically and mentally unfit, how can you lead people?” He told him to go tell he who sent him that he was unfit to lead, that if he who sent him had no respect for commanders on the field, he might as best send a Ugandan officer to run the RPA army. When Paul Kagame came back from Kampala to finally take over the reigns of leadership, he was heavily escorted by more than 10 army trucks, with Major General Salim Saleh and many presidential guard officers on board. Majors Bayingana and Bunyenyezi were gunned down the same day.
Starting that day, Kagame embarked on a long journey that continues to this day, of leading with an iron fist, because he knew he was unpopular.
This situation had far-reaching adverse consequences. The army was run by a guy who trusted no one, to the point where he monitored every little thing happening, fragmenting the entire army and making every fighter a spy of his colleague. Terror reigned in the army, and anyone raising a finger was killed immediately by having his head smashed with a used up hoe like a pig.
As a part of this fragmentation effort of the army for better control, a new system was introduced to classify everybody under the Positive 1, Positive 2 all the way to Positive 5 categories. Under Positive 1 were recruits from Uganda, who enjoyed utmost trust everywhere. Positive 2 was for recruits from Tanzania, Positive 3 for those from Burundi, Positive 4 for the ones from Zaire, and finally Positive 5 for recruits from Rwanda, who had zero trust even when they were Tutsis until after at least 2 years of service. The same categorization applied to high command positions in the army, where at least 95 % of openings were filled with officers who had lived in Uganda. The official explanation was that these officers had had first-hand experience with war and were best able to run war operations. But this simply was a pretext that had no truth to it.
A deplorable fact was that even the slightest error by someone from a French speaking country was punishable by death, being hit on the head with a used up hoe or being bayoneted to death. Whether it was slight suspicion, or getting tired on a long trek, or suffering dysentery or diarrhea because of poor hygienic conditions, the subject was deemed a brat of “soft life” who had to be killed because he couldn’t be of any service. If you were wounded on the legs and unable to walk when there was a long distance to cover, the verdict was to finish you off. There appeared to be no end in sight for these pitiless deaths until Paul Kagame traveled to Burundi to meet the fighters’ parents, who admonished him to either stop killing their children with a hoe like pigs, or send them back home so they can finish school. Only then did Kagame ease up a bit on his brutality and people breathed a little. For recruits from Uganda, if they were good fighters, their punishment was very lenient even for a serious offense, and they were quickly returned to work.
Going back to the beginning of the war in October 1990, General Rwigyema’s thinking was it was best to start the war in the less densely inhabited Mutara region with the Akagera wild animal reserve nearby, even though water and food were scarce there. But the area offered enough space for his troops to stay for a long stretch of time while he tried to warm the population to the merits and the good cause behind the RPF war. Being a sensitive man, Rwigyema wanted to minimize as much as possible unnecessary civilian deaths. Kagame saw it totally differently. For him, this Mutara region that offered no food nor high mountains where to hide would expose troops to enemy fire from weapons of all types. Problem was, the hilly terrain, with the exception of the volcano range, was all heavily inhabited, and almost entirely by Hutus and typical northerners who were the staunchest opponents of the RPF which, in their eyes, was attempting to bring back the much reviled systems of monarchy and serfdom. The volcano range proved to be very deadly for the troops. In the first 5 months alone, because of lack of food, the cold, and dysentery, each battalion lost at least 10 fighters apiece. All these considerations did not seem to affect Kagame particularly. All he cared for was that his army did as he had ordained, or he would resort to the use of force. He made sure everyone understood the exact meaning of the words “use of force”, repeating them over and over each time he visited the different units on the field.
BREAKING DOWN THE WAR IN PHASES
PHASE 1: From November 1990 to July 1991
Phase one was marked by numerous hit-and-run attacks in several areas along the Ugandan border in a bid to stretch thin the government army and blunt their resistance in future attacks. It was an efficient military tactic, except it was executed with extreme cruelty in the different regions of the north as I will explain down below. Attacks in the north-east areas of Muvumba, Kiyombe, Nkana, Rushaki, Kaniga-Gatuna and in the surrounding boroughs were extremely violent: we summoned villagers “for a meeting” and then opened fire on them indiscriminately. Many among our troops raped local girls, and then killed them afterwards supposedly to ward off any jinx from these women. We butchered for meat domestic animals belonging to villagers; we ate their crops and forced them into starvation by driving them out of their homes; we destroyed many of these homes and sold the roofing sheet metals to Ugandan villagers; we razed homes simply so owners had nothing to come back to, etc.
To the north-west in the areas of Cyumba, Kivuye, Butaro, Nkumba, Kinigi, Mukingo and the environs, our attacks were equally as ruthless as in the Mutara region of the north-east. It is important to bear in mind that one man, Kagame, was solely responsible for scripting the attacks, how they would be executed, and closely monitored field combat operations so nothing was done without his approval. But the government forces of President Habyarimana had heavily fortified their defense positions along the border so much that it was difficult to break through. A few examples:
In the Mutara region: places like Nyagatare, Rwempasha, Kangoma, Mabare, Mutojo, Bushara, Kabuga, Nyabihara, Gikagati, Karama, etc. were known to every RPF Inkotanyi fighter as extremely dangerous.
Deeper inside the country: we all knew we couldn’t venture into the areas of Gatonde, Kaniga 1, Kaniga 2, Mukono, and Kivuye.
In the Ruhengeri region: there were formidable defense fortifications at Nyamicucu, Butaro-Runaba, Rwabutama, Kinyababa, Muremure, Kagano, Bisate, and other areas like Ruhengeri city, Kinigi, etc. All these areas were so well defended that each time we attempted to push through we were soundly defeated and had to run. When that happened, we vented all our anger, shame and frustration onto innocent populations in the areas. This is exactly how we did it: we forced villagers to carry our dead and wounded, and to haul away the cattle and crops that we had looted from them. We forced them to dig their own graves, because we had to kill them for having seen too much. We ordered these villagers to kill each other, until there was only one of them left, who in turn was executed by one of us. Other times, we tied their legs and arms together, and crushed their skull with a used up hoe, or simply bayoneted them to death. There always was an easy pretext to kill them, like asking them the secret of the ruling MRND party or the plan of attack being devised by government soldiers, which of course we knew they didn’t know. Having thus inflicted so much suffering onto local populations, we simply folded our belongings and retreated back to safety into Uganda. That’s how the notorious RPF’s “deny all and lie” strategy came into being as a general policy: never assuming responsibility for any of our crimes. We even categorically swore that none of our troops resided on Ugandan territory. The same ploy was used when we attacked Zaire: we never admitted publicly that our RPA troops had crossed the border.
PHASE 2: From July 1991 to June 1992
During this period, the RPA started a new tactic of occupying small areas along the northern border from the eastern Mutara region all the way to the volcanoes to the west. The tactic worked in some areas, and failed in others. Even when it worked, it was at the hefty cost of butchering entire populations in the occupied areas, and displacing out of their properties the lucky few who survived. Habyarimana’s government had a very difficult time scrambling to regroup these people in localized areas, and was only able to feed them scanty meals and house them in makeshift shelters against the elements. Anyone looking to know some of the root causes of genocide may want to start here (1).
The RPF also started the tactic of attacking the enemy from behind, cutting off their supply lines. Militarily, it was a brilliant move that allowed the ill-equipped RPF Inkotanyi army to force the government army to leave and expose their positions as they tried to flush us out. It was a defensive attack on our part, really the only one feasible under the circumstances, because we were an inferior army in numbers and equipment. However, there were catastrophic consequences of this tactic:
1. Attacking government forces from behind meant going deeper into populated areas. The RPA army had zero confidence in the population who, if they saw us, were quick to alert government troops about our location and size. Therefore, any villager who we knew had seen us had to die because we had nowhere to keep them as a prisoner, nor did we know how long we would stay in the area. In short, each time we attacked the enemy from behind, the order was to kill the population without pity.
2. Going deep inside the country meant surviving on what we found in the areas, and that was nowhere other than in villagers’ homes. If the home owner was present when we arrived, we killed them immediately. If they were absent, we destroyed the house, and took away all the goats, chickens and cattle for food. At times, meat became so plentiful that we started being very selective as to what we ate, with everyone of us killing their own animal and taking only the heart, one leg, the liver, etc., leaving the rest to go to waste. About 20 people sharing 2 cows, 10 chickens, and 3 goats for food evidently was nothing but a display of wastefulness and cruelty. Now picture this: here’s a Hutu peasant who is not particularly informed about the RPF and its agenda, and then the same RPF shows up, kills his children, rapes his wife, takes away his cattle and destroys his property for which he has worked his entire life! Anyone wanting to understand how genocide happened need not look further (2).
3. The situation boiled up to a point where county Counselors, Mayors, and the government army ordered the population to own a dog – every public and private institution also decided to own dogs – because dogs are able to detect at night the slightest noise and movement at a distance, and with a simple bark could signal an approaching RPF force and allow the population to evacuate the area early enough. This strategy proved disastrous for the population. RPF troops sneaked in from behind government army lines, and because of the night’s darkness, fleeing villagers often unwittingly scrambled in the wrong direction right into the hands of RPF attackers. Each time this happened, every single one of these villagers was executed immediately, because for us these were IBIPINGA (or unruly Hutus) fleeing us, proving they had resolved to die for the MRND party in power. This happened not only during this phase of the war, but also throughout the entire war campaign: each time we staged a sneak attack from behind government defenses, our primary job was to eliminate each and everyone of these villagers from out of our path.
4. Setting up ambushes, firing on public transportation buses in the areas near the Ugandan border, as well as laying mines was done all the time as part of our overall guerilla warfare. We even mined sweet potato fields, aiming to maim or kill, and ultimately scare away, their displaced owners if they ventured back to harvest their crops. How so very cruel! We drove these people out of their homes and properties into starvation camps, where they hardly had any food except perhaps a few beans and corn grains, while leaving behind plenty of cassava, plantains, and potatoes. Many times hunger forced them to swing back home in order to get some food supplies and grab maybe one or two pieces of clothing on the way. RPA fighters had received no other order but to shoot these people if they came back. Now, clearly, what else could have been expected from such a cruel practice of starving people when they had their own food, except genocide? Anyone eager to know what made genocide possible need not look further (3).
5. Camps of refugees, also commonly referred to as “war-displaced people”, were set up in well-known locations such as the Rukomo-Rwebare in Muvumba. I saw with my own eyes this camp being shelled with 120mm mortars, 107mm MRL (Multiple Rocket Launchers), and a Katiusha mortar. Often times Commander Kyakabale of the Ugandan army across the border provided his own 23mm, 37mm, and 14.5mm mortars for the RPF to fire on camps sheltering war-displaced villagers. It got to a point where we couldn’t figure out what was in the minds of our leaders. Many of us thought the misery of the camps was unbearable enough for these people to be subjected to additional heavy artillery fire. This particular camp, as well as camps at Runaba, Nkumba, and Muhambo were used as performance trial sites for such weapons as anti-aircraft missiles. Heavy artillery that lit up the sky above the camps were used, especially by those learning the skill of firing hand-held missiles. Many times these bombs exploded right in the middle of the camps, killing innocent civilians. The people in the camps were so terrorized by these attacks that they were constantly on the move, trying to get as far out of reach as possible. There were many villagers from the north who trekked as far south as Nyacyonga on the outskirts of Kigali, after being driven out of a new camp more than 20 times in less than 2 years. It was simply impossible for any fleeing family to reach such a far-out area whole and complete: often, people abandoned a camp after it was shelled, and those who lost their loved ones, a child, a wife or another relative in the shelling had to hastily bury their dead before resuming their fleeing journey. This is also one of the deep reasons why so many people joined in the genocidal frenzy (4).
PHASE 3: From early June 1992 with the Attack of Byumba to April 6, 1994
The assault on Byumba was a trial attack to check whether or not the RPF had mustered enough strength to launch a major offensive on a large scale. As peace talks progressed, it had become imperative for the RPF to stage an impressive show of strength in order to demand and win important concessions from the government. Let me just point out that throughout the Rwandan peace talks, not once did Kagame give assurances to his army that the talks would yield anything. Rather, he repeated to his army over and over again that the only way to reach Kigali was through the barrel of the gun. By launching major offensives, we were able to reach Rukomo, part Byumba in the direction of Kigali. That’s also how we captured Mukarange, part of Kinyami, Buyoga, Rushaki, part of Ngarama, Cyumba, and Kivuye. In all these areas, any single villager who was not able to flee was killed. Then the RPF army committed one of its biggest blunders. It went back to Uganda, and invited Tutsi exiles into Rwanda, urging them to harvest the abandoned crops and to start getting acclimated to these lands of their original country of Rwanda, which they were going to inhabit very soon anyway. That’s exactly what the Tutsi villagers did, in big numbers, and the news of their arrival quickly spread to camps of the war-displaced, proving to them beyond a doubt what they had been told: that the RPF’s only goal was to kill them, take away their land, and bring back the much feared erstwhile monarchy system so Hutus will service Tutsis again. This was also one of the major elements that stoked ethnic hatred and drove Hutus to embrace genocide (5).
During this phase, the RPF markedly gained in confidence that they were capable of conquering large stretches of territory and hold on to them. The only way to find out was to mount a 2nd trial attack, bigger in scope this time, except it could not be undertaken without a very good reason.
At this time, peace talks were already under way, and a ceasefire was in effect. So, the RPF, or better Kagame and his RPA army, started exploring ways in which it might be possible to resume hostilities while peace talks were on-going. This is when the idea came up to put together a special battalion under the direct supervision of Kagame, assisted by his close collaborators, namely Kayumba Nyamwasa, James Kabarebe, and Charles Kayonga. This battalion was known under different names depending on circumstances. Some of those names are NETWORK, NETWORK COMMANDO, TECHNICIANS, or CDR COMMANDO.
These names were assigned to small groups within the battalion, or had a direct reference to the location of the assignment, or the assignment itself. For example, the group that was infiltrated within the CDR party was known as the CDR Commando. Those planted inside government army barracks as firewood collectors, or in Kigali city as vagabond youths, or as cooks in the homes of many dignitaries, were known as Technicians, etc.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW THAT THIS SPECIAL BATTALION KNOWN AS NETWORK OPERATED IN A MAFIA-TYPE, VERY SECRETIVE WAY, TO A POINT WHERE ITS MEMBERS DID NOT KNOW EACH OTHER, EXCEPT PERHAPS THOSE WHO WERE TRAINED TOGETHER OR CAME FROM THE SAME ARMY BATTALION.
In putting this special battalion together, the intent was to achieve the following goals:
a. Using this battalion to spread terror and insecurity inside the country through criminal acts and impute them to the government as a pretext to resume fighting.
b. Setting off bombs throughout the country in a more coordinated manner than was done up until that time.
c. Planting small RPF cells throughout the country, recruiting and training infiltrators throughout the country, poisoning water used by war-displaced people in camps, following closely and passing information from behind enemy lines, etc.
d. Carrying out targeted killings of individuals unwanted by the RPF, etc.
In the meantime, we launched the massive attack of February 8, 1993, designed to assess our ability to strike Kigali, and the progress made by the NETWORK in fabricating pretexts for the resumption of hostilities right in the midst of peace talks. Once again, the RPF committed horrible crimes during this attack. I recall that in some areas of Ruhengeri where I was, like Base, RPF soldiers decimated the local population in such high numbers that they buried and burned the corpses but were unable to finish them up. Several days later, left-over bodies were decomposing on the roadside and in the nearby Base River, and members of the UN Military Observer Team were shocked to find that we lived unruffled among decaying corpses. So we summoned a few villagers, ordered them to bury the bodies, but we executed them all as soon as the UN team left. It was during this offensive that we started targeting public infrastructures. We exploded the electrical grid of the Ntaruka dam, and demolished and burned country residences of such high- ranking government officials as Boniface Rucagu and Colonel Gasake in the areas of Nyarutovu, Cyeru and Nyamugali. Also notable were the criminal acts of extremeviolence and property destruction by the RPF Charlie battalion as it withdrew from the city of Ruhengeri after attempts to occupy it fell through. In the Musanze area, at the Etiru factory, at Karwasa, Kigombe, and Kinigi, criminal acts of untold brutality were also committed by the RPF-Inkotanyi army, just as in the areas of Ngarama and Buyoga.
The Birth of the Interahamwe and the Impuzamugambi Militias, and the RTLM Radio
While Kagame was busy plotting to derail on-going negotiations in order to seize Kigali, President Habyarimana was planning ways to confront what he termed enemies of the country, and from his point of view we really were. He created a militia fully trained and supervised by the army, the communal police, the gendarmerie and even services in the President’s office. This youth, which ultimately did the unthinkable, was present everywhere in the country. HOWEVER, not all these youths exhibited the same excessive zeal in killing Tutsis. This is an important element of truth that needs to be known and which anyone living in Rwanda at that time can easily attest to.
At the beginning of the Interahamwe militia’s reprisal activities in Bugesera, Kibirira, or against the Bagogwe Tutsi clan, EACH TIME they attacked using state-owned ONATRACOM public transport company buses, and were all heavily recruited from the war-displaced population of Ruhengeri and Byumba. These were youths that had been hardened and dehumanized by the ruthlessness of the RPA army in their native regions. Other Interahamwe members not similarly affected by the RPA had a measure of difficulty understanding such a degree of anger and brutality in their colleagues. Many of the more brutal Interahamwe militia expeditions were carried out by these angry youths transformed into killing maniacs by both the RPF and the government. Understanding how genocide was possible also requires a closer look at these facts (6).
In its defensive campaign, the ruling MRND played right into the hands of the RPF. By creating and training the Interahamwe, the MRND handed the RPF the perfect cover it needed to launch its own campaign of bomb explosions and impute it all to the government, while at the same time offering an easy pretext to resume fighting, with the international community faulting none but President Habyarimana. It must be pointed out, however, that some of the bomb explosions were indeed carried out by the Interahamwe militia and their extremist allies.
The RPF also took its own time to train commando groups, especially those operating within the formidable NETWORK. Each truce for negotiations offered the RPF an opportunity for re-training. In 1993 alone, the RPF army received extensive training in the following manner:
- 2 large commando battalions and several smaller battalions were trained.
- Upwards of 400 future gendarmes were trained.
- More than 4 categories of army instructors were trained, so that each battalion would have enough instructors to recruit and train new fighters quickly if and when war resumed.
- Almost all RPF army officers received command and leadership training.
- Each army battalion received extensive urban warfare training.
- Extensive training was dispensed in the area of long distance progression on foot, with each fighter carrying a heavy load of ammunition and bombs to last them several days before new supplies arrived.
- The army was given a course on what the RPF called the true history of Rwanda, a generally neutral account, but one designed to instill in the fighters a sense that the best solution for Rwanda was getting rid of Habyarimana and his clique for an RPF take-over.
This last teaching left a far-reaching impact, as it cemented in the minds of all fighters that no peace could ever come from negotiations in Arusha. In all honesty, the RPF had adopted a hard-line stance not very dissimilar from that of extremists within the CDR, MRND, and MDR Power political parties. The only difference was that the RPF kept its reactionary opinion to itself and its army, while the government went public with its own on radios and newspapers, chanting that the agreement was nothing but a foul-smelling scrap paper.
This proved to be the decisive phase in the war campaign, as the RPF/RPA was able to devise craftier plans to trap President Habyrarimana, in a way that almost all subsequent failures and miscues were successfully blamed on his government. It was during this war phase that the peace agreement was signed. But the reality was that we had 2 main protagonists, Habyarimana and Kagame, both of them army generals locked up in a face-off, who so hated each other that if they were to cross paths inside the country, neither would pass on the slightest chance to sneak upon the other and strike first.
This was the war phase when for the first time it became apparent to the RPF that they had a clear shot at taking power if they stirred things up a little bit. But they were also aware of the possibility of international pressure forcing them to join the government. Nonetheless, the RPF, just like the extremists around Habyarimana, simply was none too warm to the idea of power-sharing as a palatable solution. That’s why each camp worked out an alternative plan in case power-sharing became unavoidable, and that plan was to bring about an implosion of the entire peace agreement. Here’s how both sides set all that up in motion:
On the government side:
- The government put in place what it termed "Civilian Defense", a thinly disguised ploy to distribute weapons among the population, in a way that made each cell and sector of the country a hotbed of insecurity.
- The government created armed militias, ready to reject any and all signed deals, including if they are stamp-approved by President Habyarimana himself. These groups were prepared to unleash a tragedy when the time was right.
- The national radio, the RTLM radio, as well as a plethora of allied newspapers, all joined in proclaiming in unison that the peace agreement was worthless.
- Additional weapons were purchased to ensure there were enough to distribute among the population.
- Lists were drawn up for all people whose children and relatives had been enlisted by the RPF Inkotanyi, suspected RPF activists and financial backers, as well as Hutus with a Tutsi-like attitude of favoring the RPF war, with a view to eliminate them when the time was right. No one knew when that time was.
- This differs significantly from the RPF allegation that all Tutsis inside the country had been listed up for elimination. This is one big lie, because for all Tutsis to die at the same time, each one of them would have had to be killed by their immediate neighbors who knew them well. In which case no such lists would have been necessary because everyone, including little children growing up, knew exactly who was Tutsi and who wasn't among their neighbors.
I would like to emphasize that upon Habyarimana's death, or even if he had survived, the plan was to kill people on drawn up lists, and that's exactly what happened. Except for the lucky ones, all people on the hit lists were swiftly killed within the first three days of Habyarimana's death.
On the government side, it is my belief that President Habyarimana, on his own or under pressure from his entourage, gave his blessing to the drawing of such lists, knowing full well that all people listed would be killed when the time came.
I can't overlook one important element, which is that as sacred as it is, human life, especially for Tutsis, had become so expendable that taking it was as simple as overturning a pot of water. There came a time when Habyarimana and his circle of extremists had sold members of the CDR party and the Interahamwe militia on the idea that spilling blood was but a trifle. Without fretting, they put the idea to the test in Kibirira, Bugesera, and in targeting the Bagogwe Tutsi clan, just to ascertain that it was possible. This turn of events had an immediate dramatic impact on the population: there were Hutus in villages deep in the country, including within the ruling MRND party, who were not bent on violence, and who were so taken aback that they publicly condemned these acts by the Interahamwe and the Impuzamugambi, creating deep crises within political parties. It's no secret how the Inkuba youth wing of the MDR party, the Abakombozi of PSD, and the Liberal youth of PL all ganged up against the Interahamwe. To a point where Habyarimana actually succeeded in splitting all political parties into 2 opposing camps each: a power and a moderate faction. In short, the extremists ended up transforming their youth groups into reckless killers. Here was another sign that genocide was only waiting to happen (7)
On the RPF/RPA side
A lot was done, once again paving the way to the Tutsi hecatomb.
- The RPF was so tested on the Ugandan border that it decided to stockpile inside Rwanda large supplies of all sorts of weapons for the long haul. That was towards the end of September 1993. The hoarding took place in 4 different locations, for 2 reasons: One, re-starting an all-out war and seize power. Two, failing that, using these weapons after joining the broad-based government in order to create chaos and seize power by force. This certainly offers a quick glimpse into how the Network operated. The assigned diggers, myself included, dug up large underground bunkers (our own bunker measured 50m x 30m x 7m), in which we buried huge quantities of weapons and bombs of all calibers, from 7.62mm to 11.5mm, to 12.7mm, to 14.5mm, to 23mm, to 36mm, to 75mm, to 76mm, to 81mm, to 82mm, to 107mm, to 120mm, to 122mm. All these weapons were hauled up a hill inside the Rwandan border by local Ugandan bakiga villagers, and we buried them ourselves. The villagers totaled 1000 and worked a full day to get the job done: ferrying away the loads brought in by scores of trailer trucks. While that happened, we had the strict order to keep watch over the hoard under tight secrecy, with the slightest indiscretion by anyone of us bringing immediate death by the used up hoe to the entire group. Three of our comrades were executed during this assignment simply for having gone to buy cigarettes nearby without our supervisor's knowledge. The instructions we received from Kabarebe and Kayumba Nyamwasa were very strict and unequivocal: even if the RPF were to be forced into joining the broad-based government, our "group" would be secretly settled down around these weapons cache on either side of the Rwandan-Ugandan border, until the time came to use them and upend the government. The other locations for similar weapons caches were Karama in the Mutara region, at Bungwe in the Commune of Cyumba, and in the area between Kaniga and Gatonde. There was no other purpose for these weapons other than a final assault and takeover of the government. Information about and access to these weapons was limited to a handful of officers: Kagame himself, his right-hand man Kabarebe, intelligence chief Kayumba Nyamwasa, Colonel Ngoga on the northern front, Col Bagire of the Mutara front, Major Jacob a.k.a Rubondo in charge of weapons supply, and a few underlings escorting their bosses or delivering their messages. The soldiers assigned to this weapons cache operation were very high on the list of the trusted, and many of them became part of the advance group infiltrated into Kigali in the run up to Habyarimana's killing.
- Many RPF soldiers were infiltrated all over the country with assignment to lay bombs, to set up multiple RPF cells, and teach weapons know-how to potential recruits in preparation for war, to spy on the operations of each political party, to infiltrate the youth wings of political parties, and to gather information about people on the RPF hit list.
- The RPF sent scores of its cadres of political canvassers all over the buffer zone to spread its ideology. I personally found this to be a worthwhile endeavor. The only downside, however, was that any individual not won over to the ideology had to be killed with a used up hoe, often along with their entire family.
- The RPF conducted a test of its own plan, which was to carry out large scale killings and blame them on the ruling MRND party, just to see what would happen. The targeted victims included RPF enemies and non-enemies alike, as long as they could be blamed successfully on the government. In carrying out these crimes, the RPF used either "technicians" of the Network, or an offshoot group of intelligence officers and other death-squad units of trained killers, or youths trained on making and setting off small bombs inside the country. The following were categories of people high on the RPF target list:
1. Hutus with distinction as civil servants, entirely devoted to Habyarimana and the government.
2. Any Hutus with high intelligence, determined and incorruptible like Gapyisi.
3. Any Hutus whose death would be easily blamed on the government, like opposition figures.
4. Any Hutus whose death wouldn't point to any outright suspect in an
5. Any high-ranking military officer, if possible.
6. Any Tutsis born and raised inside Rwanda were not to be trusted. If their killing could be successfully blamed on the government, there was no loss to us.
7. Any clear-minded Tutsis seen as possible future opponents of the RPF ideology. Landoald Ndasingwa was one such Tutsi, and we narrowly missed him several times.
8. Tutsi families living in an isolated area were to be targeted for collective killing, as a way to incriminate the ruling MRND. That's exactly what RPF soldiers did at Kabatwa in Gisenyi under the dual leadership of Gashayija Bagirigomwa and intelligence officer Moses Rubimbura. This is an authentic massacre that did take place in early 1994.
9. Even long after the war, the RPF elected to sacrifice Tutsis in search of a good reason to plunder in Zaire. That was the case of Bagogwe Tutsis at Mudende, and of Banyamulenge Tutsis at Biura and elsewhere. Proof is available for these events, which are but an open secret to everyone within the RPF-Inkotanyi.
- The technicians (members of the Network) inflicted considerable damage in Kigali. As explained earlier, the Network is a vast organization whose members are known only to those by whom they were picked. You only knew for sure no one except your immediate partner. When you crossed paths with another RPF agent, you couldn't acknowledge them, not even with a wink of an eye, because they were on a different assignment than yours. Our instructions were such that each one of us had their own assigned tasks. Member selection for the Network rigorously followed these criteria:
1. Being a full-blooded Tutsi from both parents as carefully screened and verified as possible, and having earned utmost trust.
2. Having markedly typical Hutu traits was a great asset, removing the need for any disguise. Those of us easily identifiable as Tutsis most often had to use motorcycles, wear helmets especially when the risk of being suspected increased, and carry in our backs what looked like an agronomist's tools kit. That way, we went about our business unimpeded.
3. Knowing Rwanda very well, especially the city of Kigali, was an invaluable asset needed in the execution of many operations.
4. Being well known as a full ethnic Hutu who never lived in Rwanda, plus having shown virulence against fellow Hutus and disowning Hutu ethnicity, as well as being reckless in taking other people's lives.
5. Being well known as a full ethnic Hutu who grew up in Rwanda. Your assignment had to be precise and isolated, in order to remain in the dark as to who the other RPF operatives in Kigali were. With or without your knowledge, you had at least half a dozen agents spying on your every move.
- Every agent's assignment was specifically different. At times it happened that more than one agent shared one assignment without knowing each other, discovering each other only when necessary through secret codes. Some young men's task was to criss-cross the city as motorcycle taxi operators, especially around town halls where politicians were known to prefer to meet. Others posed as taxi drivers, housemen in military barracks and in the homes of high-ranking Hutu dignitaries, street boys especially in the Kimihurura neighborhood, and heavy lifters. Others had the task of intermingling with the Interahamwe, the Impuzamugambi and Abakombozi militias. Others simply ran an invisible underground operation, or worked only at night, and yet others served as gas station attendants around town. There were so many on-going operations that when war resumed, Kagame had amassed more than enough information to mount the final assault.
Anyone with an obvious skill to influence others would be asked to recruit the biggest possible number of accomplices, many of whom didn't have the slightest suspicion that their recruiter was an RPF soldier mistaken as a regular RPF civilian sympathizer. We also received instructions to run a close up investigation on specific individuals, file reports on them, and determine whether it'd be possible to kill them if the need arose.
- When agreement was reached during the peace negotiations that the RPF would deploy a force of 600 soldiers to Kigali, we knew our trap had worked. Selecting who would make this force involved highly sophisticated strategizing, because it wasn't your ordinary soldier who was chosen:
1. Each battalion contributed a highly trusted soldier, someone with zero mercy in their heart, who gave himself to the limit, who didn't require supervision, who was able to extricate themselves even when alone, a proven sharp-shooter, the epitome of military excellence on the battlefield.
2. The proven best commanders and intelligence officers were also chosen. They received extensive urban training to full mastery, so as to overcome any challenge in taking the city of Kigali. It was constantly pounded in our heads that man dies only once, when the final hour has arrived, that risks do happen, and that courage is the supreme virtue above all else, and that removing all chances for the enemy's victory was the ultimate goal.
3. According to the normal command structure within the RPF, Sergeants and Corporals had troops under their command at the section level. However, things were different in the 3rd battalion deployed in Kigali. Sergeants and Corporals were all grouped in sections under the command of a 2nd Lieutenant or a Sergeant with proven command skills of an officer. I mean, this battalion was an autonomous force needing little to no supervision and where every soldier was able to be his own boss successfully.
4. In addition to Kigali city map studies, soldiers took turns on escort convoys through Kigali so that many of them are afforded a chance to become familiar with the layout of the city and its suburbs.
- For the Network advance team already in Kigali (which was under the direct supervision by the RPF High Command in Mulindi), the arrival of the 600-member battalion triggered a change in command structure, with the entire team in Kigali falling under Lt Colonel Kayonga. Before Lt Col Kayonga moved to Kigali, urgent and sensitive communications from the High Command in Mulindi to the advance team in Kigali were channeled through Karake Karenzi, our RPF representative within the UN Military Observer team (GOMN in its French acronym) initially, and within the UNAMIR subsequently. Truthfully, this is when we began to believe firmly in our minds that Kigali's fall was inevitable, swearing to ourselves that we would soon rip open the fat bellies of Habayrimana's Hutu henchmen. This was right around the time Col Bagosora swore he would prepare an Apocalypse, not knowing that the RPF was busy preparing its own.
- Looking at the kind of chaos reigning within the government army, and a visibly under-protected Kigali city even with the presence of the Interahamwe militias, the army and the gendarmerie, we felt an irresistible urge to seize it. However, we all concluded that regardless of how easy it seemed to take the city, the consequences would be enormous. From our colleagues working deep inside the country, to those in political parties, to those in the Interahamwe and in political meetings, we all found that many were those who believed in the Arusha peace process, BUT for the extremists Arusha remained a bad dream.
Concretely, we found that both sides were about to revert back to Plan A, i.e. finding a way to re-ignite the war, because Plan B on both sides was the hidden ace card for victory if everything collapsed after a merger of both armies with everybody inside the country.
The far-sighted could already see the inevitability of an impending and devastating war in which a great many civilian lives would be lost.
The RPF had Habyarimana's Government where it Wanted: on the ropes
For war to resume, there had to be a good reason, and a hopeful path to quick victory. Therefore, a shortcut was imperatively needed.
I will explain:
- Having stoked insecurity, and having engineered a splintering of political parties into pro-RPF and anti-RPF Power factions, the RPF had effectively succeeded in dividing up and weakening the Hutu bloc. Even within the government army, though not allowed to practice politics openly, most every soldier had already formed their own political opinion, and most likely were not inclined to fight with the same degree of conviction. There are those who believed erroneously that Habyarimana alone caused the split in political parties, but he had no control over politicians who detested him even when they equally detested the RPF. Of course the RPF had no care for these politicians, nor did it crave their love either. All it cared for was for them to goof up so it could resume war.
- After successfully eliminating different politicians and failing to eliminate others, the RPF threw all the responsibility on the shoulders of the ruling MRND party which, along with its satellite CDR party, did carry out a few killings. The government really never was able to clear itself in the eyes of many, taking all the heat for supposedly having spread chaos in the country in order to derail formation of a unity government from the Arusha peace agreement. But this was a trap set up by the RPF, and the government fell right in it while the RPF sat free.
In all honesty, looking back at all brutal acts of violence that we carried out in areas under our control, and the untold suffering we inflicted on innocent populations in the northern part of the country, it wasn't easy telling the difference between the RPF behavior and that of the Impuzamugambi militia. And then there were the extremists from Habyarimana's inner circle, or Akazu, many of whom came from the north, who were madly opposed to the MRND joining the broad-based government if its satellite party, the CDR, were left out as the RPF had requested. And yet, the RPF and its APR army, equally guilty of their own crimes as I have sufficiently demonstrated, were being allowed into the government. This delicate issue provided a good enough pretext for both the RPF and Habyarimana to resist till the end the forming of a unity government, while the population remained innocently clueless as to the whys of such a tug of war. The saddest part was that, in general, it was very difficult explaining to people that the RPF was an organization of killers who did their dirty job very deceitfully, and then turned around blaming everything on the MRND and the government.
The real difference between the RPF and the government was that the RPF used trained professionals in its killings, ready to conceal and hush up its crimes, and did everything to keep independent observers away from its crime scenes. But the government sent out killing expeditions made up of Interahamwe elements high on drugs, with the glaring publicity from RTLM radio and a number of newspapers of Habyarimana's allegiance.
The Secrecy Surrounding the RPF's Crimes in Areas under its Control
The one major trickery, which the RPF will use for ever, is flatly denying its crimes, accepting them only when they are innocuous. In the more than 4 years of war, the RPF allowed journalists in their zones only after ascertaining that at least they have a favorable opinion. Other journalists the RPF corrupted with fat kickbacks, like the one Hussein Abdou Hassan of the BBC. You could never have guessed whether this guy was an RPF soldier or a journalist from a respectable news organization like the BBC. The RPF invited journalists only at a time of its choosing, and showed them around only in selected areas, often warning them of a possible ambush or an on-going battle as a reason to stay off certain areas and reveal only what's been carefully pre-choreographed. Many times journalists were driven around along the Ugandan border instead of going deep inside Rwanda, until they got tired and stayed overnight, not having covered more than one single kilometer from the border. This mastery of deceit kept the RPF's lifeline going and prevented anyone from ever stumbling upon its horror scenes. The RPF also simply outfoxed the government in killing people and burning their bodies, then carefully dispersing their ashes in far-flung woodlands, removing any possible trace of the dead. Of course we know most of the areas where these macabre crimes occurred. It was simply out of question to surprise the RPF, since a special permission was needed prior to setting foot in their zones, and the scout officer had to carefully screen sites to visit.
The Ruthless Killing Methods of the Interahamwe were learned from the RPF Inkotanyi
Death always conjures up fear no matter how it happens, but let me address cruel death as brought about by both warring sides. This is the kind of gruesome death that I witnessed with my own eyes, as unleashed by the RPF or the government through its circles of extremists and security services.
On the RPF side: the killings began on Oct 4, 1990, 2 days after the death of Fred Rwigyema, their leader, on October 2, 1990. I bring up his name because he would never have allowed an army under his command to engage in killings of civilians.
1. Tying up the legs, then binding both arms in the back while pulling and applying
pressure until the chest bones crack up, then kneeling the victim and striking them in the head with a used up hoe. After the victim collapses, smashing the head in both temples, splitting up the head like a clod.
2. Tying up the victim as described above, then stabbing them in the ribs repeatedly with knives, or stepping on the victim's belly while bayoneting them.
3. Tying up the victim, then fitting their head with a plastic bag closed up around the neck, leaving the victim to die from suffocation.
4. Tying up a person, drawing gasoline into a syringe, then squirting the fuel into both of the victim's ears, and leveling a hard smack simultaneously on both ears. The victim will fall into an agonizing spell of dizziness, before dying.
5. Making a running noose around somebody's neck with a rope, then dragging the victim until the noose tightens and death ensues.
6. Tying up together both arms and legs real tight, then hanging the victim upside down on a horizontal beam until blood oozes out of the mouth, ears, and nose, and death ensues.
7. If there was critical information to wrest away from the victims, they were downright tortured. They were needled on their genitals, jabbed all over with sharp objects, and pinned under dripping fireballs from a burning plastic object until they begged for death. There were times when siblings, or a husband and a wife, or a mother and a son, were forced to have sexual intercourse out there in the open before being killed, etc.
8. Often times for those who were killed by gunfire or grenades, it was when lack of time didn't allow for a slow death. Other times, girls who had just been raped by RPF soldiers were the lucky ones to be killed with bullets, supposedly to ward off any bad luck from these girls that might cause the rapist soldiers to die on the battlefield. And yet, this crime was not tolerated at all even though it was committed in many areas. If you were found to have committed this crime, you were punished severely. If by a remote chance the rape victims were spared, they walked away thinking rape was part of an accepted culture within the RPF organization, because they had no way to know that the offenders had been punished. Another crime that was severely punished, was raping women then brutally shoving up knives or sticks deep inside the women's private parts, causing them to bleed to death.
9. In a particularly unique show of ruthlessness, in order not to waste time, RPF soldiers would hold children victims by the legs and swing them against a wall or a tree, smashing their heads and killing them instantly.
10. I have no personal knowledge of any place, nor have I been told or heard of any, other than from the Rwandan national radio and the RTLM radio, where an RPF soldier ever disemboweled any pregnant woman, killing her and the child... If it happened, I am not aware of it. I do know, however, that in killing such pregnant women, RPF soldiers kicked them in the belly and ribs with knees, and then fitted their heads with a plastic bag to asphyxiate them. RPF soldiers firmly upheld a dubious theory, whose exact origin is uncertain, that a pregnant woman will not die from a blow to the head with a used up hoe, or will take much too long to die.
On the Interahamwe side
The killings and methods of killing were about the same. However, the weapons were different.
1. Victims were hit with machetes, inflicting deep wounds anywhere on the body from the head to the feet.
2. Bludgeons with spikes and nails in them were used, smashing people's heads on impact.
3. Grenades were also used, especially where crowds of people had gathered.
4. The Interahamwe killed children in the same fashion as RPF soldiers.
5. They killed girls after having raped them.
6. They disemboweled pregnant women, as I witnessed with my own eyes.
7. They forced people with close family relationships into sexual intercourse.
8. And many other horrible crimes they learned from the RPF.
The Resolve to Kill in Both Ethnic Groups
It is unfortunate and sad that Hutus would flock into the killing frenzy the way they did. Genocide in all honesty unfolded openly right in front of everybody's eyes, and we, in the RPF, also bore direct witness to it as we fought our way throughout the country. Let me be very clear: even though all eyewitnesses most probably were eliminated, and those who survived did so by hiding and therefore couldn't see anything, it remains that Hutus, from the President of the Republic down to younger children, engaged in collective massive killings of Tutsis, with the intent to wipe them out.
Denying this would be sheer hypocrisy even for anyone with a clear conscience that they didn't do anything. Such individuals deserve praise for not having joined in the wholesale massacre, but must avoid the simplistic verdict that Hutus didn't actively participate in the genocide. In short, the massive killings of Tutsis received the blessing of the administration at all levels, and of security services, which ended up getting involved in the killings, as were all the militias, in a way that made the whole effort look like an attempt to exterminate a race as it is now widely publicized and accepted.
At no time did Tutsis ever resolve to exterminate Hutus. Their limited number and striking power, comparatively, would not have allowed that anyway. But it's a different story altogether when factoring in the RPF Inkotanyi soldiers. They killed civilians, and seemed to take particular delight in doing so, as they followed the orders from their leader, Kagame. I will point out again that Kagame's fateful orders came right after reports from all fronts indicated an impossibility to mount an attack through populated areas. At our approach, the people screamed out to raise the alarm, had been ordered to take turns on neighborhood watch patrols at night, and to own dogs that would bark when we were still at a distance in order to alert the government army. The people had also been advised to take cover outside of their homes under such circumstances. Resigned to the reality that, according to Hutus within the RPF, the ruling MRND ideology could never be washed out of the minds of Abakiga (northerners) using tracts or propaganda meetings which they did not even attend, Kagame gave the orders to "clean out all these idiots". The very first time he uttered these words was during a visit to the Yankee Combined Mobile force battalion at Gikoba in the Commune of Shonga, Muvumba, in December 1991. Also in the same area at the time were the Zulu, Nkrumah, Bravo, Mike and Sierra battalions, etc., which, together with the other combined mobile forces, were on either side of where the Yankee battalion was stationed.
So, the innocent Tutsi populations who didn't even have a clue how the RPF was created, did not have to pay the price for crimes committed by elements of this organization. That is why I am so saddened by Hutus throughout the country using this lame pretext to attempt an extermination of an entire group. In summing up, Hutus throughout the country, led by the administration at all levels, engaged in an extermination attempt against Tutsis, and those who survived had to die also, had they been located. Those who didn't participate in the killings are to be praised. On the other hand, Tutsi soldiers within the RPF killed as many Hutus as they could find and as many as they were able to. Involved in this crime were about 23000 RPF soldiers, either on orders or out of personal pleasure, the green light having been given by one man, Kagame himself.
Pre-conditions for the Resumption of War in the Thinking of the RPF
Grasping the full significance of this point helps to understand clearly how genocide happened, and what was invested in order to quickly set it in motion, in order to provide the RPF with a much coveted pretext to re-start the war, in order to have a guarantee for victory and to secure a fast track for that victory. This had always been the centerpiece of Kagame’s plan, as he sought to justify his decisions to go on the offensive in 1992, 1993, and 1994: he wanted to prove to the international community that the government was killing people in flagrant violation of human rights. Each time, he executed his plan by first targeting and killing politicians or Tutsis, and then by blaming the ruling MRND party. Some of the times, of course, the MRND was indeed the culprit. The only scenario for a fast-track victory was down-sizing significantly the number of government forces in combat, and that meant dividing up Hutus into opposing blocs and pitting then against one another, and finding a way to keep a large portion of government forces busy doing something else other than fighting. That would clear the way for him to seize power more rapidly. The quickest path to this end was engineering widespread chaos and mayhem by killing President Habyarimana, all the while also sacrificing Tutsis inside the country.
Another pre-condition for a guaranteed victory was the RPA army’s strict adherence to Kagame’s battlefield plan, which was: Let’s make it so the biggest number of government soldiers will be busy killing and raping, but then let’s remain focused on the primary objective of seizing power, rescuing only the victims we encounter on our path. For us younger soldiers who grew up in Rwanda and had left our families there, Kagame’s maneuvering of the international community into believing his so-called effort to stop genocide was simply dumbfounding. We almost came to accept as truth the soldiers’ assertions that there were no Tutsis inside Rwanda, and that even if there were any, they were Tutsis by physical appearance only because their way of thinking and behaving was Hutu.
LAST PHASE: The Assassination of President Habyarimana on April 6, 1994
In killing President Habyarimana, the RPF – not the one mainstream RPF that I have referred to several times and which was the talk of radios, but the shadowy RPF of Kagame and not Kanyarengwe, the one parallel RPF operating behind the scenes in living rooms – knew to expect the following:
1. With Habyarimana dead, no one else would be able to rally the population around the common goal of fighting to defeat the RPF. It would simply be too difficult to find someone with as much political clout, but most importantly with as much authority over the government armed forces. It was equally impossible to find anyone as able to garner international support as Habyarimana, who had many friends among Presidents. Contrary to widespread speculation that I personally don’t find credible, Habyarimana was still very much idolized by the population, as exemplified by their fury at the news of his death. In short, he wouldn’t be easy to replace, especially in the middle of intense fighting everywhere in the country, including in Kigali.
2. Habyarimana’s killing was likely to engender generalized chaos, leading to innumerable deaths. It had been widely reported by all members of the Network that the killing of one more high-ranking government official, let alone Habyarimana, would touch off a massive reprisal campaign against Tutsis. This is an element of truth that all people must know. Just after we gunned down Katumba, who was a simple Interahamwe member from the Gakinjiro neighborhood, thousands of Tutsis died in reprisal. So, what did Kagame think would happen if someone like Habyarimana-Ikinani (Habyarimana the Invincible) came to be killed? Each time we launched an offensive in Muvumba up north, Tutsis died by the thousands in Bugesera to the east, so what did Kagame foresee as happening if the Invincible were killed? Who wasn’t aware of how sparks flew when the RPF Inkotanyi killed Gatabazi, creating a violent backlash that engulfed Bucyana the very next day, touching off generalized bloodletting everywhere? HONESTLY, Kagame expected dire consequences in killing Habyarimana. Except everything was in his interests, because the government armed forces, the Gendarmerie, the Interahamwe, the CDR and their allies were predictably going to unleash a mass-slaughter of Tutsis, who wouldn’t have the slightest clue what hit them. While they were busy killing and raping Tutsis, as well as looting their possessions, he would slip by surreptitiously, march on Kigali and seize power.
3. Killing Habyarimana was also the quickest way to power because it spelled doom over the Arusha peace agreement, with no one else able to take over from a dead president and jumpstart the process immediately.
4. A lot has been said, and testimonies from people with inside-track information, including myself, have received a great deal of publicity in the media regarding Habyarimana’s assassination. However, I remain unclear how these media got access to this information, which they took the liberty to spin a little. But that is none of my business. Investigators, plaintiffs and defendants in this crime, will have a real tussle at hand when the prosecutorial process gets under way. Regarding other killings by the RPF, I will compile a document with everything in it that I can remember, including the perpetrators, in as much detail as possible, since I was part and parcel of this war from the very start to the very end. I may not have been entirely aware of events in areas where I wasn’t physically present, but then again I may have been perfectly clued in by colleagues. In the end, what’s important in the killing of President Habyarimana – whom I hated and opposed with a passion by the way – is this: witnesses that Kagame and his inner circle could never have suspected have stepped forward with incriminating testimonies. What a rude awakening it’s going to be for him when he is finally turned in by the very comrades in crime that he once called, or maybe still calls, in self-deceit his confidants.
5. Regarding individuals who executed Kagame’s orders to down the presidential airplane, or those who transported the missiles to Kigali and then to the firing site in Masaka, it is my opinion that the international community should undertake a close monitoring of their whereabouts lest they be spirited away to remove them as potential witnesses. I’ll name a few so that they are kept under tight surveillance:
Major RUZAHAZA: A Captain at the time, he headed a team of 6 soldiers in charge of transporting the missiles on a convoy from Mulindi to Kigali. The convoy was escorted by a UNAMIR team of Ghanaian soldiers, who were not informed the missiles had been loaded onto the truck.
Warrant Officer 2 Eugene SAFARI (Demobilized): He had adopted the nickname KARAKONJE (the cold one), in a direct reference to his love of cold beer. He was the driver of the truck that ordinarily ferried firewood from Mulindi to Kigali, and on which the 2 missiles were concealed in 2 big boxes under the firewood.
Sgt Moses NSENGA: A Corporal at the time and a brother to Charles Kayonga, he has now fled to Uganda. Of the group that loaded the missiles onto the truck, he is the only one living, along with Sgt TUMUSHUKURU. The others, Warrant Officer 2 Stanley RWAMAPASI, a Corporal at the time, was killed in 1998, and Warrant Officer 2 SEROMBA, a former corporal as well, was also killed in 1997. Also present during the loading of the missiles were Private Joseph NZABAMWITA, currently a Lt Col if my guess is right, and Major BIRASA, then a Captain. The latter has already been killed by Kagame.
Sgt Didier MAZIMPAKA: Very likely a 2nd Lt currently, this is the guy who drove the Toyota Stout 2002 that transported to their launching site the 2 missiles that brought down Habyarimana’s airplane. He also drove the shooters to the site, and drove them back to the CND Parliament Building Compound once their diabolical job was done. He has survived several attempts to get rid of him, sometimes by being warned ahead of time, sometimes by just pure luck.
Captain Frank NZIZA: He was a 2nd Lt at the time, an ace at firing SA16 group missiles that we commonly referred to as SAM16 missiles. He is the one who hit the airplane dead on. Prior to sending 3 other people for training in Uganda, he was the only one in the entire RPF Inkotanyi organization with expertise on how to fire these weapons. The 3 others who received training on these weapons were: Sgt Andrew NYAMVUMBA, Sgt Steven TWAGIRA, and Cpl Eric HAKIZIMANA, all of whom at the time were part of a High Command team in charge of Kagame’s personal security protection.
Former Cpl, now Lt Eric HAKIZIMANA: He is the one who fired the first missile at Habyarimana’s airplane, hitting it slightly at its right wing. Although hit, the airplane could have landed successfully, but exploded in mid-air on dead-on impact by the 2nd missile.
Sgt Pontiano NTAMBARA, currently a Lt: He was on the Toyota that transported the missiles to the firing site as a security protection officer, back and forth.
Sgt Aloys RUYENZI: A 2nd Lt, he has fled to Uganda. At the time, he had taken over temporarily from Lt Silas UDAHEMUKA, Kagame’s top intelligence officer. Ruyenzi had been at the room where the final decision to down the airplane was made, in a meeting chaired by Maj Gen Paul Kagame himself, and attended by Col Kayumba Nyamwasa, Lt Col James Kabarebe, Col Theoneste Lizinde, Maj Jacob Tumwine, Capt Charles Karamba. The day was March 31, 1994. All these people are still living except Lizinde who fled the country, and was later assassinated for having been privy to this secret meeting. Also, Sgt Paul KARABAYINGA, now a Lieutenant, had guarded the room where that meeting took place, along with Sgt Peter SEMPA, who died mysteriously in Bukavu in 1996.
The list is longer, because information leaked out to many people, especially among members of the Network and the 3rd battalion deployed in Kigali. It is particularly alarming, however, that anyone suspected of having been involved in this leak will be eliminated by Kagame if they are not protected. It’s no secret how he ordered the immediate killing of Captain Hubert KAMUGISHA, who was the head of our advance Intelligence Operations in Kigali and within the Interahamwe militia. He was gunned down in Bugesera, and his escort was instructed to testify that he had killed himself. Anyone in disagreement with Kagame or seen as likely to break the airplane shooting secret has been eliminated or is waiting to be. In an effort to continue to inform the Rwandan Community about the underlying truth behind all these events, I will publicize before too long the names of fellow “technicians” that I can remember, who operated in Kigali and elsewhere inside Rwanda.
Was the RPF prepared to deal with the Consequences of Habyarimana’s Assassination, including a Plan to Save Tutsis?
This is a very critical point which, if well understood by Rwandans, is likely to drive them into the streets to demand that Kagame resign, be apprehended and brought to justice like other criminals. Some examples will suffice to show that the RPA was pretty capable of saving people, but that was not in Kagame’s priorities.
1. The RPF Inkotanyi soldiers had the ability to cover from 30 to 80kms a day walking and fighting at the same time, and be ready to engage in combat upon arrival. On April 6, 1994, the 59th battalion left Butaro up north and reached the CND Parliament Building Compound in Kigali on April 10 during the day. That included a long over-night delay in Miyove before Kagame could, apparently, re-authorize – but the Commanders had already received firm marching orders from him – resumption of the battalion’s journey south. It took other battalions such as Bravo and Alpha, and a group of the 101st battalion only 2 days to reach Kigali. A group of the Military Police was also able to reach Kigali in 3 days, on April 9. Privates and Corporals had to carry each an equipment load of over 30kgs on top of their own personal belongings, as they trekked south day and night in order to deliver in time the munitions that were needed for our troops to hold the line in Kigali long enough before the north-east supply road from Byumba could be secured. This clearly demonstrates our deployment strengths in covering well over 100kms from Butaro in 3 days while engaging the enemy along the way.
2. As the war progressed, many young Tutsi fighters from Rwanda joined the RPF. Despite allegations by “Ugandans” among us that there were not Tutsis inside Rwanda and that even if there were any, they had been too greedy to flee and had adopted Hutu thinking, we had a burning desire to save our relatives being massacred. The saddest part is that we were prevented from helping people being savaged even in front of our own eyes, leading many among our comrades to turn their own guns on themselves in helplessness, swearing that they had made a terrible mistake in joining the RPF. I personally don’t believe it was a mistake for me to join, but being prevented from saving people when we could was very saddening.
3. By this time we knew the city of Kigali in and out, better than its residents. We even knew the rats’ preferred routes! Be it day or night, we knew where people lived that might need assistance…And not only in Kigali, but just about every corner inside Rwanda because of colleagues from those areas: they knew the quickest ways to reach the populations.
4. In Rwanda, areas heavily populated by Tutsis were few and very well known: Bugesera, Kibuye, Butare, Rwamagana. It was very possible to save people in one area, and then move on to the next closest or surrounding areas.
5. Let us take a closer look at Kagame’s total lack of will to save Tutsis even
as he purposely precipitated their predicament:
Within Kigali City Limits
With our ability to deploy on long distances and fight at the same time as demonstrated earlier, how was it impossible for the RPA to save those who perished at the ETO high school at Kicukiro, if they really were so inclined? This Kigali neighborhood could not have taken even one hour to reach from where the RPA was stationed at the CND Parliament building.
How far is it to go from Rebero and save people in Rwampara?
How could it be that a barricade set up on a small bridge in the valley near the Nyabugogo bus station towards Gatsyata was used to decimate people with Kagame’s Bravo battalion stationed on Mount Jari overlooking it? How could thousands of people be killed at Gisozi, Kagugu, and Kinyinya with the RPA army within 2 kilometers?
How far is the CND building for people to die massively at nearby Kacyiru, Cyimicanga, or Sainte Famille?
How could it be that people died in great numbers in the town of Nyamata in Bugesera with the RPA army present in Kigali only some 35kms away? It wasn’t because of any known resistance from any heavy government army fortifications like the ones we had encountered in Ruhengeri and Byumba, which we had been able to circumvent anyway, using our disguise techniques?
Beyond Kigali City
Never mind Bugesera, what about Kabuga and Rwamagana, why weren’t we able to go there and assist? Were these areas too far away to be reached? Didn’t we prove to the world a few years later that we’re quite capable of reaching Kinshasa at well over 4000kms - if I include our countless meanders that made the journey longer? It took us less than 150 days to cover the distance, meaning we walked at least 27kms each day. This is insignificant compared to the 80kms we routinely put in.
Why did Tutsis really have to die in a far-off area like Butare, where genocide did not get under way until at least after one month? Who provided help in Kibuye where people fought their attackers unassisted and were butchered like animals?
Without going too far, let’s look closely at events within 20 meters in the very backyard of the CND Parliament building. If the RPA really wanted to save people, how could Col Kayonga, fully aware that the airplane was about to be hit, order civilians away from the compound and the gates closed, with the declared intent to deflect blame that we ever sheltered any Tutsis in the compound because that would’ve indicated that we knew what was about to happen? How many bodies of Tutsis were being run over by cars around the Kimihurura traffic circle after people were turned away at the gate of the CND parliament building? Could there be a bigger sacrifice of Tutsis than this? I said it earlier, let me say it again: KAGAME PREVENTED US FROM RESCUING OUR RELATIVES WHEN WE HAD THE WILL AND THE ABILITY TO DO THAT.
There were only 3 possible scenarios in which we saved people:
Anyone the RPF saw as potentially helpful in running our administration after seizing power.
Any victim happening to be in the RPF’s path in its march to power was brought to safety.
Good-hearted commanders took it upon themselves to save people unbeknownst to Kagame. Rescuing Tutsis never figured at all in Kagame’s plan.
What about the general atmosphere within the RPF in Kigali during the genocide? As a soldier who has fought a war, I fully believe that resting soldiers so they can relay others or assist in a time of need is of paramount importance. But let me just explain how there never was any plan to help at all. In the city of Kigali, there were many RPA battalions, some of which had been deployed there, while others had been built up from scratch. Those were battalions Alpha, Bravo, 59th, 7th, 3rd, military Police, Air Defense, 5th, and 21st. With the exception of 3rd and Military Police battalions, all others were made up of at least 10 companies each, with each company comprising about 170 soldiers. Some big battalions were about 2000 soldiers strong. That’s not counting the huge numbers of “technicians” infiltrated in Kigali. It’s not an overstatement to put the overall RPA size in Kigali and surroundings at the height of killings at well over 12000 elements. When the Gikondo-Magerwa warehousing district fell, it was sad to see that as our relatives were being massacred, high-ranking officers were assigning the biggest number of soldiers to the looting of major properties like the Magerwa stores. Soldiers were busy looting instead of saving people because none of that was in Kagame’s instructions, and any Commanders who ventured on their own into a non-ordered rescue mission were punished with jail if they lost anyone on their team.
It was as if Commanders Kaka, Dodo, Ngoga, Bagire, and Kayonga, were vying as to who would loot the most Land Cruiser Trucks, before stripping them into army-like jeeps for their respective escort teams, while their men ran amuck in Interahamwe-like fashion. In all honesty, as goes the leadership so goes everything else. I mean, these guys were indisputably absolute standouts in military craftsmanship, just as were Kaddafi, Nyamurangwa, Kwikiriza, Kalisa, Rwigamba, Nkubito, and we had nothing but respect for them. But they lacked leadership at the top, and so instead of aiming at lofty rescue feats, they wallowed in base acts of sexual overindulgence, looting NIDO powdered milk, and drinking orgies over Carlsberg, Whisky, Mutzig, and Primus.
Thus started the epidemic of property grabbing. Even as the Interahamwe pillaged heavily as they fled, the RPA was revving up its own plundering celebrations at Magerwa stores and Kabuye sugar factory. Then the RPF returned to the city of Byumba and its surroundings to finish off those who had survived its previous onslaught, before starting a major campaign of shipping truckloads of looted goods off to Uganda. Really sad. I will write about these events later in more details.
So, then, how can Kagame dare proclaim himself the Savior of Tutsis?
This issue is a real time bomb that Kagame has set up himself, and when it explodes he may be its first casualty. I have clearly shown how the situation gradually got out of control on both sides, how the Interahamwe militia’s virulence gained in intensity, especially for those among them whose relatives had been decimated by the RPF in the regions of Byumba and Ruhengeri. By the time fleeing populations reached the gates of Kigali from the north, Interahamwe elements among them had become virtual beasts for whom all Tutsis were RPF Inkotanyi. With the effect of divisive propaganda, coupled with the assassination of the President and his top aides, the suddenly orphaned Interahamwe and the government army had no one to lead them in their effort to fend off the advancing RPF rebels. Such a situation could not lead to anything else but wholesale massacres of Tutsis.
For Tutsis, Kagame became the instant hero who put an end to genocide, in spite of his many crimes which, in their eyes, paled in comparison with the cruelty to which the Interahamwe had subjected them. That played right into Kagame’s compulsive love of adulation, which he clearly exploited to shore up his authority and clamp down on the slightest opposition. Anyone raising a finger was quickly quashed as a killer. When the international community pleaded with him to soften his stance, his retort was that since they had sat and watched while people died and he had succeeded alone in removing the government of killers, they had nothing to say. Now he has effectively hoisted himself as the chief fireman who put out the fire while in fact he was the arsonist who started the inferno. A premonitory Rwandan proverb says, “The renegade bull that rampages and decimates the herd is usually one of them”. Indeed, here is a Tutsi general who figured out a way to trigger a massive genocidal campaign against his fellow Tutsis, and then staged a brilliant disappearing act as they began to fall.
The Role of other Countries in the Rwandan War
There is always an international component to the so-called wars of liberation pitting rebels and government forces. As far as the RPF war, many things happened which, unfortunately, have been twisted around to mislead the population.
First, the war started from Uganda, with an army predominantly made of young Tutsis from Uganda, Tanzania, Zaire, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, and a few other countries. From this fact, the role of each one of these countries in the war is clearly established. It is also clear that each one of these countries, except Rwanda of course, either knew or allowed these young Tutsis to transit through their territory on their way to war. Some of these countries went as far as affording escort protection to these fighters. Not less than 30000 RPF recruits transited through Burundi, before heading to Uganda. Uganda allowed in the biggest number of fighters, because that’s where everybody had to start.
Second, neither the Rwandan government nor the RPF had any weapons production capabilities, so they had to buy them from third countries. The Rwandan government purchased its weapons and munitions and obtained additional military equipment from friendly countries in the form of assistance or loans. These countries include Belgium, France, China, South Africa, Egypt, Russia, and others. The nature of war is such that parties to a conflict must constantly refurbish their arsenals in order to match the enemy’s power, and that means acquiring and learning new weapons technologies using expert training from other countries. Let no one deny the presence within the Rwandan government of French or Belgian military instructors. Similarly, no one in the RPF can deny that we had Ugandan military instructors, and that many RPF members received training overseas in friendly countries. This is a logically unavoidable reality.
Among the most talked about issues currently is Rwanda’s allegations that France had a role in the Rwandan tragedy because they trained the Interahamwe militia. Well, my question is this: what kind of advanced military technologies did the Interahamwe need to learn in order to require training by French experts? The skills that the Interahamwe needed were using machetes, exploding grenades, and firing small rifles commonly used inside the country, and even communal police could dispense training on these weapons. Had the French participated in teaching hatred to the Interahamwe, or trained them in fearless killing, or served in their command positions, all of which was not needed because it doesn’t take training by a French expert to kill a Tutsi farmer, then I would have had a reason to find fault with them. Of course they are not perfect, because while we detested Habyarimana, he was their dearest friend, and for me and all my RPF colleagues, the friend of our enemy was also our enemy. But is that the reason why this gross lie continues to be entertained? Well, I have clearly lifted the veil on all the crimes that we committed against innocent populations. Does that mean that Burundi which let us through its borders, and Uganda which trained us and armed us must now appear in court for the Rwandan genocide? There’s more: when we started the war in Congo, our troops received extensive training by Americans, Israelis, North Koreans, South Africans, Ethiopians, Eritrians, Russians, Kenyans, and many others. Does that mean that these countries will have to answer for the many Congolese nationals and Hutu refugees that we decimated during that war? There were many Ugandan combatants alongside our troops in the war against the Rwandan government, and nobody can deny it, not even Kagame who officially thanked them for their help after their tour of duty. They are the ones who manned our deadliest weapons, like the 122mm, the 107mm, and 120mm. Does that mean that Uganda must now be dragged into court to answer for the Rwandan genocide?
RWANDANS MUST FREE THEMSELVES MENTALLY, AND MAKE AN ACCURATE ASSESSMENT OF THEIR PROBLEMS. HABYARIMANA MASTERMINDED A TRAGEDY, AND KAGAME MADE IT A REALITY. KINANI-THE INVINCIBLE HAS SINCE BEEN DEPARTED, AND WE NEED KAGAME TO HURRY UP TO COURT WHERE THE DEATH SENTENCE AWAITS HIM, AND WHEN HE’LL BE GONE, THE REST OF US WILL LIVE IN PEACE.
In the long run people will find that Habyarimana’s friends flocked to Rwanda because of their mutual interests, and because he knew how to manipulate them. All of that ended in 1990. Belgium and Zaire rushed to Habyarimana’s rescue believing Uganda had attacked him. But when they realized that these were Tutsis coming back to their mother land, they went back. Then the French came, invoking a longstanding friendship with Habyarimana, but then they got side-tracked into a narcotics business based in the Nyungwe forest and which benefited no one except Presidents Habyarimana and Mitterrand and their inner circles. There’s a lot of money to be had in the business of dealing arms, and that may also help explain the friendship between Habyarimana and Mitterrand. The RPF has been peddling this theory, but only in a bid to hide its own sins which are far from being washed away.
What can be Done Now?
The UN must take decisive action and shake itself out of the shame mentality that it has failed Rwandans. It wasn’t the UN that ordered Hutus and Tutsis to kill each other. We all remember Kagame’s threats that if the UN couldn’t intervene right away, he didn’t need them, that he alone would stop the genocide. If the UN had jumped into the fray with haste, and perhaps cause us to shoot and kill some of its spoiled and cowardly peacekeepers, whose fault would that have been? Who is a part of the UN anyway? Why is it that everybody is pointing fingers at one country? Could it have, alone, prevented genocide from happening, even as a superpower?
AN INVESTIGATION AS TO WHY GENOCIDE TOOK PLACE IN RWANDA IS WARRANTED, AND BEFORE TOO LONG, THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF BOTH THE GOVERNMENT AND THE REBELS WILL BE ESTABLISHED.