Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rwanda: Breaking Hutu-Tutsi Enmity Through Reconciliation

By James K. Gasana and Nkiko Nsengimana

The following document was published in 1997 by NOUER Project: "New Hope for Rwanda".

Here are some interesting macrotopics dealt with in the document:

Is reconciliation the high way to a sustainable peace?
Yes, because the Rwandan conflict can be resolved only by a systemic approach
Yes, because of the nature of the Hutu - Tutsi polarity
Yes, because of a strong moral foundation

Basic requirements for reconciliation:
Reconciliation requires the acceptance of democratic rule
Reconciliation needs respect of the identity of each group
Reconciliation requires winner - winner solutions
Reconciliation requires truth finding and justice
Reconciliation requires demilitarisation for confidence building
Reconciliation requires efficient instruments for positive interaction
Reconciliation requires respect of private property
Reconciliation requires dedicated support of church leaders
Reconciliation requires international support

Read more here.

About the authors:

James Gasana was Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and Environment in 1990-92, and Minister of Defense in 1992-93. At one point tried to warn his government of the coming conflagration, but to no avail. He currently lives in Switzland.

Nkiko Nsengimana was Director of the "Centre de Formation coopérative IWACU Rwanda" and Manager of the network of the "Banques Populaires" in Kigali.

Testifying at the ICTR as witness Expert in the trial of former Rwandan Minister for Higher Education and genocide suspect Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda, Nsengimana told the tribunal that the 1994 Rwandan genocide was not organized by the state but by Akazu and was executed by the Interahamwe, the youth wing of the MRND party, which was ruling Rwanda during the genocide.

He described Akazu (the little house) as the core of power, which mainly consisted of the clan of the first lady (Mrs Habyarimana), with people from the North of the country who occupied strategic positions and wielded a lot of power.

Testifying for the second day in the Kamuhanda's trial, the witness concentrated mainly on the attack of the presidential plane on April 6th, in which president Habyarimana was killed, and its consequences.

Chaos after the crash
"This attack triggered the genocide. It made it possible for the ultra to take over the state power. Akazu took over and carried out the catastrophe that we all know about. The brains behind the Tutsi genocide are Akazu with their armed wing the Interahamwe," he

The assassination of Habyarimana, according to the witness was intended to create a political void and cause political chaos. He cited the first victims on April 7th as the then Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and several ministers.

He further explained that the assassinations of Uwingiliyimana and other leaders who could still represent the state, was perpetrated by Col Théoneste Bagosora, then the head of gendarmerie with his henchmen as a formula to create a new government which he wanted to head.

After the killing of the President, the top military officials met
immediately with UNAMIR where Bagosora proposed that the army take over power. The UNAMIR refused and said instead a meeting should be held with the RPF.

"The army refused to accept Bagosora, he left and was not seen the whole night until the following morning when the killings started. He became the real perpetrator of the massacres at that time," the witness said.

Nsengimana, who was led in his chief evidence by Kamuhanda's lead counsel Aicha Conde of Guinea, also told the court that Joseph Nzirorera and Aloys Nsekalije, a colonel in the army and a former minister, were members of Akazu and were very much feared because of the power that they had. "Nzirorera was the leader of the Interahamwe and used to say 'my Interahamwe'", Nsengimana stated.

Collective responsibility of the government
According to Nsengimana the interim government had a collective responsibility to stop the genocide. He added that each leader in the government should have been held responsible for criminal acts or omissions. " How were the elite Tutsi and Hutu able to live and allow sacrifice of human life?" the witness wondered.

Nsengimana was the thirty-sixth and last defence witness in the trial.
After completion of his testimony he expressed his surprise to the chamber for being referred to as a defence witness whereas he came to testify as an expert witness. He said he could as well have testified as a prosecution witness, for that matter.

In 2004, Jean de Dieu Kamuhanda was sentenced to life in prison by the ICTR for committing genocide. The tribunal found him guilty of two counts, genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity.

Later in 2008, Theoneste Bagsosora was sentenced to life in prison by the ICTR. The tribunal He was found him guilty of war crimes, acts of genocide, and crimes against humanity committed by Rwandan troops under his command.

However, the real news was that ALL of the top Rwandan military officers, including the supposedly infamous Colonel Bagosora, were found not guilty of conspiracy or planning to commit genocide.

Nsengimana currently lives in Switzland and is President of IRED, which is an international network of local networks, peasant and urban groups, associations of handicraftsmen, women, cooperatives, NGOs and other fellow organisations, who are eager to collaborate in order to break out of their state of isolation and, by joining forces, constitute an organised force to bring about change

Related Materials:
Remember Rwanda? By James Gasana
The Taylor Report - Rwanda 1994: Colonialism dies hard


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