When I hear General Kayumba (former Rwandan chief of staff), advocating for true democracy, freedom of speech, truth telling and rule of law which are core foundations of the change Rwandans desperately need, I have no doubt about his genuine intentions. Unlike Kagame with his propensity for violence, deception and lies, General Kayumba seems to have distanced himself from a violent way of solving problems. However, as I will demonstrate, when it comes to the truth telling particularly with regards to the RPF killings between 1990 – 1998, I believe he is far from the truth, in fact he is betraying the truth telling pillar, which is one the foundation of change he has been advocating since splitting up with the regime in Kigali.
General Kayumba headed DMI (Department for Military Intelligence) when it was formed during the Rwandan guerrilla warfare in 1990. DMI assignments included gathering intelligence on new recruits, on people in RPF occupied zones and other important information. DMI transform itself into a feared spying machine with ferocious ways of controlling body and minds. One of its methodology was to spread fear through “agafuni” and “Kandoyi” which are ways of subjugating your victims by tightening their hands at the back and finish him with a hoe in head.
Beyond those assignments DMI had a darker side of undertaking dirty operations in RPF controlled zones, particularly in Byumba (North East of Rwanda) which led to thousands of innocent people being killed. Some reports and accounts from former soldiers who participated in those operations, suggested that peasants were targeted because of their ethnicity background (Hutu) and others because they did not cooperate with occupational RPF forces. The killings occurred under a covered operation “Punguza” which means reduce the numbers of Hutu.
Either or not those operations targeted systematically the Hutu population as some people are speculating, I am not in position to conclusively affirm it. Only when Rwandans decide to investigate properly what really happened during those dark days the truth will come out. What is undeniable and widely known by Rwandans is the fact that people in Byumba were killed in great numbers by members of DMI & RPF and some of their bodies calcinated in Akagera park to conceal evidences.
DMI was headed by General Kayumba in the beginning of the liberation war who was reporting directly to Kagame. He run DMI alongside other senior officers such Jack Nziza (Kagame henchman), Rwahama, and Balinda. DMI became the vehicle tool to drive Kagame ambition at any cost which was to take the power, from the moment he joined the guerrilla.
Now, let us be honest here, as they say “Birds of a feather flock together”. For Kagame to appoint General Kayumba for such an important position, he must have seen something special in him to put the utmost trust in him. In fact, he considered him as his most qualified soldier who will drive forward his agenda. Then, under General Kayumba watchful eye as director of DMI, thousands of Hutu people in Byumba lost their lives. Husbands lost their wives, Children became orphans and thousands of families destroyed. Furthermore, later on in “Abacengezi” warfare in Ruhugeri and Gisenyi, thousands more Hutu people lost their lives, whilst General Kayumba was in charge of the operations, in what he likes to call collateral damage, although some reports suggest otherwise.
Regardless of either Kayumba authorised any killing or not; I am afraid he has to be held accountable for failing to protect the people and provide safety because he was in position of powerin. He could have used it save lives in Byumba, Ruhengeri and Gisenyi. Some may say that it was impossible to go against Kagame’s orders, however it does not take away General Kayumba accountability who was leading DMI at the time. Unfortunately, this issue is on lips of many Rwandans and it cannot be buried yet. Let me remind the general that in Arusha criminal cases, some individuals were prosecuted simply because they did not use their position of power to stop the Tutsi Genocide.
As much as it can hurt us, we have to encourage truth telling; it is our duty, we owe it to our children and grandchildren. Let us base our history on telling true facts, I am sure it will shape greatly the future generations. This is the reasons why I am asking General Kayumba to swallow his pride, cleanse his soul and apologise to the Hutu survivors of Byumba, Ruhengeri and Gisenyi massive killings, once for all, because they died under his watchful eye as DMI Director and Commander in chief of the “abachengezi” operations at some point. Kagame will never apologise for it, but General Kayumba is better than that psychopath, much better. Also, the apology should also be addressed to any surviving parents whose child joined RPF liberation war to see his dream being ended by the “Agafuni”.
Dear friend general Kayumba, Rwandans need the truth telling, particularly from people who occupied important positions before during and after the Tutsi genocide. Rwanda needs to build a culture of recognising your own mistakes and apologise, after all we are human beings and mistakes are part of who we are. Understandably, the guerrilla warfare may be unconventional, trickier and harder to undertake your operations rationally. However, when killings have been committed people in positions of power have to answer why atrocities occurred; they have to be held accountable.
Dear friend General Kayumba, imagine members of the RPA who follows regularly your intervention on various radio and hear lies when it comes to the subject of Byumba, Ruhengeri and Gisenyi cases, whilst some of them know the truth or probably participated in those killings. They probably think, “Better the devil you know that the devil you don’t”. They would rather stick with Kagame even if he treats them like his objects because as much as they may respect you which I think so, most of them may be questioning your integrity, they may be asking themselves if it is not business as usual (RPF lies).
To some you are a hero and I genuinely understand that, but to the Byumba, Ruhengeri and Gisenyi victims maybe a monster. We should understand and respect both sides sensitivity. Yes, you protected and rescued many lives but also under your watchful eye others lost their lives. To bring closer to them you will have to tell them the truth and apologise. Believe me, if it is a genuine apology most victims are ready to accept it, bring closure to this chapter and continue hands by hands with you in fighting Kagame killing regime.
We are fighting for a revolution and change in our country and you are without a doubt a great actor in it, but we cannot wait when Kagame is dethroned to start telling the truth. I always hear critics suggesting apologising for Byumba Hutu killing is as step backwood in the revolution because it is not the right time. I completely disagree with them, there is no right time to accept your responsibilities and acknowledge your wrongdoing.
As sensitive the subject may be, the truth is that there are victims out there who have been suffering for the last 27 years and need a closure. Furthermore, the opposition has genuinely the opportunity to come together and change Rwandans mindset, by educating them to have empathy to all the victims, be accountable for their wrong doing and learn to say sorry. For that reason, General Kayumba, has a great responsibility to educate Rwandan people through his actions and make the truth telling a great pillar of our change.
Most of Rwandans know their truth but are also docile, obedient and keep quiet sometimes because of the nature of the regime they live under. Nevertheless, the time will come where Rwandans will hold accountable anyone who has been involved in wrong doing against them. On that account, I urge people in leadership positions starting by the General, to educate Rwandans through their actions by being true to themselves first and to Rwandans. You owe it to Rwandans, to the new generations. Only by taking your responsibilities seriously and accepting to be held accountable of your wrong but most importantly learn to genuinely apologise we shall prevail