By Major Michael Mupende
Fellow Rwandans, ladies and gentlemen, friends of Rwanda.
First, I send my warm greetings to you all. I wish to you; peace, development and good health. Today, as we go through the 100 days of the 26th commemoration of the Tutsi Genocide, I wish to share the TRUE history that led us to the Rwandan Genocide of the Tutsi people and other killings that are associated. This remembrance of those who died in the genocide has come in an unusual circumstance when the whole world is faced by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, people cannot come together to support one another, as would have been the case. However, in one way or the other, we have to remember our own. Therefore, I wish to share in a few words, the TRUE history that bred the genocide of the Tutsi people of Rwanda in 1994. Remembering and bearing in mind this bad history, will be a firm foundation for the people of Rwanda to sort out their differences, and hence to forge towards a country defined by lasting reconciliation and unity of the people. As we mourn for the victims of the 1994 genocide, the genocide committed by Rwandans against their fellow innocent citizens, I find it wise to desist from falsehood and lies, the TRUTH about what exactly happened in Rwanda decades before, during the time of Genocide and days that followed needs to be told, with more emphasis on the genocide. The hatred that led to the carnage in Rwanda 26 years ago, today; still seems as fresh as ever, regardless the political rhetoric to distort the truth. The hate that was mostly based on the ignorance by the Rwandan population starting from the top Rwanda’s successive leaders since colonialism.
I am stating this seriously, and am not overstating; what one begs the Rwanda people to do, is simply to accept our history, until this time comes, the Rwandan people will find room into their hearts to forgive one another and forge towards reconciliation, unity and development.
The origin of the conflict; Before colonialists came into Rwanda all was fine; The difference at first was an economic one, where, Hutu mainly did crop farming and the Tutsi tending to livestock. Eventually, these two classes came to be seen as ethnic divides. Cattle were considered more valuable than crops; hence this placed these Tutsi cattle owners at the level of the local elite.
By the time. The German colonialists first comes in 1884, already the Tutsi elite had been the ruling monarchy for centuries, and later the Belgians comes in 1917. Both the Germans and Belgians turned the Tutsis into symbols of colonial rule for the Hutu who were the majority. The fake favor by the colonialists to Tutsi was their usual divide- and- conquer tactic which they (colonialists) later used to steer resentment and violence by the Hutu majority population. Because the Belgian colonialist still needed enough time for exploitation, when the King Mutara III Rudahigwa started the process for demanding Rwanda’s independence in late 50’s, they then used their tactic to incite division by supporting Hutu against the Tutsi in the name of emancipation and democracy.
The Hutu elite who were mostly from seminary background, with enormous support and guidance from their colonial Belgians and the catholic church, planned and executed the first attempt to wipe out of the country all the Tutsis in 1959 and on wards; tens of thousands were killed, maimed, raped, got their property taken away from them, the rest were forced to leave their homeland and left everything behind, many Tutsi women were held in bondage as sex slaves or laborers. It was a humanitarian disaster, all this happened on the international community’s watch, the League of Nations, the predecessor of the U.N never said a thing to blame the evil that befell the Tutsi people of Rwanda.
I very well know that the genocide was planned by first; the local leadership inciting hatred based on ethnicity to the Hutu population. Tutsi people were persecuted and expelled from their own country starting with 1959 and early 60’s. The Hutu, being aided by the former colonial masters and other foreigners who had interests in the country, had the intentions to wipe out the Tutsi people according to the teachings that, they were non-indigenous people of Rwanda but conquerors who came from Ethiopia, occupied and dominated Rwanda. Therefore, with no doubt, the Hutu and their masters believed, it was right to persecute and expel these unwanted people who did not belong to Rwanda.
Later on, the Tutsi made efforts in successive attacks from neighboring countries of mainly; Uganda and Burundi to try return their people back home, beginning from 1963 to 1967 without success, in 1973 after there was change of power to another Hutu president; a few Tutsi’s who had remained in Rwandan were persecuted and there was another killing of the Tutsi, this caused more thousands to flee the country again. Efforts by the accumulated numbers of Tutsi refugees who were outside to negotiate their way back home were futile, regardless efforts made by the regional host governments and some international partners to help resolve the Tutsi refugee problem, the Rwanda government under Habyarimana backed by his western friends kept ignoring the issue.
As the last resort, in 1994 the children of the Tutsi exiles launched an armed struggle to end this refugee problem. The Hutu who never wanted the Tutsi back into the country had to resist hard the comeback as ever, and this took another level of animosity from the Hutu who had state power into their hands. Hutu leadership started planning for the killing of the Tutsi as they had done before in 1959 and 1973. The Hutu led MRND government made it a priority to focus on the war of denying the Tutsi entry into the country, vis a vis to embark on the efforts to make peace through the peace process that been initiated.
Untold truth about the role of RPF in the Hutu killings.
Everyone is advised that; its now time that the victor’s history must be RETOLD, the sheer truth must told because, as the saying goes; “The naked truth is always better than the best-dressed lie”.
The RPF leader, Paul Kagame planned and executed the Hutu peasantry killings from the northern border neighborhoods from 1991. These secret killings were headed and directed by Nyamwasa, Kayumba with his notorious DMI of which he led from 1990-1997. The Kagame leadership killed the border Hutu’s mainly because they refused to listen to the RPF political ideology and became totally unsupportive and uncooperative to RPF’s objectives.
Hutu peasants, continued to make alarms whenever RPA passed in their neighborhoods towards attacking the FAR positions. They worked hand in hand with the FAR in cordoning and searching areas during the hunt of RPA soldiers in their areas etc. Also, the Hutu peasantry were resisting the RPA based on the MRND and PARMEHUTU hate policy towards the Tutsi that they had been thoroughly taught over decades. Kagame passed directives to Nyamwasa to kill and menace the Hutu along the Northern border areas, so that they can move to pave way for RPA attacks on the Force Armee Rwandais.
From late 1991, Paul Kagame and Nyamwasa Kayumba recruited a special commando group mostly composed of young men who had come to join RPA from Kigali and other major towns from all over Rwanda. The killer commando’s or RPA Technicians as they were called, were easily penetrated into RPF cells throughout the country, The commandos under direct orders of Nyamwasa’s DMI were directed to kill MRND opposition leaders, do other random killings and then to blame it on the government which was already targeting some moderate opposition leaders and Tutsis.
When the news of the killings from the Rwanda/ Uganda border reached the interior of the country, the MRND leadership used it as an excuse to continue to incite more anger and continued to use the killings as a resource to perpetrate and achieve their genocidal objective. From earlier starting with Oct,1990 invasion, the government made massive arrests of those Tutsis they called RPF accomplices, and Rwandan prisons were filled with Tutsis. But at this time in around 1992, the Rwanda Government started killings of Tutsi in Bugesera, Kigali, Kibuye, Kibilila in Gisenyi and many other places that had the concentration of the Tutsi. In their public speeches, the MRND and other Hutu political leaders, continued to incite the Hutu masses towards preparation of Tutsi extermination.
In most cases, the Hutu population were directly involved with the FAR in fighting the RPA soldiers. Carrying with them whatever kind of weapons they could, they cordoned and hunted for the remnants of the RPA soldiers, in the late days of the first phase of the war’ Oct, Nov and December, 1990. In the second phase of the war, in around may/ June,1991, the FAR involved the Hutu population again, this time they got involved in cutting banana plantations, and clearing the area of any plant or vegetation to deny cover to RPA soldiers. Since, FAR was not strong enough to contain RPA, The DMI groups always sneaked into the population, killed a number of them and caused them to flee their homes.
The numbers for the locals who were fleeing from the fighting between RPA and the FAR, and DMI assassinations increased as the war progressed. In Mutara, the displaced people first settled in Rweibare, near Rukomo in Muvumba commune. Later they settled in Kiramuruzi,Murambi and eventually tens of thousands of them ended up settling in a mega camp at Nyakyonga near Kigali.
With the growing insecurity, Kigali government instead of working on the solutions to stop the war, which was to recognize the children of Rwanda who were fighting to come back home; this having been the very cause of the problems, But the MRND Government concentrated their efforts on perpetrating ethnic hatred, they intensified their sensitization program on hate for the Tutsi people. Every Tutsi was targeted as an enemy or enemy sympathizer.
Tens of thousands of the youth from the displaced population camp were joined to the notorious Interahamwe MRND youth wing and other Hutu youth wing groups, and all were well prepared for the cleansing of the Tutsi, if Rwanda Patriotic Army would attempt to advance towards taking over the city of Kigali. The cleansing program for the Tutsi was disseminated to every Hutu peasant from all over the country through local leadership, from grassroot levels and the plan was mastered by all, in that; when the D-day came nobody was to hesitate on what their mission was.
The families of the Tutsi people from every town, village and work places were marked way earlier in the process of genocide preparation. By 1993, tens of thousands of Hutu youth groups had been trained and Interahamwe in particular had a military like structure, with a clear leadership and areas of assignment in which to operate when the Genocide was to begin. There was good flow of information and networking with Interahamwe leadership and the rest of the state’s security apparatus; there was flow of information between the army (FAR), GD National, and the National intelligence body RWASIR/SIROTE and the top MRND leadership. That’s how vividly, the act of Genocide was prepared way ahead of time, well-coordinated and perpetrated towards its thorough execution. Therefore, there should be no doubt, that the Rwandan Genocide for Tutsi people had more than enough time of preparation.
On the side of RPA, Kagame and Nyamwasa, Kayumba did not make a big difference with those who were planning the genocide because they trained a special group of soldiers known as technicians/commandos and distributed them all over the country of Rwanda to perform sabotage activities, kill the opposition politicians and innocent civilians and then blame it on the MRND government. Opposition Hutu leaders’ reasons for being killed was; 1. It was to create chaos and confusion among the Hutu themselves, because there was already the Nduga/Kiga divide, and these killings would definitely be associated with the ruling party; MRND killing its political opponents. 2. Kagame did not want Hutu leaders who would claim that they supported peace in Rwanda, and hence become part of RPF ruling system after the MRND Government was to be overthrown, and then claim positions in Kagame’s leadership.
When Kagame and his henchmen including Nyamwasa Kayumba, Kabarebe James et al… decided to bring down the plane carrying president Juvenal Habyarimana on 4/6/1994, this shooting triggered off the Genocide that had been already in the pipeline and in the mindset of all Rwandan Hutu population. On the 4/7/1994, the Genocide officially started all over Rwanda as had been prepared, the Tutsi people were killed by their fellow Rwandans from the Hutu ethnic group like there has never been God in this country. The worst human catastrophe of the 20th century broke out and the killing spree went on for nearly the next four months uninterrupted, that was the Rwandan Genocide for the Tutsi.
During the genocide, the Tutsi had nowhere to run to; they went for God into churches, only to find these churches been turned into slaughtering houses by the killers, from the swamps in the south they were hunted by combined security forces and Interahamwe, roadblocks were put in place to ensure not a single one is given a chance to survive.
It was terrible; Wives gave away their husbands and their kids, in-laws turned against in- laws, uncles killed their own nieces and nephews, church members turned against and killed fellow Tutsi church members, Church leaders either betrayed, killed or gave away their flocks, the military and other security organs in collaboration with the Hutu youth militias were busy devising how well the mission of extermination of innocent Tutsi people would succeed for a very long period of time. The Tutsi humanity in Rwanda was heading to extinction, and they were surrounded and on target at every inch of the land. They had nowhere to turn to, the Lord God could not be reached anywhere near to save these souls nearing total extermination.
As fighting by RPA was in progress towards the capture of Kigali,Imediately nyanvumba and Dan Munyuza and team started killing from zone tampo or former demilitarized zone of Rukomo, Mimuli, Ngarama, Gituza, then Nyanvumba continued to Murambi and Rukara, along Rwamagana-Kigali Road; Killings supervised by James Kabarebe and Silas Udahemuka were going on in areas of Rwamagana, Musha, Rugende/Muyumbu and Kabuga; mass holes were dug and victims thrown in and buried. On the eastern axis of advance under Fred Ibingira, a lot of people were killed and buried into massive graves including big numbers of those that were killed and thrown into the Kagera river. After the takeover of Kigali, and probably in a period of a year and a half after; Kagame/Nyamwasa DMI network in collaboration with a few special officers from the clique like Jack Nziza and others started a new wave of Hutu killings, the killings that in most cases took even many Tutsi genocide survivors because when they were gathering them, they deceived that they were being recruited into the military or told that they were moving them to safety. They did who was a Tutsi and who was not, all they needed was to kill a good number of Hutus. The act was done by ferrying the youth from all prefectures of the country starting with the western prefectures of Ruhengeri, Gisenyi and Kibuye as a priority, and then sweep southeastwards to Kyangugu, Gikongoro and Butare, as this was happening and killings going on around Military Gabiro Barracks in the Akagera National Park, there was already a big force on the ground in areas of Byumba, and Kibungo prefectures under the Command of today’s Gen. Patrick Nyanvumba, he was deputized by Gen. Jean Bosco Kazura.
Apart from the original killing sites around Camp Gabiro at the “Presidential lodge” also referred to as Habyarimana’s house, a building that I compare to the Jewish Auschwitz in Poland, and the so called “New Camp “a camp for the former Akagera national park game rangers, these were the sites used longer than the rest of the other killing sites, others were scattered in the Akagera National Park distributed to each of park lakes namely; lakes, Nasho, Ihema, Rwanyakizinga, Hago and surrounding areas. The killing of the Hutu youth by RPF under Kagame continued uninterruptedly from April,1994 to December,1995.
Other sites Used to kill the Hutu people during that very period between April,1994 and December,1995 were first established by Gen. Patrick Nyanvumba when he was appointed a Commanding officer for RPA 1st BN in Nyungwe forest, later the number sites in nyungwe were expanded by Gen. Emmanuel Gasana alias Rurayi as the I.O for 301 BDE by adding two more sites, and in 1994 Gen. Aloys Muganga established the killing site in ISAR Karama and Kamabuye in Bugesera area. All these Hutu Killings were committed by the leadership and under the orders and directives of the Ruler of Rwanda, President Paul Kagame. Those Hutu killings are well known by Rwandans of all walks, there is no way these killings by RPF can be hidden, they are on record.
In this period when we mourn for our lost ones in the Genocide of the Tutsis, all Rwandans; Hutus, Tutsis and Twa’s should focus on these historical facts of the killings based on ethnic differences and forge towards reconciliation and total unity. At this time and era, the solution to the Rwandan problem is to tell the truth about what exactly happened in our country during those killings, more especially who killed who, and when.
I know that, it will not be easy for those under current Kagame’s leadership to accept their role in the killings of the Hutu. The leaders who had an upper hand into these killings will always fight hard to cover up this information and also try very hard to eliminate or mudsling all those who have the knowledge about these crimes, this in turn will keep the Rwandan people and the international community in darkness about what happened. It’s now way too late, the information regarding the Hutu killings is out in abundance. Many of Paul Kagame’s high ranking military officers had an upper hand in the Rwandan Hutu Killings and hence a big number of the Hutu population lost their lives to the extent that the killings are no longer a secret, with time, it became to be known publicly despite Kagame government’s cover up of this worst human violations.
Hence, the medicine to the Rwandan problems is sour, but it has to be tolerated and be administered, if Rwanda is to recover from its bad history. The medicine is “truth and reconciliation” and to bury lies to the grave that they deserved, and pave way for peace based on nothing but the pure truth; both Hutu and Tutsi should accept their role in Rwanda’s past, they have asked each other for forgiveness. It’s the right time to put our dark history straight. By doing that, Rwanda will have lasting reconciliation, peace and total unity.
All those who died were Rwandans, hence it’s sad that their people can’t be remember and mourn their love ones for the last 26 years now, since the Rwandan carnage took place. As we remember those perished in the middle of the Rwandan genocide; Tutsi killed by Hutu, Moderate Hutu killed by the fellow Hutu hard liners, Hutu killed by RPF commandos and the mass Hutu systematic killings within 100 days and after, all these were deaths. Therefore, the government of Rwanda should let the Hutu people also remember and mourn for their lost loved ones. This will be a very big step towards unity and reconciliation that we all crave for.
I the author: was harassed and persecuted, I fled the country for my life because of speaking out the truth about those killings and other gross human rights violations, and more. Outside Rwanda, I have been threatened and at one time in December, 2019 Kagame’s operatives here in the United states attempted to attack me for sharing my experiences, more especially about his role in Gen. Fred Gisa Rwigyema’s death.
My elderly parents were punished after I was able to escape death by the RPA/DMI killers, they lived degrading lives at the hands of the Kagame killers; they died in misery and isolation. They were on Kagame’s DMI watch at all the times ever since I left the country. At their respective burial times, the DMI operatives were present to watch and count who was there and what they said.
Unity and reconciliation are not possible with Paul Kagame and his group of killers still in control. Because the current leadership had a big role in most of the killings both before, during and after the genocide, it is clear that, they have to cover up their crimes to elude justice at any cost. Therefore, whatever policy adopted by the current regime regarding genocide or the killings that took place in Rwanda in 1994, will be for either shielding the RPF killers from facing justice or for the purpose of economic benefits to the Rwandan puppet government under Kagame, but not designed for the peace and reconciliation of the Rwandeese.
In the regimes that preceded Kagame’s RPF Government, the leadership taught to the population hatred that was based on ethic differences. Today, the same teachings are made by the RPF leadership, if you listen to public speeches by for example; Gen. James Kabarebe, Min. Kaboneka and many other RPF leaders turned into Kagame puppets. Those hate teachings by current RPF leaders makes no difference from those used by the MRND and Hutu power leaders of the previous regimes in their public speeches to incite hate. Kagame himself made hate comments against the Hutu people on several occasions, an example is when the Hutu refugees were crossing into DR Congo, then Zaire in 1994. He made the worst hate comment, that; “He wished all those hundreds of thousands of Hutus would have been killed before they crossed to the Zaire”. The video/audio evidence to fact is available on record. All these are evidences of how much hate Kagame has for the Hutu ethnic people, and those words spoken by a leader automatically represents his thoughts.
In reality, after the 26 years after the genocide, the level of peace and reconciliation among the two Rwandan ethnic groups haven’t been made regardless the RPF government rhetoric leaned on soliciting praise from the international community. All Hutus in Rwanda today are treated as second class citizens, they have no equal rights as their fellow Tutsi country men. No equal rights to Government jobs, promotion or courses in both the Police and the military, Rights to academic institutions, to do business with the Government and so on. There is obvious inequality in every life aspect.
Its common knowledge that, the majority of Hutus are called the Interahamwe, even if they were born after the Genocide of 1994, so longer as they were born Hutus. Hutus in Rwanda of today have replaced the Tutsis from 1959 to 1994. They live in guilt and fear of the crimes they never committed; the new Hutu generation is required by the current leadership to apologize the wrongs of their Hutu relatives. They live similar lives to those of Tutsi survivor remnants of the 1959 conflicts, who lived to pay reparations of the alleged crimes committed by the Tutsi Monarch and their chiefs in earlier centuries. They had to pay what was known as,’Umusangiro” ( a cow had to be slaughtered and enough local beers to feed villagers)to be acceptable and live within Rwanda Hutu society, and thus to quell down their anger and hate towards the Tutsi people, they pretty much lived on their oppressor’s mercy.
Likewise, the Hutus to be accepted in the current RPF government, they have to be traitors against their fellow Hutus, they have to with some exceptional qualities that serves the interests of clique in leadership, and at most of all, be puppets to the small clique in leadership.
Any Hutu assigned to a government office has no substantial powers but powers lies with their assistants because Hutus are not trusted by the current government system, they have no say to make any decisions and are looked down upon by their Tutsi subordinates.
Today, 26 years after genocide, if you are a Rwandan Hutu who live outside, and you met any foreigner, if you say, you are a Rwandan, they will not accept you for a Rwandan because of the RPF propaganda they find on the media which portrays Rwandans as a different people, they hear about different developments than you understand it, and too much of honey coated language about the good things happening in Rwanda.
Also, the hate ideology by the majority Hutu population from outside Rwanda, has not changed from what it was before the genocide, if you talk or try to understand them, it’s evident that people are harboring a grudge for a revenge against RPF Tutsis having come in by force of arms and won the war in 1994. Some Hutu still utter the same hate speeches against the Tutsi as it was before 1994, and also, they embark on a change that is based mainly on Hutu benefits than the Rwandan cause. The whole hate is still fresh as ever, I am writing this from a broad experience living and relating with the Hutu people in exile, hence, I know what am talking about.
I beg all peace-loving Rwandans who will read/listen to this piece, and wish the genocide and all those other killings NOT to happen again, to disassociate themselves from the hate ideology that has defined Rwanda to this date. The current government is using the iron first to shut down and kill whoever tries to point fingers in their role in 1994 and other killings in Rwanda. The truth must be told, if there has to be peace and reconciliation of all Rwandans.
I the author, am impartial in my writing, only that as a revolutionary and a human rights activist, I need to continue the carrier of my passion, pursuing a dream that I started at my younger age in my 20’s, to join hands with other peace loving Rwandans to continue help bring about peace to Rwanda through my experience and advocacy. I don’t get paid or rewarded for what I am doing, but it’s my long struggle to bring about the change that the Rwandan people need so bad. I call upon all Rwandans to desist from ethnic based differences but embark on cherishing being Rwandans and love one other as they were brothers and sisters.
As we remember the victims of the genocide, I have a few recommendations to share as follows;
1. I suggest that; the Government of Rwanda led by Paul Kagame, should continue with the genocide memorial programs but should change some key things as follows; all human remains that has been displayed for more than a quarter century in memorial sites, must be accorded due respect and buried. Enough is enough, its on record and well known to the whole world that genocide happened in Rwanda. Its inhuman and humiliating for those who lost their people, me inclusive, to have the remains of our loved ones displayed. It is also detrimental to forgiveness if we need true reconciliation to succeed.
2. I suggest that demonstration drills about how genocide was committed should also be stopped, because it revives the emotions of the genocide to the survivors and the relatives of the victims, all that may cause adverse phycological effects to the society. Not only do those demonstrations affect the survivors but also affects the Hutu population in that, it makes them feel guilty of the crime that was committed by their fellow Hutu’s. All these are vices to reconciliation.
3. The Kagame government should let the Hutu publicly remember their people who lost their lives in genocide and the Killings of the Hutu by RPA’s DMI commandos under Nyamwasa, Kayumba. I know the current RPF leadership will avoid the recognition of this sincere Idea because it will look like implicating the government system in their role in the killings. However, there is no option, the fact that the Hutus were also killed in the genocide is obvious and can’t be concealed. The government of Rwanda of today; have done all they could to fight this information coming out, but its always hard to hide the truth.
Minister Seth Sendashonga and Col. Teoneste, Lizinde spoke against Hutu Killings and they were both followed up and got assassinated in Nairobi Kenya, Mme VICTIORE Ingabire said Hutus were killed and deserve remembrance and she was framed and got incarcerated, and Gospel singer,Kizito Mihigo mentioned about remembering the Hutu who died in the Genocide through his song: “Igisobanuro Cy’urupfu” and he was framed, charged, got imprisoned, shortly released and later arrested and was assassinated into a Kigali police cell, all these were killed or imprisoned because they talked about these killings that RPF doesn’t want to be heard or known.
At this 26th commemoration of the Rwandan genocide, we must remember all those Rwandans that lost their lives within the days of carnage;(Hutu and Tutsi), and others that perished thereafter. This should be done, not only because it is humane and appropriate, but to pave a true path for the peace and reconciliation that Rwandans yearn for.
I stand with all Rwandans in remembering our lost ones, please continue to be strong within these unusual times of Covid 19 pandemic, let’s work and pray hard that the killings should never happen again, and put everything under care of the Almighty in prayers.
I wish to all Rwandans; everlasting unity, reconciliation and pace.
Thank you all.