Ten Years Later

The Rwandan genocide of 1994 was one of the defining events of the twentieth century. It ended the illusion that the evil of genocide had been eradicated and spurred renewed commitment to halting genocides in the future.

For Rwandans, whether inside the country or abroad, the consequences of the genocide are direct and tangible. They struggle daily to heal broken bodies and traumatized psyches, to seek justice, and to recreate trust among themselves. Yet the consequences of this genocide, enormous as they are for Rwandans, do not stop at the border of that one small country but spill onto the people of neighboring countries and far beyond. Those living in the region have suffered from subsequent wars of unimaginable cruelty and from the consequences of millions of people in flight, both refugees and killers. Those further from Rwanda pay the price of their failure to protect others, both in guilty consciences and in the material costs of humanitarian aid and assistance in rebuilding shattered societies.

The Rwandan genocide forced us to confront the massive killing of civilians in a way we had not done for fifty years. Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, we had seen ordinary people deliberately slain in many conflicts, but not since the Holocaust had we seen civilians massacred so rapidly, so systematically, and with such a blatantly genocidal objective. And yet national governments and international institutions refused to intervene, backing away from a crisis that was politically complex but morally simple.

As the extent of the catastrophe became increasingly clear, the international community was forced to reconsider its ideas and practices in the realm of international justice and in the protection of civilians in times of conflict. Through these changes international institutions may regain some of the credibility lost by their inaction during the genocide.

In 1994, the United Nations Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to judge those who had once been permitted to kill without hindrance. By doing so, it sought to provide justice for the crimes of the immediate past and also spurred the development of judicial precedents for the prosecuting genocides of the future, no longer unimaginable as they had been a year before. Eight years later, the International Criminal Court was created to sanction and hopefully to deter genocide as well as other grave violations of international humanitarian law. In addition, several governments adopted laws permitting prosecution of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in their own courts. Belgium and Switzerland prosecuted and convicted persons accused of genocide and war crimes in Rwanda in 1994 and at least two other countries are investigating such crimes and may prosecute them.

Conscious of their own culpability for not halting the genocide, many national and international leaders apologized to the Rwandan people. The UN and the Organization of African Unity as well as the French National Assembly and the Belgian Senate held inquiries about the 1994 events, hoping that understanding the past would make it easier to prevent such tragedies in the future. Unwilling to confront its own responsibility, the United States did not investigate its past record but instead funded social scientists to develop models to predict when and where genocides might occur in the future.

But foreseeing catastrophe does no good without the will to act and a strategy for action. Recognizing this, an international commission under Canadian leadership examined Òthe responsibility to protectÓ and sought to determine when that responsibility would require states to act against another that was putting its own citizens at grievous risk. The Security Council too has focused on the protection of civilians, particularly women and children, in conflict situations, increasingly acknowledging that such protection is central to its responsibility for the management of peace and security around the world. In 2001 a deputy secretary-general of the United Nations told the Security Council that Òthe protection of civilians must become a regular and central aspect of United Nations peace operations,Ó and that this must be made clear in their mandates.1 How different from 1994 when the Security Council was warned that protection of civilians in Rwanda would be costly and might be an inappropriate activity for a peace-keeping force.

At a meeting in Sweden in 2004 where delegates of various states renewed their pledges to prevent and halt genocide, the UN Secretary General proposed establishing a post of special rapporteur to bring information on possible genocides to the Security Council. Recommendations from such a special rapporteur could serve as the mechanism to trigger UN intervention.

More promising than all the reports and pronouncements have been the cases where international actors intervened to stop the killing of civilians. In 2003 UN peacekeepers in Ituri, in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, proved unable to prevent ethnically-based killing of civilians. As in Rwanda in 1994, the UN troops were too few and their mandate too restricted to permit effective action. But rather than turn away from the situation as they had before, European nations sent in a European Union force under French leadership. These troops secured the main town, providing a safe haven for the threatened, until a stronger UN force with a more robust mandate arrived to replace them.

If the Rwanda genocide had positive consequences elsewhere in spurring action to avert genocide, its impact in Rwanda and the surrounding region has been devastatingly negative. Since 1994 there has been widespread conflict in central Africa: a serious uprising in northwestern Rwanda, two major wars in the neighboring Congo and ten years of civil war in Burundi. In all nearly four million civilians have likely died as a direct or indirect result of military activity in the region since 1994. The genocide has cast its shadow over all these conflicts, spinning actors in directions they would not otherwise have taken and coloring the analysis of events by the international community. Both local and international actors claim genocide or the need to prevent genocide to cover other political and economic objectives. In local Congolese conflicts, such as that in Ituri, contenders seeking foreign support charge each other with genocide, an accusation that would not have been made before 1994.

The Rwandan genocide was intertwined with the war between the government and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). Even after the RPF victory in July 1994, the victors and losers could not behave like parties in any ordinary war: neither side could shake loose from the genocide. The defeated officials and officers who had led the killing campaign had convinced themselves and those under their sway that the Tutsi were an enemy to fight to the death. They could not consider living in a Rwanda ruled by the Tutsi-dominated RPF. They knew too that most of the world believed them guilty of genocide and they feared being punished for their crimes if they remained in Rwanda. The RPF well understood the threat posed by the former authorities and were equally determined to eliminate the rest of their forces. Sure of their moral high ground, the RPF would also continue to refuse dealings with opposition movements abroad, grouping them all with the authorities responsible for the genocide.

The Rwandan genocide influenced significantly the nature and intensity of two subsequent wars in the Congo. One of these wars ousted Sese Seko Mobuto, one of the longest-reigning dictators in Africa, and opened the way for Rwanda to establish its influence over Congolese politics, an influence that continues today, welcomed by some but unwelcome to most Congolese.

In mid-1994 officials of the former government, soldiers, and militia fled to the Congo, leading more than a million Rwandans into exile. They carried with them their ideology of Hutu supremacy and many of their weapons. They sought the support of local Congolese people as well as of the government, hoping to broaden their base for continued resistance against the RPF. They insisted that Rwandan Hutu and different Congolese groups were a single ÒBantuÓ people because they spoke similar languages and shared some cultural traits. They said Tutsi were "Nilotic" invaders who, together with the related Hima people of Uganda, intended to subjugate the ÒBantuÓ inhabitants. This "Bantu" ideology – and the RPF determination to counter it – formed the framework for much of the military conflict in the region for the next ten years.

In 1996 Rwanda and Uganda, led by President Yoweri Museveni, invaded the Congo. Rwanda wanted to eliminate any possible threat from the former Rwandan army and militia who were re-organizing and re-arming in refugee camps in eastern Congo. Uganda sought greater political influence and control over resources in the region. Together with their Congolese allies, the Rwandan and Ugandan troops moved rapidly westward, at first hunting down the remnants of the Rwandan Hutu from the refugee camps – combatants and civilians alike – but then setting another objective, that of overturning Mobuto and his government. They succeeded, but in 1998 the new Congolese government, led by Laurent Desire Kabila, turned against its former supporters. Kabila told the Rwandan and Ugandan troops to go home, thus provoking a new war. This second Congo war at one point involved seven African nations and a host of rebel movements and other local armed groups, all fighting to control the territory and vast wealth of the Congo. Casualties among civilians were enormous, from lack of food, medical care, and clean water as well as from direct attack by the various forces.

The real nature of this war, like that of the first, was for a long time disguised by the references to the genocide. In demanding a return to national sovereignty Congolese officials spoke in anti-Tutsi language and crowds in Kinshasa killed Tutsi on the streets. Rwanda sought to justify making war by claiming the need to eliminate perpetrators of the genocide who were operating in eastern Congo with the support of the Congolese government. Rwandan authorities continued to stress this supposed security threat from the other side of the border long after the numbers and resources of the former Rwandan army and militia had diminished and their members were widely scattered.

In 1997 and 1998, in the hiatus between the two Congo wars, soldiers and militia of the genocidal government, supported by thousands of new recruits, crossed from the Congo and led an insurrection in northwestern Rwanda. The RPF forces suppressed the rebellion at the cost of tens of thousands of lives, many of them civilians who happened to live in the area. A substantial number of the rebel combatants had not taken part in the genocide and seemed more focused on overturning the government than on hunting down Tutsi civilians, but others continued to harbor genocidal intentions and singled out Tutsi to be attacked and killed.

Events in Burundi, a virtual twin to Rwanda in demographic terms, first influenced and then were influenced by the Rwandan genocide. Burundi was already immersed in its own crisis with widespread ethnic slaughter in late 1993. These killings, as well as international indifference to them, spurred genocidal planning in Rwanda. After April 1994 Burundians viewed with horror the massacres of others of their own ethnic group in Rwanda, Tutsi identifying with victims of the genocide and Hutu identifying with those killed by RPF forces. Burundian Tutsi and Hutu feared and distrusted each other more because of the slaughter in Rwanda and each group vowed that its members would not be the next victims. Former Rwandan soldiers and militia at times joined Burundian Hutu rebel forces, bringing them military expertise and reinforcing their anti-Tutsi ideas. RPF soldiers on occasion came south to help the Burundian army prevent a victory by Hutu rebels.

Within Rwanda the RPF used the pretext of preventing a recurrence of genocide to suppress the political opposition, refusing to allow dissidents to organize new political parties and eliminating an existing party that could potentially have challenged the RPF in national elections. Authorities jailed dissidents and drove others into exile on charges of Òdivisionism,Ó equated to an incipient form of genocidal thinking even when opponents sought to construct parties that included Tutsi as well as Hutu. During 2003, under RPF leadership, Rwandans adopted a new constitution that enshrined a vague prohibition of ÒdivisionismÓ and made liberties of speech, press, and association subject to regulation – and possible limitation – by ordinary law. In presidential and legislative elections, the RPF came close to asserting that a vote for others was a vote for genocide – past or future. With such a campaign theme and with a combination of intimidation and fraud, the RPF re-affirmed its dominance of political life.

In the years just after the end of the genocide, many international leaders supported the RPF as if hoping thus to compensate for their failure to protect Tutsi during the genocide. Even when confronted with evidence of widespread and systematic killing of civilians by RPF soldiers in Rwanda and in the Congo, most hesitated to criticize these abuses. Not only did they see the RPF as the force that had ended the genocide but they also saw all opponents of the RPF as likely to be perpetrators of genocide, an assessment that was not accurate either in 1994 or later. So long as the parties were defined this way, international leaders acquiesced in – or even actively supported – the RPF activities in the Congo. Similarly international actors frequently tolerated RPF limits on civil and political freedom inside Rwanda, readily conceding the RPF argument that the post-genocidal context justified restrictions on the usual liberties.

As the ten years after the genocide drew to a close, the international community moderated its support of the current Rwandan government and exerted considerable pressure to obtain withdrawal of its troops from the Congo. Some international leaders began to question the tight RPF control within Rwanda; diplomats and election observers from the European Union and the United States noted abuses of human rights that marred the 2003 elections. Despite these signs of growing international concern, the RPF-led government appeared firmly seated for the near future. Whether it will be able to assure long-term stability and genuine reconciliation may depend on its ability to distinguish between legitimate dissent and the warning signs of another genocide.

Human Rights Watch reissues this book – substantially the same as the original printing – to ensure that a detailed history of the genocide remains available to readers. Since its first publication in English and French, the book has appeared in German and will shortly be published in Kinyarwanda, the language of Rwanda. The horrors recorded here must remain alive in our heads and hearts; only in that way can we hope to resist the next wave of evil.


"When I came out, there were no birds," said one survivor who had hidden throughout the genocide. "There was sunshine and the stench of death."

The sweetly sickening odor of decomposing bodies hung over many parts of Rwanda in July 1994: on Nyanza ridge, overlooking the capital, Kigali, where skulls and bones, torn clothing, and scraps of paper were scattered among the bushes; at Nyamata, where bodies lay twisted and heaped on benches and the floor of a church; at Nyarubuye in eastern Rwanda, where the cadaver of a little girl, otherwise intact, had been flattened by passing vehicles to the thinness of cardboard in front of the church steps; on the shores of idyllic Lake Kivu in western Rwanda, where pieces of human bodies had been thrown down the steep hillside; and at Nyakizu in southern Rwanda, where the sun bleached fragments of bone in the sand of the schoolyard and, on a nearby hill, a small red sweater held together the ribcage of a decapitated child.

In the thirteen weeks after April 6, 1994, at least half a million people perished in the Rwandan genocide, perhaps as many as three quarters of the Tutsi population. At the same time, thousands of Hutu were slain because they opposed the killing campaign and the forces directing it.

The killers struck with a speed and devastation that suggested an aberrant force of nature, "a people gone mad," said some observers. "Another cycle of tribal violence," said others. The nation of some seven million people encompassed three ethnic groups. The Twa, were so few as to play no political role, leaving only Hutu and Tutsi to face each other without intermediaries. The Hutu, vastly superior in number, remembered past years of oppressive Tutsi rule, and many of them not only resented but feared the minority. The government, run by Hutu, was at war with the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), rebels who were predominantly Tutsi. In addition, Rwanda was one of the poorest nations in the world and growing poorer, with too little land for its many people and falling prices for its products on the world market. Food production had diminished because of drought and the disruptions of war: it was estimated that 800,000 people would need food aid to survive in 1994.

But this genocide was not an uncontrollable outburst of rage by a people consumed by "ancient tribal hatreds." Nor was it the preordained result of the impersonal forces of poverty and over-population.

This genocide resulted from the deliberate choice of a modern elite to foster hatred and fear to keep itself in power. This small, privileged group first set the majority against the minority to counter a growing political opposition within Rwanda. Then, faced with RPF success on the battlefield and at the negotiatingtable, these few powerholders transformed the strategy of ethnic division into genocide. They believed that the extermination campaign would restore the solidarity of the Hutu under their leadership and help them win the war, or at least improve their chances of negotiating a favorable peace.They seized control of the state and used its machinery and itsauthority to carry out the slaughter.

Like the organizers, the killers who executed the genocide were not demons nor automatons responding to ineluctable forces. They were people who chose to do evil. Tens of thousands, swayed by fear, hatred, or hope of profit, made the choice quickly and easily. They were the first to kill, rape, rob and destroy. They attacked Tutsi frequently and until the very end, without doubt or remorse. Many made their victims suffer horribly and enjoyed doing so.

Hundreds of thousands of others chose to participate in the genocide reluctantly, some only under duress or in fear of their own lives. Unlike the zealots who never questioned their original choice, these people had to decide repeatedly whether or not to participate, each time weighing the kind of action planned, the identity of the proposed victim, the rewards of participating and the likely costs of not participating. Because attacks were incited or ordered by supposedly legitimate authorities, those with misgivings found it easier to commit crimes and to believe or pretend to believe they had done no wrong.

Policymakers in France, Belgium, and the United States and at the United Nations all knew of the preparations for massive slaughter and failed to take the steps needed to prevent it. Aware from the start that Tutsi were being targeted for elimination, the leading foreign actors refused to acknowledge the genocide. To have stopped the leaders and the zealots would have required military force; in the early stages, a relatively small force. Not only did international leaders reject this course, but they also declined for weeks to use their political and moral authority to challenge the legitimacy of the genocidal government. They refused to declare that a government guilty of exterminating its citizens would never receive international assistance. They did nothing to silence the radio that broadcast calls for slaughter. Such simple measures would have sapped the strength of the authorities bent on mass murder and encouraged Rwandan opposition to the extermination campaign.

When international leaders did finally voice disapproval, the genocidal authorities listened well enough to change their tactics although not their ultimate goal. Far from cause for satisfaction, this small success only underscores the tragedy: if timid protests produced this result in late April, what might have been the result in mid-April had all the world cried "Never again."

This study, summarized in the introduction, describes in detail how the killing campaign was executed, linking oral testimony with extensive writtendocumentation. It draws upon interviews with those who were marked for extinction but managed to survive, those who killed or directed killings, those who saved or sought to save others, and those who watched and tried not to see. It presents minutes of local meetings where operations against Tutsi were planned and correspondence in which administrators congratulated their subordinates for successfully destroying "the enemy." It analyzes the layers of language and the silences that made up the deceptive discourse of genocide, broadcast on the radio and delivered at public meetings. It places the genocide in the immediate political context, showing how local and national political rivalries among Hutu influenced the course of the campaign to eliminate Tutsi. It traces changes in the tactics and organization of the campaign as well as its collapse as the RPF defeated the genocidal government.

Drawing on many sources, including previously unpublished testimony and documents from diplomats and United Nations staff, the study shows how international actors failed to avert or stop the genocide. It ties the expansion of the killing campaign to early international inertia and it shows that international protests against the slaughter, when they finally came, were discussed even at local meetings on the distant hills of Rwanda. Thus the study establishes that the international community, so anxious to absent itself from the scene, was in fact present at the genocide.

The Strategy of Ethnic Division

President Juvenal Habyarimana, nearing the end of two decades in power, was losing popularity among Rwandans when the RPF attacked from Uganda on October 1, 1990. At first Habyarimana did not see the rebels as a serious threat, although they stated their intention to remove him as well as to make possible the return of the hundreds of thousands of Rwandan refugees who had lived in exile for a generation. The president and his close colleagues decided, however, to exaggerate the RPF threat as a way to pull dissident Hutu back to his side and they began portraying Tutsi inside Rwanda as RPF collaborators. For three and a half years, this elite worked to redefine the population of Rwanda into "Rwandans," meaning those who backed the president, and the "ibyitso" or "accomplices of the enemy," meaning the Tutsi minority and Hutu opposed to him.

In the campaign to create hatred and fear of the Tutsi, the Habyarimana circle played upon memories of past domination by the minority and on the legacy of the revolution that overthrew their rule and drove many into exile in 1959. Singling out most Tutsi was easy: the law required that all Rwandans be registered according to ethnic group. Residents of the countryside, where most Rwandans lived, generallyknew who was Tutsi even without such documentation. In addition, many Tutsi were recognizable from their physical appearance.

But shattering bonds between Hutu and Tutsi was not easy. For centuries they had shared a single language, a common history, the same ideas and cultural practices. They lived next to one another, attended the same schools and churches, worked in the same offices, and drank in the same bars. A considerable number of Rwandans were of mixed parentage, the offspring of Hutu-Tutsi marriages. In addition, to make ethnic identity the predominant issue, Habyarimana and his supporters had to erase – or at least reduce – distinctions within the ranks of the Hutu themselves, especially those between people of the northwest and of other regions, those between adherents of different political factions, and those between the rich and the poor.

From the start, those in power were prepared use physical attacks as well as verbal abuse to achieve their ends. They directed massacres of hundreds of Tutsi in mid-October 1990 and in five other episodes before the 1994 genocide. In some incidents, Habyarimana's supporters killed Hutu opponents – their principal political challengers – as well as Tutsi, their declared ideological target.

Habyarimana was obliged to end his party's monopoly of power in 1991 and rival parties sprouted quickly to contend for popular support. Several of them created youth wings ready to fight to defend partisan interests. By early 1992, Habyarimana had begun providing military training to the youth of his party, who were thus transformed into the militia known as the Interahamwe (Those Who Stand Together or Those Who Attack Together). Massacres of Tutsi and other crimes by the Interahamwe went unpunished, as did some attacks by other groups, thus fostering a sense that violence for political ends was "normal."

Preparations for Slaughter

Through attacks, virulent propaganda, and persistent political manoeuvering, Habyarimana and his group signficantly widened divisions between Hutu and Tutsi by the end of 1992. During 1993 a dramatic military advance by the RPF and a peace settlement favorable to them – which also stipulated that officials, including the president, could be prosecuted for past abuses – confronted Habyarimana and his supporters with the imminent loss of power. These same events heightened concerns among a broader group of Hutu, including some not previously identified with Habyarimana. Increasingly anxious about RPF ambitions, this growing group was attracted by the new radio Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) and by a movement called Hutu Power, which cut across party lines and embodied the ethnic solidarity that Habyarimana had championed for three years. In late October, Tutsi soldiers in neighboring Burundi seized and murdered the Hutupresident, freely and fairly elected only months before. In massacres touched off by the assassination, tens of thousands of Burundians died, both Hutu and Tutsi. The crime, energetically exploited by RTLM, confirmed the fears of many Rwandan Hutu that Tutsi would not share power and swelled the numbers supporting Hutu Power.

Meanwhile the Habyarimana circle was preparing the organization and logistics to attack the minority. During 1993, some loyalists from Habyarimana's party expanded the recruitment and training of the Interahamwe. But others, perhaps concerned that the militia were too tainted by partisan rivalries, proposed a "civilian self-defense force" which was to recruit young men through administrative rather than party channels. The recruits were to be trained by former soldiers or communal police who would direct them in attacking the "enemy" in their communities. In early 1993, Col. Théoneste Bagosora sketched out elements of the program in his appointment book, the intellectual Ferdinand Nahimana advocated such a force in a letter to friends and colleagues, and administrators began preparing lists of former soldiers who could command its ranks.

Soldiers and political leaders distributed firearms to militia and other supporters of Habyarimana in 1993 and early 1994, but Bagosora and others concluded that firearms were too costly to distribute to all participants in the "civilian self-defense" program. They advocated arming most of the young men with such weapons as machetes. Businessmen close to Habyarimana imported large numbers of machetes, enough to arm every third adult Hutu male.

Aware of these preparations, the RPF anticipated further conflict. They too recruited more supporters and troops and, in violation of the peace accords, increased the number of their soldiers and firearms in Kigali. They understood the risk that renewed combat would pose to Tutsi, particularly those who had come out publically in support of the RPF in the preceding months, and warned foreign observers to this effect.

The Attack

By late March 1994, Hutu Power leaders were determined to slaughter massive numbers of Tutsi and Hutu opposed to Habyarimana, both to rid themselves of these "accomplices" and to shatter the peace agreement. They had soldiers and militia ready to attack the targeted victims in the capital and in such outlying areas as Cyangugu in the southwest, Gisenyi in the northwest and Murambi in the northeast. But elsewhere they had not completed the arrangements. In the center of the country, they had successfully disseminated the doctrine of Hutu Power, but they were unsure how many ordinary people would transform that ideology intoaction. In other areas, particularly in the south, they had not won large numbers of supporters to the idea, far less organized them to implement it.

On April 6, the plane carrying President Habyarimana was shot down, a crime for which the responsibility has never been established. A small group of his close associates – who may or may not have been involved in killing him – decided to execute the planned extermination. The Presidential Guard and other troops commanded by Colonel Bagosora, backed by militia, murdered Hutu government officials and leaders of the political opposition, creating a vacuum in which Bagosora and his supporters could take control. Soldiers and militia also began systematically slaughtering Tutsi. Within hours, military officers and administrators far from the capital dispatched soldiers and militia to kill Tutsi and Hutu political leaders in their local areas. After months of warnings, rumors and prior attacks, the violence struck panic among Rwandans and foreigners alike. The rapidity of the first killings gave the impression of large numbers of assailants, but in fact their impact resulted more from ruthlessness and organization than from great numbers.

Recruiting for Genocide

The genocide was not a killing machine that rolled inexorably forward but rather a campaign to which participants were recruited over time by the use of threat and incentives. The early organizers included military and administrative officials as well as politicians, businessmen, and others with no official posts. In order to carry through the genocide, they had to capture the state, which meant not just installing persons of their choice at the head of the government, but securing the collaboration of other officials throughout the system.

Bagosora and his circle sought first to obtain the backing, or at least the acquiescence, of the majority of military commanders. They began negotiating for this support even as troops under their command slaughtered civilians in the streets. Bagosora's first proposal, to take power in his own right, was rejected by a number of influential officers as well as by the ranking representative of the United Nations in Rwanda. But his next move, to install a regime of extremists masquerading as a legitimate government, was accepted by the soldiers, the U.N. representative, and the international community. The day after Habyarimana's death, the RPF renewed combat with the government forces, a response to the continuing attacks by the Rwandan army on civilians and on RPF headquarters. With the resumption of the war and the ensuing pressure for solidarity, officers opposed to Bagosora found it increasingly difficult to challenge his actions.

As the new leaders were consolidating control over military commanders, they profited enormously from the first demonstration of international timidity. U.N. troops, in Rwanda under the terms of the peace accords, tried for a few hours tokeep the peace, then withdrew to their posts – as ordered by superiors in New York – leaving the local population at the mercy of assailants. Officers opposed to Bagosora realized that a continuing foreign presence was essential to restricting the killing campaign and appealed to representatives of France, Belgium and the U.S. not to desert Rwanda. But, suspecting the kind of horrors to come, the foreigners had already packed their bags. An experienced and well-equipped force of French, Belgian, and Italian troops rushed in to evacuate the foreigners, and then departed. U.S. Marines dispatched to the area stopped in neighboring Burundi once it was clear that U.S.citizens would be evacuated without their help. The first impression of international indifference to the fate of Rwandans was confirmed soon after, when the Belgians began arranging for the withdrawal of their troops from the U.N. peacekeeping force. Ten of these soldiers, a contingent different from those of the evacuation expedition, had been slain and, as the organizers of the violence had anticipated, the Belgian government did not want to risk any further casualities.

Against the backdrop of Rwandan military acquiescence and foreign flight, Bagosora and his circle moved to recruit administrators and political leaders for the killing campaign. They expected and received support from politicians, prefects and burgomasters associated with Habyarimana's party, but to expand the killing campaign more broadly they needed the collaboration also of administrators and local leaders from the other parties, those that were predominant in central and southern Rwanda. Adherents of these parties, stunned by the murder of their Hutu colleagues in the first days, were ready to oppose soldiers and militia whom they believed to be fighting to restore exclusive control to Habyarimana's party. The new authorities hurried to dispel these concerns in a meeting of prefects on April 11 and through radio appeals for Hutu unity broadcast by the minister of defense and influential politicians on April 12. They stressed that partisan interests must be put aside in the battle against the common enemy, the Tutsi.

By April 15, it was clear that the U.N. Security Council would not order the peacekeepers to try to stop the violence and might even withdraw them completely. By this date, the organizers of the genocide had also expanded their ranks considerably and were strong enough to remove opponents and impose compliance with the killing campaign. On April 16 and 17, they replaced the military chief of the staff and the prefects best known for opposing the killings. One prefect was later imprisoned and executed and the other was murdered with his family. Three burgomasters and a number of other officials who sought to stop the killings were also slain, either by mid-April or shortly after. The leaders of the genocide held meetings in the center and south of the country to push hesitant local administrators into collaboration. At the same time, they sent assailants from areas where slaughter was well under way into those central and southern communes wherepeople had refused to kill and they used the radio to ridicule and threaten administrators and local political leaders who had been preaching calm.

The Structure

By April 20, two weeks after the plane crash, the organizers of the genocide had substantial, although not yet complete, control of the highly centralized state. The administration continued to function remarkably well despite the disruptions in communication and transport caused by the war. Orders from the prime minister were handed down to the prefect, who passed them on to the burgomasters, who called local meetings throughout the communes where they read the instructions to the population. The same language echoed from north to south and from east to west, calling for "self-defense" against "accomplices." Slaughter was known as "work" and machetes and firearms were described as "tools." Reports on the situation at the local level and minutes of meetings held by people out on the hills were handed back up through the administrative channels.

By appropriating the well-established hierarchies of the military, administrative and political systems, leaders of the genocide were able to exterminate Tutsi with astonishing speed and thoroughness. Soldiers, National Police (gendarmes), former soldiers, and communal police played a larger part in the slaughter than is generally realized. In addition to leading the first killings in the capital and in other urban centers, soldiers and National Police directed all the major massacres throughout the country. Although usually few in number at sites of massive killing, their tactical knowledge and their use of the weapons of war, including grenades, machine guns, and even mortars, contributed significantly to the death tolls in these massacres. It was only after the military had launched attacks with devastating effect on masses of unarmed Tutsi that civilian assailants, armed with such weapons as machetes, hammers, and clubs, finished the slaughter. In addition, the military encouraged and, when faced with reluctance to act, compelled both ordinary citizens and local administrators to participate in attacks, even travelling the back roads and stopping at small marketplaces to deliver the message.

The administrators were charged with driving Tutsi from their homes and gathering them at places of slaughter, with assembling the masses of assailants, providing transportation and "tools" for the "work," arranging for the disposal of the corpses, and directing the division of looted property and confiscated land. They transformed administrative practices, benign in themselves, such as obligatory labor for the common good (umuganda) or the use of security patrols, into mechanisms for executing the genocide.

The political leaders provided the militia for attacks, dispatching them around the country as needed. They prodded reluctant administrators and military officers to greater activity, sometimes using party supporters to harass or threaten those who hesitated to participate. Political leaders also incited Hutu to kill in more direct language than that used by officials who often spoke in ambiguous and allusive terms.

Even as leaders of the genocide were exploiting existing hierarchies, they also created a fourth channel dedicated to implementing the "civilian self-defense" program. The system was formalized only late in May, but such key elements as the recruitment of participants by administrators and the reliance on former soldiers to command them were in use during the massacres of early April. With headquarters in Bagosora's own office, the "civilian self-defense" hierarchy was staffed largely by retired officers-cum-politicians, much like Bagosora himself.

Through these hierarchies, organizers carried out a killing campaign, a perversion of previous campaigns that called on citizens and officials alike to contribute extra efforts for some public good. The urgency and importance of the objective was deemed to justify departing from usual bureaucratic practice. Zeal for killing took on more significance than formal rank: subordinates could prevail over their superiors, in both civilian and military spheres, if they showed greater commitment to the genocide. This flexibility encouraged ambition and initiative among those willing to trade human lives for personal advantage. Actors could also bypass the usual limits set by law or administrative practice, with politicians or soldiers speaking for government officials, militia approving candidates for administrative position, and medical assistants calling in military strikes.

These practices, which promoted rapid and effective execution of the killing campaign, now complicate the task of assessing responsibility for crimes. All who seek accountability for the genocide must take care to ensure that officials of lesser rank but greater power not escape blame for crimes that are wrongly imputed to their superiors alone.

Strategies of Slaughter

In the first days of killing in Kigali, assailants sought out and murdered targeted individuals and also went systematically from house to house in certain neighborhoods, killing Tutsi and Hutu opposed to Habyarimana. Administrative officials, like the prefect of the city of Kigali, ordered local people to establish barriers to catch Tutsi trying to flee and to organize search patrols to discover those trying to hide.

By the middle of the first week of the genocide, organizers began implementing a different strategy: driving Tutsi out of their homes to governmentoffices, churches, schools or other public sites, where they would subsequently be massacred in large-scale operations.

Towards the end of April, authorities declared a campaign of "pacification," which meant not an end to killing, but greater control over killing. Sensitive to criticism from abroad – muted though it was – authorities ended most large-scale massacres. They also sought to rein in assailants who were abusing their license to kill, such as by slaying Hutu with whom they had disputes or who were allowing Tutsi to escape injury in return for money, sexual favors or other considerations. They ordered militia and other citizens to bring suspects to officials for investigation and then murder instead of simply killing them where they found them. Authorities used "pacification" also as a tactic to lure Tutsi out of hiding to be killed.

By mid-May, the authorities ordered the final phase, that of tracking down the last surviving Tutsi. They sought to exterminate both those who had hidden successfully and those who had been spared thus far – like women and children – or protected by their status in the community, like priests and medical workers. As the RPF advanced through the country, assailants also hurried to eliminate any survivors who might be able to testify about the slaughter.

Throughout the genocide, Tutsi women were often raped, tortured and mutilated before they were murdered.

Popular Participation

The density of the administrative and political hierarchies, characteristic of Rwanda for many years, gave genocidal leaders rapid and easy access to the population, but did not guarantee mass participation in the slaughter. As authorities played on popular fears and greed, some people picked up their machetes and came readily. Others came more slowly and some refused to come, even at the risk of their lives.

Both on the radio and through public meetings, authorities worked to make the long-decried threat of RPF infiltration concrete and immediate. Throughout the country they disseminated detailed false information, such as reports that Tutsi had hidden firearms in the bushes behind the Kibungo cathedral, or that they had prepared maps showing fields to be taken from Hutu in Butare, or that they had killed local administrative officials in Nyakizu. Authorities counted on such news to convince Hutu that their Tutsi neighbors were dangerous agents of the RPF who had to be eliminated. Community leaders and even clergy assured Hutu that they were justified in attacking Tutsi as a measure of "self-defense."

Authorities offered tangible incentives to participants. They delivered food, drink, and other intoxicants, parts of military uniforms and small payments in cashto hungry, jobless young men. They encouraged cultivators to pillage farm animals, crops, and such building materials as doors, windows and roofs. Even more important in this land-hungry society, they promised cultivators the fields left vacant by Tutsi victims. To entrepreneurs and members of the local elite, they granted houses, vehicles, control of a small business, or such rare goods as television sets or computers.

Many poor young men responded readily to the promise of rewards. Of the nearly 60 percent of Rwandans under the age of twenty, tens of thousands had little hope of obtaining the land needed to establish their own households or the jobs necessary to provide for a family. Such young men, including many displaced by the war and living in camps near the capital provided many of the early recruits to the Interahamwe, trained in the months before and in the days immediately after the genocide began. Refugees from Burundi, in flight from the Tutsi-dominated army of Burundi, had also received military training in their camps and readily attacked Rwandan Tutsi after April 6.

In some regions, particularly those where Habyarimana's supporters were strongest, authorities needed to do little more than give the signal for Hutu to begin attacking Tutsi. In other areas, such as central and southern Rwanda, where Tutsi were numerous and well integrated and where Habyarimana's party had little standing, many Hutu initially refused to attack Tutsi and joined with them in fighting off assailants. Only when military and civilian authorities resorted to public criticism and harassment, fines, destruction of property, injury, and threat of death did these Hutu give up their open opposition to the genocide.

In some places, authorities apparently deliberately drew hesitant Hutu into increasingly more violent behavior, first encouraging them to pillage, then to destroy homes, then to kill the occupants of the homes. Soldiers and police sometimes threatened to punish Hutu who wanted only to pillage and not to harm Tutsi. Authorities first incited attacks on the most obvious targets – men who had acknowledged or could be easily supposed to have ties with the RPF – and only later insisted on the slaughter of women, children, the elderly, and others generally regarded as apolitical.

Just as communities were readier to kill some Tutsi than others, so individual Hutu would agree to attack one person and not another or, in an extension of the same logic, would attack one person and save another. Hutu who protected Tutsi ordinarily helped those to whom they were linked by the ties of family, friendship, or obligation for past assistance, but sometimes they also saved the lives of strangers. Even such persons as Colonel Bagosora and leading figures of the interim government saved the lives of Tutsi close to them, testimony to the extent to which ties between Hutu and Tutsi survived even the most persistent efforts toeradicate them. In some cases, former officials now seek credit for saving the lives of a few favored Tutsi, as if having done so reduced their responsibility for directing or permitting the slaying of so many others.

The Masquerade of Legitimacy

Many Rwandans say that they killed because authorities told them to kill. Such statements reflect less a national predisposition to obey orders, as is sometimes said, than a recognition that the "moral authority" of the state swayed them to commit crimes that would otherwise have been unthinkable.

Itself the chief actor in a masquerade of legitimacy, the interim government gave its officials and citizens the cover of "legitimate" orders to hide from themselves and others the evil they were doing. Administrators broke the genocide down into a series of discrete tasks which they executed without consideration of the ultimate objective of the work. Cultivators turned out for the long-standing practice of communal labor although they knew that they were to cut down people as well as the brush in which they found them. Priests announced public meetings without consideration of the message to be delivered there. Businessmen contributed money to the "self-defense" fund established by the government as they had contributed to similar collections in the past, even though the money was to buy "refreshments" for the militia and fuel to transport them to their places of "work."

As part of the "pacification" effort in late April, authorities ordered churches, schools, hospitals, and shops to resume their functions, ignoring the absence of Tutsi who used to participate in these various activities. They presumed to create a veneer of "normalcy" in a world where untold numbers of people were violating the laws, religious teachings, and cultural norms that they had always lived by.

Survival Tactics

Many Tutsi and those Hutu associated with them fought to save their lives. We know of their heroic resistance, usually armed only with sticks and stones, at such places as the hills of Bisesero, the swamps of Bugesera, and the church at Cyahinda, but we have no way of knowing about the countless small encounters where targeted people struggled to defend themselves and their families in their homes, on dusty paths, and in the fields of sorghum.

Some tens of thousands fled to neighboring countries and others hid within Rwanda, in the ceilings of houses, in holes in the ground, in the forest, in the swamps. Some bought their lives once, others paid repeatedly for their safety over a period of weeks, either with money or with sexual services.

Many Tutsi who are alive survived because of the action of Hutu, whether a single act of courage from a stranger or the delivery of food and protection over many weeks by friends or family members.

The End of Hutu Power

When organizers of the genocide gained control of the state, they suppressed dissent but did not extinguish it. In May and June, when the interim government was weakened by military losses and by the first signs of international disapproval, Hutu in one community after another began refusing to undertake further searches or to participate in guarding barriers. As the majority of participants withdrew, they left execution of the genocide in the hands of smaller, more zealous groups of assailants, who continued to hunt and kill in hopes of profit or because they were committed to exterminating the last Tutsi.

With the campaign against Tutsi no longer a strong bond, Hutu of different areas and parties once more began to fight against each other. Some revived old battles. Others competed in new rivalries over power or over goods and property taken from Tutsi. Interahamwe and other young men who had been authorized to terrorize Tutsi began robbing, raping, and killing Hutu as the number of Tutsi declined.

Hutu used the discourse of the genocide in conflicts with other Hutu: they accused each other of being Tutsi, of having hidden Tutsi, or of supporting the RPF. Just as some charged enemies with too great lenience towards Tutsi at this time, so others would charge their opponents with violence against Tutsi once the genocide was ended.

The Rwandan Patriotic Front

In defeating the interim government and its army, the RPF ended the genocide. At the same time, its troops committed grave violations of international humanitarian law by attacking and killing unarmed civilians. Unlike the genocidal authorities who undertook a complex campaign involving all the machinery of the state and aiming to involve all Hutu citizens, the RPF ran a straightforward military campaign where civilians generally provided only information or support services.

The RPF permitted its soldiers to kill persons whom they took to be Interahamwe or other supposed participants in the genocide. They killed some in the course of their military advance, but they executed most in the days and weeks after combat had finished. They selected the victims from among civilians grouped in camps, sometimes relying on accusations by survivors, sometimes on their own interrogations. They executed some persons apparently because they were linkedwith parties opposed to the RPF or showed potential for becoming political leaders rather than because they were thought guilty of involvement in the genocide.

In a number of places, such as in the communes of Ntyazo, Mukingi and Runda, RPF soldiers massacred unarmed civilians, many of them women and children, who had assembled for a meeting on their orders. The people were told to come to receive food or to be given instructions or to gather before being transported to another site. The RPF soldiers also massacred several hundred people in the Byumba stadium in mid-April.

In a series of raids in Kigali in early April, RPF soldiers killed dozens of political and military leaders, many of them past government employees or persons close to Habyarimana's political party. They killed family members, including women and children, in a number of these cases.

The RPF was commonly acknowledged by military experts to be a highly disciplined force, with clear lines of command and adequate communication. Although it may have become less disciplined during the months of the genocide due to the incorporation of new recruits, RPF commanding officers like General Paul Kagame maintained the authority necessary to ensure compliance with their orders. The crimes committed by RPF soldiers were so systematic and widespread and took place over so long a period of time that commanding officers must have been aware of them. Even if they did not specifically order these practices, in most cases they did not halt them and punish those responsible.

In early November 1994, the RPF reported that it had arrested twenty-five soldiers for capital crimes, eight of them accused of killing civilians between June and August 1994 and by the end of the year military prosecutors had supposedly completed investigations in some twenty such cases. One major, one corporal and four soldiers indicted for these crimes were tried and convicted in 1997 and 1998. The major was sentenced to life in prison and the others to imprisonment for terms ranging from two to five years.

After some early but limited reports of killings by the RPF, the first substantial charges against RPF forces were made by Robert Gersony, a consultant to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. After interviewing hundreds of Rwandans inside and outside the country in July and August 1994, he concluded that the RPF had engaged in widespread and systematic slaughter of unarmed civilians. In September 1994, the U.N., in agreement with the U.S. and perhaps others, agreed to suppress the report but demanded that the RPF halt the killings. The number of killings declined markedly after September in the face of this international pressure.


Establishing a reliable toll of those killed in the genocide and its aftermath is important to counter denials, exaggerations, and lies. The necessary data have not been gathered but speculation about death tolls continues anyway, usually informed more by emotion than by fact. In July 1998, the Rwandan government announced plans for a census of genocide survivors.

Even the size of the Tutsi population in Rwanda on April 6, 1994 is debated. Demographer William Seltzer, who has studied the data, estimates the number as 657,000, a figure extrapolated from 1991 census data. Some critics assert that the number of Tutsi was underreported in that census and in the prior census of 1978 because the Habyarimana government wanted to minimize the importance of Tutsi in the population. Although frequently said, no documentation has been presented to support this allegation. The 1991 data show Tutsi as forming 8.4 percent of the total population. This figure seems to accord with extrapolations from the generally accepted census data of 1952, taking into account the population loss due to death and flight during the 1960s and the birth rate, which was lower for Tutsi than for Hutu.

Whether or not census data were purposely altered to reduce the number of Tutsi, the figures underestimated the Tutsi population because an undetermined number of Tutsi arranged to register as Hutu in order to avoid discrimination and harassment. Although many Rwandans know of such cases, there is at present no basis for estimating how many persons they represented.

Deliberate misrepresentation of ethnicity complicates assessing how many of the victims were actually Tutsi. At a reburial ceremony for a family slain during the genocide, the only two survivors, both priests, talked separately with our researchers. One maintained that his family was Tutsi but claimed to be Hutu while the other declared that the family was really Hutu, but was said to be Tutsi by neighbors who coveted their wealth. In addition to such cases of questionable identity, there are Hutu who were killed because they looked like Tutsi.

A U.N. expert evaluating population loss in Rwanda estimated that 800,000 Rwandans had died between April and July 1994, but this figure included those who had died from causes other than the genocide. Seltzer estimated the number of persons killed in the genocide as at least one half million. Professor Gérard Prunier estimated that 130,000 Tutsi were alive in July, but his figures did not include those in Zaire or Tanzania, perhaps another 20,000. If this number of 150,000 survivors is subtracted from an estimated population of 657,000 Tutsi, this leaves 507,000 Tutsi killed, close to Seltzer's minimum assessment, and representing the annihilation of about 77 percent of the population registered as Tutsi. Using other data from Butare prefecture, our researchers computed an estimated loss of 75 percent of the Tutsi population in that prefecture. Based onthese preliminary data, we would conclude that at least half a million persons were killed in the genocide, a loss that represented about three quarters of the Tutsi population of Rwanda.

Estimates of persons killed at any one site vary widely, often by a factor of ten or more, perhaps because most have been made by untrained observers. At the parish of Rukara, for example, estimates ranged from 500 to 5,000. In 1995, a Rwandan government commission set the death toll at the Murambi Technical School in Gikongoro at some 20,000, a figure which some have since raised to 70,000, although the bodies exhumed there at the time of the 1996 commemoration of the genocide numbered in the range of 5,000. As many as 50,000 have been said to have perished at Bisesero, but a recent list of persons killed at that site totaled just over 5100 names. Similarly, some claim that 35,000 were slain in the Nyamata church, which appears to have a capacity of some 3,000.

Establishing the number of persons killed in the genocide will not help much in assessing the number of people involved in their execution. The circumstances of the crimes varied enormously: there were professional soldiers armed with machine guns or grenade-launchers firing into crowds, each of whom may have killed dozens, if not hundreds, of people, and there were groups of assailants armed with clubs or sharpened pieces of bamboo who jointly killed a single person. There can be no simple formula to assess how many killers murdered one victim or how many victims were slain by one killer.

The first estimate of numbers slain by the RPF was made by Gersony in his 1994 report. He concluded that the RPF killed between 25,000 and 45,000 persons in the months of April to August 1994. Seth Sendashonga, former minister of the interior and early member of the RPF, estimated that the RPF killed some 60,000 people between April 1994 and August 1995, with more than half killed in the first four months of that period. It seems likely, although not certain, that these estimates include persons killed in the course of combat, both civilians and militia.

Although our research indicates considerable killing of civilians by RPF forces during this period, including massacres and executions, we have too little data to confirm or revise these estimates. In any case, they appear more likely to be accurate than claims that the RPF killed hundreds of thousands of people from April to August 1994.

International Responsibility

The Rwandans who organized and executed the genocide must bear full responsibility for it. But genocide anywhere implicates everyone. To the extent that governments and peoples elsewhere failed to prevent and halt this killing campaign, they all share in the shame of the crime. In addition, the U.N. staff aswell as the three foreign governments principally involved in Rwanda bear added responsibility: the U.N. staff for having failed to provide adequate information and guidance to members of the Security Council; Belgium, for having withdrawn its troops precipitately and for having championed total withdrawal of the U.N. force; the U.S. for having put saving money ahead of saving lives and for slowing the sending of a relief force; and France, for having continued its support of a government engaged in genocide. In contrast to the inaction of the major actors, some non-permanent members of the Security Council with no traditional ties with Rwanda undertook to push for a U.N. force to protect Tutsi from extermination. But all members of the Security Council brought discredit on the U.N. by permitting the representative of a genocidal government to continue sitting in the Security Council, a council supposedly committed to peace.

Tolerating Discrimination and Violence

From 1990 on, influential donors of international aid pressed Habyarimana for political and economic reforms. But, generally satisfied with the stability of his government, they overlooked the systematic discrimination against Tutsi which violated the very principles that they were urging him to respect. They discussed but did not insist on eliminating identity cards that showed ethnic affiliation, cards that served as death warrants for many Tutsi in 1994.

When the Rwandan government began massacring Tutsi in 1990, crimes that were solidly documented by local and international human rights groups and by a special rapporteur for the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, some donors protested. At one point, the Belgian government went so far as to recall its ambassador briefly. But none openly challenged Rwandan explanations that the killings were spontaneous and uncontrollable and none used its influence to see that the guilty were brought to justice.

In addition, the lack of international response to the 1993 massacres in Burundi permitted Rwandan extremists to expect that they too could slaughter people in large numbers without consequence.

Economies and Peacekeeping

In September 1993, U.N. staff and member states wanted a successful peacekeeping operation to offset the failure in Somalia. They believed that Rwanda promised such success because both parties to the conflict had requested the U.N. presence and because the agreement between them, hammered out in a year of negotiation, seemed to have resolved all major issues.

Faced with escalating costs for peacekeeping operations, the U.N. staff and members wanted not just success, but success at low cost. Demands for economy,loudly voiced by the U.S. and others, led to the establishment of a force only one third the size of that originally recommended and with a mandate that was also scaled down from that specified by the peace accords. Peacekeeping staff had proposed a small human rights division, which might have tracked growing hostility against Tutsi, but no money was available for this service and the idea was dropped.

Belgium, too, wanted to save money. Although it felt concerned enough about Rwanda to contribute troops to the force, it felt too poor to contribute the full battalion of 800 requested and agreed to send only half that number. Troops from other countries that were less well trained and less well armed filled the remaining places, producing a force that was weaker than it would have been with a full Belgian batallion.

As preparations for further conflict grew in February 1994, the Belgians were sufficiently worried by the deteriorating situation to ask for a stronger mandate, but they were rebuffed by the U.S. and the United Kingdom, which refused to support any measure that might add to the cost of the operation.

The concern for economy prevailed even after massive slaughter had taken place. When a second peacekeeping operation was being mounted in May and June, U.N. member states were slow to contribute equipment needed for the troops. The U.S. government was rightly ridiculed for requiring seven weeks to negotiate the lease for armored personnel carriers, but other members did not do much better. The U.K., for example, provided only fifty trucks.

Warnings, Information and the U.N. Staff

A January 11, 1994 telegram from General Roméo Dallaire, commander of the U.N. peacekeeping force, to his superiors was only one, if now the most famous, warning of massive slaughter being prepared in Rwanda. From November 1993 to April 1994, there were dozens of other signals, including an early December letter to Dallaire from high-ranking military officers warning of planned massacres; a press release by a bishop declaring that guns were being distributed to civilians; reports by intelligence agents of secret meetings to coordinate attacks on Tutsi, opponents of Hutu Power and U.N. peacekeepers; and public incitations to murder in the press and on the radio. Foreign observers did not track every indicator, but representatives of Belgium, France, and the U.S. were well-informed about most of them. In January, an analyst of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency knew enough to predict that as many as half a million persons might die in case of renewed conflict and, in February, Belgian authorities already feared a genocide. France, the power most closely linked to Habyarimana, presumably knew at least as much as the other two.

In the early months of 1994, Dallaire repeatedly requested a stronger mandate, more troops and more materiel. The secretariat staff, perhaps anxious to avoid displeasing such major powers as the U.S., failed to convey to the council the gravity of warnings of crisis and the urgency of Dallaire's requests. The paucity of information meant little to the U.S. and France, which were well-informed in any case, but it led other council members with no sources of information in Rwanda to misjudge the gravity of the crisis. Instead of strengthening the mandate and sending reinforcements, the Security Council made only small changes in the rate of troop deployment, measures too limited to affect the development of the situation.

When the violence began, the secretary-general's special representative, Roger Booh-Booh minimized both the extent and the organized nature of the slayings. Meanwhile Dallaire was fairly shouting the need for immediate and decisive action. Given the two points of view, the staff generally presented the more reassuring assessment to council members.

By late April, representatives of the Czech Republic, Spain, New Zealand and Argentina sought information beyond that provided by the secretariat and became convinced that the slaughter was a genocide that must be stopped. They pushed the Security Council to support a new peacekeeping operation with a stronger mandate to protect civilians. Had these non-permanent members been fully informed earlier – such as on January 11 – they might have found their voices in time to have called for firm measures to avert the violence.

Obfuscation and Misunderstanding

From the first hours after the killings began, U.S., Belgian, and French policymakers knew that Tutsi were being slain because they were Tutsi. Dallaire delivered that same information in a telegram to U.N. headquarters on April 8. Early accounts by journalists on the spot also depicted systematic, widespread killings on an ethnic basis. The simultaneous selective slaughter of Hutu opposed to Hutu Power complicated the situation but did not change the genocidal nature of attacks on Tutsi and, in any case, killings of Hutu diminished markedly after the first days. Given the pattern of killings, given previous massacres of Tutsi, given the propaganda demanding their extermination, given the known political positions of the persons heading the interim government, informed observers must have seen that they were facing a genocide.

They knew, but they did not say. The U.S. may have been the only government to caution its officials in writing to avoid the word "genocide," but diplomats and politicians of other countries as well as staff of the U.N. also shunned the term.Some may have done so as part of their effort at neutrality, but others surely avoided the word because of the moral and legal imperatives attached to it.

Instead of denouncing the evil and explaining to the public what had to be done to end it, national and international leaders stressed the "confusing" nature of the situation, the "chaos" and the "anarchy." After a first resolution that spoke fairly clearly about the conflict, the Security Council issued statements for several weeks that left both the nature of the violence and the identity of its perpetrators unclear. Secretary-General Bhoutros Bhoutros-Ghali spoke of the genocide as if it were a natural disaster and depicted Rwandans as a people "fallen into calamitous circumstances."

Some policymakers could not get byeond the old cliches, like one official of the U.S. National Security Council who described the genocide as "tribal killings," an explanation echoed by President Bill Clinton in June 1998 when he talked of "tribal resentments" as the source of troubles in Rwanda. In a similar vein, an adviser to French President François Mitterrand suggested that brutal slaughter was a usual practice among Africans and could not be easily eradicated. Other diplomats, more up to date, promoted the idea of a "failed state," ignoring all indications that the Rwandan state was all too successful in doing what its leaders intended. They seemed unable to dissociate Rwanda from Somalia, although the two cases had few points of comparison beyond their common location on the African continent. Most journalists simply exploited the horror and made no effort to go beyond the easy explanations. A leading columnist for the New York Times even managed on April 15, 1994 to put the new and the old cliches in the same sentence, referring to a "failed state" and to a "centuries-old history of tribal warfare."

Genocide and War

From the start, the genocide was intertwined with the war and the war complicated efforts to halt the extermination campaign. The organizers used the slaughter of Tutsi to draw the RPF into renewed combat. Later, in the face of RPF advances, they demanded a cease-fire as a prerequisite for ending the genocide. The RPF resumed the war in part to stop the massacres and insisted on an end to the genocide as a condition for a cease-fire. An early initiative by the RPF to halt the genocide failed at least in part because combat had resumed. RPF representatives proposed a joint operation against the killers with Rwandan army troops not involved in the slaughter and with U.N. peacekeepers, but even Rwandan soldiers previously opposed to Habyarimana would not switch sides during a war and U.N. troops could not move because there was no longer a peace to keep. At about this time, France and Belgium, and perhaps the United States,briefly discussed using troops of the evacuation force to halt the killings, but they dropped the idea. The RPF, suspicious of French intentions, warned that it would attack soldiers who stayed longer than was necessary to evacuate foreigners and Rwandan government soldiers, who had already proved that they would kill Belgian troops, were presumed ready to kill more. Whether these risks provided the real reason or merely a pretext for their rapid departure, the French and Belgian troops boarded their planes and flew away. According to Dallaire, the evacuation force left him and the peacekeepers "on the tarmac, with the bullets flying and the bodies piling up" around them.

Foreign policymakers treated the genocide as a tragic byproduct of the war rather than as an evil to be attacked directly. Accustomed to dealing with wars, not with genocides, diplomats addressed the familiar part of the problem in the usual way, by promoting a dialogue between the belligerents and seeking a cease-fire. To increase the chance of success, they sought to maintain a posture of neutrality between the parties, which meant not condemning the genocide. This was true for the staff of the U.N. as well. Dallaire was instructed to concentrate on getting a cease-fire even though he believed that objective was unattainable and clearly secondary to ending the killings. But diplomatic hopes of halting the genocide by ending the war could not produce results so long as the organizers of the slaughter saw the genocide as a way of winning the war.

Some policymakers, particularly in France and in Belgium, were wedded to the notion that an ethnic majority was necessessarily the same as a democratic majority. They could not bring themselves to condemn the genocide because they feared increasing the likelihood of an RPF victory and the subsequent establishment of a government dominated by the minority.

Military Action and Inaction

Of approximately 7,000 Rwandan army forces in the vicinity of the capital on the day that the slaughter was launched, some 1,500 to 2,000 elite troops – the Presidential Guard plus soldiers of the paracommando and reconnaissance units – backed by some 2,000 militia carried out most of the killings of civilians. When the RPF renewed hostilities with the Rwandan army late that day, their 1,000 or so soldiers drew some of the Rwandan troops away from attacks on civilians, but not enough to halt the slaughter. Three days later, when the RPF proposed assembling a force with Rwandan army soldiers opposed to the attacks and U.N. peacekeepers, they believed 900 soldiers would suffice to end the killing of civilians. The commander of the Belgian contingent of the peacekeepers concluded that the U.N. troops together with the evacuation troops present from April 9 to April 15 would have been strong enough to halt the violence. Dallaire too agreedthat a joint force could have stopped the killers and he was ready to lead the peacekeeping soldiers themselves into action, if he received additional troops and materiel.

The number of troops needed to restore order grew as participants from more areas were drawn into the killing campaign, but, according to Dallaire and other military experts, 5,000 experienced soldiers could have ended the genocide even in the later weeks.

Because the operation of the genocide was highly centralized, stopping the killing in Kigali would have quickly quelled violence elsewhere in the country. Any serious challenge from foreign troops would have signaled that the interim government was illegitimate in the eyes of the international community and unlikely to receive the support it would need to survive, far less prosper. This would have discouraged Rwandans from joining the killing campaign and might even have stimulated some opponents of the genocide to come together to oppose it.

But instead of using the peacekeeping troops to stop the genocide, the U.N. sought primarily to protect its soldiers from harm. Dallaire was ordered to make avoiding risk to soldiers the priority, not saving the lives of Rwandans. To do so, he regrouped his troops, leaving exposed the Rwandans who had sought shelter in certain outposts under U.N. protection. In the most dramatic case – for which responsibility may belong to commanding officers in Belgium as much as to Dallaire – nearly one hundred Belgian peacekeepers abandoned some two thousand unarmed civilians, leaving them defenseless against attacks by militia and military. As the Belgians went out one gate, the assailants came in the other. More than a thousand Rwandans died there or in flight, trying to reach another U.N. post.

The next day and for several days after that, the Security Council debated the complete withdrawal of the peacekeeping operation, a decision which would have abandoned some 30,000 unarmed civilians then in U.N. posts, just as the others had been deserted the day before. The Belgians promoted this idea aggressively outside the council while the U.S. led the forces in its favor at the council table. A member of the secretariat even suggested that protection of civilians might not be an appropriate activity for a peacekeeping operation. But Nigeria, other council members, and finally the secretary-general insisted that the lives of "innocent civilians of Rwanda" must be taken into account. They delayed the decision long enough for U.S. policymakers and others to reconsider their position.

On April 21, the Security Council withdrew most of the U.N. troops and left only a few hundred peacekeepers to protect civilians already directly under the U.N. flag. Eight days later, after refugees began pouring out of Rwanda in numbers massive enough to threaten stability in the entire region, the secretary-general andSecurity Council acknowledged that the war and the genocide could be addressed separately and that they should try to halt the killings.

When the U.N. began discussing sending a new force with a stronger mandate to protect Tutsi civilians, the RPF categorically opposed the move, fearing that such a force might intervene in the war and rob them of a victory that they now were confident of achieving. In an April 29 press release, they declared that a new military force would serve no purpose because "the genocide is almost completed" and most Tutsi were already dead or had fled. At the time some 100,000 Tutsi were alive and awaiting rescue. The RPF certainly knew of the 60,000 in Kigali, Kabgayi and Cyangugu and of untold thousands of others clustered at Bisesero or in Bugesera and scattered throughout Butare, where large scale killing had begun only nine days before. RPF opposition to a new U.N. force complicated and slowed the effort to mount a rescue operation for Tutsi civilians. RPF troops had proved their effectiveness and peacekeeping staff and member states preferred not to risk direct combat with them. Whether the RPF would in fact have fired on a U.N.force seems unlikely: it would later make similar threats against the French but in the end reached an accomodation with them.

Discussion about the size, mandate, and strategy for a new peacekeeping force continued until May 17, in part because of U.S. rigidity in applying its new standards for approval of peacekeeping operations, in part because of hesitations sparked by RPF opposition to any intervention. Manoeuvering by nations supplying troops and those supplying equipment consumed another two months, so that the second peacekeeping force landed only after the RPF had defeated the genocidal government. The slowness and ineptness of national and international bureaucracies in mounting the operation was not unusual, nor was the attempt by participating nations to get the most or give the least possible. What was extraordinary was that such behavior continued to be acceptable in the context of genocide, by then openly acknowledged by national and international leaders.

In early April some French authorities considered using the soldiers of their evacuation force to back the Rwandan army against the RPF but decided not to do so. In mid-June they undertook Operation Turquoise purportedly to save lives but also to preserve "territory and legitimacy" for the interim government. French soldiers went to rescue Tutsi in southwestern Rwanda, to the general acclaim of press and public. Others who went to the northwest, ready to impede the RPF advance and to protect the interim government, were hailed by RTLM but drew little foreign notice. Some French soldiers were slow to act to save Tutsi, as at Bisesero, apparently because they accepted the official Rwandan explanation that the Tutsi were RPF infiltrators. In the humanitarian zone which they established, French troops took some measures against the militia but they permitted genocidalofficials to continue exercising their functions. Even after conceding a RPF victory, the French took no action against the genocidal authorities, permitting – and apparently in some cases assisting – them to flee the country.

Some 2,500 well-equipped elite French forces saved 15,000 to 17,000 lives. The barely 500 U.N. peacekeepers, poorly equipped and minimally supplied, protected about twice that number during the course of the genocide.

Tolerating Genocide

During the first weeks, when firm opposition to the genocide would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, international leaders refused even simple actions which would have required no military force and no expense. Complicit in the refusal to speak the word "genocide," they failed to denounce the evil, either jointly – which would have been most effective – or even singly, in outraged voices. Condemning evil, warning of its consequences, and naming the authorities apparently responsible for it would have made clear to Rwandans that these leaders were branded outlaws by the world community. Representatives of various governments and branches of the U.N. were in touch with Rwandan authorities and may have criticized the genocide, but they did so discreetly. Anthony Lake, national security adviser to the president, did issue a single appeal to Rwandans leading the genocide, calling on them by name to stop the killings. This innovative step, excellent in itself, was not followed by the others needed to give it real force.

In 1994, as for the preceding several years, Rwanda depended heavily on foreign financial support. Donor nations and the World Bank had withheld aid or threatened to do so to pressure the Rwandan government at several critical moments, including when it balked at signing the peace accords. All Rwandans in positions of responsibility understood the importance of foreign financial support: even burgomasters and communal councils were responsible for raising funds for local development projects by direct appeals to foreign governments. Any public condemnation of the genocide by the combined donors and the World Bank, particularly if accompanied by an explicit warning that they would never fund a genocidal government, would have shown Rwandans that the interim government was unlikely to succeed and made them less likely to implement its orders.

Radio RTLM, which had incited to genocide before April 6, communicated the orders for implementing the killings after that date. It instructed people to erect barriers and carry out searches; it named persons to be targeted and pointed out areas which should be attacked. Even the more restrained national radio, Radio Rwanda, broadcast directives important to the execution of the genocide. So important was this means of communication that officials admonished citizens to keep listening to the radio for instructions from the interim government. Broadcastsfrom these stations could have been interrupted without military action on the ground. The U.S., and perhaps other nations, considered jamming the radio broadcasts, but in the end rejected the measure.

After more than two weeks of massacres, most governments refused to admit Rwandan representatives sent to try to justify the genocide. Egypt and France, however, did receive them. The French action had great importance – because France was the strongest past supporter of the Rwandan government, because the delegation was received at the highest levels, and because one of the Rwandans was the effective head of the most virulently anti-Tutsi party in the country and clearly identified with the genocide. Two weeks later, when a Rwandan army officer came to Paris to request aid, a high-ranking official told him that France had just sent some communications equipment to Rwanda and that further aid could be forthcoming if Rwanda managed to end bad publicity about the slaughter.

Members of the Security Council gave more importance to maintaining diplomatic procedures than to condemning perpetrators of genocide. Rather than demand that the Rwandan representative resign from the council, they continued collaborating with him, thus treating his government as an honorable member of the world community. They did not insist that he absent himself from discussions about Rwanda or even that he observe the usual custom of abstaining from such discussions. They thus afforded him the chance to know and communicate to his government all proposals for U.N. action in Rwanda.

The Security Council also received the delegation meant to repair the Rwandan image abroad and heard it out with the customary courtesy. Faced with representatives just arrived from the capital of a genocidal government, most members of the council failed to denounce the slaughter clearly and forcefully. On an occasion of great symbolic importance, they once more put decorum before the obligation to speak as the conscience of the international community.

Although many genocidal killings were done with machetes, clubs, or other such weapons, military and militia used firearms to begin major massacres, to execute some persons, and to threaten opponents of the genocide into compliance. Rwandan soldiers also needed ammunition for the war against the RPF. Imposing an embargo on arms to Rwanda would have been another effective, cost-free way of indicating international condemnation of the interim government, but this measure, first raised in the Security Council at the end of April, was implemented only on May 17.

During the genocide, the frequently ignored nonpermanent members of the Security Council in the end showed the strongest committment to action. Nigeria made an effort in the first week to have the U.N. force strengthened and reminded others to think not just about the foreigners, relatively little at risk, but also aboutthe Rwandans who were targeted by the violence. Later, the Czech Republic, Spain, Argentina, and New Zealand demanded that a second and stronger force be sent to Rwanda. As the Czech representative declared at one point, "Rwanda is not a priority for the Czech government, but as a human being I cannot sit here and do nothing."

Rwandans Listened

When foreign governments, the pope, and the secretary-general began to find their voices, Rwandans listened. The major business and financial leaders feared loss of international funds and high-ranking military officers feared interruption of the supply of arms and ammunition. Leading intellectuals debated strategies to counter international criticism and diplomats were sent on mission to persuade the world of a series of lies: that the killings were less serious than depicted abroad, that they were a spontaneous outburst of rage by a grief-stricken people, that they were justified by the need of "self-defense," and that – in any case – they had been halted.

After France insisted that Rwanda avoid further international criticism, Radio RTLM immediately broadcast the news that the French were ready with further aid, but on condition that there be "no more cadavers visible on the roads" and that people "no longer kill...while others stand around and laugh." After the U.S. communicated its disapproval, Rwandan authorities cared enough to send orders down to the hills that killings should be brought under control and removed out of sight. At a communal council meeting in remote Bwakira commune in the western prefecture of Kibuye, the burgomaster warned local leaders that satellites passing over head could track continued violence and that such displays would make re-establishment of good relations with the U.S. impossible.

International censure, timid and tardy though it was, prompted Rwandan authorities to restrict and hide killings. If instead of delaying and temporising, international leaders had immediately and unambiguously called the genocide by its awful name, they would have shattered the masquerade of legitimacy created by the interim government and forced Rwandans to confront the evil they were doing. Once Rwandans were faced with the consequences for themselves as individuals and for their nation of being declared international outlaws, they would have made choices in a different context. Perhaps those completely committed to exterminating Tutsi would have continued that course. But they had been few at the start and they would have found it more difficult to recruit others – or to retain their loyalty – once it was clear that the interim government could not succeed in the international arena.

For international condemnation to achieve maximum effect would have required complete and public support by all major international actors in Rwanda. These policymakers sadly lacked the breadth of vision to see that genocide in Rwanda was detrimental to the interests of their own nations and the world community as well as to the people of Rwanda. They placed lesser diverse interests of their governments before the need to avert or end a genocide and so violated the pledge of "Never again" made nearly fifty years before.

The Future

Even as the international community resolves not to repeat the culpable passivity of 1994, it risks yet another kind of inertia: that of not acting until confronted by a catastrophe similar in kind and scale to that of the genocide. Circumstances have changed. Although some of the insurgents currently attacking the Rwandan government may intend to continue exterminating Tutsi, they lack the means to execute campaigns of the extraordinary scale and speed of the 1994 genocide. Rather they carry out limited but ongoing slaughter that deadens public concern simply by its very repetitiveness. Meanwhile the Rwandan government, eschewing any genocidal ideology, has nonetheless engaged in massive slaughter of civilians whom it counts as supporters of the enemy, both in Rwanda and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It is increasingly difficult to assess the nature and extent of violence and to identify leaders responsible for it. Faced with possible punishment for massacring large numbers of civilians, government officials have restricted access to troubled regions, interfered with efforts to gather testimony, destroyed evidence, and misrepresented events. Their opponents, the insurgent leaders, often remain in the shadows, with their programs and even their names unknown. Although their alleged crimes are generally more widely publicized, it is difficult to find the information needed to assess the truth of the charges against them.

International leaders, chasing the ever-moving goal of stability, ignore crimes against humanity and tolerate obstruction of efforts to reveal the full horror of ongoing abuses in the region. By failing to demand accountability for current crimes, they undermine the credibility of justice being meted out for the genocide and by tolerating impunity for present slaughter, they help perpetuate insecurity. As long as they decline to take a principled, public and effective stand against the killings of civilians, they offer neither model nor encouragement to forces – whether in government or in the insurgency – who themselves might oppose such violence. By accepting the "normality" of slaughter for political reasons, they may be contributing to the conditions that will produce the very repetition of genocide they have vowed to prevent.

The Research Project

Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) each documented human rights abuses in Rwanda before, during and since the genocide. The two organizations joined with the International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development and the Interafrican Union of Human and Peoples' Rights to sponsor an international commission that reported in 1993 on massacres of Tutsi and other human rights violations by the Rwandan government and on abuses by the RPF. In addition, the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch documented the arms trade and military preparations of both the Rwandan government and the RPF in 1993 and later arms deliveries to former Rwandan army soldiers and militia in camps in Zaire.

When the April 1994 slaughter was launched, Human Rights Watch and FIDH fought together with other human rights and humanitarian organizations to oblige policymakers, the press and the public to recognize the genocidal nature of the killings and to honor moral and legal obligations to intervene to halt the genocide.

Since 1994 staff and lawyers associated with both organizations have initiated and helped Rwandans initiate legal actions in the U.S. and in Belgium against persons accused of genocide. They have served as expert witnesses and supplied documentary evidence to prosecutors in legal proceedings related to the genocide in the U.S., Canada, Belgium and Switzerland and at the International Tribunal. They have provided testimony and documentation also to the Belgian Senate, the French National Assembly and the U.S. Congress in their inquiries into the genocide.

In early 1995, the two organizations began documenting the genocide, attempting to analyze the killing campaign from the level of the local security committee to the that of the U.N. Security Council. Researchers carried out hundreds of interviews and located, organized, and translated administrative records from communes and prefectures. They also amassed extensive materials from judicial cases and from various diplomatic sources.

The study presents both an overview of the genocide throughout the country and a closer examination of its course in southern Rwanda, where people opposed the killing campaign longer than elsewhere in the country and where the role of the authorities in directing the genocide is particularly clear.

The researchers comprised an international team of historians, political scientists, and lawyers with extensive experience in the region. All acknowledge with deep respect and appreciation the contributions of hundreds of Rwandans to this work, most of whom are not named for their own protection.

Alison Des Forges directed the research for this project, assisted by Eric Gillet. Des Forges wrote this study with the collaboration of Gillet for the chapter onjustice and of Timothy Longman and Michele Wagner for the chapters on Nyakizu. In addition to these persons, the research team included Lynn Welchman, Kirsti Lattu, Trish Hiddleston, Catherine Choquet, and Christine Deslaurier. Deslaurier and Anne Boley prepared the maps. Janet Fleischman supplied critical advice, logistical assistance and encouragement and Jemera Rone helped establish the field project in Butare. Georgette Uwase, Alphonse Nkunzimana, Medard Ndawumungu, Daniel Kanyandekwe, and Aimable Twagirimana provided skilled assistance with translation from Kinyarwanda into French and English.

Michael McClintock and Peter Takirambudde edited the English version of the report and Eric Gillet, Catherine Choquet, Valerie Pons-Mello and Emmanuelle Robineau-Duverger edited the French version. Mariam Abou-Zahab translated the report from English to French. Jean-Pierre Getti provided legal advice on the French version. Juliet Wilson, Roger Des Forges, and Sybil Liebhafsky assisted with the production of the English version of the report. Kim Mazyk, Marcus Watson and Maria-Theresia Schütte helped with classifying documents. Gilles Peress graciously contributed his photograph for the cover.

The research team gratefully acknowledges the assistance and cooperation of officials from the Rwandan Ministry of Justice and from the prefectural and communal administrations in Butare, Gikongoro, Gitarama and Kibuye.

The team thanks Alter-Ciné, Jean-Pierre Chrétien, Alain Destexhte, André Guichaoua, Lindsey Hilsum, Chris McGreal, Catharine Newbury, David Newbury, Gasana Ndoba, Gérard Prunier, Filip Reyntjens, William Seltzer, Astri Suhrke, and Claudine Vidal for assistance with documentation and in interpreting evidence.

The research team gratefully acknowledges the funding which made this study possible. Novib, Oxfam, and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation supported the work of Human Rights Watch in this project and FIDH was funded by the Comité Catholique Contre la Faim et pour le développement; Développement et paix; Oxfam; Trocaire; Swiss Cooperation and Danida.

The public interest demands that crimes as grave as those committed in Rwanda be known and that those responsible for them be identified. We understand the limitations of even the most careful investigative techniques and recognize that despite our best efforts this work may contain errors. We stress that this work does not and is not meant to establish "judicial truth" as to the guilt or innocence of any person, which is the responsibility of legally established national and international tribunals. Indeed, we publish the results of our research in part to encourage public support for the efforts of judicial authorities responsible for finding and judging those guilty of genocide.

All who have invested their energy and resources in this study hope that it will contribute to a deeper analysis of events and to a more honest and complete delineation of responsibility both inside and outside Rwanda.

Language, Spelling and Names

Kinyarwanda is generally pronounced as written, with the accent on the second to last syllable of the word. The singular or plural of nouns is indicated by the prefix: an accomplice is icyitso, two or more accomplices are ibyitso. Most Kinyarwanda terms in this study are written with the prefix, but in conformity with general practice, the nouns Tutsi, Hutu and Twa are used without the prefix and in the same form in the singular and the plural.

Kinyarwanda has been written only since the beginning of the century. Although there is an official orthography, it is not always followed. In citations, Kinyarwanda terms are reproduced here as they were found in the original sources. The term for burgomaster, for example, may be found as burugumestri or burugumesteri.

Most Rwandans have names particular to themselves and do not share a common family name. When two people have the same name, this is usually a coincidence rather than an indication that they are related.


Rwandans take history seriously. Hutu who killed Tutsi did so for many reasons, but beneath the individual motivations lay a common fear rooted in firmly held but mistaken ideas of the Rwandan past. Organizers of the genocide, who had themselves grown up with these distortions of history, skillfully exploited misconceptions about who the Tutsi were, where they had come from, and what they had done in the past. From these elements, they fueled the fear and hatred that made genocide imaginable. Abroad, the policy-makers who decided what to do – or not do – about the genocide and the journalists who reported on it often worked from ideas that were wrong and out-dated. To understand how some Rwandans could carry out a genocide and how the rest of the world could turn away from it, we must begin with history.

The Meaning of "Hutu," "Tutsi," and "Twa"

Forerunners of the people who are now known as Hutu and Tutsi settled the region over a period of two thousand years. Originally organized in small groups based on lineage or on loyalty to an outstanding leader, they joined in building the complex state of Rwanda. They developed a single and highly sophisticated language, Kinyarwanda, crafted a common set of religious and philosophical beliefs, and created a culture which valued song, dance, poetry, and rhetoric. They celebrated the same heroes: even during the genocide, the killers and their intended victims sang of some of the same leaders from the Rwandan past.1

In early times, as now, most people in the region were cultivators who also raised small stock and occasionally a few cattle. A far smaller number of people scorned cultivation and depended on large herds of cattle for their livelihood. Cultivators and pastoralists lived interspersed in most areas, although the cool, wet highlands of the north had few pastoralists and the drier, hotter east had more. With fertile soil and regular rainfall, the region was productive and population grew to a point where Rwanda was in 1994 the most densely populated nation on the African continent.

When Rwanda emerged as a major state in the eighteenth century, its rulers measured their power in the number of their subjects and counted their wealth in the number of their cattle. The two were usually related. Giving or temporarily granting cattle was a way of winning supporters; a large number of supporters helped to win cattle, both in conflicts with other members of the elite and inadventures abroad. But not all cattle-owners held state positions. The pastoralists known as Bagogwe, clustered in the northwest, and those called Bahima, located in the northeast, sought to avoid state power rather than to share in it. Conversely, not all members of the elite were born rich in cattle, although those lacking such wealth ordinarily acquired it along with power. Cultivators skilled in making war and able to mobilize large groups of followers rose to importance through the military system, particularly under the late nineteenth century ruler Rwabugiri, who brought Rwanda to the height of its power. In its drive to expand, Rwanda attacked neighboring peoples regardless of whether they were pastoralists or cultivators and regardless of whether they were organized in lineages or in states.2

Rwandan institutions were shaped by both pastoralists and cultivators. Although the power of the ruler derived from control over the military and over cattle, his authority was buttressed also by rituals firmly rooted in agricultural practices.3 By the end of the nineteenth century, the ruler governed the central regions closely through multiple hierarchies of competing officials who administered men, cattle, pasturage, and agricultural land. He exercised a looser kind of suzerainty over other areas, particularly on the periphery, which were dominated by powerful lineage groups, some of them pastoralists, some cultivators. In addition, he tolerated the existence of several small states within the boundaries of Rwanda, usually because their rulers were thought to control rainfall, crop pests, or some other aspect of agricultural productivity important for Rwanda as a whole. The late President Habyarimana and his circle counted themselves as the proud contemporary representatives of Bushiru, the largest such state within Rwanda at the beginning of the colonial era.

As the Rwandan state grew in strength and sophistication, the governing elite became more clearly defined and its members, like powerful people in most societies, began to think of themselves as superior to ordinary people. The word "Tutsi," which apparently first described the status of an individual – a person rich in cattle – became the term that referred to the elite group as a whole and the word "Hutu" – meaning originally a subordinate or follower of a more powerful person – came to refer to the mass of the ordinary people. The identification of Tutsi pastoralists as power-holders and of Hutu cultivators as subjects wasbecoming general when Europeans first arrived in Rwanda at the turn of the century, but it was not yet completely fixed throughout the country. Rulers of small states embedded in the larger nation, important lineage heads and some power-holders within the central state hierarchy exercised authority even though they were people who would today be called "Hutu."

Most people married within the occupational group in which they had been raised. This practice created a shared gene pool within each group, which meant that over generations pastoralists came to look more like other pastoralists – tall, thin and narrow-featured – and cultivators like other cultivators – shorter, stronger, and with broader features. Within each group there were also sub-groups, the result of some distant common ancestry or of more recent patterns of marriage. Thus among pastoralists, some whose ancestors had arrived centuries ago were distinctly shorter, plumper, and redder-skinned than the taller and blacker-skinned descendants of nineteenth-century immigrants. Cultivators, who were relatively sedentary and chose mates from areas close to home, often exhibited traits characteristic of their places of origin: those from the south, for example, were generally shorter and slighter than those from the north central region.

Although it was not usual, Hutu and Tutsi sometimes intermarried. The practice declined in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as the gap widened between Tutsi elite and Hutu commoners, but rose again after Tutsi lost power in the 1959 revolution. With the increase in mixed marriages in recent decades, it has become more difficult to know a person's group affiliation simply by looking at him or her. Some people look both "Hutu" and "Tutsi" at the same time. In addition, some people who exhibit the traits characteristic of one group might in fact belong to the other because children of mixed marriages took the category of their fathers, but might actually look like their mothers.4 During the genocide some persons who were legally Hutu were killed as Tutsi because they looked Tutsi. According to one witness, Hutu relatives of Col. Tharcisse Renzaho, the prefect of the city of Kigali, were killed at a barrier after having been mistaken for Tutsi.5

The Twa, a people clearly differentiated from Hutu and Tutsi, formed the smallest component of the Rwandan population, approximately 1 percent of the total before the genocide. Originally forest dwellers who lived by hunting and gathering, Twa had in recent decades moved closer to Hutu and Tutsi, working aspotters, laborers, or servants. Physically distinguishable by such features as their smaller size, Twa also used to speak a distinctive form of Kinyarwanda. While the boundary between Hutu and Tutsi was flexible and permeable before the colonial era, that separating the Twa from both groups was far more rigid. Hutu and Tutsi shunned marriage with Twa and used to refuse even to share food or drink with them. During the genocide, some Twa were killed and others became killers. Because Twa are so few in number and because data concerning them are so limited, this study does not examine their role.

Colonial Changes in the Political System

The Germans, who established a colonial administration at the turn of the century, and the Belgians who replaced them after the First World War, ended the occasional open warfare that had taken place within Rwanda and between Rwanda and its neighbors. Both Germans and Belgians sought to rule Rwanda with the least cost and the most profit. Making use of the impressive indigenous state was the obvious way to do so, but the colonialists found its complexities troublesome. The multiple hierarchies which had allowed the ruler to maximize his control by playing off rival officials now permitted both ruler and his subordinates to evade control by the colonialists. The dense administration within central Rwanda – with the least important representatives of the ruler sometimes governing only a few hundred people – required a relatively high proportion of local goods and labor for its support. The colonialists preferred to have these resources at their own disposal, to cover their expenses and to pay the costs of building an infrastructure to link Rwanda to the world economy. At the same time, the Belgians saw the autonomous enclaves, where central control was light, as anomalies potentially disruptive of good order.

In the 1920s, the Belgians began to alter the Rwandan state in the name of administative efficiency. Always professing an intention to keep the essential elements of the system intact, they eliminated the competing hierarchies and regrouped the units of administration into "chiefdoms" and "sub-chiefdoms" of uniform size.They used force to install state officials in the autonomous enclaves, destroying the power of the heads of lineages and of local small states. They fixed and made uniform the goods and services that local officials could demand, thus – they thought – reducing the burdens on the population.

Rwandan officials were not helpless pawns but rather real players in the game of administrative reform. Politically astute, they understood how to evade the intent of European orders even while apparently conforming to them. Chiefs and sub-chiefs seemed to accept the reduction in numbers of officials, but in fact kept on using unofficial representatives out on the hills who continued living off the localpeople. As a result, the density of administration and consequent customary burdens on the people diminished little, if at all, in the central part of the country, while in the north and southwest, they actually increased because of the installation of resident officials. At the same time, the chiefs and sub-chiefs – and later other administrative agents – enforced a series of wholly new demands imposed by the colonialists as part of their effort to integrate Rwanda into the world economy. They often found ways to turn these new requirements, such as building roads or planting cash crops, to their personal profit.

The elite profited not just from direct European backing but also from the indirect and unintended consequences of the administrative changes. Under the old system of multiple officials, power-holders ordinarily limited demands on subordinates, knowing that those who felt unreasonably exploited could seek protection from rivals or could move elsewhere, even clearing new land in the forest, if need be, to escape exactions. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Belgians made it far harder for the weak to escape repressive officials; not only did they eliminate the multiple hierarchies but they also restricted changes in residence from one region to another and they prohibited new settlement in the forests. The one avenue of escape still possible was migration abroad and thousands took that route beginning in the 1920s. But those who preferred not to leave Rwanda had little choice but to submit to increased exploitation of officials now freed from the constraints that once limited their demands.

European administrators generally overlooked the abuses of those officials who got the taxes collected, the roads built, and the coffee planted. They established European-style courts which they expected would protect the ordinary people, but they usually did not. The judges saw themselves as defenders of the elite, not the masses.

At the same time that the Belgians enabled the officials to demand more from the people, they decreed that Tutsi alone should be officials. They systematically removed Hutu6 from positions of power and they excluded them from higher education, which was meant mostly as preparation for careers in the administration. Thus they imposed a Tutsi monopoly of public life not just for the 1920s and 1930s, but for the next generation as well. The only Hutu to escape relegation to the laboring masses were those few permitted to study in religious seminaries.

The Transformation of "Hutu" and "Tutsi"

By assuring a Tutsi monopoly of power, the Belgians set the stage for future conflict in Rwanda. Such was not their intent. They were not implementing a"divide and rule" strategy so much as they were just putting into effect the racist convictions common to most early twentieth century Europeans. They believed Tutsi, Hutu, and Twa were three distinct, long-existent and internally coherent blocks of people, the local representatives of three major population groups, the Ethiopid, Bantu and Pygmoid. Unclear whether these were races, tribes, or language groups, the Europeans were nonetheless certain that the Tutsi were superior to the Hutu and the Hutu superior to the Twa – just as they knew themselves to be superior to all three. Because Europeans thought that the Tutsi looked more like themselves than did other Rwandans, they found it reasonable to suppose them closer to Europeans in the evolutionary hierarchy and hence closer to them in ability. Believing the Tutsi to be more capable, they found it logical for the Tutsi to rule Hutu and Twa just as it was reasonable for Europeans to rule Africans. Unaware of the "Hutu" contribution to building Rwanda, the Europeans saw only that the ruler of this impressive state and many of his immediate entourage were Tutsi, which led them to assume that the complex institutions had been created exclusively by Tutsi.

Not surprisingly, Tutsi welcomed these ideas about their superiority, which coincided with their own beliefs. In the early years of colonial rule, Rwandan poets and historians, particularly those from the milieu of the court, resisted providing Europeans with information about the Rwandan past. But as they became aware of European favoritism for the Tutsi in the late 1920s and early 1930s, they saw the advantage in providing information that would reinforce this predisposition. They supplied data to the European clergy and academics who produced the first written histories of Rwanda. The collaboration resulted in a sophisticated and convincing but inaccurate history that simultaneously served Tutsi interests and validated European assumptions. According to these accounts, the Twa hunters and gatherers were the first and indigenous residents of the area. The somewhat more advanced Hutu cultivators then arrived to clear the forest and displace the Twa. Next, the capable, if ruthless, Tutsi descended from the north and used their superior political and military abilities to conquer the far more numerous but less intelligent Hutu. This mythical history drew on and made concrete the "Hamitic hypothesis," the then-fashionable theory that a superior, "Caucasoid" race from northeastern Africa was responsible for all signs of true civilization in "Black" Africa. This distorted version of the past told more about the intellectual atmosphere of Europe in the 1920s than about the early history of Rwanda. Packaged in Europe, it was returned to Rwanda where it was disseminated through the schools and seminaries. So great was Rwandan respect for European education that this faulty history was accepted by the Hutu, who stood to suffer from it, as well as by the Tutsi who helped to create it and were bound to profit from it. People of both groups learned to thinkof the Tutsi as the winners and the Hutu as the losers in every great contest in Rwandan history.

The polished product of early Rwando-European collaboration stood unchallenged until the 1960s when a new generation of scholars, foreign and Rwandan, began questioning some of its basic assumptions.7 They persuaded other scholars to accept a new version of Rwandan history that demonstrated a more balanced participation of Hutu and Tutsi in creating the state, but they had less success in disseminating their ideas outside university circles. Even in the 1990s, many Rwandans and foreigners continued to accept the erroneous history formulated in the 1920s and 1930s.

Once the Belgians had decided to limit administrative posts and higher education to the Tutsi, they were faced with the challenge of deciding exactly who was Tutsi. Physical characteristics identified some, but not for all. Because group affiliation was supposedly inherited, genealogy provided the best guide to a person's status, but tracing genealogies was time-consuming and could also be inaccurate, given that individuals could change category as their fortunes rose or fell. The Belgians decided that the most efficient procedure was simply to register everyone, noting their group affiliation in writing, once and for all. All Rwandans born subsequently would also be registered as Tutsi, Hutu, or Twa at the time of their birth. The system was put into effect in the 1930s, with each Rwandan asked to declare his group identity.8 Some 15 percent of the population declared themselves Tutsi, approximately 84 percent said they were Hutu, and the remaining 1 percent said they were Twa. This information was entered into records at the local government office and indicated on identity cards which adult Rwandans were then obliged to carry. The establishment of written registration did not completely end changes in group affiliation. In this early period Hutu who discovered the advantages of being Tutsi sometimes managed to become Tutsi even after the records had been established, just as others more recently have found waysto erase their Tutsi origins. But with official population registration, changing groups became more difficult.

The very recording of the ethnic groups in written form enhanced their importance and changed their character. No longer flexible and amorphous, the categories became so rigid and permanent that some contemporary Europeans began referring to them as "castes." The ruling elite, most influenced by European ideas and the immediate beneficiaries of sharper demarcation from other Rwandans, increasingly stressed their separateness and their presumed superiority. Meanwhile Hutu, officially excluded from power, began to experience the solidarity of the oppressed.

The Hutu Revolution

Belgium continued its support for the Tutsi until the 1950s. Then, faced with the end of colonial rule and with pressure from the United Nations, which supervised the administration of Rwanda under the trusteeship system, the colonial administrators began to increase possibilities for Hutu to participate in public life. They named several Hutu to responsible positions in the administration, they began to admit more Hutu into secondary schools, and they conducted limited elections for advisory government councils. Hardly revolutionary, the changes were enough to frighten the Tutsi, yet not enough to satisfy the Hutu. With independence approaching, conservative Tutsi hoped to oust the Belgians before majority rule was installed. Radical Hutu, on the contrary, hoped to gain control of the political system before the colonialists withdrew.

The ruler who had been in power since 1931, Mutara Rudahigwa, had served to reassure all parties and to keep the situation calm. But he died unexpectedly in 19599 and was succeeded by a young half-brother, Kigeri Ndahindurwa, who appeared to be heavily influenced by the most conservative Tutsi group. Moderate parties that sought to organize across the Hutu-Tutsi divide lost ground as the Parmehutu (Parti du mouvement de l'émancipation des Bahutu), identified exclusively with Hutu, and the Union Nationale Rwandaise (UNAR), a royalist Tutsi party, gained in strength. In November 1959, several Tutsi assaulted a Hutu sub-chief. As the news of the incident spread, Hutu groups attacked Tutsi officials and the Tutsi responded with more violence. Several hundred people were killed before the Belgian administration restored order. The Belgians then replaced abouthalf the Tutsi local authorities by Hutu. With the help of many of these local administrators, the Parmehutu easily won the first elections in 1960 and 1961. In September 196l, some 80 percent of Rwandans voted to end the monarchy, thus confirming the proclamation of a republic the previous January 1961 by the Parmehutu-led government. These events became known as the "Hutu Revolution."

In later years, and particularly during the genocide, Hutu politicians waved the flag of the revolution, knowing they would get an overwhelming response from their audiences. In fact the revolution was neither so heroic nor so dramatic as it was later presented. In their struggle for power, the Hutu were "helped" considerably by the Belgians, both politically and militarily. At the start, Hutu attacked power-holders and those related to them, leaving their ordinary Tutsi neighbors in peace. They usually sought to drive Tutsi away rather than to destroy them. The assailants cleared the north most completely, the area where Tutsi officials had been installed three decades before by the colonial administration. Many displaced Tutsi resettled elsewhere in Rwanda, particularly in the sparsely populated region known as Bugesera, but another 10,000 took the road to exile.

In 1961 some of these refugees began to attack Rwanda, an effort they would repeat ten times over the next six years. After these incursions, Hutu officials led reprisal attacks on Tutsi still within the country, accusing them of having aided the invaders – the same kind of charges often repeated at the time of the genocide.10 Only one of these attacks, that of late December 1963, posed a real threat to the new republic. But Hutu leaders used them all to bolster the sense of Hutu solidarity, to solidify their own control and to eradicate the last vestiges of respect for Tutsi authority. From these attacks they crafted the myth of the Hutu revolution as a long and courageous struggle against ruthless forces of repression. For them, the battle had been legitimate as well as brave: the Hutu, as the "great majority," the "rubanda nyamwinshi," had the right to rule over the minority. In their eyes, the ethnic majority was necessarily the same as the democratic majority.

At this time, Hutu politicians also established the link between "patriotism" and profit. In attacking the supposed enemies of the nation and the revolution, the Hutu stood to gain, both in the short term from goods pillaged and in the long term from lands appropriated from Tutsi who were driven away. Given the political and material gains from anti-Tutsi violence, officials and others had strong incentives to widen the circle of people targeted from the narrow group of former power-holders to all Tutsi. By 1967 when both the incursions and the attacks on Tutsi within Rwanda ended, Tutsi were at risk of attack for the simple fact of being Tutsi.During these years, some 20,000 Tutsi were killed and more than 300,000 were forced to flee abroad.11

The new republican government continued labeling all Rwandans as Hutu, Tutsi, or Twa, but the identity cards which had once served to guarantee privilege to Tutsi now served as a means to discriminate against them, both in employment and in education. Just as the new leaders maintained population registration, so they perpetuated the distorted concepts that had underlain the practice. Hutu used the ideas once prized by the Tutsi – ideas about Tutsi distinctiveness, foreign origins, and complete control over the Hutu – to justify the violence of the revolution and the discriminatory measures of the years after.

Following the revolution, the percentage of Tutsi in the Rwandan population declined sharply, partly because many had been massacred or fled, partly because some found ways to redefine themselves as Hutu. Said to represent 17.5 percent of the population in 1952, Tutsi were counted as only 8.4 percent of the total in 1991.12

Habyarimana in Control

Over a period of several years, the Parmehutu leaders, who were based in the south, eliminated Hutu rivals as well as the once powerful Tutsi and created what was in effect a single party state. By the end of the first decade of the republic, however, they were increasingly challenged by Hutu from the north who saw that all rhetoric about Hutu solidarity notwithstanding, the southerners were monopolizing the benefits of power. In the face of this growing split between Hutu of the north and Hutu of the south, "Public Safety Committees" and other groups began a campaign of intimidation and assaults on Tutsi in early 1973. Some attributed the attacks to southerners who hoped to minimize differences with northerners by reminding them of the common enemy; others laid them to northerners who hoped to create sufficient disorder to legitimate a coup d'état by the army, an institution dominated by northerners. Regardless of which group had initiated the campaign, the tactic was clear: seek to resolve differences among Hutu at the expense of the Tutsi.

In July 1973, General Juvénal Habyarimana, the most senior officer in the army, took power, promising to restore order and national unity. He established the second republic in what was at the time a bloodless coup, although some fifty ofthe most prominent leaders of the first republic subsequently were executed or died in prison.

The Single-Party State

Two years after the coup, in 1975, Habyarimana made Rwanda officially a single-party state under the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (Mouvement Révolutionnaire National pour le Développement, MRND).13 All Rwandans of whatever age were automatically members of the party. Over the years, Habyarimana constructed a cohesive monolith, with himself as president of the republic and president of the party and, at each level below him, the relevant government official simultaneously heading the corresponding level of the party.

At this time, Rwanda was divided into ten prefectures,14 each of which included sub-prefectures, administrative units without much political importance. Below them were the communes, the essential building blocks of the administration. Numbering 145 in 1991, the communes ranged in population from less than 30,000 for the smallest to over 100,000 for the largest, with most counting between 40,000 and 50,000 residents. The head of the commune, the burgomaster, of course ranked below the prefect or sub-prefect, but he exercised more immediate and pervasive power over the ordinary people than did his superiors. In a style that harked back to the pre-colonial and the colonial era, the burgomaster held court one or more times a week, receiving the ordinary people who brought him their grievances or who came to give thanks for help received. He determined the use of land that belonged to the commune or was temporarily under its control. He mediated conflicts over property, settled family disputes, found places in secondary school, dispensed political advice, and even judged a substantial number of cases that in principle should have been taken to court. In accord with the communal council, he hired and fired the employees of the commune, including the communal policemen who were at his command, and he also intervened in personnel decisions of local schools, health centers, and development projects, although sometimes the presence of expatriates on project staffs limited his influence in this domain. The ultimate authority at the local level, he was clearly and directly the president's manout on the hills. Although nominally responsible to the minister of the interior, the burgomasters were named by Habyarimana and removed by him. All were known to him and some were very close to him personally.

The communes were divided into sectors, each of which had a population of some 5,000 people. The sectors were represented by elected councilors who together formed the communal council that supposedly advised the burgomaster, but more often simply implemented his decisions. The sector was in turn composed of cells, each of which grouped together approximately 1,000 people. The cell had an elected committee of five persons, headed by a responsable (cell head), who were charged more with executing orders from above than with representing the views from below. That small part of the population employed in urban salaried jobs participated in the party at their place of work, where the work unit was also a party cell.

This intensive administration had two objectives: control and mobilization. The control was implemented not just by the high ratio of officials to ordinary people but also by regulations governing population registration and movement. The Habyarimana government continued the use of identity cards and also required people moving from one location to another to register with the local authorities. Each commune submitted monthly, quarterly, and yearly reports of births, deaths, and movement into and out of the commune. The burgomaster kept agents of the secret service informed of any suspicious persons seen in his district. In his first months in office, Habyarimana ordered important government employees with master's degrees or higher to take military training, apparently with the intention of providing one more channel for instilling habits of obedience to orders.

The mobilization of the population aimed at first towards building the economic infrastructure and improving conditions for agriculture. Exploiting the practice of unpaid, communal labor imposed by the colonial administration, the MRND required the population to do umuganda, work for the public good, such as repairing roads, digging anti-erosion ditches, or clearing the brush. Umuganda was supervised by the nyumbakumi, a neighborhood leader in charge of a group of ten households, who had the power to fine those who failed to appear for the communal work sessions.

Once the MRND was firmly established, mobilization took on an added aspect: glorifying the party and its head. In addition to the work days, people were obliged to participate in weekly sessions of animation, propaganda meetings leavened with poetry, music, and dance created to honor Habyarimana and the MRND. Propaganda teams of singers and dancers vied for honors in regular competitions, often dressed in fine costumes bought by contributions from the party faithful.Rwandans often proclaimed their loyalty to Habyarimana, wore his image on portrait pins, and posted his picture in their houses or places of business.

The Army, the Church and the Akazu

As head of the army, Habyarimana had the allegiance of some 7,000 troops of the Rwandan Armed Forces (Forces Armées Rwandaises, FAR), about 1,200 of whom were part of the National Police (Gendarmerie). He was loyally supported especially by the elite units, made up largely of men from his home region: the Presidential Guard, estimated at between 1,000 and 1,300 troops, the paracommandos and the reconnaissance troops. He occasionally had to counter plots by other officers, however, including that attributed to Col. Alexis Kanyarengwe in 1980. Kanyarengwe, who had served as minister of interior, was forced to flee the country.

Habyarimana also enjoyed active support from the heads of the parastatal corporations that controlled public services like gas, water and electricity, or bus transport, and those that oversaw the production and marketing of cash crops. He knew he could count on the intellectual elite, including professors at the national university and heads of hospitals. To keep their posts, they would avoid criticizing him even if some declined to join in glorifying him. He could call on the heads of private enterprises to contribute materially and politically to his cause, knowing they needed his approval for the state concessions that made their businesses profitable.

He benefited enormously from the support of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, which counted 62 percent of Rwandans among its adherents. The church, initially a pillar of support for the Tutsi elite, switched sides even before the colonial administration did and helped make the Hutu revolution. Although the majority of clergy, religious brothers, and sisters were Tutsi – some 70 percent according to one knowledgeable estimate – seven of the nine bishops in place at the start of the genocide were Hutu.15 The archbishop of Kigali, Mgr. Vincent Nsengiyumva, was an ardent supporter of the president, known for wearing Habyarimana's portrait pin on his cassock while saying mass. He served as a member of the central committee of the MRND for many years and resigned only when church authorities insisted that he end his openly political role in 1985.

The various Protestant churches, representing 18 percent of the population, had no unified position towards Habyarimana, but the Anglican hierarchy and theBaptist church generally supported him. The president of the Presbyterian Church was a member of the prefectural committee of the MRND in Kibuye.

Both Catholic and Protestant clergy cooperated with officials by passing on state announcements from the pulpit and by serving on councils, particularly those that reviewed development projects at the prefectural or communal level.

One more link strengthened the connections from top to bottom of this highly structured system: the network of personal relations. Members of the elite who left home for positions in the capital or at the university maintained close ties to their communes of origin, where they had parents or other relatives. They visited home often and were the messengers of choice if some special order needed to be transmitted from the top to local officials. This practice existed long before Habyarimana took power – in December 1963, for example, ministers had gone home to organize the killings of Tutsi out on the hills, but he exploited it to maximum advantage, as did those who took over from him during the genocide.

The akazu, or "little house," was a special circle within the larger network of personal connections that worked to support Habyarimana. It was composed mostly of the people of Habyarimana's home region, with Madame Habyarimana and her relatives playing a major role. Some exercised authority openly, such as Protais Zigiranyirazo, who was once prefect of Ruhengeri, or Seraphin Rwabukumba, who headed a powerful enterprise, La Centrale, while others operated behind the scenes, such as Colonel Elie Sagatwa, who was Habyarimana's private secretary. When necessary, this group drew on military officers, like Col. Théoneste Bagosora, Major Leonard Nkundiye, and Captain Pascal Simbikangwa, to ensure their continued hold on power.16 Christophe Mfizi, once close to Habyarimana and head of the national information service, denounced the activities of this group, which he called the "Zero Network." In an August 15, 1992 public letter to the president resigning his membership in the MRND, he declared that the intimates surrounding Habyarimana had taken control of the state and were milking it for private benefit.17

Prosperity, Short-Lived and Superficial

At the head of what was taken to be an honest and energetic administration, Habyarimana attracted substantial foreign assistance in the 1970s and 1980s. Withsuch help, the government constructed an impressive infrastructure, particularly of roads and telephone and electric service. For the first decade, the economy did better than others in the same region, with a net increase in gross national product in relation to population, an achievement all the more remarkable given that Rwanda also had one of the highest rates of population growth on the continent.18 Donor nations applauded these accomplishments, regarding Rwanda as one of the few promising "models" in Africa. The expatriate experts who implemented the assistance projects in the country took great satisfaction not just in the results obtained but also in the personal ties that they developed with Rwandan counterparts.19

Some Rwandans were indeed getting rich: those who worked for the state directly, those employed by its offshoots, parastatal enterprises, and those who ran economic development projects controlled by state officials. State employees and the military also used access to preferential treatment to build profitable private businesses. But the prosperity was both fragile and superficial. The mass of the people stayed poor and faced the prospect of getting only poorer. More than 90 percent lived from cultivation and while the population grew, the amount of land did not. The land available to ordinary cultivators actually diminished in some regions as local officials appropriated fields for development projects and as members of the urban elite bought out the poor, establishing themselves as absentee landlords. According to a government study done in 1991, the richest 16 percent of landowners held 43 percent of the land, while the poorest households tried to eke out a living on holdings that ranged from one quarter to three-quarters of a hectare, or less than an acre of land.20 In the most densely populated regions, some young people could not marry because they could not find land and, according to custom, a man without land could not take a wife. This situation was so critical in Ngoma commune, Butare prefecture, that large numbers of young people were cohabiting and having children without marrying, a practice that broke dramatically with paststandards of behavior. Of the births registered in Ngoma, Butare prefecture, in January 1994, nearly 50 percent of the children had been born out of wedlock.21

At the end of the 1980s, coffee, which accounted for 75 percent of Rwanda's foreign exchange, dropped sharply in price on the international market. Suddenly Rwanda found itself among the many debtor nations required to accept strict fiscal measures imposed by the World Bank and the donor nations. The urban elite saw its comfort threatened, but the rural poor suffered even more. A drought beginning in 1989 reduced harvests in the south and left substantial numbers of people short of food. Habyarimana at first refused to acknowledge the gravity of the food shortage, an attitude that exemplified the readiness of the urban elite to ignore suffering out on the hills.22

The imbalance in wealth and power was a question not just of the usual urban-rural disparities but also of increasingly evident discrimination against Tutsi and against Hutu from areas other than the "blessed region," that is, the northwest. Habyarimana had established a system of quotas, supposedly to assure equitable distribution of resources and opportunities to all Rwandans. In fact, officials used the system to restrict the access of Tutsi to employment and higher education, and increasingly to discriminate against Hutu from regions other than the north. By the mid-1980s, Habyarimana's home prefecture of Gisenyi, one of ten in the country at the time, had provided the office holders for one-third of the most important jobs in government as well as virtually all the leaders of the army and security service. Gisenyi and the adjacent prefecture of Ruhengeri enjoyed a similarly disproportionate share of national resources, whether measured in terms of funds for development or places available for higher education.23

Threats to the MRND Monolith

Opposition within Rwanda

Confronted by the dramatic economic decline and the evidence of increasing corruption and favoritism on the part of Habyarimana and his inner circle, political leaders, intellectuals, and journalists began demanding reforms. These critics within Rwanda echoed demands for greater democracy being heard elsewhere in Africa and in other parts of the world. They were in turn backed by donor nations that now saw political reform as necessary for economic progress. In July 1990, Habyarimana agreed to discuss change and announced that a national commission would be formed to examine the question. Two months later, a group of thirty-three intellectuals and leaders of the awakening civil society declared that in their view the issue needed no further examination: Rwanda should return to a multi-party system. In that same month of September, four journalists were brought to trial for having published reports of government corruption. They were led by Abbé André Sibomana, editor of Kinyamateka, the oldest and most influential newspaper in the country. In denouncing abuses of power, Sibomana broke with the position of the archbishop and others in the hierarchy, who continued to give Habyarimana apparently unquestioning support.24 After presenting considerable evidence to substantiate their charges, the four were acquitted in a decision that seemed both to confirm the accuracy of the reports and to herald a new era of freedom for the press. The next week, Habyarimana named the members of the commission to examine political reform. Just as these changes were promising greater participation in the political system, the RPF attacked Rwanda.

The RPF Attack

By the late 1980s, the Rwandan community in exile had swelled to approximately 600,000 people,25 most of whom lived in the countries surrounding Rwanda. Except in Tanzania, where the government had encouraged their integration into the local population, the refugees existed precariously, with few rights or guarantees. In Uganda, thousands of refugees had been expelled toRwanda in 1982, only to be pushed back again across the border shortly after. In 1986 Rwandan authorities had declared that the country was too overpopulated to permit the return of the refugees, a statement that helped spark renewed activity in the refugee community. At a meeting in Washington D.C. in 1988 Rwandans affirmed their right to return home, by force if necessary. In 1989 the Rwandan government created a commission to deal with the refugee problem. It met jointly with Ugandan authorities three times, the last in July 1990, and appeared to be making some progress in clearing the way for the refugees to return.

The RPF, however, decided to go home on its own terms, proclaiming its goals to be not just the return of the refugees, but also the ouster of Habyarimana and the establishment of a more democratic government. Its leaders, part of a generation that had grown up in Uganda, were well prepared to launch this effort. Many of them had learned to make war in the forces of the National Resistance Army, where they had helped Yoweri Museveni win control of the Ugandan state. Among them was Paul Kagame, once deputy head of military intelligence for the NRA, who took command of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA),26 the fighting force of the RPF, in the early days of the war. His forces consisted of some seven thousand soldiers, about half of whom were Rwandan refugees who had deserted from the Ugandan army, bringing along their arms and other equipment.27

The Government Response to the Attack

Rumors that the RPF was about to attack had circulated in both Uganda and Rwanda since mid-September 1990. The Rwandan commander at the frontier, aware of these reports, wired headquarters to ask for reinforcements. He got none, leading him and others to speculate that Habyarimana wanted the invasion. On October 1, 1990, the RPF crossed the border, easily overpowered the small detachment there, and headed for the capital.28

The attack offered Habyarimana the opportunity to rebuild his eroding base of power by rallying Rwandans against the enemy. In response to the news, the great majority of people, Tutsi and Hutu opponents of the regime included, came to the support of the government. But Habyarimana understood that the attack posed a risk as well as an opportunity: it might embolden the opposition within the country and even lead to its alliance with the enemy. Rather than rely on a spontaneous coalescing of support from all sides, Habyarimana decided to pursue a more forceful strategy, to sacrifice the Tutsi in hopes of uniting all Hutu behind him.

On October 4, the RPF had advanced a considerable distance into Rwanda but was still forty-five miles from Kigali. That night, however, heavy firing shook the capital for several hours. In the morning the government announced that the city had been attacked by RPF infiltrators who had been driven back by the Rwandan army. Under the pretext of assuring security, the government began making massive arrests in Kigali and elsewhere in the country, eventually imprisoning some 13,000 people. The detainees would be held without charge, thousands of them for months, in deplorable conditions. Many were tortured and dozens died. The last of them were finally liberated in April 1991.29

Many Rwandans and apparently all foreign observers believed the government account of the battle and the infiltration. In fact, the attack had been faked. Habyarimana staged the event to have credible grounds for accusing Tutsi of supporting the enemy. He disclaimed any such intention, declaring on October 5 that there was no question of considering "our brothers and sisters of whatever ethnic group" responsible for what had had happened.30 But certainly he knew and approved of the plan as well as of the arrests that resulted from it. The minister of justice spoke more openly. In the first use in the 1990s of the term that was to become so famous, he declared that the Tutsi were ibyitso, "accomplices" of the invaders. He continued that "to prepare an attack of that scale required trusted people [on the inside]. Rwandans of the same ethnic group offered that possibility better than did others."31

In accusing the Tutsi, the authorities reverted to the tactics of the 1960s, but in a departure from the earlier practice, they included Hutu as well among the "accomplices." Unwilling to wait for the scapegoating of the Tutsi to produce solidarity among the Hutu, they sought to hasten the effect by imprisoning Hutu opponents, hoping to silence and perhaps even eliminate some while at the same time intimidating others into rallying to the president.

The faked attack served another purpose: to ensure help from friendly foreign nations. When asked the reason for all the firing on the night of October 4, one Rwandan army officer is reported to have replied, "It was fireworks to welcome our friends, the French," who did, in fact, arrive that night.32 Pretending that even the capital was at risk, Habyarimana was able to enlist immediate support from Belgium and Zaire as well as from France. The Belgian forces stayed only a month and the Zairian soldiers were sent home for indiscipline, but the French soldiers remained to become a solid support for the Rwandan army and the Habyarimana regime.

With the help of foreign troops, Rwandan soldiers drove the RPF back towards the Ugandan border. As they advanced through the region called Mutara, the Rwandan forces killed between 500 and 1,000 civilians. The unarmed victims were Bahima, a people usually identified with Tutsi, and they were accused of having aided the RPF.33

The government instituted a series of security measures, including requiring citizens to participate in patrols at night and to man barriers to monitor traffic on roads and paths. The neighborhood official, the nyumbakumi, was responsible for enforcing these measures and for keeping track of any strangers who entered his part of the commune. Except in communes adjacent to battle zones, these measures did not last long, but they did help convince people that there was a real danger of enemy infiltrators.

Consolidating the Opposition

The imprisonments of October reinforced the image of the Habyarimana government as a repressive regime and instead of driving Tutsi and Hutu opposition apart, strengthened bonds between them. In a January 1991 letter, prefects urged Habyarimana "to vigorously destroy the manoeuvers of the enemy, both...the INYENZI34 terrorists and those of the opposition that has developed inside the country." They advised him to "fight openly against what could be called the 'Kanyarengwe effect' which poses a serious threat to the necessary solidarity of the BAHUTU."35 Colonel Kanyarengwe, the important officer who had fled Rwanda in 1980 after accusations that he was plotting against Habyarimana, had joined the RPF and was serving as its president. Because he was a Hutu – and from northern Rwanda besides – his participation in the RPF exemplified the dreaded union of dissatisfied Hutu and the RPF.

Knowing of RPF pressure on the regime, its opponents were encouraged to demand more rapid change. The Rwandan human rights movement was stimulated by the massive arrests at the start of the war. The first of the groups, the Rwandan Association for the Defense of Human Rights (Association Rwandaise pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme, ARDHO) had been established the night before the RPF attack and faced its first challenge in dealing with the arrests. Two others were founded directly in reaction to the imprisonments: the Rwandan Association for the Defense of Human Rights and Public Liberties (Association Rwandaise pour la Défense des Droits de la Personne et des Libertés Publiques, ADL) developed from a network of those who tried to bring relief to the prisoners and their families and Kanyarwanda was established by former prisoners once they were liberated.36 These organizations quickly began insisting on reforms necessaryto permit full enjoyment of civil and political rights. Donor nations, too, urged Habyarimana to open up the political system, hoping this would speed an end to the war.

In announcing the national commission on reform in July 1990, Habyarimana had anticipated a two-year period of study before it would submit its report. But only eleven months later, in June 1991, he was obliged to accept the constitutional amendment that made multiple political parties legal. Even before the amendment was adopted, opponents began to organize the Democratic Republican Movement (Mouvement Démocratique Républicain, MDR), which would constitute the chief threat to the MRND. Within months another fifteen parties had been formed, the most important of which were the Social Democratic Party (Parti Social Démocrate, PSD), Liberal Party (Parti Libéral, PL) and the Democratic Christian Party (Parti Démocrate Chrétien, PDC).

With the organization of parties, the opposition had structures to mobilize protest against the establishment. Their first goal was to force Habyarimana to accept a coalition government which would give them a chance to share in power. He resisted their demands for some months but after the opposition parties mounted massive street demonstrations early in 1992, he was obliged to begin talks with them. As these negotiations were going on, a group of Hutu announced the establishment of a new party, the Coalition for the Defense of the Republic (Coalition pour la Défense de la République, CDR). They asserted that "no party, no institution, no person had been able to defend the interests of the majority [i.e., the Hutu] publicly and consistently," and so they must take their fate in their own hands.37 The CDR openly criticized the MRND and even Habyarimana personally for conceding too much to the opposition parties and to the RPF. Despite this criticism, the CDR collaborated frequently with the MRND, leading some observers to conclude that this bitterly anti-Tutsi party existed only to state positions favored by the MRND but too radical for them to support openly.

Habyarimana agreed to incorporate the major opposition parties in a coalition government, which took office in April 1992. In it, Habyarimana continued as president of the republic and the MRND was able to retain nine of the nineteen cabinet posts, including the key ministries of defense and interior. But the largest of the new parties of opposition, the MDR, obtained the post of prime minister as well as two other ministeries. In addition, the PL and the PSD each had three seats and the PDC had one. The new CDR, representing only a small number of adherents, was not included.

Once at the cabinet table, the opposition parties next aimed to divorce the MRND from the state, the natural consequence of introducing a multi-party system. At their insistence, the minister of interior directed administrative officials to show neutrality in the exercise of their functions instead of being cheerleaders for the MRND.38 Once able to count on buildings, vehicles, office equipment, and supplies that belonged to the state, the MRND would henceforth have to provide its own resources. The divorce was faster and more complete in regions where the opposition parties had established a solid base, less so in the northwest where the continued preeminence of the MRND made it futile to protest its privileges. Wherever possible, the MRND naturally delayed yielding its advantage. Radio Rwanda, for example, continued for some time to play MRND songs, supposedly because it had no other tapes in its music collection.

To make their participation in power real and convincing – and hence to draw more adherents to their flags – the opposition parties had to end the MRND monopoly over government posts. They had to deliver to their members the jobs usually associated with controlling the state and they had to be in a position to ensure that the policies they favored would be executed. They quickly put their own people behind the desks in the ministries they headed, but determining appointments in Kigali was not enough. They needed to control at least some of the local administration whose support was usually essential to winning elections. Within a few months of joining the government, the MDR, the PL and the PDC each had gotten one post of prefect. It was even more important for them to have the support of burgomasters, who could do much to sway election results within their communes. This took longer and it was only in February 1993 that the MRND agreed to changing burgomasters in about one third of the communes.

One of the first domains where the opposition ended exclusive MRND control was access to education. In 1991, only 8 percent of Rwandan children were ableto study at secondary school.39 Through the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, the MRND had regulated access to government-supported high schools, supposedly assigning places according to quotas for ethnic and regional groups. The quotas were both inaccurately computed and unfairly applied, favoring children from the northwest or those whose families could pay in money or other benefits for access to education. With the April 1992 government, Agathe Uwilingiyimana took office as minister of primary and secondary education.40 A representative of the MDR, she promptly abolished the quota system and decreed that access to higher education would be decided on merit alone. Almost immediately after, she was assaulted by armed men who forced their way into her house and beat her. Thousands of students and mothers turned out to march in support of her new policy.41

Kubohoza, "To Help Liberate"

In the early months after the parties were established, their supporters saw the new organizations as the hope of the future – for themselves personally as well as for the nation. In a brash and exuberant rush to publicize their cause and to recruit new members, party activists sporting caps and shirts with the party colors held demonstrations and meetings in small commercial centers out on the hills as well as in the capital. Local leaders flew the party flag on poles outside their homes or businesses, proud to be identified as the key persons for mobilizing adherents in that area. Party leaders organized groups of singers or dancers to enliven meetings with musical versions of party propaganda, mirroring the "animation" that had once been the exclusive domain of the MRND.

MRND officials naturally feared the development of opposition parties. The prefect of Butare, for example, wrote his subordinates in early 1992 to warn that parties posed a risk to the "unity of the popular masses." Like many others at the time, he cast the danger in terms of defeat by the enemy, not in terms of the loss to some rival political party within the country. He insisted that if Hutu opponentscontinued contesting MRND control, the Tutsi would take power.42 MRND leaders at the national level were concerned enough about the threat from other contenders to direct local authorities, still all nominally MRND supporters at that time, to do a poll of political loyalties within some of their districts. In Bwakira commune, sector leaders reported that in some places Habyarimana and the MRND would be chosen by only 50 percent of the voters.43

The MRND authorities did their best to slow the organizing efforts of rivals by using security regulations to hinder their travel and public meetings. They looked the other way when MRND members disrupted demonstrations of the opposition and stole or destroyed their party insignia. In some places they tolerated or even encouraged MRND supporters to assault members of the opposition or to burn and pillage their houses. Seeing the power of the state used for partisan ends, adherents of opposition parties also adopted force as a means of winning the political struggle. Taking political recruits by force or by threat became known as kubohoza or "to help liberate," an ironic use which suggests that the captive might have been "freed" against his or her will. Originally undertood to mean liberating from the MRND monolith, the term later was used to refer to aggressive action against any political opponent.

The parties organized youth wings which increasingly engaged in violence against rivals. The MDR youth wing, the Inkuba or "Thunder," led in harassing MRND supporters, sometimes with the help of the Abakombozi, "The Liberators" of the PSD. Confronted with this opposition, the MRND moved to a new level of intimidation by transforming its youth group, the Interahamwe, into a real militia. Besides being more numerous and better organized than the youth of other parties, the Interahamwe received military training from regular soldiers beginning in 1992. They were sometimes backed by the CDR youth group, the Impuzamugambi, "Those With a Single Purpose." During 1992 and 1993, politically motivatedattacks by Interahamwe and other groups took some 200 lives and injured scores of people in different communities.44

If the target to be "liberated" was sufficiently important, the process could involve rewards as well as threats. In the commune of Nshili, Gikongoro prefecture, for example, an ambitious young teacher named Paul Kadogi decided to join the MDR in part because he was having difficulties with the burgomaster, an MRND stalwart who had held the post for some thirty years. Because Kadogi, described by MRND higher authorities as a "very virulent" propagandist for the MDR, was attracting considerable support among teachers and others in the commune, the MRND dispatched a "mission" in June 1991 to win Kadogi back. The senior member was secretary-general of the Ministry of the Interior and a native of the region. He was assisted by a burgomaster from an adjacent commune who was also a member of the prefectural committee of the MRND and by the sub-prefect of the region. The MRND emisssaries combined what they called "muscular persuasion" with the promise to name Kadogi himself burgomaster if he agreed to rejoin the MRND "with all the people who had followed him into the MDR." On August 12, 1991 the prefect of Gikongoro "took great pleasure" in writing the minister of the interior to announce that the "recovery" of Kadogi and his numerous followers had been completed. The prefect had just returned from the ceremony installing Kadogi as burgomaster of Nshili where he had "forcefully and enthusiastically" invited all the MDR members in the crowd to follow his example of rejoining the MRND. In his report on the mission, the sub-prefect stressed the effectiveness of visits by important officials from the capital who were native to the region in rallying people to the MRND. The prefect, in his report, assured the minister of the interior that: "We remain vigilant and ready to dismantle in the same way any effort or campaign that might be launched here...by other parties developing at the expense of the MRND."45

The MDR adherents did not count themselves defeated although it apparently took them some months to recover from Kadogi's defection. By November 1992, they were ready to use kubohoza and went so far as to attack and take hostage National Policemen. A month later, the police shot and killed a member of the MRD youth group in the same region. This provoked MDR activists in several communes to threaten the sub-prefect and the prefect whom they accused of using the police to destroy their party. The prefect, Laurent Bucyibaruta, protested his complete neutrality and his readiness to permit demonstrations by other political parties, provided their organizers were willing to "take the consequences if another part of the population decides to react against these demonstrations."46

In this case, the prefect and sub-prefect avoided assault, but other MRND authorities, higher as well as lower in rank, were attacked, particularly in 1992 and early 1993. Several burgomasters were driven from their communes and forced to resign. The minister of youth was assaulted while driving through a commune hostile to him. The home of the minister of labor was attacked in the prefecture of Kibungo.47

The illegitimate use of public powers for private or partisan benefit discredited not just the office-holders, but also the institutions themselves in the eyes of the population. In communes where the burgomaster was accused of governing badly, people refused to pay taxes, the situation in a considerable number of communes by mid-1992. In those places where the land-hungry cultivators had been obliged by the state to cede fields to development projects that brought no visible improvement to their lives, they took back the land by force. In communes where umuganda obligatory work was bringing no benefit to the ordinary people, they began refusing to turn out for the day of labor.

Impunity and Insecurity

When people engaged in kubohoza, they sometimes covered their faces with chalk, wore banana leaves, attacked at the signal of a whistle, marched to a drum and manned barriers along the roads to catch their prey. During the genocide, some assailants did the same things. More important by far than these surface resemblances was the continuation of an attitude spread by kubohoza, an attitude that accepted violence as "normal" in the pursuit of political ends. Just as MRNDofficials frequently tolerated or encouraged violence by MRND members, so did officials of other parties condone or incite the use of force by their supporters. When authorities halted or punished violence, it was often because the perpetrators belonged to political parties to which they themselves were opposed. The National Police and soldiers sometimes refused to assist civilian officials who were attempting to maintain order and sometimes they even launched politically motivated attacks themselves against opponents of the MRND or CDR.48 The judiciary did no better than the executive branch in upholding a state of law. The courts, underfunded and understaffed, rarely functioned as they should have.49

During 1992 and 1993, apparently random attacks by unindentified assailants increased dramatically: grenades thrown into houses, bombs placed in buses or at markets, and mines laid along roads. The Rwandan army general staff issued a press release identifying RPF infiltrators and their "accomplices" as responsible for this violence, an assessment generally accepted by supporters of Habyarimana.50 Those opposed to Habyarimana attributed the attacks to his agents, who, they charged, were operating a death squad which they called by Mfizi's name of the "Zero Network." The International Commission of Investigation On Human Rights Violations in Rwanda, a group sponsored by four international human rights organizations that examined the situation in Rwanda in early 1993, concluded that the Zero Network was linked to the highest circles of power in Kigali and was responsible for many of the attacks.51 Whether executed by agents of Habyarimana or by others, the random violence, like the targeted violence of kubohoza, showed Rwandans that the government either could not or would not protect its citizens.52

In the absence of an impartial, effective enforcement of the laws, those who attacked with political motives multiplied their abuses. Common criminals profitedtoo from the laxity of law enforcement to increase assaults and robberies. Firearms had suddenly become easy to get, partly as a result of the war-time increase in the circulation of guns, partly as the result of distribution of weapons by officials. Grenades could be bought at the market for less than U.S.$2.53 The availability of guns and grenades made the work of criminals easier, more certain to be profitable, and more likely to prove fatal for the victims. In some communities, National Police and soldiers raped, pillaged, or even murdered the civilians they were supposed to be protecting.54 Unable to count on protection from the state, law-abiding Rwandans who feared attack because of their politics or their wealth also invested in guns, some of which were registered as required by law, others of which were kept hidden until the genocide.55

The Military Defines "The Enemy"

After the initial RPF attack in October 1990, the Rwandan government forces, assisted particularly by the French, repulsed the invaders, killing many of them. The RPF regrouped and, in a surprise attack, took the important northwestern town of Ruhengeri in January 1991, but held it for only one day.56 Reduced to only about 3,000 soldiers, the RPF retreated into a series of guerrilla incursions which were met with ripostes from the Rwandan army.57 The combat was punctuated by occasional efforts at cease-fires and negotiations, but it was only after the MDR, the PL, and the PSD joined the government in April 1992 that they were able to oblige Habyarimana to enter into serious negotiations with the RPF. At the sametime, the RPF launched an important offensive in the northeast, apparently to assure a strong position at the start of peace talks. They drove Rwandan army troops back from several communes in Byumba prefecture along with some 350,000 civilians who thus began years of misery as displaced persons. The RPF and the Rwandan government signed a cease-fire at Arusha, Tanzania in July 1992 and in August 1992 they signed the first of a series of agreements that would be known as the Arusha Accords. The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) facilitated the negotiations and agreed to provide a small observer force to monitor the cease-fire.

By the time serious talks with the RPF began in 1992, the Rwandan army had grown to some 30,000 soldiers. An important number of them opposed the negotiations, not just because they did not want to give up the fight, but also because they dreaded demobilization. The thousands of troops who had been recruited since the start of the war had become accustomed to the advantages of the military life. The MRND and the CDR fed their fears by spreading rumors that soldiers would be thrown out onto a disintegrating economy without hope of finding work. The prime minister, Dismas Nsengiyaremye of the MDR, attempted to reassure the troops by talking of using demobilized soldiers in economic development projects, such as draining marshes to obtain new land for cultivation. This proposal incensed the soldiers further; it was just such menial labor that they thought they had left behind in their new military careers.

In May and June, 1992, soldiers mutinied in the northern towns of Gisenyi, Ruhengeri, and Byumba killing scores of civilians and pillaging or destroying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property. Soldiers rebelled again briefly in October at the Kanombe military base near the capital.58 Responding to pressure from the military as well as from civilian hard-liners, Habyarimana disavowed the Arusha Accords in a speech in Ruhengeri on November 15. Making clear that he did not intend to implement the agreement that he had signed three months before, Habyarimana called the Accords "a scrap of paper."

In principle prohibited by law from membership in political parties, soldiers and police nonetheless did not hesitate to demonstrate their political leanings. Habyarimana himself was only the most obvious case, serving until 1992 as general and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces while also being president of the MRND. Particularly those soldiers who shared a northern origin with Habyarimana, of whom there were many, put loyalty to the president above all else. Some officers of the army general staff promoted fear and hatred of Tutsi and ofHutu opposed to Habyarimana both among the troops and among the civilian population. In early December 1991, the high command of the Rwandan army issued two press releases that proclaimed in a pro forma way their support for democratization and neutrality towards all political parties. But the military leaders then went on to condemn Rwandans who "knowingly or unknowingly, aided the enemy under the cover of political party activities." They declared that newpapers critical of the president were subsidized by the RPF. They blamed RPF infiltrators and their "acolytes" for the increase in crime and acts of random violence and they concluded one press release by asking the secret police to "neutralize all collaborators identified with the enemy."59 Col. Léonidas Rusatira, then secretary-general of the Ministry of Defense, apparently opposed the broadcast of these releases, but he was overruled by Habyarimana himself who decided to make them public.60 The minister of the interior circulated the first of these press releases, directing that burgomasters make its contents widely known. The prefect of Kibuye, passing on the order, told burgomasters to "use it [the press release] to its full value in meetings to raise the consciousness of the population about the ideals of peace and unity."61 The release must certainly have had the opposite effect, itself fueling the "ethnic and regional tensions" that it accused opponents of fostering.

On September 21, 1992, Colonel Déogratias Nsabimana, chief of staff, sent a top secret memorandum to his commanders identifying and defining "the enemy."62 The memorandum was part of a report from a commission of ten officers established the previous December to examine how to defeat the enemy "in the military, media and political domains." Among the measures recommended by the commission was the removal of some high-ranking officers who held these posts by virtue of their connections to members of the akazu, particularly Madame Habyarimana, rather than by virtue of their military abilities. Habyarimana had accepted their recommendations in June 1992 and had obliged a number of officers to retire, among them Colonels Serubuga and Rwagafilita.63 The memorandumremained restricted to a small circle of high-ranking officers until Nsabimana ordered its dissemination in September, several weeks after the signing of the first of the Arusha Accords. Rwandan military authorities at this time feared a new RPF offensive was being prepared and Nsabimana hoped the memorandum would "lead our men to be more vigilant and to not count on political negotiations alone." He ordered:

    You will distribute this document widely, insisting especially on the sections relating to the definition of the enemy, identification of the enemy, as well as the groups within which the enemy is recruited. You will inform me of the impact made by the contents of this document on the men under your orders.

The report divided the enemy into two categories, the principal enemy and partisans of the enemy. The principal enemy was:

    the Tutsi inside or outside the country, extremist and nostalgic for power, who have NEVER recognized and will NEVER recognize the realities of the 1959 social revolution and who wish to reconquer power by all means necessary, including arms.

The partisans of the enemy were defined as anyone who supported the principal enemy. Like the December 1991 press releases, the document made the necessary nod towards democratic openness:

    Political opponents who want power or the peaceful and democratic change of the current political regime of Rwanda are NOT to be confused with the ENI [enemy] or with partisans of the ENI.

Again like the earlier communiques – and sometimes in the same language – the fourteen page document then went on to condemn Tutsi and those Hutu who opposed Habyarimana and his party. Nowhere did it caution against confusing the RPF as a political group with Tutsi as an ethnic group. In several places, it used "Tutsi" as equivalent to enemy. As one of the advantages of the enemy, it listed "A single political will and a single political ideology, which is Tutsi hegemony."

The document deplored the loss of Hutu solidarity, which it blamed on enemy machinations rather than on understandable resentment of the corruption and repression of the Habyarimana regime. It listed the establishment of multiple political parties as an advantage for the enemy and warned that infiltrators had convinced these parties to support the RPF. Repeating the accusation of theDecember 1991 press release that the enemy was sharpening conflict between individuals and regions, the memorandum asserted that opponents were "turning public opinion from the ethnic problem to the socio-economic problem between the rich and the poor." It stated that the enemy and its partisans were recruited primarily among:

  • Tutsi refugees
  • the NRA (Ugandan army)
  • Tutsi inside the country
  • Hutu dissatisifed with the regime in power
  • Unemployed people inside and outside the country
  • Foreigners married to Tutsi wives
  • the Nilo-Hamitic people of the region
  • criminals in flight [from the law]

The document warned that the enemy had infiltrated the government and had corrupted various officials by offering them advantageous business deals, which was easy for them to do because the enemy predominated in business circles. It identified a number of "enemies" by name, including Evariste Sissi and Antoine Sebera.64

Many of the themes of this document sent to the soldiers on September 21 are echoed in a CDR tract issued the next day. In its "Notice No. 5," the CDR warned of the dangers from enemies inside Rwanda, who were supposedly aiding the RPF. It asserted that these enemies had highly placed friends in the government, who were permitting them to work against the interests of the great majority, the rubanda nyamwinshi. Among the enemies named are the same Evariste Sissi and Antoine Sebera who were cited in the military document. The CDR finished by demanding action:

    The CDR party calls upon the government and the president to deal with this problem. If it does not, the great mass [rubanda nyamwinshi] cannot stand by and do nothing. An enemy is an enemy. Anyone who cooperates with the enemy is a traitor to Rwanda.65

The similarities in the statements of CDR radicals and of high military authorities foreshadowed their later cooperation which made the genocide possible.


Rwandans – Tutsi as well as Hutu – were frightened by the RPF attack. Tutsi recalled the reprisal killings at the time of invasions by refugee groups in the 1960s and feared they would be targeted again. Hutu remembered the slaughter of tens of thousands of Hutu by Tutsi in neighboring Burundi in 1972, 1988, and in 1991 and dreaded killings on a similar scale by the RPF. Authorities at the highest level knew that the RPF had been reduced by losses during the first months to a number less than half that of the Rwandan army and that their own army was backed by several hundred highly trained and well-armed French troops. Well aware of the fears of their own subordinates and of ordinary citizens, they could have put the danger in perspective and calmed the population.1 Instead Habyarimana and his advisers exaggerated the risk in hopes of increasing support for themselves. As one Rwandan put it, "With the invasion, the politicians began to beat the drum." The drum was both a usual signal of attack and the instrument used to keep all the dancers moving to the same rhythm.

Propagandists echoed and magnified the hatred and suspicion sown by Habyarimana and officials around him. Under the cover of the newly-established freedom of the press, they blared forth messages disseminated more discreetly by officials, such as many of the conclusions about the "enemy" presented in the military memorandum of September 21, 1992.

Propagandists developed the same themes over and over, both before and during the genocide. While some of the similarities in their messages may result simply from sharing the same cultural milieu, other similarities in technique suggest deliberate coordination among propagandists and between them and government officials. In a mimeographed document entitled "Note Relative à la Propagande d'Expansion et de Recrutement," found in Butare prefecture, one propagandist tells others how to sway the public most effectively. Obviously someone who had studied at university level, the author of the note presents a detailed analysis of a book called Psychologie de la publicité et de la propagande, by Roger Mucchielli, published in Paris in 1970.

The author of the note claims to convey lessons learned from the book and drawn from Lenin and Goebbels. He advocates using lies, exaggeration, ridicule, and innuendo to attack the opponent, in both his public and his private life. He suggests that moral considerations are irrelevant, except when they happen to offer another weapon against the other side. He adds that it is important not to underestimate the strength of the adversary nor to overestimate the intelligence of the general public targeted by the campaign. Propagandists must aim both to win over the uncommitted and to cause divisions among supporters of the other point of view. They must persuade the public that the adversary stands for war, death, slavery, repression, injustice, and sadistic cruelty.

In addition to these suggestions, the propagandist proposes two techniques that were to become often used in Rwanda. The first is to "create" events to lend credence to propaganda. He remarks that this tactic is not honest, but that it works well, provided the deception is not discovered. The "attack" on Kigali on October 4-5, 1990 was such a "created" event, as were others – the reported discovery of hidden arms, the passage of a stranger with a mysterious bag, the discovery of radio communications equipment – that were exploited later, especially during the genocide.

The propagandist calls his second proposal "Accusation in a mirror," meaning his colleagues should impute to enemies exactly what they and their own party are planning to do. He explains, "In this way, the party which is using terror will accuse the enemy of using terror." With such a tactic, propagandists can persuade listeners and "honest people" that they are being attacked and are justified in taking whatever measures are necessary "for legitimate [self-] defense."2 This tactic worked extremely well, both in specific cases such as the Bugesera massacre of March 1992 described below and in the broader campaign to convince Hutu that Tutsi planned to exterminate them. There is no proof that officials and propagandists who "created" events and made "accusations in a mirror" were familiar with this particular document, but they regularly used the techniques that it described.

The Media

One of the most virulent voice of hate, the newspaper Kangura, began spewing forth attacks on the RPF and on Tutsi immediately after the October 1990 invasion. It was joined soon after by other newspapers and journals that received support from officials and businessmen linked to the regime. According to authors of anintensive study of the media of genocide, at least eleven of the forty-two new journals founded in 1991 were linked to the akazu.3 The newspapers were published and sold in the capital, but urban workers who often went home for weekends carried copies of the better-known newspapers out to the hills. Some 66 percent of Rwandans are literate and those who knew how to read were accustomed to reading for others. In many cases, the written word was underscored by cartoons, most of which were so graphic that they could not be misinterpreted.

The radio was to become even more effective in delivering the message of hate directly and simultaneously to a wide audience. Before the war, Rwanda had only one radio station, the national Radio Rwanda, but listening to the radio was a popular distraction among ordinary people and elite alike. In 1991, some 29 percent of all households had a radio.4 The number of radio sets was presumably much higher by the start of the genocide. In some areas, the government distributed radios free to local authorities before the genocide and they may have done so after the killing began as well.5 One foreign religious sister who traveled from Kibuye to Butare during the height of the genocide reported that she had seen new radios at every one of the dozens of barriers where she had been stopped en route.6 People without radios listened to broadcasts in the local bar or got information from neighbors.

Until 1992, Radio Rwanda was very much the voice of the government and of the president himself. It announced prefectural or national meetings, nominations to and removals from government posts, and the results of admissions examinations to secondary schools.7 Before the daily news programs, Radio Rwanda broadcast excerpts of Habyarimana's political speeches. This national radio sometimesbroadcast false information, particularly about the progress of the war, but most people did not have access to independent sources of information to verify its claims.

In March 1992, Radio Rwanda warned that Hutu leaders in Bugesera were going to be murdered by Tutsi, false information meant to spur the Hutu massacres of Tutsi. Following the establishment of the coalition government in April 1992, the MDR, PL, and PSD insisted on a new direction for Radio Rwanda. Ferdinand Nahimana, a stalwart supporter of the MRND, was removed from his post at the Rwandan Office of Information (ORINFOR), where he had supervised Radio Rwanda. Several months later, Jean-Marie Vianney Higiro, a member of one of the parties opposed to Habyarimana, was named director to steer the radio towards a more nonpartisan stance. By December 1993, Radio Rwanda had agreed to include the RPF among political parties participating in its broadcasts, although the decision had not been implemented by the time the genocide began.8

Soon after the start of the war, the RPF established its own station, Radio Muhabura, but its signal did not reach throughout the country. At first, many Rwandans were afraid to listen to it, but its audience grew steadily during 1992 and 1993. Although it glorified the RPF, it did so in a nationalist rather than an ethnic context, consistent with the general RPF emphasis on minimizing differences between Hutu and Tutsi.9

With the new direction at Radio Rwanda and the voice of the RPF increasingly strong, Hutu hard-liners decided to create their own station. They began planning their radio in 1992, incorporated it as Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) in April 1993, and began broadcasting in August 1993.

Of the fifty original founders, forty were from the three prefectures of northern Rwanda, all but seven of those from Gisenyi and Ruhengeri, the region identified with Habyarimana. One of the chief financiers of the project was Félicien Kabuga, a wealthy businessman whose daughter was married to a son of President Habyarimana. Another contributor was Alphonse Ntilivamunda, a son-in-law of President Habyarimana, and an important official at the Ministry of Public Works. Two ministers were among the founders, Augustin Ngirabatware, the minister of planning, and son-in-law of Kabuga, and André Ntagerura, the minister of telecommunications. Simon Bikindi, an employee of the Ministry of Youth who was also an extremely popular musician best known for his virulently anti-Tutsisongs, was part of the group, as was Pasteur Musabe, general director of the Banque Continentale Africaine. Augustin Ruzindana, governor of the National Bank of Rwanda, joined later. The MRND was represented among the founders by Joseph Nzirorera, subsequently its executive secretary, and later by Mathieu Ngirumpatse, who served as president of the MRND after President Habyarimana left that post. In addition, Georges Rutaganda, vice-president of the MRND militia, the Interahamwe, was among the founders. The CDR was represented by Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, its chief ideologue, and by Stanislas Simbizi. Subsequently the minister of defense, the officer who would become chief of staff of the Rwandan army, and a protestant bishop would buy shares in the station.10

Although nominally private and opposed to Radio Rwanda, RTLM in fact was linked in a number of ways with the national radio, with other state agencies and with the MRND. RTLM was allowed to broadcast on the same frequencies as the national radio between 8am and 11am, when Radio Rwanda was not transmitting, an arrangement that encouraged listeners to see the two as linked, if not as identical. The new station also drew personnel from Radio Rwanda, including Nahimana, who played a leading role at RTLM after having been dismissed from ORINFOR, and announcer Noel Hitimana. Its editor-in-chief, Gaspard Gahigi, and announcer Kantano Habimana had previously worked for Umurwanashyaka, party organ of the MRND. Gahigi had also been employed by Radio Rwanda and was a member of the central committee of the MRND.11 The ostensibly private station used equipment belonging to various government ministries and perhaps some equipment taken from Radio Rwanda. It had access to an emergency source of electric power which some said was a free-standing generator, but others said was linked to the emergency electrical system of the presidential residence, across the street from its studio.12

According to Rwandans who listened to RTLM, the station won an audience rapidly because of its lively music and informal style. Higiro, the director of Radio Rwanda, analysed its initial success this way:

    These broadcasts were like a conversation among Rwandans who knew each other well and were relaxing over some banana beer or a bottle of Primus [the local beer] in a bar. It was a conversation without a moderator and without anyrequirements as to the truth of what was said. The people who were there recounted what they had seen or heard during the day. The exchanges covered everything: rumors circulating on the hills, news from the national radio, conflicts among local political bosses...It was all in fun. Some people left the bar, others came in, the conversation went on or stopped if it got too late, and the next day it took up again after work.13

Introducing the concept of interactive broadcasting to Rwanda, RTLM invited listeners to call in to express their opinions. People called to ask for a song to be broadcast or to pass on some piece of news or gossip. The announcers broadcast this information without ever checking on it. RTLM departed from the more staid and formal tone of Radio Rwanda. The announcer Kantano Habimana was known for his wit, which was appreciated even by some Tutsi who were the objects of his barbs. Another, Valerie Bemeriki, was remarkable for the speed and passion of her delivery, which increased when she had violence to report.

Rwandans learned from experience that RTLM regularly attributed to others the actions its own supporters had taken or would be taking. Without ever having heard of "accusations in a mirror," they became accustomed to listening to RTLM accusations of its rivals to find out what the MRND and CDR would be doing.

RTLM took up many of the same themes, sometimes in the same words, that were being popularized in the written press. Hassan Ngeze, the editor of Kangura, welcomed the arrival of the new ally in the "fight to defend the republic."14 Before long, RTLM, with its greater drawing power, was displacing Kangura and other journals as the voice of extremism. Once the genocide began, Radio Rwanda was pulled into the orbit of RTLM. Its director Higiro fled the country, himself targeted for death by RTLM broadcasts, and was replaced by Jean-Baptiste Bamwanga, a journalist fired from Radio Rwanda in 1992 for his role in inciting the massacre of Tutsi in Bugesera. RTLM announcer Kantano Habimana celebrated the transformation of Radio Rwanda from a "rival" to a "sister."15 During the genocide, when communications and travel became difficult, the radio became for most people the sole source of news as well as the sole authority for interpreting its meaning. At that time, RTLM and Radio Rwanda collaborated to deliver a single message about the need to extirpate the "enemy."

Validating the Message

Propagandists naturally wove references to political authorities past and present into their materials as often as possible. Grégoire Kayibanda, the father of the revolution and first president of the republic, as well as Habyarimana, appeared often in pictures and through use of their quotations. In addition, the propagandists acknowledged the great respect Rwandans have for formal learning by occasionally asserting that their information came from "intellectuals" or "professors at the national university." A large number of university faculty were from Habyarimana's home region – because they had been the ones to profit from university education and study abroad – and ranked among his sincere supporters. Others teaching at the university or at government-sponsored schools (the vast majority in the country), as well as the staff of research institutes, knew that advancement and perhaps continued employment could depend on backing the government position. Both those within Rwanda and those studying abroad wrote letters and made public statements that reported facts wrongly or misinterpreted data to support the official line (see below).16

Two academics left the university to devote themselves to supporting Habyarimana through propaganda and active political organizing. One was Nahimana, a historian from the northwestern prefecture of Ruhengeri, who had benefited from the opportunity to study in Paris. He gave up teaching to take charge of government propaganda at ORINFOR. After being forced from this position, Nahimana was supposed to become the Rwandan ambassador in Bonn, but the German government refused to accept him. He tried to go back to the university, but his colleagues there also protested against his return. Appointed then to direct RTLM, he regained the opportunity to shape public opinion, this time through the most effective propaganda medium in Rwanda.

The other professor-turned-propagandist was Léon Mugesera, who had done advanced university studies in Canada. After teaching briefly at the National University of Rwanda, he moved on to positions with the Ministry of Information, the national headquarters of the MRND, and the Ministry for the Family and the Promotion of Women. The author of two propaganda pamphlets in 1991, he is even better known for a speech that is analyzed below.

In addition to calling on political and intellectual leaders to support their ideas, propagandists used religion and the church to validate their teachings. Umurava Magazine declared "It is God who has given Habyarimana the power to direct thecountry, it is He who will show him the path to follow."17 Most propagandists did not go so far, but they did frequently couch their ideas in religious language or refer to passages from the Bible. Cartoons sometimes portrayed Habyarimana as a saint or a priest, and one depicted God cursing the leaders of the political opposition. Following killings of Hutu in Burundi in 1991, Kangura featured the Christ child with Mary and Joseph on the cover of the January issue. Mary asks the Christ child to save the Hutu of Burundi. He replies that he will tell them to love each other. Joseph comments, "No, instead tell the Hutu of the world to unite."18 In a country where 90 percent of the people called themselves Christian and 62 percent were Catholic, these references to religion helped make the teachings of fear and hate more acceptable.

The Message

The propagandists built upon the lessons Rwandans had learned in school. It was hardly necessary even to repeat the basic assumption that Hutu and Tutsi were different peoples by nature, representatives of the larger and equally distinct "Bantu" and "Nilotic" ("Nilo-Hamitic," "Hamitic," or "Ethiopid") groups. In some passages, propagandists equated the Hutu-Tutsi difference with the fundamental difference between male and female.19 Those who married across group lines produced "hybrids" for children and people from one group who tried to pass for members of another were said to be like "beings with two heads."20 The radicals rejected the idea that Rwandans were a single people, charging that this concept was a Tutsi trick to divide and weaken the Hutu by destroying their sense of ethnic identity. As Kangura assured the Hutu, "You are an important ethnic group of the Bantu...The nation is artificial but the ethnic group is natural."21 The propagandists stressed that Tutsi were foreign to the area and had stolen Rwanda from its rightful inhabitants. The ruthless conquerors had ground the Hutu under their heel in a "repressive and bloody regime...epitomized by [the queen-mother Kanjogera who] to get up from her seat leaned on two swords planted between the shoulders of twoHutu children!"22 But when the great mass – rubanda nyamwinshi – had become conscious of its own strength and had come together, it had been able to overthrow the "feudal" oppressors in the great revolution of 1959.23

"Tutsi Unity"

To these assumptions, propagandists added the myth of Tutsi unity, a clannishness held to have facilitated their conquests in the past and to enable them to continue exercising undue influence in the present. In the September 21, 1992 memorandum mentioned above, the military officers listed singleness of purpose as an advantage of the enemy. The propagandists linked Tutsi living inside Rwanda today both with those who had exploited Hutu in the past and with the RPF. Thus the circle was complete and the links among Tutsi of different times and places were said to be solid and unbreakable. In March 1993, Kangura published an article entitled "A cockroach cannot give birth to a butterfly." After 1990, opponents of the RPF called its troops Inyenzi, cockroaches, while the RPF itself used the term Inkotanyi, a name taken from a nineteenth-century military formation. The article said:

    We began by saying that a cockroach cannot give birth to a butterfly. It is true. A cockroach gives birth to another cockroach...The history of Rwanda shows us clearly that a Tutsi stays always exactly the same, that he has never changed. The malice, the evil are just as we knew them in the history of our country. We are not wrong in saying that a cockroach gives birth to another cockroach. Who could tell the difference between the Inyenzi who attacked in October 1990 and those of the 1960s. They are all linked...their evilness is the same. The unspeakable crimes of the Inyenzi of today...recall those of their elders: killing, pillaging, raping girls and women, etc.24

Like the soldiers who wrote the September 21, 1992 memorandum, propagandists often used the terms Tutsi and RPF together or interchangeably. One example of the association of Tutsi and RPF is the cover of the December 1993 issue of Kangura. Below the ironic title "Tutsi, Race of God" are shown a machete and the question, "What weapons can we use to defeat the Inyenzi once and forall?" And to complete the association, the final question asks "What if someone brought back the Hutu Revolution of 1959 to finish off these Tutsi cockroaches?"25 During the genocide, officials would occasionally declare that not all Tutsi were "accomplices" of the RPF, but such statements were too few and too late to destroy the widespread and carefully constructed identification between them.


The propagandists asserted that the Tutsi, as Ethiopids or Nilotics, had no right to inhabit Central Africa and that they had deviously infiltrated all aspects of Rwandan state and society. Many Tutsi were found in the Liberal Party but some had made their way into other parties as well. Kangura, among others, insisted that this "infiltration" must stop and that Tutsi should not join parties that belonged to the Hutu majority. The propagandists said the Tutsi had infiltrated the economy, – at one point Kangura claimed that 70 percent of the rich in Rwanda were Tutsi – monopolized credit at the banks, and won a disproportionate share of the highly coveted import and export licenses. In a clear effort to divert the resentment otherwise directed towards Hutu from Habyarimana's region, propagandists argued that it was Tutsi, not other Hutu, who occupied the jobs which southern Hutu wanted and failed to get. They also accused the Tutsi of having taken a disproportionate share of places in secondary school and university and, because of their educational advantages, of having dominated the professions and government. They claimed that even the church had been infiltrated by Tutsi. On all these points, the propagandists were delivering to the public the same message sent by the Rwandan general staff to its troops in the memorandum defining the enemy.26

If Tutsi men failed to penetrate some aspect of national life, said the propagandists, they sent in their women to seduce the Hutu who controlled that domain. According to Kangura, "The inkotanyi will not hesitate to transform their sisters, wives and mothers into pistols" to conquer Rwanda.27 The propagandists, like the authors of the military memorandum, agreed that Tutsi wives andmistresses manipulated foreign men for the Tutsi cause. They agreed, too, that male and female Tutsi had infiltrated international organizations, including both official agencies, like the U.N., and nongovernmental organizations, like human rights groups.28

To support the argument that Tutsi had slipped "like snakes" into places unnoticed, propagandists asserted that many people who claimed to be Hutu were in fact Tutsi who had changed their identity papers. In a wildly exaggerated estimate, Kangura charged that 85 percent of Tutsi had changed their ethnic identification. It warned:

    The other calamity...is the detestable habit that many Tutsi have adopted of...changing their ethnic group...which allows them to pass unnoticed and to take places normally reserved for Hutu in the administration and the schools. If this disease is not treated immediately, it will destroy all the Hutu.29

"Real" Hutu were cautioned to be on the lookout for such people, recognizable usually by their too great tolerance for Tutsi and their lack of commitment to Hutu solidarity. To demonstrate how the pretense might be discovered, the journal Ibyikigihe published an examination of the background of Faustin Twagiramungu in its December 1993 issue. Twagiramungu, then the head of the MDR, was accused of being Tutsi, a wolf disguised in sheep's clothing. To document its charges, the newspaper published excerpts from local government records going back to 1948.30

Effective in discussions of economic, social, and political life, this notion of "infiltration" was even more powerful when transferred to the domain of actual warfare. Echoing the position adopted by the government in October 1990, the propagandists fulminated that "It is because of this Tutsi infiltration into society that the country has no more secrets and they have been able to invade it with no trouble at all." The Tutsi as "accomplice" was said to be everywhere. Kangura estimated in 1991 that 85 percent of all Tutsi were "accomplices" who never putdown their arms, "who were working night and day...."31 The propagandists sometimes added specifics to these general charges. In one of two pamphlets he produced, the professor-turned-propagandist Léon Mugesera justified imprisoning thousands of persons "suspected of plotting with the enemy"

    ...because they were found with stocks of weapons, supplies of ammunition, radios for communicating with the enemy, or compromising documents, such as descriptions of the authorities and plans for attack.32

Officials and propagandists would use the same excuses – "created" events – to cover arrests and attacks on Tutsi and their Hutu allies for the next three years and throughout the genocide.

"Restoring the Old Regime"

From the first days of the war, officials and propagandists alike warned that the RPF had come to re-establish their total Tutsi control over the Hutu. One Rwandan army officer stationed near the Ugandan frontier in October 1990 reported that his superiors ordered him to spread the word among the civilian population that the RPF had attacked to restore the monarchy.33 In defining the "enemy," the military high command focused on those Tutsi "who refused to accept the revolution and wanted to reconquer power by any means." Civilian administrators in Butare, acting in the same vein, organized demonstrators in November 1990 to protest against any attempt to recreate the old regime. The demonstrators were sent out into the streets with signs like:

    "Let slavery, servitude and discord be finished forever!"

    "We condemn the exploitation and servitude of the people!"

    "Long live the republic! Down with the monarchy!"

    "No more feudalism! No more Kalinga!" [the drum that symbolized the power of the ruler]34

Propagandists insisted that an RPF victory would mean a return to all the evils of "feudalism," with Hutu whipped and forced to work without pay for Tutsi masters. The singer Simon Bikindi stressed that danger in one of his most famous songs, "Bene Sebahinzi," "The Descendants of Sebahinzi," a proper name which means the "Father of the Cultivators." In a refrain that was repeated endlessly on RTLM, Bikindi sang about the importance and benefits of the 1959 revolution, "a heritage that should be carefully maintained...and transmitted to posterity": He went on:

    ...the servitude, the whip, the lash, the forced work that exhausted the people, that has disappeared forever. You, the great majority [rubanda nyamwinshi], pay attention and, descendants of Sebahinzi, remember this evil that should be driven as far away as possible, so that it never returns to Rwanda.35

Bikindi sang that the revolution should be preserved "especially by we who have benefited from it," a reminder that should the Tutsi win, they would not just reverse all the political changes of the revolution but also reclaim all the property that had once been theirs, leaving many Hutu destitute. This argument carried great weight with cultivators who were working lands received after the expulsion of the Tutsi and who feared above all being reduced to landless laborers.

"Genocide of the Hutu"

The propagandists went further. They insisted that not just the freedom and prosperity of Hutu were at risk but their very lives. They warned that the Tutsi minority could not hope to reestablish their control over the majority without killing large numbers of Hutu. By December 1990, Kangura had begun charging that the Tutsi had prepared a war that "would leave no survivors." Another pamphlet produced by Mugesera declared in February 1991 that the RPF planned "to restore the dictatorship of the extremists of the Tutsi minority," by "a genocide,the extermination of the Hutu majority."36 As the conflict progressed, the warnings became increasingly explicit and hysterical. By mid-1993, propagandists were asserting, "We know that they have attacked us with the intention of massacring and exterminating 4.5 million Hutu and especially those who have gone to school...."37 Particularly after April 6, 1994, propagandists and media circulated the story that Tutsi had prepared pits to serve as mass graves for the Hutu. RPF troops had indeed dug trenches to protect their positions, which may have given some support to these rumors. Hard-liners even claimed that Tutsi had prepared holes in the dirt floors of their houses to accommodate Hutu corpses. That custom – not to mention concerns of health and odor – made such burial unthinkable did not discourage speculation that they intended to dispose of the bodies in this way.38

In warning that the Tutsi were planning a genocide against the Hutu, several publications appear to have have followed closely the propaganda tactic of "accusation in a mirror." Some attributed to Tutsi the words that Hutu themselves would eventually use in inciting the slaughter of Tutsi. In September 1991, La Médaille Nyiramacibiri stated that the Tutsi wanted to "clean up Rwanda...by throwing Hutu in the Nyabarongo [River]", a phrase that would become notorious when Mugesera applied it to Tutsi a year later. Kangura reported that RPF soldiers captured by the government forces said that they "had come to clean the county of the filth of Hutu."39 During the genocide, Hutu would often talk of cleansing their communities of the filth of the Tutsi. In April 1992, the newspaper Jyambere charged opposition parties with distributing arms to their youth wings, revealingby its "accusations in a mirrror" exactly what the Habyarimana forces were then doing.40

The Regional Context

Echoing the military memorandum which had identified the "Nilo-Hamitic people of the region," in general, and Tutsi in Uganda, Zaire, and Burundi, in particular, as sources of support for the "enemy," propagandists stressed the regional aspect of the RPF attack. The RPF had launched its operation from Uganda with the support, though unacknowledged, of the Ugandan authorities. Some of the most important leaders of the RPF had served in the Ugandan army under the command of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who supposedly was related through a grandmother to the Bahima. The Bahima are pastoralists, a small number of whom lived in northeastern Rwanda, and are generally grouped with Tutsi. In neighboring Burundi, Tutsi dominated the army and economy, although they briefly lost control of political power after the election of a Hutu president and his party in June 1993. Tutsi were also powerful in adjacent regions of Zaire. From these disparate pieces of information, propagandists like those at Kangura concluded that:

    There is indeed a diabolical plan prepared by the Tutsi and related groups and targeting the systematic extermination of the Bantu population as well as the extension of a Nilotic empire from Ethiopia...and Douala to the sources of the Nile and from...Gabon to Lesotho going through the vast basins of the Kongo, the Rift Valley of Tanzania...down to the Cape and the Drakensberg Mountains....What are the Bantu peoples waiting for to protect themselves against the genocide that has been so carefully and consciously orchestrated by the Hamites thirsty for blood and for barbarian conquests and whose leaders dispute the golden medal of cruelty with the Roman emperor Nero....41

In his pamphlet, Mugesera weighed in with the same idea, asserting that the Tutsi intended to

    "Establish in the Bantu region of the great lakes (Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire, Tanzania, Uganda) a vast kingdom for the Hima-Tutsi, an ethnic group thatconsiders itself superior, on the model of the Aryan race, and which uses Hitler's Swastika as its emblem."42

Mugesera's linking the plot for a Tutsi empire to the Nazis was picked up by Kangura several months later. In its September 1991 issue, it repeats the charge that neo-Nazi Tutsi, nostalgic for power, dream of "colonial expansion," and adds to this the accusation that they are cannibals besides.43 Mugesera and Kangura appear to have been implementing the tactic of "accusation in a mirror" by connecting the Tutsi with the Nazis. It may have been Habyarimana and his intimates instead who were the admirers of Hitler. Copies of films about Hitler and Naziism were apparently found in Habyarimana's residence after the family fled in early April 1994.44

The propagandists buttressed their argument about the plan to create a grand Tutsi empire by referring to an apparently apocryphal letter, dated 1962, about a Tutsi program to "re-colonize" the region starting from the Kivu region of Zaire. They also talked of a plan supposedly formulated by a Tutsi politician named Arthémon Simbananiye in Burundi for killing off the Hutu population over a period of decades. This purported plan, frequently discussed by Hutu in Burundi, seemed credible in a country where Tutsi had in fact slaughtered tens of thousands of Hutu.45

"The Hutu as Innocent Victim"

Underlying much of this propaganda is the image of the Hutu as the innocent victim – victim of the original aggression by Tutsi conquerors some centuries ago, of the "infiltration" of the state and society, and of the 1990 invasion. After April 6, 1994, President Habyarimana himself would become the ultimate symbol of Hutu as innocent victim.

When the government was criticized for killing Tutsi in the years before the genocide, officials and propagandists alike tried to demonstrate that the Tutsi had slaughtered more than the Hutu. In September 1991, the pro-Habyarimanapublication La Medaille Nyiramacibiri discounted reports that Hutu officials had been responsible for killing Tutsi and offered instead to give readers lists of the Hutu killed by Tutsi so "then you will know who are the real criminals."46

In 1992 and 1993, Habyarimana came under increasingly severe attack for human rights abuses, including the slaughter of some 2,000 Tutsi. In February 1993 the RPF violated a cease-fire and killed hundreds of civilians in their military advance and several dozen others by summary executions. Hoping to divert attention from the criticism against Habyarimana, propagandists and officials like the Rwandan ambassador to the U.S. launched exaggerated accusations against the RPF. Depicting the Hutu as the true victims, they asserted that the RPF had killed 40,200 civilians.47 In a letter to the pope and various heads of state, a group of people identifying themselves as "intellectuals of the city of Butare," and using the Butare campus of the National University as their return address, accused the RPF of genocide. They went so far as to indicate how many of the 40,200 victims had come from each of the communes affected by the latest RPF attack. Even had the number of estimated victims not raised suspicions, such spurious detail would have caused doubts, given that the letter was dated only eleven days after the attack. A group of seventeen Rwandans studying in the United States sent out a similar letter to American political leaders and organizations on February 24.48 In a speech on March 23, 1993, President Habyarimana did not go so far, but claimed merely that the RPF had slaughtered several tens of thousands of civilians.49

"The Tutsi Cause Their Own Misfortune"

According to the propagandists, the suffering of the Hutu was real and grievous, but the misery of the Tutsi was a sham or, if real, had been their own fault. Those Tutsi apparently killed by official direction had in fact committed suicide, they said, or had left the country to go join the RPF. Those who had been driven from homes that had then been burned and pillaged had actually destroyed their own property to give Hutu a bad name or to cover their departure for the ranksof the RPF. In a speech to military commanders on March 13, 1993, President Habyarimana suggested that it was possible that the RPF itself had "organized and aggravated" the massacres of the Tutsi that had taken place at the end of January 1993 (see below) in order to give themselves a pretext for violating the cease-fire.50 And, once again relying on the easy identification of all Tutsi with the RPF, propagandists said Tutsi deserved whatever ill befell them because it was they who had launched the war in the first place.

"Hutu Solidarity"

Propagandists and officials constantly reminded Hutu that they had one important advantage in facing this ruthless and insidious enemy: they were rubanda nyamwinshi, the great majority. Kangura encouraged them, "Your unity, your mutual understanding, your solidarity are the certain weapons of your victory." But this advantage could be thrown away. As Kangura warned, "you understand that when the majority people is divided, [then] the minority becomes the majority..."51 Hutu must not be divided by regionalism or by conflicting party loyalties. Any who trusted in the Tutsi rather than in their fellow Hutu would suffer the consequences. Should the Tutsi win, they would pay no attention to place of origin or political party membership – they would oppress all Hutu in the same way.

The propagandists, like the authors of the military memorandum, railed against any Hutu who would dare to break ranks: such traitors could not possibly act from worthy motives but must have succumbed to money or women offered by the Tutsi. The need to maintain Hutu purity and to avoid contamination from the Tutsi was taught in a notorious set of "Ten Commandments." It specified that any Hutu who married or consorted with Tutsi women were traitors, as were any who engaged in business with Tutsi. It demanded that all strategic posts in politics or administration be reserved for Hutu and that the armed forces be exclusively Hutu.52 The virulence of the attacks against Hutu who opposed Habyarimana showed how much the president and his supporters dreaded the "Kanyarengwe effect." Discrediting those already in the opposition was not enough; they had to make it unthinkable for others to join them.

The popular singer Simon Bikindi spread this message in a song entitled "I Hate Hutu." In one version, he particularly targets the Hutu of Butare:

    Let us start in the region of Butare where they like feudalism [the reign of the Tutsi], who would blame me for that? I hate them and I don't apologize for that. I hate them and I don't apologize for that. Lucky for us that they are few in number...Those who have ears, let them hear!53

Once propagandists had established the supposedly overwhelming threat to Hutu – to their lives and to their very existence as a people, as well as to their freedom and material well-being – it was an easy step to arguing their right – indeed their duty – to defend themselves, their country, and the revolution. The best-known expression of this idea before the genocide came in a speech delivered on November 22, 1992 by Léon Mugesera.

The Mugesera Speech: "Do Not Let Yourselves Be Invaded"

Party meetings offered propagandists an essential opportunity to spread the doctrine. In emotion-filled gatherings, where music, dancing performances and beer warmed the audience, propagandists could send their message directly into the hearts of their listeners. Speakers caught up in the excitement of playing to a responsive crowd often delivered the message of the moment in a more dramatic and intense form than what might be printed in a newspaper or broadcast over the radio. They could also use the opportunity to test what ideas could be made acceptable to the party faithful. Few such speeches are available for analysis, but one has been preserved in its entirety, probably because its ideas and style of expression were so extreme and called forth a vigorous response from the opposition.

The setting was an MRND meeting at Kabaya, not far from Habyarimana's home, in the northwestern prefecture of Gisenyi. The speaker, Mugesera, was then vice-president of the MRND for the prefecture as well as an official of the Ministry for the Family and the Promotion of Feminine Affairs. The date was November 22, 1992, one week after a well-publicized speech by President Habyarimana in the adjacent prefecture of Ruhengeri in which he had disavowed the Arusha Accords. Habyarimana had also talked about elections that would someday be held in Rwanda, promising that the MRND militia, the Interahamwe, would serve as a striking force to ensure his victory.

In a speech that weaves together the major themes of pro-Habyarimana propaganda, Mugesera stresses above all the danger of being invaded. In opening his remarks, he tells the audience: "At whatever cost, you will leave here with these words...do not let yourselves be invaded." And after having returned to the phrase about not being invaded another ten times in the half hour speech, he concludes, "I know you are men...who do not let themselves be invaded, who refuse to be scorned."

The invasion to which he refers is two-pronged: of course, that of the RPF, and, in addition, that of the political parties opposed to Habyarimana. In the most frequently cited passages, Mugesera attacks the "Inyenzi" – he insists that they must be called Inyenzi, never the more respectful Inkotanyi – but he assails with equal force those political parties which he labels "accomplices" of the RPF. He condemns the MDR, the PL, and the PSD as "traitors" for talking with the RPF and for demoralizing and causing mutinies in the Rwandan army by raising the question of its eventual demobilization. He accuses them of having given away the prefecture of Byumba because they favored a cease-fire and negotiations after the RPF had taken part of that region. He insists that ministers of opposition parties who pretend to represent Rwanda in the peace negotiations do not in fact speak for the nation. "They are Inyenzi talking to [other] Inyenzi." Taking his cue from Habyarimana's rejection of the Arusha Accords the previous week, he asserts that "we will never accept these things."

Mugesera shows concern also for the way the MDR, PL, and PSD are destroying Hutu unity. He berates them for having "invaded" the MRND in various ways: by bringing their party flags and regalia into the northwestern prefectures, by "tak[ing] our men," by challenging MRND leadership in Nshili commune (see above), and by replacing MRND functionaries with their own supporters in ministeries under their control. Saying that the MRND is "at war" with members of these parties, he warns that these opponents are armed and have "begun to kill." He demands that they clear out of the region because "we cannot accept that such people shoot us down while pretending to live among us."

Saying that the enemy's objective is extermination, Mugesera exhorts his audience to "rise up...really rise up" in self-defense. He cites the Bible several times and declares that the MRND has a new version of the Biblical adage to turn the other cheek: "If you are struck once on one cheek, you should strike back twice..." He says that the law provides the death penalty for both politicians inside the country and "Inyenzi" who have betrayed the national interest. If the judicial system is not going to act to execute this punishment, then the people have the right to do so themselves and "to exterminate this scum." In referring to the "Inyenzi," he says that it was a mistake that some of them were allowed to get away in 1959.He recounts a conversation in which he warned a member of the PL, "I am telling you that your home is in Ethiopia, that we are going to send you back there quickly, by the Nyabarongo [River]." For the audience, "member of the PL" could not have meant anything other than Tutsi, and the mention of transportation by the Nyabarongo had to be understood as killing the people in question and dumping the bodies in the river, a usual practice in past massacres of Tutsi. [The Nyabarongo feeds into the rivers of the Nile watershed and hence is supposed to permit passage to Ethiopia.] Mugesera directs the faithful to keep careful track of all the people who come into their neighborhoods and to "crush" any accomplice so that "he will not be able to get away."

Speaking before Rwandans, who ordinarily value sophisticated, allusive rhetoric, Mugesera chose unusually blunt words to convey his message. Using a coarse term not often heard in a public address, he talks of members of other parties coming to MRND territory to defecate. He depicts the opponent as dying, in the agony of death, knocked down, and under ground. He calls them "vermin" that must be "liquidated." And at the end, he gives a final warning, "Know that the person whose throat you do not cut now will be the one who will cut yours."54

Mugesera's speech was tape-recorded. Excerpts were broadcast on the national radio and copies of the cassette were circulated among people in Kigali and other towns. One newspaper published the text. Many persons, and not all of them opposed to the MRND, expressed outrage at this bald summons to slaughter. Jean Rumiya, a professor at the university and former colleague of Mugesera, wrote him an open letter to criticize this "true call to murder." He remarked that Mugesera, someone who had done much textual analysis in his work, certainly understood exactly what he was doing with his use of coarse language and terms like "cutting throats." He pointed out that whether by coincidence or by design, Mugesera had used the same kind of language heard at the time of recent Tutsi massacres in the northwest. As a former member of the central committee of the MRND, he regretted that a speech so full of ethnic hatred and political intolerance could be presented at a MRND meeting and particularly without eliciting a protest from theaudience. He had believed, he wrote, that "the time of ritual murders for political ends was finished."55

The minister of justice, a member of the PL, issued a warrant for Mugesera's arrest for inciting to violence. Mugesera dropped from view. According to some witnesses, he sought refuge at a military camp for a few weeks before pro-Habyarimana soldiers helped him escape from the country in early 1993. He returned to Canada where he had once studied at Laval University. On July 11, 1996, the Canadian arbiter Pierre Turmel, ajudicator in an administrative proceeding brought by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, found that Mugesera had incited to genocide by his November 1992 speech and ordered him expelled from Canada on a number of charges.56

Practicing Slaughter

To execute a campaign against Tutsi effectively took practice. Before the grim background of war, economic distress, violent political competition, insecurity and impunity, and to the accompaniment of virulent propaganda, radicals staged the practice for the catastrophe to come. The rehearsals took place in more than a dozen communities, the most important being the commune of Kibilira in October 1990, March 1992, December 1992, and January 1993; in several communes in northwestern Rwanda, including Mukingo, Kinigi, Gaseke, Giciye, Karago, and Mutura in January and February 1991; in the region known as Bugesera, commune Kanzenze, in March 1992; in several communes of Kibuye in August 1992; and again in the northwest in December 1992 and January 1993.57 These attacksslaughtered some 2,000 Tutsi and dozens of Hutu and established patterns for the genocide of 1994.

Choosing the Target

The organizers launched the attacks where they could be sure of success, in regions most identified with Habyarimana and his supporters. Of the seventeen incidents of serious violence in the years 1990-1993, fourteen took place in the northwest quadrant of the country and the fifteenth took place in Bugesera, where considerable numbers of Hutu from the northwest had settled relatively recently.

Authorities tolerated and incited small-scale, sporadic killings of Tutsi throughout this period, but they also initiated five more important attacks, each time in reaction to challenges that threatened Habyarimana's control. They sought to use ethnic violence to transform the threats into opportunities to strengthen their position. The first two challenges were military, the October l, 1990 invasion and the lightning strike by the RPF at Ruhengeri on January 22, 1991. Massacres of Tutsi began ten days after the first, almost immediately after the second. By organizing reprisals against the Tutsi, the regime got rid of some "enemies" and fostered solidarity among Hutu who actually or vicariously joined in the killing. At the same time, it was able to claim to have located the reason for the setback – "infiltrators" – and to have dealt with it successfully.

The other three challenges were political. The first was the unexpectedly strong demand by the new parties of opposition for a place in the government. They were able to turn out tens of thousands of demonstrators in January 1992 and kept up pressure on Habyarimana throughout discussions during the following month. The next was the first protocol of the Arusha Accords, which Habyarimana signed under heavy domestic and international pressure in August 1992. The last was the January 1993 signature of a further protocol of the Accords concerning the transitional government that was to govern in the interim between the signature of the peace treaty and elections. In these three instances, Habyarimana and his supporters used massacres of Tutsi to create the appearance of massive opposition to concessions to other political parties and to the RPF.

The first three of these rehearsals for slaughter targeted only Tutsi. But during the August 1992 attack and the violence at the end of 1992 and in early 1993, assailants killed both Tutsi and Hutu members of parties opposed to Habyarimana, presaging the catastrophe of 1994.

Feeding the Fear

Before these attacks, authorities used lies, exaggeration, and rumors about the local situation to make the general propaganda against Tutsi more immediate and frightening. They staged incidents or reported events which had not in fact occurred to "prove" that Tutsi inside Rwanda were "accomplices" of the RPF. This accusation, repeated constantly and by officials and community leaders alike, was itself a recurring "created" event, meant to bring the threat inside and to make the danger real.

In Kibirira in October 1990, some officials told people that Tutsi planned to exterminate the Hutu and had killed two Hutu in their region. Others told the local population that Tutsi had killed two important military men from the region, Colonel Serubuga and Colonel Uwihoreye. Still others spread the rumor that Tutsi had attacked children at local schools.

To incite Hutu to kill the Bagogwe, generally seen as a subgroup of the Tutsi, in the communes of northwestern Rwanda in early 1991, authorities blamed them for having helped the RPF stage its surprise attack on Ruhengeri on January 23, 1991. To increase fear further, the military followed the successful precedent of the October 1990 "attack" on Kigali and staged a fake assault on the important Bigogwe military camp in the region. This worked so well that in one commune the burgomaster had trouble persuading the Hutu not to flee – their immediate reaction – but instead to stay and attack their Bagogwe neighbors.

In Bugesera, where large numbers of recent Hutu migrants from the northwest had settled adjacent to groups of Tutsi resident there since the revolution, local authorities whipped up Hutu sentiment against Tutsi by publicizing the departure of young Tutsi who crosssed the nearby Burundi border to join the RPF. In late February and early March 1992, Hassan Ngeze, editor of Kangura, visited Bugesera several times to spread tracts and rumors about the danger of "Inyenzi" infiltration and attacks. Following a local meeting of the PL on March 1, such a tract was distributed in the community accusing the PL leader of being a rebel and an assassin and closing with words reminiscent of Mugesera's speech a few months before: they must not escape us! On March 3, Radio Rwanda five times broadcast the "news" that a "human rights group" in Nairobi had issued a press release warning that Tutsi were going to kill Hutu, particularly Hutu political leaders, in Bugesera. Some Hutu took this to be the truth and the next night began slaughtering Tutsi.

In communes in northwestern Rwanda in December 1992 and January 1993, officials warned that killers were lurking in the nearby Gishwati forest and they organized the population to "clear the brush." "The brush" referred to Tutsi who were thought to provide cover to the RPF, allowing them to infiltrate without being noticed because they looked like resident Tutsi. Also in this region officialscautioned that strangers had been sighted, including a "man with a red bag," a shadowy figure who had also supposedly put in an appearance in Kibirira at one time. They also asserted that a young Tutsi who had left – to join the RPF, they said – had returned carrying a suspicious-looking bag.

Directing the Attacks

Local officials at the level of cell, sector, and commune directed the early massacres. In several places, such as the communes of Gaseke and Giciye, they told the people that participating in the attacks was their umuganda or communal work obligation. Other community leaders, such as teachers, health workers, the staff of developments projects, and party heads also helped turn out killers.

In Bugesera in March 1992, authorities used the Interahamwe to slaughter Tutsi for the first time. Drawing on experience gained in the violence of kubohoza, the militia knew how to take the lead, making it possible for government officials to play a less public part in the slaughter. At the end of 1992 and in early 1993, they again supported Hutu attacking Tutsi in the northwest, confirming their usefulness in ethnic violence.

Officials determined the end as well as the start of the slaughter. In Kibirira, for example, authorities needed only to send two policemen to blow their whistles and announce the end to the killing. The police did not need to fire a single shot to restore order. In January 1993 two burgomasters halted the attacks against Tutsi during the visit of an international commission investigating human rights violations, saying the slaughter would resume when the group left. Indeed, the killings began within hours of its departure.

Officials often directed assailants first to pillage property, guaranteeing them immediate profit as they accustomed themsleves to attacking their neighbors. In communities where people showed no enthusiasm for even this level of violence, the attacks went no further. But where officials were able to generate enough fear and greed, assailants moved to the next stage of destroying houses and then to killing the inhabitants of the houses.

Just as the attacks could increase in intensity, so they could increase in area, with attacks in one sector or commune sparking similar crimes in the adjacent regions.

Once massacres began in an area, authorities held victims hostage by refusing them the permits needed to leave for other regions or by physically barring their escape routes with barriers. Tutsi attempting to pass the barriers were usually identified by their identity cards and then slain. Those who decided not to flee were killed in their homes.

Civilian authorities played the major role in directing attacks, but they occasionally called on the military for support. In northwestern Rwanda in early 1991, soldiers rounded up Bagogwe to be slain and helped civilians when they encountered resistance from their intended victims. In Bugesera in March 1992, soldiers in civilian dress joined groups of killers while others in uniform disarmed Tutsi and kept them cornered until the killing teams could arrive.

In the northwest and in Bugesera, civilian and military authorities occasionally rounded up groups of several dozen people to be massacred all at one time at a site such as a communal office. But for the most part, they did not attack large groups who gathered spontaneously at such sites – particularly at churches. Instead they cut their access to food and water to force them to return home. They were not yet ready to launch the large-scale attacks that became usual during the 1994 genocide.

Lying about the Violence

When confronted with reports of killings, the authorities often simply denied that the slaughter had taken place. This strategy worked best in cases where the killings had taken place in an inaccessible location. Because the Bagogwe, for example, lived far from the capital and in an area where access was controlled by the military, the authorities were able to continue pretending there had been no slaughter until outside investigators insisted on visiting the region and revealed the lie.58

When the massacre was too widely known to be plausibly denied, authorities had ready a range of excuses, most of which asserted that the victims had brought the slaughter on themselves – by boasting of imminent RPF victory, by threatening Hutu, or by having planned to attack Hutu. They ordinarily concluded by equating Tutsi with the RPF and declaring that Tutsi were being killed because they had launched an unjustified war against Rwanda in the first place.

Well aware of how easily foreigners accepted explanations of "ancient, tribal hatreds," the authorities repeatedly underlined the "tribal" nature of the killings when called to account by the international community. They insisted that they had been simply unable to control the outburst of spontaneous, popular rage. Then, turning the explanation into a plea for additional foreign support, they would express regrets that the government was so poor that it could not provide officials with the needed resources to keep order in such difficult circumstances.


No one, neither official nor ordinary citizen, was ever convicted of any crime in connection with these massacres. Some suspected assailants were arrested after the Kibilira massacre, but were released several weeks later. The prefect of the adjacent prefecture warned in early 1991 that the killings might begin again because those apparently guilty at Kibilira had been liberated and "were boasting of 'brave deeds' that had gone unpunished."59 The government removed several officials from their posts in areas where attacks had occurred, particularly after foreign criticism of the killings and after the installation of the coalition government when officials opposed to Habyarimana could influence appointment of personnel. But, more discreetly, national authorities also removed local officials who had protected Tutsi or tried to prevent the spread of violence against them.

International Response to the Massacres

In pursuing ethnic violence as a way to keep political power, Habyarimana and his supporters stayed alert to any international reaction to the killings. Even before the war, Rwanda needed foreign financial assistance to keep the government running. With military expenditures, the war-time damage to the economy and the burden of feeding hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, it had become even more dependent on donor nations, both for direct aid and for support through such multilateral institutions as the World Bank and the European Union. Leaders of whatever political persuasion – even radicals of the CDR – understood the importance of maintaining some level of international respectability.

Foreigners – diplomats, aid experts, clergy, technocrats resident in the country – also wanted to maintain the positive image of this clean, well-organized, hard-working little country. Even as evidence of human rights abuses mounted, many were reluctant to admit wrongdoing by the government. In July 1991, consultants from outside the system and thus unaffected by this enthusiasm for the Habyarimana regime found representatives of the major donors in Kigali unwilling to admit that ethnic conflict posed serious risks. When they advised donors to insist on the removal of ethnic classification on identity cards as a condition for continued aid, none of them took the advice.60

Donors hoped to correct what they viewed as inadequacies in the regime by fostering the growth of a "civil society," including Rwandan human rights groups. Activitists like Monique Mujyawamariya of ADL, Alphonse-Marie Nkubito of ARDHO, Bernadette Kanzayire of AVP, and Fidele Kanyabugoyi of Kanyarwanda pressured the government for reforms and also kept diplomats in Kigali well-informed of violations. On the occasion of particularly egregious abuses, such as the Bugesera massacre, they actually took diplomats to witness the events. When confronted by such evidence, the diplomats ordinarily intervened with the Rwandan government, discreetly in less important cases, more formally by a joint visit to the authorities in cases like that of Bugesera. These occasional protests sometimes resolved short-term problems but failed to affect Habyarimana's overall policy. Donor nations regarded human rights abuses generally as the result of the war and they chose to work on ending the war rather than on addressing the violations as such. Many would adopt the same position at the time of the genocide. Habyarimana understood the foreign reluctance to intervene and when questioned about massacres, he was always ready with suitable expressions of regret and promises to avoid such mishaps in the future. The foreign donors easily swallowed this reassurance.

The International Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Abuse in Rwanda

Rwandan activists expected more from the donors who always spoke so highly about the importance of human rights. To focus foreign attention on the seriousness of the problem, the activists in the coalition CLADHO pressed international human rights organizations to mount a joint commission to examine the human rights situation in Rwanda. Four agreed to do so: Human Rights Watch (New York), the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (Paris), the International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development (Montreal) and the Interafrican Union of Human and Peoples' Rights (Ouagadougou).

During an inquiry in Rwanda in January 1993, the International Commission amassed substantial data to show that "President Habyarimana and his immediate entourage bear heavy responsibility for these massacres [from October 1990 through January 1993] and other abuses against Tutsi and members of the political opposition."61

The commission also presented evidence of abuses by the RPF, but given that the RPF then controlled a population of only 3,000 people, this part of the report attracted relatively little attention.

The commission report, published on March 8, 1993, put Rwandan human rights abuses squarely before the international community. It was widely distributed among donor nations and was even handed out by the U.N. Department of Humanitarian Affairs to representatives meeting to discuss assistance to Rwanda.62 International donors accepted its conclusions and expressed concern, but took no effective action to insist that the guilty be brought to justice or that such abuses not be repeated in the future. French President François Mitterrand directed that an official protest be made and explanations demanded from the Rwandan government, but French authorities made no public criticism of the massacres documented in the report.63 Belgium reacted most strongly by recalling its ambassador for consultations but in the end made no significant changes in its aid program. The U.S. redirected part of its financial aid from official channels to nongovernmental organizations operating in Rwanda so that the Rwandan government could not profit from it, and Canada also cut back on its aid. But both donors weakened the impact of their decisions by linking them to Rwandan fiscal mismanagement or shortage of their own funds as much as to human rights abuses.

The report of the International Commission was presented to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, but it declined to discuss the matter in open session, reportedly because it had too many other African nations already on its docket. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Summary, Arbitrary and Extrajudicial Executions undertook a mission to Rwanda in April 1993 and produced a report in August 1993 that largely confirmed the report of the International Commission. Referring to the possibility, raised by the International Commission, that the massacres of the Tutsi might constitute genocide, the special rapporteur concluded that in his judgment the killings were genocide according to the terms of the 1948 Convention for the Suppression and Punishment of Genocide.

To forestall any further damage to his image, Habyarimana responded to the charges of the International Commission in a formal statement, signed jointly with Prime Minister Dismas Nsengiyaremye on April 7, 1993. In it, the Rwandan government "recognizes and regrets the human rights violations committed in ourcountry." But continuing to deny that officials had taken the initiative in any of these abuses, the government declared only that it had failed to assure the security of citizens who were attacked. It did, however, promise to undertake a series of human rights reforms that closely followed the recommendations of the commission. Habyarimana at the same time launched efforts to discredit the commission, calling into existence four fake human rights organizations that published a scurrilous pamphlet attacking commission members and sponsored a European speaking tour for two representatives to refute the report. The attempt to discredit the commission was too clumsy to succeed, but Habyarimana had secured the continuing favor of donors in any case by his April 7 profession of good intentions.

In the months after the publication of the report, there were no more massacres of Tutsi and the international community hoped that the ethnic violence would not be repeated. But its willingness to accept excuses for lesser massacres and its continuing acceptance of impunity for killers in official positions contributed to the very result they wished to avoid, more slaughter and this time catastrophic in scale and unambiguously genocidal in nature.

In the episodes of violence from 1990 to 1994, Habyarimana's supporters perfected some of the tactics they would use during the genocide: how to choose the best sites to launch attacks, how to develop the violence – both in intensity and in extent – from small beginnings, how to mobilize people through fear, particularly fear aroused by "created" events, how to use barriers and bureaucratic regulations to keep a target group restricted to one place, and how to build cooperation between civilian, military, and militia leaders to produce the most effective attacks. Perhaps equally important, they had learned that this kind of slaughter would be tolerated by the international community.


The Rwandan government and the RPF signed a cease-fire in July 1992 and the first protocol of the Arusha Accords the next month, but progress to peace was one step forward and two steps back. On August 17, 1992, the day after the protocol was signed, Habyarimana declared on the radio that he would not permit negotiators to "lead our country into an adventure it would not like."1 Three days later, MRND and CDR supporters killed dozens of Tutsi and members of parties opposed to Habyarimana in the Kibuye massacre described above. During these weeks, the president was apparently conducting private negotiations with the RPF through a Jesuit priest, seeking to obtain assurance of a amnesty for himself in return for his resignation. As it was becoming clear that these talks would lead nowhere, Habyarimana and his supporters learned that more than a million dollars worth of arms had been seized in Orlando, Florida. They supposed that these arms, apparently en route to Kampala, were meant to resupply the RPF and they anticipated an RPF attack at the end of September or beginning of October.2 It may have been these events which prompted the Rwandan army high command to disseminate on September 21 its memorandum defining the enemy, which had been sitting in a drawer for a number of months. In mid-October, the MRND ministers indicated that the government was divided over peace negotiations and three days later, the CDR took to the streets to protest the talks. At the end of October, nonetheless, the Rwandan government and the RPF signed the second part of the Arusha Accords. Two weeks later, Habyarimana disavowed the agreements in his "scrap of paper" declaration, and a week after that MRND propagandist Mugesera invited his fellow party members to engage in mayhem against Tutsi and Hutu opposed to the MRND.3

At the end of December 1992, the MRND (with Habyarimana as party president), the CDR, and several allied smaller parties issued a vigorous rejection of the Accords, calling it "a plan for treason" which "[we] must prepare to defeat."4Two weeks later, the Rwandan government agreed to another part of the Accords, the one which decided political arrangements for the transitional period before elections. But not quite two weeks after that, the secretary-general of the MRND, Mathieu Ngirumpatse, again denounced the Accords, a position echoed several days later by Habyarimana himself who said that certain provisions must be re-negotiated.5 The MRND and CDR mobilized their followers in the streets to protest the agreement and launched the January 1993 massacre, described above, to disrupt the whole peace process.

He Who Wishes for Peace Prepares for War


Even as peace talks lurched uncertainly forward, the Rwandan army prepared for further war. After having obtained U.S.$6 million worth of arms from Egypt the previous March, the Ministry of Defense took delivery of a further U.S.$5.9 million worth of arms and ammunition from South Africa on October 19, 1992. The March purchase included some 450 Kalashnikov rifles, a standard infantry assault weapon and the one then used by most Rwandan soldiers, and the October purchase included 20,000 R-4 rifles. At the time of the March purchase, the Rwandan army also bought two thousand rocket-propelled grenades, which require a significant amount of instruction to use effectively, but no hand grenades; in October they purchased 20,000 hand grenades, which could be used by persons with relatively little training.6

The October purchase of small arms seems remarkably large, given that the armed forces then numbered some 30,000 men and was not being expanded. Any recruitment then being carried out was just to replace deserters.7 Although there were perhaps a thousand or so deserters per year, they did not all leave with their guns, and arming their replacements did not require 20,000 new weapons.8

Some of the newly purchased weapons may have been intended for resale to other governments but thousands of them were distributed to members of the armed forces, making possible the recycling of their weapons to communal police and ordinary citizens.9

Not quite two weeks after the first part of the peace accords was signed, burgomasters were ordered to prepare lists of materials needed by their local police, usually a force of ten or so policemen and ordinarily armed lightly, if at all. Several burgomasters submitted unremarkable requests for raincoats and handcuffs, but others, perhaps alerted to the possibilities by some unofficial communication, presented very different lists. The burgomaster of Nyamagabe reported that his police needed three Kalashnikov rifles and one BREN machine gun with amunition. The burgomaster of Nshili – who had been successfully brought back to the MRND by the kubohoza described above – asked for twelve automatic weapons and six other arms as well as 1,000 bullets of one kind and fifty of another. The burgomaster of Mudasomwa, one of the first communes to launch genocidal killing in April 1994, requested eight automatic weapons and two pistols.10

At this time, the training and arming of communal police was supervised by Col. Alphonse Ntezeliyayo, who was seconded from the Ministry of Defense to the Ministry of the Interior. Colonel Ntezeliyayo, originally from the southern prefecture of Butare, was apparently not well-regarded by his colleagues from the north, who taxed him with being too accommodating to Tutsi and Hutu dissidents, a position he would change during the genocide.11

Presumably at Ntezeliyayo's direction, authorities began in January 1993 to distribute new weapons to some communes considerably in excess of the number of policemen who were slated to use them. The commune of Ngoma, in the prefecture of Butare, added eight new Kalashnikovs to its supply of twenty-six rifles and at the same time received 960 bullets. Six months later, it received anadditional 144 bullets, although it had used only fifteen.12 At the time, the commune had eighteen policemen, an unusually large force because it served the needs of the important town of Butare, but not one that would have required thirty-four rifles. Given the severe financial problems of the government and the cost of firearms, it is unlikely that a surplus of sixteen rifles was simply stored in Ngoma without some plans for their use.13


The distribution of arms to the communes, presumably for the communal police but apparently for others as well, indicates that some highly placed military officers anticipated fighting an "enemy" dispersed in the population, not just concentrated on a war front. In the months that the arms were being distributed, both civilian and military authorities were gathering information on the "enemy" and where to find him.

In September and October 1992, prefects relayed secret orders to the burgomasters to compile lists of people who were known to have left the country surreptitiously. The lists, for "the purpose of security" were to include complete identification and were to be provided urgently. The prefects told the burgomasters to remove the registration cards of these people from the usual file and to put them aside until further instructions.14 Burgomasters were providing lists of "persons who joined the ranks of the inkotanyi" at least through August 1993.15 In his November 1992 speech, Mugesera several times attacked families that permitted their children to go join the RPF, insisting that these people should leave Rwanda while they still could, because "the time has come for us also to defend ourselves." Mugesera asked the crowd, "Why do we not arrest these parents who have senttheir children away and why do we not exterminate them?" A moment later, he continued,

    I would like to tell you that we are now asking for those people to be put on a list and for them to be brought to court so that they can be judged before us. If they [the judges] refuse...we should do it ourselves by exterminating this scum.16

In late September or early October 1992, the army general staff directed all units and military camps to provide lists of all people said to be "accomplices" of the RPF. When the order came to light in February 1993, Prime Minister Dismas Nsengiyaremye, protested against this "witch hunt" and demanded that any lists so compiled be turned over immediately to the Ministry of Justice for appropriate action.17 His initiative was apparently ignored by the military.

Several weeks later, the chief of staff, Colonel Nsabimana – the same man who had signed the September 21 letter circulating the definition of the enemy – was injured in an automobile accident. After he was taken to the hospital, a document was found in his car entitled cynically "Memo for the Protection of Human Rights" (Aide-Mémoire pour la protection des droits de la personne). It included a "list of persons to contact" (Personnes à contacter), 331 persons thought to be supporters of the RPF. The notes for some persons gave a brief description of the charges against them as well as their names and locations. Some were accused of having allowed their children to go abroad to join the RPF, others of having held suspicious meetings of Tutsi in their houses or of having stockpiled arms for the RPF. Several were named because they had been detained as "accomplices" in the October 1990 arrests.18 In the prefecture of Butare, and presumably in other prefectures as well, lists had been kept of all local people arrested in 1990. Some of the lists had been brought up to date with more current information about thepersons named.19 All these lists offered a ready source of information for any who wanted to attack Tutsi and Hutu opponents of Habyarimana.

As the existence of some of these lists became publically known, people from all sides found it increasingly easy to believe rumors of other lists and adversaries frequently traded accusations about such compilations. During the genocide, assailants often justified killing Tutsi by claiming that they had found lists of Hutu marked for execution on the person or property of their intended victims. Many such accusations were false, although some RPF supporters did apparently make lists of likely backers or opponents as part of the data about local communities that they supplied to the RPF.20

The Militia and "Self-Defense"

Beginning in March 1992 the Interahamwe had proved their effectiveness in attacking Tutsi and Hutu who supported the MDR, the PSD, or the PL. Foreseeing the role they could play against such "enemies" in case of renewed combat, Habyarimana and his supporters stepped up the recruitment and training of the militia. Hoping to keep the effort secret, they sent the recruits to training camps distant from the capital. One was at Gabiro, near a hotel in the Akagera game park, and another was in the northwestern Gishwati forest, adjacent to the Hotel Mont Muhe, which belonged to Habyarimana and his circle. The recruits at Gishwati lived in tents in the forest and were visited on the weekends by important MRND officials and businessmen who came up from Kigali to cheer them on. According to a witness present on one such occasion in January 1993, the hotel staff killed and roasted a cow to honor the visitors and the trainees. The tired and sweaty recruits came out of the forest fifteen or so at a time to enjoy the barbecue and plentiful beer. After several groups had eaten, they gathered the remaining food and drink and transported it into the forest in a pickup truck for their fellow trainees. When the festivities were finished, the dignitaries spent the night at the Mont Muhe Hotel or at hotels in the nearby town of Gisenyi.21

The militia, however, were limited by their close identification with the MRND. They would not seek to recruit – or would not in any case be able to recruit successfully – young men committed to other parties. Because of the bitterness of past kubohoza struggles, members of other parties regarded them with suspicion and sought to discover and expose their training programs, particularly any that used Rwandan army soldiers. The need for secrecy required complicated and sometimes costly logistical arrangements to get recruits to the remote training sites.

A government program of civilian self-defense offered a simpler, cheaper, and perhaps equally effective way of mobilizing civilians for eventual action against the "enemy." Immediately after the RPF invasion, the government had instituted such a program, similar to one established by authorities to counter guerrilla attacks in the 1960s.22 It required citizens to man blockades on roads and to carry out patrols at night. But the effort lapsed throughout most of the country soon after the RPF was driven back at the end of October 1990. In late December 1990, a group of university faculty including Vice-Rector Jean-Berchmans Nshimyumuremyi and Professor Runyinya-Barabwiriza proposed that the minister of defense establish a "self-defense" program for all adult men. Citing the adage, "He who wishes for peace prepares for war," the group advocated a population in arms as a way to "assure security" inside the country if the army were occupied in defending the frontiers. It suggested that men be trained locally, within the comune, under the command of soldiers, and that they should particularly learn to fight with "traditional weapons," because they were cheaper than firearms.23

The idea was not implemented at the time but in September 1991, as the RPF multiplied its incursions across the Ugandan border, Colonel Nsabimana, then the local commander, proposed training and arming one person from each unit of ten households. The persons to be armed would be chosen by the communal council, would be ideally between twenty-five and forty years old, married, patriotic, and of high moral character. They would be locally trained and would continue to live at home, going into action under the orders of National Policemen, or, if they were not available, of soldiers from local military units. The program was to beimplemented first in three communes near the Ugandan frontier and then extended to the rest of the country as money became available to pay for the arms.24

During 1992, small groups of local residents carried out patrols and engaged in skirmishes near the border, usually in the company of one or two soldiers. Often one or two of the civilians were armed with guns while others carried such weapons as machetes, spears or bows, and arrows. According to the local people, they fought more fiercely than the professional soldiers, but some in the top ranks of the army opposed the program, claiming that many civilians fled at the first sign of danger, leaving their guns behind for the RPF to pick up.25

The AMASASU and Colonel Bagosora

The high-ranking officers associated with the akazu were among those who continued to favor civilian self-defense. Col. Laurent Serubuga, for example, lent his prestige to Léon Mugesera, sitting on the platform while the MRND propagandist called repeatedly for the people to rise up and defend themselves.

The congruence of interest between hard-line soldiers and anti-Tutsi militants reappeared in January 1993 just after the third of the Arusha protocols was signed. On January 20, a group of soldiers calling themselves AMASASU sent an aggressive open letter to Habyarimana.26 They explained that their name meant The Alliance of Soldiers Provoked by the Age-old Deceitful Acts of the Unarists (Alliance des Militaires Agacés par les Séculaires Actes Sournois des Unaristes); Unarists referred to the Tutsi royalist party from the years of the revolution. The real meaning of the cumbersome name lay not in the component words but in the acronym: amasasu means bullets in Kinyarwanda. "Commandant Mike Tango," writing for the Supreme Council of the AMASASU, appears to have shared ideas with Mugesera, including the increasingly familiar phrase, "He who wishes for peace prepares for war." Both warn that supporters of the RPF had better clear out of the country before it is too late. Both threaten to deliver their own form of "justice" to the "accomplices" if the competent authorities fail to act against them. Commandant Mike goes even further. He declares that the RPF is preparing amajor attack and he asks Habyarimina, if that happens, "how do you expect to stop us from delivering an exemplary lesson to traitors inside the country? After all, we have already identified the most virulent of them and will strike them like lightning."

Repeating Mugesera's call for self-defense, Commandant Mike advocates establishing in each commune at least one battalion of "robust young men," who will receive a minimum of military training on the spot. "They will stay [at home] on the hills, but will be ready to form a popular army" to support the regular army. The Ministries of Youth, Defense and the Interior will take charge of training and commanding this "popular army."

Commandant Mike was a pseudonym, of course, but it seems likely that he is either Col. Théoneste Bagosora or someone working closely with him. Bagorosa was born in 1941 in the commune of Giciye, next to Habyarimana's home commune, and had devoted his life to the Rwandan army. He describes himself as the son of a "Christian and relatively well-off" family, with a father who was a teacher. He took military courses in Belgium and France and commanded the important military camp of Kanombe in Kigali until 1992. When the recently-installed coalition government made changes in the army high command in June 1992, forcing the retirement of Colonel Serubuga, Col. Pierre-Celestin Rwagafilita, and others, Habyarimana sought to have Bagosora named chief of staff. Ministers of opposing political parties refused this arrangement, seeing Bagasora as no improvement over the other hard-liners. In a compromise, Colonel Nsabimana, thought to be more moderate, was named to head the general staff and Bagosora was installed as head of the administration at the Ministry of Defense, where he was well placed to keep an eye on Minister of Defense James Gasana, who was seen as unsympathetic to hard-line positions. According to some observers, Habyarimana actually distrusted Bagosora, who had been trying for years to escape from Habyarimana's shadow. The two presented much the same political profile, with Bagosora somewhat more militantly anti-Tutsi, and they drew on the same constituencies. Bagosora, who was ambitious, was said to believe that he, too, was qualified to run Rwanda and hoped for the chance to do so. Bagosora reportedly enjoyed the support of Habyarimana's wife and her brothers and of his own younger brother, Pasteur Musabe who directed a large commercial bank, and was described by one insider as the most important civilian in the akazu.27

In an essay entitled "L'assassinat du Président Habyarimana ou l'ultime opération du Tutsi pour sa reconquête du pouvoir par la force au Rwanda,"Bagosora makes clear that he held firmly to the radical ideas of the CDR, as propagated by RTLM and such newspapers as Kangura. He has no hesitation in stating repeatedly that the struggle, one that is age-old (séculaire), is between the "Hutu people" and the Tutsi, not between political groups.28 For this reason, the negotiations at Arusha should have been between Hutu and Tutsi rather than between political parties and any future discussions should be held between two ethnically defined sides. The same theme is sounded in Kangura, which in February 1993 published a call for discussions between the head of the CDR and Kigeli V Ndahindurwa, the exiled former king of Rwanda, instead of wasting further time with negotiations at Arusha where the real actors were not present.29 For Bagosora, the Hutu are the legitimate possessors of the region, where they lived "harmoniously" with the Twa since the ninth century. The Tutsi "never had a country of their own to allow them to become a people"; they are and will remain "naturalised nilotic immigrants" who have arrogantly tried to impose their supremacy over the rightful local inhabitants.30 Repeating all the usual clichés about the supposed nature of these peoples, Bagosora describes the Tutsi as "masters of deceit," "dictatorial, cruel, bloody," "arrogant, clever and sneaky," while he speaks of the Hutu as "modest, open, loyal, independent and impulsive."31

Like Commandant Mike, the authors of the September 21 memorandum defining the enemy, and many of the anti-Tutsi propagandists, Bagosora is insistent that the RPF is simply a continuation of the old UNAR, determined to restore "feudal-royalist servitude." Like them, he stresses the RPF reliance on support from Uganda and its president Museveni, whose supposedly Hima origins he points out. Like Kangura, he refers to the "Simbananiye plan" that Tutsi had purportedlycreated to eliminate Hutu in Burundi, and he attributes to the RPF the assassination of Hutu political leaders of varying political views in Rwanda.32

Like the propagandists of Hutu solidarity, Bagosora refers to Kayibanda, the leader of the 1959 revolution, whose supposed words he uses to validate his argument that the Tutsi have brought suffering on themselves. He asserts that in attacking the Rwandan government, the Tutsi have knowingly and "coldly decided to expose their brothers to reprisals." In a reference that is inaccurate both in its date (March 11, 1963 instead of 1964) and in its content, Bagosora quotes Kayibanda as warning that further Tutsi attacks from outside the country would mean "the total and precipitate end of the Tutsi race."33

The essay, intended as a public justification for his position, shows how Bagosora fit into the ideological context of anti-Tutsi extremism. A second document, not intended for publication, shows how he intended to implement this ideology. When Bagosora fled Kigali in 1994, he left behind in his house a small black appointment book. On the cover is "Agenda 1993, Banque de Kigali," and inside is written Bagosora's name and telephone number.34

Beginning on the page for February 1 is a series of notes sketching out a plan for civilian self-defense. As with previous proposals, recruits are to live at home and to be trained locally. Bagosora writes, "The communal police should be up to training its militia," indicating by his use of the word "militia" the link he is making between the community-based self-defense units and those organized by the party. If they are not available, military reservists, meaning former soldiers, would give the instruction. The recruits are to be married men "who have something to defend" and, in a later passage, "reliable persons" chosen among those displaced by the war. Elsewhere he adds that each cell and each sector are to elect the men to be armed. In one entry, Bagosora indicates that three times as many men are to be trained as there are arms available; in another he notes that sixty men should be trained for each commune. They are to be organized by sectorwith coordination between military authorities and the local administration, including communal councilors, and local police.

Bagosora identifies the city of Kigali and the prefectures of Byumba, Ruhengeri, and Gisenyi as the areas where the self-defense program should be launched first. He projects the need for 2,000 weapons, 300 for Kigali, 700 for the prefecture of Byumba, 600 for Ruhengeri, and 400 for Gisenyi,35 and seems to indicate that the first 2,000 recruits should be trained by soldiers, perhaps to get the program started in the right way. An entry later in the month of February speaks of ordering 2,000 Kalashnikovs "to bring to 5,000 the number for the communes." On this page, he scribbles a proposal that three to five weapons be distributed for each cell. On another page, he jots the note "hand grenades" next to a list of the names of six communes. Aware of the possible conflicts that might arise out of arming a part of the population, Bagosora remarked on the importance of "avoiding partisan considerations during the distribution."

Not just a planner, Bagosora was evidently also involved in implementing the details of the self-defense program. He is concerned with obtaining vehicles and with finding appropriate storage places for the weapons. He even sketches out the main headings of a training program that would teach the use of the hand grenade, the rifle, bows and arrows, and spears. He proposes making targets out of empty tins with bulls eyes painted on or marked with chalk. One task to which he refers often is that of "organizing information," that is, propaganda. On one page, he notes "censorship of the radio" and "listen to all radio broadcasts." On another, he writes about radio broadcasts by heads of the political parties. Elsewhere he proposes the contents of a radio program which, he writes, should include songs by Bikindi, the singer well-known for his anti-Tutsi lyrics. He proposes entrusting a more general propaganda campaign, aimed at human rights organizations and the diplomatic corps, to Col. Gasake, a respected older soldier who had recently returned from years of diplomatic service abroad. Bagosora also jotted down remarks about the need to ban meetings of political parties and the possibility of amnesty for war crimes.

In a first effort to launch the self-defense program in northwestern Rwanda, Bagosora ordered about 500 firearms distributed in the communes of Mutura, Giciye, Karago, Rubavu, and Rwerere at the end of January or the beginning of February 1993. In doing so, he overrode the specific orders of the minister ofdefense. According to a document obtained at the time by Human Rights Watch, 193 firearms were delivered in the commune of Mutura to primary school teachers, government employees, communal councilors, army reservists, and shopkeepers, just the same kinds of people who would be found using guns during the genocide.36 On March 1, 1993, the burgomaster of the commune Gituza wrote to the prefect of Byumba, acknowledging delivery of forty-four firearms and thanking him in the name of the population for his efforts to provide for their security and self-defense.37

Defense Minister Gasana, who had been away at the Arusha negotiations, returned to Kigali and learned of the distribution. He ordered the 500 firearms collected, but not all of them were returned to the authorities.38 Bagosora and other hard-liners tried to discredit Gasana within the MRND.39 Perhaps anticipating the success of this attempt, Bagosora noted in his datebook in early March that Gasana would be replaced as minister by Felicien Ngango, a lawyer who was an important member of the PSD. The information was wrong and Gasana continued to serve until July 1993. With Gasana still in place and political conditions not yet ripe, Bagosora temporarily shelved his plans for distributing guns to civilians.

Locating Potential Leaders

On the page for February 21 of his appointment book, Bagosora had noted the need for "identification of reservists."40 A store of relevant information already existed, assembled by administrative authorities who tracked the location of former soldiers for a variety of reasons from mid-1992 on. By March 1993, the continued gathering of such information became more discreet, linked to political loyalties. At this time, the prefect of Kigali city asked two burgomasters who were MRNDsupporters to provide lists of former soldiers who were living in the capital, but he did not address the same request to the third, who was a member of the PSD. When that burgomaster asked why he had not been told to gather this information, he was informed that the order had come from the party, not from the administration.41

As the problems of insecurity grew throughout 1993, local officials enlisted increasingly active citizen participation in security committees that included judicial, police or military personnel, administrators, heads of local political parties, clergy, and other community leaders. In a number of communes, the security committees established patrols of citizens or of watchmen paid by citizens to supplement the inadequate efforts of local police.42 Although the involvement of ordinary citizens in police functions may have brought short-term improvements in security in some places, it created a precedent that would be exploited for the opposite purpose during the genocide.

The February 1993 Attack

On February 8, 1993, the RPF violated the July 1992 cease-fire and launched a massive attack all along the northern front and rapidly drove back the government troops. The civilian population also fled south, joining hundreds of thousands of persons displaced earlier in the conflict to make a total of some one million displaced, about one seventh of the total population. The RPF, critical of international inaction, claimed that they had to attack to halt the late January massacres of Tutsi and others.43 In fact, the slaughter of Tutsi had stopped more than a week before the RPF moved, suggesting that the real motive for the attack had been to force progress on the negotiations that Habyarimana had sought to stall by killing Tutsi.

The RPF initiative was a great success in military terms, but far less so in political terms. The MDR, PSD, and PL, cooperating more or less successfully with the RPF since May 1992, felt betrayed by the sudden resumption of combat. Some of their members began to question if the RPF really wanted a negotiated peace, or if it was determined to win an outright victory and impose its own control,replacing one repressive regime with another. Rwandan and international human rights organizations published credible charges that the RPF had assassinated at least eight Rwandan government officials and their families, had executed some fifty persons thought to be supporters of the MRND, and had killed at least two hundred other civilians in the course of its advance.44 News of these abuses contributed to disillusionment about RPF methods and goals among Rwandans and foreigners alike.

Faced with this growing discontent, the RPF was also militarily over-extended on a very wide front and so badly placed to risk open combat with French troops that had been brought in to reinforce the Rwandan army. The RPF agreed to a new cease-fire and pulled back to its original positions, leaving a sizable buffer zone between its lines and those of the government army.

After the RPF attack, more voices clamored for a civilian self-defense program. In a radio address four days after the RPF attack, Habyarimana advocated a self-defense force armed with traditional weapons rather than with guns.45 He repeated this idea in a speech to sector commanders of the Rwandan army on March 13, when he called for the population to "organize to defend itself."46 Political activist Ferdinand Nahimana wrote others of the political and intellectual elite, urging that young people, especially those displaced by the RPF advance, be trained as part of a "civil defense operation." Like the academics who had advocated self-defense in 1990, he stressed the usefulness of this popular force in "safeguarding peace inside the country," implying that it would act against civilians rather than against the RPF. He proposed that the force should be provided with "arms and other light materials that could be used directly in the defense of the population."47 In February, Kangura wrote:

    We must remark to the Inyenzi that if they do not change their attitude and if they persevere in their arrogance, the majority people will establish a force composed of young Hutu. This force will be charged with breaking theresistance of the Tutsi young people [literally, children]. We should stop fooling around.48

In a press release dated February 25, 1993, the CDR warned that the RPF were planning a genocide of Hutu throughout the country in their pursuit of a Hima-Tutsi empire. It demanded that the government provide the people with the means necessary to defend themselves.49

Splitting the Opposition

Even before the February 8 attack, some hard-liners sensed a new possibility of attracting members of rival parties – particularly the MDR – back to the side of the MRND. In the January 20 AMASASU letter, for example, Commandant Mike is conciliatory towards Prime Minister Dismas Nsengiyaremye of the MDR, a position far different from that taken by Mugesera, who had equated him with the devil in his speech three months before. Foreign advisers also saw the benefit of an MDR-MRND alliance. In a letter dated January 20, Alain De Brouwer, political counselor of the Christian Democratic International, (Internationale Démocrate Chrétienne, IDC) advised Mathieu Ngirumpatse, secretary-general of the MRND, to explore a "permanent and open MRND-MDR collaboration." He suggested calling a "national conference" to form an alliance that would allow these parties to seize the initiative from the RPF, both at the next round of peace talks and beyond.50 The IDC, a conservative, European-based coalition of Christian Democratic political parties, firmly supported the MRND. At the end of February, the French minister of cooperation, Marcel Debarge, added his voice and urged creating a "common front" against the RPF.51

Habyarimana needed no lessons in how to play the game. In early March he called a "national conference" – in fact a small-scale meeting – that attracted members of the MDR, PSD, and PL, as well as a number of less important parties.This first effort led nowhere. The MDR, PSD, and PL had just finished papering over their differences with the RPF, and their leaders disavowed those party members who "had neither the mandate nor the power" to carry on discussions with Habyarimana.52 But this was only Habyarimana's opening shot in what would eventually be a successful campaign to win back disaffected Hutu. Those who attended his first meeting included Donat Murego of the MDR and Stanislas Mbonampeka of the PL, both already hostile to the elected presidents of their respective parties and both major actors in leading segments of their parties into an alliance with Habyarimana by the end of the year.

As Habyarimana sought new ties with the MDR and other parties, he was attacked by the CDR which exploded in anger at the terms of the new cease-fire with the RPF. In a press release issued March 9, the CDR called acceptance of the cease-fire "an act of high treason" and said that by signing it, Habyarimana showed that he no longer cared about the interests of the nation.53

Just how crucial alliances with other parties would be to Habyarimana's future was made clear at the end of March 1993 when a form of limited election was held to replace burgomasters removed for unsatisfactory performance or who had fled or resigned their posts as a result of kubohoza. In each commune, the councilors, members of cell committees, heads of development projects, clergy, and heads of local political parties were permitted to vote, a group that amounted to some fifty people in most communes. The MRND won only sixteen of the forty posts contested, all those available in the northern prefectures of Gisenyi and Ruhengeri with the rest scattered elsewhere in the east and southwest. In contrast, the MDR took eighteen posts, including all those in the central prefecture of Gitarama, the stronghold in the 1960s of the Parmehutu party, of which the MDR was the direct descendant. The PSD and the PL divided the rest of the posts, all of them in the south.The results represented only a rough approximation of political strength – and in somewhat less than a third of the communes in the country.54 But, the MRND had also lost burgomasters – and others – who had switched parties incommunes where no elections were held. Habyarimana and his party would have to win back followers or build solid alliances with other parties if they were to hope to dominate political life. Habyarimana would clearly be strongest if he were to win back support from adherents of the MDR, PSD, and PL and at the same time attract backing from those who had joined the CDR.

At the same time as Habyarimana was working to put together a new coalition, a promising and well-connected young politician named Emmanuel Gapyisi was also exploring a realignment of political forces across party lines in a new group called the Peace and Democracy Forum (Forum Paix et Démocratie). A leader of the MDR from Gikongoro prefecture, Gapyisi hoped to bring together all those who were equally opposed to the RPF and to Habyarimana, regardless of party affiliation. He attracted a number of restless politicians, among them several who had been engaged in discussions with Habyarimana in March, including Murego of the MDR and Mbonampeka of the PL. Just as Gapyisi's movement was beginning to gather steam, he was assassinated on May 18, 1993 by a very efficient hit-squad. With his death, the Forum movement collapsed, leaving the field open to the original actors. Habyarimana used the assassination to try to discredit his political adversaries and accused the RPF and some MDR leaders of the killing. They in turn charged Habyarimana with the crime, an allegation substantiated by an investigation but never brought to court.55

Gapyisi's assassination focused attention on the increased insecurity and the continuing impunity for both political and common crime. After Gapyisi's killing, attempts were made to slay PL leader Stanislas Mbonampeka, CDR leader Dr. Céléstin Higiro, and Defense Minister Gasana. Soldiers in Kigali were killing civilians at the rate of four or five a day and did not hesitate even to strangle a man at noon in front of the Kigali post office, then walk off leaving his corpse behind. Abuses by soldiers reached such a level that Habyarimana himself found it necessary to criticize military misconduct in a speech to sector commandants on March 13, 1993. Random violence continued as well, with bombs exploding at markets and other public places in Butare, Gisenyi, and Kigali. Tutsi in some rural communes were so afraid of night-time attacks that they regularly slept outdoors instead of at home.56 A number of local administrators cited the growing insecurityas a reason for requesting permission to own a gun or to obtain a gun from the Ministry of Defense.57

Efforts at compiling lists of enemies continued during these months. Col. Nsabimana told a family member that a list of some 500 people to be killed existed in April 1993.58 In a secret memorandum to all commanders, Col. Athanase Gasake, temporarily replacing Nsabimana as chief of staff, distributed the names of families whose sons had purportedly left to join the RPF. He reported that the Collège APACOPE in Kigali was a hotbed of RPF activity and noted that its students could not be bothered now because the government was on the point of signing a peace agreement with the RPF, but that the appropriate services had identified them and recorded their names. He also warned of infiltrators who were operating as household help, clerks, watchmen, tailors, prostitutes, traders, and especially taxi drivers. In an exaggerated way, the memorandum stressed the possibility of imminent attack from Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Zaire, or all four at once and urged the officers to communicate the need for constant vigilance to all their soldiers.59

Against this background of unpunished abuses and preparations for further violence, the prime minister wrote to Habyarimana, accusing him of wanting to cause troubles inside Rwanda and to start the war again in order to get a settlement that would protect his own power:

    Terrorist groups are now preparing attacks on various politicians and disturbances throughout the country to try to start the war again. In other words, you feel you must find a subterfuge that would enable you to avoid signing the peace agreement, to bring about the resignation of the present government – so as to put in place a bellicose government devoted to you – tobegin the hostilities again in an effort to push the RPF troops back to their former positions...and to demand the renegotiation of certain terms of the protocols that have been signed already.60

The violence feared by Nsengiyaremye was not launched immediately, perhaps because Habyarimana had not yet pulled enough dissidents back to his side. In mid-July, Habyarimana and his supporters moved nearer that goal when the MDR, the chief threat to the MRND, split apart. The immediate issue was replacing Nsengiyaremye, whose mandate as prime minister had ended, but this question covered a larger struggle for control of the party – complicated by personal ambitions – and a division over the issue of how far to trust the RPF. As the prospects for peace grew, politicians looked forward to the distributions of posts that would take place when a transitional government was formed and they sought to position themselves as advantageously as possible. The president of the MDR, Faustin Twagiramungu, who stood for continued cooperation with the RPF, named Agathe Uwilingiyimana, minister of primary and secondary education, as the party's choice for prime minister. Dissident leaders like Donat Murego and Frodouald Karamira, suspicious of the RPF since its February attack, challenged Twagiramungu's control at a national congress. They designated Jean Kambanda, a lesser known politician from Butare, as the party choice for prime minister.61 They went so far as to expel both Twagiramungu and his nominee Uwilingiyimana from the party. Twagiramungu ignored the dissidents' effort to expel him and continued to regard himself as the president of the party, while the dissidents, greater in numbers by far than Twagiramungu's supporters, claimed that they were in fact the MDR.

Habyarimana accepted Twagiramungu's nomination of Uwilingyimana and rejected the protests of the dissidents, seeing this as a way to widen the gap between the two parts of the MDR. On July 18, 1993, the new government was established with Uwilingiyimana as prime minister, the first woman to serve in this capacity, and the struggle over which part of the MDR was the real MDR was moved to the courts. On July 19, James Gasana, who was supposed to continue in his post as minister of defense, fled to Europe, to be followed not long after by theformer prime minister, Dismas Nsengiyaremye. Both said their lives were threatened. They no doubt had in mind recent assassinations, attempted assassinations, massacres and random violence when they decided it was too dangerous to stay in Rwanda, but perhaps they also knew more than most others about the risk of future violence.

French Support for Habyarimana

From the outset of the war with the RPF, Rwanda had been firmly backed by France. Able to rely on this steady support from a major international actor, Habyarimana was in a strong position to confront threats from the RPF, reproaches from other foreign powers, and opposition from dissidents within Rwanda. Fluent in French, apparently a devout Catholic, Habyarimana impressed French president François Mitterrand and others with his assimilation of French values. In the French system, where the president exercised enormous control over African policy, Mitterrand's bond with Habyarimana counted for a great deal. The French ambassador in Kigali, Georges Martres, also was close to Habyarimana, whose home he visited frequently. Habyarimana found his support so precious that he wrote Mitterrand in January 1993 asking that Martres not be retired for reasons of age, as French regulations required, but rather allowed to continue his service in Kigali. Mitterrand, to his regret, could prolong his term only until April 1993. High-ranking military officers, both those in the field and those in Paris, were strongly committed to helping their Rwandan colleagues fight a force that some of them labeled the "Khmers Noirs," a reference to the Khmer Rouge terrorists in Cambodia. The French Foreign Ministry officials were less enthusiastic about the Rwandan president; but they could do little to change policy so long as he enjoyed the firm support of Mitterrand and the military.62

The readiness to back Habyarimana rested on broader bases than personal connections. Mitterrand, like many French policy-makers, believed that France must continue to have strong links with African allies if it were to have any stature on the international scene. By definition, such allies were French-speaking. Among them, Rwanda had a special status because it was not a former French colony, but an ally that had been won away from Belgium, its old colonial master. Backing Rwanda offered the chance not just to outdo Belgium but also to humiliate the Anglo-Saxon forces thought to be behind the largely English-speaking RPF. According to former French minister Bernard Debré, Mitterrand believed that theU.S. had "hegemonic aims" in the region.63 François Leotard, former minister of defense, agreed with this assessment. He told members of the French assembly,

    The President of the Republic was the person who in his comments seemed to define best the balance of power between the Anglo-Saxons and the French in this part of the world, and to do so with the greatest precision and sense of strategy and history.64

This reasoning, so redolent of nineteenth-century colonial passions, seems in fact to have motivated much of French policy about Rwanda. The French dreaded an upset in Rwanda, which they had come to regard as part of their backyard, le pré carré. If Habyarimana were to lose, it would be the first time that a regime loyal to France had been removed without prior French approval. Powerholders dependent upon French support elsewhere on the continent were watching the outcome carefully and might judge the usefulness of a continuing French alliance according to the result.65 Gérard Prunier, an analyst well-informed about the French Defense Ministry, has suggested that Habyarimana may have helped France with some illegitimate business in the past, perhaps passing on arms shipments to embargoed countries, and thus made the French feel more obligated to support him.66

In addition to these general considerations, French policymakers also supported Rwanda in order to have a firm base for dealing with potential crises in Zaire. In January 1993, a report by the Treasury concluded that "with the risks of Zaire disintegrating, Rwanda remains an interesting pole of political and economic influence in the region."67

Habyarimana and his supporters appreciated French backing and welcomed French troops warmly. In the December 1990 issue where Kangura presented the "Ten Commandments of the Hutu," it printed a picture of Mitterrand on the back cover with the comment, "It is in hard times that you know your real friends." When the CDR demonstrated against peace negotiations in October 1992, they acknowledged French support by chanting "Thank you, President Mitterrand" and "Thank you, French people."68

Besides steady political and moral backing, France gave Rwanda more immediately practical help, a contingent of soldiers in October 1990 and reinforcements in later times of crisis. Although French authorities generally asserted that only some 600 soldiers were in Rwanda, they in fact maintained as many as 1,100 there at one time.69 The troops included two groups, one called the Noroît detachment, supposedly there to protect French citizens, and the other, a military assistance mission to "train" Rwandan soldiers. The "protection of French citizens" was only a cover – the French numbered only a few hundred and were not threatened – but the training was real. As the Rwandan army expanded from fewer than 10,000 to more than 30,000 soldiers, the French played an important role in training both the combatants and soldiers who would in turn serve as instructors for others. Some of these French-trained soldiers passed on their knowledge to the party militia Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi.70

French soldiers sometimes delivered their "training" in a surprisingly direct manner. On February 3, 1992, the Rwandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote to the French embassy in Kigali to ask approval for naming Lieutenant Colonel Chollet, head of the French military assistance mission, adviser to Habyarimana. In this capacity, Chollet would advise on "organization of the defense and on the operations of the military," duties which would require him to "work in close collaboration" with officers even at the local level. The arrangement would haveeffectively placed responsibility for military operations in French hands. The letter was leaked to the press and the proposal seemed to have been aborted. But, in April 1992, Lt. Col. Jean-Jacques Maurin was named adjoint to the French military attache in Kigali and filled just the role proposed for Chollet. He advised the Rwandan chief of staff in such tasks as drawing up daily battle plans, accompanied him around the country, and participated in daily meetings of the general staff.71 In addition, French soldiers on the ground were assisting in combat, in interrogating military prisoners, and in enforcing control measures on the civilian population.72 A former French army chief of staff later denied that French troops joined in fighting, but admitted that, given the small size of the country, French troops were "close to combat."73 The former Rwandan minister of defense, James Gasana, stated that Rwandan military could use heavy weapons given by France only after having received French permission to use them.74 According to one French "instructor," French trainers positioned the heavy artillery to bombard the RPF and then stood back to let Rwandan soldiers push the button to fire the weapon. French soldiers played such a key role in defending Ruhengeri in January 1991 that a French commander asked the Rwandan government to award medals to some of the troops.75

France officially supported peace efforts and was one of the sponsors of the Arusha Accords which stipulated the withdrawal of all foreign troops, except those involved in bilateral military cooperation arrangements. According to Gasana, however, who participated in some of the Arusha negotiations, the French were far less intent on a negotiated solution than were the U.S. and Belgium. Their support for Habyarimana and the MRND was such that they gave the impression that they actually favored a military solution to the conflict.76 On August 26, 1992, three weeks after the first part of the Accords was signed, Ambassador Martres formally agreed with the Rwandan government to expand the limited French military training program to the whole Rwandan army, making it possible to increase the number of "instructors" while removing combat troops. On January 18, 1993, Mitterrand addressed the delicate problem of continued military assistance in a letter to Habyarimana. Remarking that he would not want France to be reproached with having undermined the Arusha Accords, he continued, "I wish to confirm that on the question of the presence of the Noroît detachment [the combat troops], France will act in accord with [the wishes of] the Rwandan authorities."77

In February 1993 French authorities once more proved their support by sending more than 500 troops to "indirectly command" and assist the Rwandan forces in halting the RPF advance.78 They also stepped up delivery of arms and ammunition, sending up to twenty tons of arms a day, enough to cut into the stocks of the French army itself.79 After a visit to Rwanda to assess the situation, then Minister of Cooperation Marcel Debarge reported to Mitterrand that the "indirect military support" provided by France was not enough and that a "real intervention force" (une veritable force d'interposition) was necessary to enforce the Arusha Accords. Unwilling to have France supply such a force, Mitterrand then orderedhis subordinates to get the U.N. more involved.80 French diplomats worked so hard to get a U.N. peacekeeping force to replace its soldiers in aiding their ally that, according to one member of the Security Council, the effort became "a standing joke."81

From the beginning of the war in 1990, French authorities understood the risk of genocide. Colonel Rwagafilita, Habyarimana's close associate, told the general who directed French military cooperation in Rwanda that the Tutsi "are very few in number, we will liquidate them."82 Many of the French who dealt with Habyarimana believed that he wanted to keep the extremists in check and could do so only with their continued political and military support. They were well aware of the massacres and other human rights violations carried out by his government and they pressed him – but only discretely – to end such practices. Reluctant to weaken their loyal client in any way, they sought to minimize any criticism of him. Thus Ambassador Martres dismissed reports of massacres as "just rumors"83 and a supporter within the French Foreign Ministry wrote soon after the International Commission published its report that the Habyarimana regime was "rather respectful of human rights and on the whole concerned about good administration." In a shocking echo of extremist Hutu propaganda, this author explained that the RPF, and not Habyarimana, should be blamed for the massacres of the Tutsi, because their agents (provocateurs) had infiltrated and caused the Bugesera massacre as well as the slaughter of the Bagogwe in 1991.84 As part of an effort to shore up Habyarimana and discredit further the RPF, the French secret service (Direction Générale des Services Extérieurs, DSGE) planted news stories about supposed Ugandan support for the guerrilla movement. On February 21, 1993, thereputable Le Monde published an account of a RPF massacre of hundreds of civilians that had in fact never taken place.85

When the French National Assembly held an inquiry on Rwanda in 1998, French political leaders, bureaucrats, and military officers all declared that their policy was intended to encourage political reform and respect for human rights within Rwanda as well as to avoid a military victory by the RPF. On the basis of the unstinting support received from Mitterrand on down, Habyarimana and his circle concluded that the French valued the second objective more than the first. Thus convinced, they dared to continue the campaign against the Tutsi that would finally reach the point of genocide.

The Costs of War

Fragile at the start, the Rwandan economy had crumbled under the burden of the costs of war. In 1990 war-related expenses accounted for 15 percent of the budget, but by 1993, they consumed some 70 percent of the operating expenses of the state.86 In 1993, agricultural production, the mainstay of the economy, declined 15 percent, partly because hundreds of thousands of displaced persons were no longer able to work their fields, partly because of poor weather conditions. Foreign assistance increased nearly 100 percent from 1989 to 1993, when it amounted to U.S.$334 million, to which was added some U.S.$130 million in direct emergency aid in 1993. The additional support notwithstanding, living conditions worsened dramatically, as per capita income that stood at U.S.$320 in 1989 (nineteenth poorest in the world) fell to U.S.$200 in 1993.87

Under the provisions of the structural adjustment program, government expenses were supposedly carefully regulated, both in amount and in intended use. To evade these regulations and escape supervision by foreigners, Rwandan officials diverted resources intended for civilian purposes to use by military or militia, such as buying military trucks with money allocated for civilian vehicles. Authorities at the Ministry of Health permitted Interahamwe to requisition vehicles from the ministry and to collect gas coupons each week for their fuel. Military officers imported luxury goods that escaped the high tax ordinarily imposed on such imports and sold them in special shops for profits that were used for the war effort.Authorities at the National Bank, under the direction of Habyarimana's brother-in-law, Séraphin Rwabukumba, reportedly hid deductions of foreign exchange used for arms purchases in a category of "errors and omissions." In addition, authorities apparently siphoned off funds from the government employees pension fund and other sources to fund military expenditures.88

Despite these various efforts, the Rwandan government was close to bankrupt by mid-1993 and desperately needed foreign assistance to keep operating.

Although the nation suffered enormously from the costs of war, Habyarimana personally seems to have profited from the conflict. According to one banker, the president earned commissions on arms sales and deposited the money in European bank accounts held by several of his associates and their children.89

The Arusha Accords

In July 1993, after a year of negotiations, agreement, disavowal, and then renewed negotiations, Habyarimana was still looking for ways to avoid signing the final peace treaty. He was finding it increasingly difficult to delay because even France was pushing him to accept the Accords. Habyarimana's most ardent supporters in the French military may have flinched little at the successful RPF thrust in February. But others, particularly those at the Foreign Ministry who had believed for some time that Habyarimana could not win the war, used the RPF military success to support their argument for a negotiated settlement. At the same time, a change of ambassador in Kigali in April 1993 removed one of Habyarimana's strong supporters and in Paris the installation of Edouard Balladur as prime minister brought to power someone who cared less for African adventures than did his predecessor.

By late July, the donor nations – including France – had lost patience and used the ultimate threat. In combination with the World Bank, they informed Habyarimana that international funds for his government would be halted if he didnot sign the treaty by August 9. With no other source of funds available, Habyarimana was obliged to sign along with the other parties, on August 4, 1993.90

The international actors celebrated this hard-won success, particularly important as the first peace negotiated with the assistance of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Tanzania had served as the chief facilitator. France, Belgium, the U.S., Germany, Burundi, Senegal, Uganda, and Zaire had been represented throughout and the U.N. had sent observers for the final sessions. The international community so present in forging the treaty promised also to help implement it by providing a U.N. peacekeeping force.

The Accords appeared to have dealt with all the major issues in a detailed series of agreements that covered the establishment of the rule of law, the transitional institutions to govern until elections could be held, the repatriation of refugees, the resettlement of displaced persons, and the integration of the two opposing armies. They laid out a clear schedule for implementation of the Accords. In the broad-based transitional government, power was to be shared among three forces: Habyarimana and his group, the RPF, and the block of MDR, PSD, and PL, with the addition of the Democratic Christian Party (PDC). Habyarimana would remain as president, but would lose most of his power to a Council of Ministers, and in that body the MRND was to have only five of nineteen places, instead of the nine held previously. The RPF also was to hold five seats, but received in addition the newly-created post of vice prime minister. The MDR, PL, PSD, and PDC were to have nine ministries plus the post of prime minister, which remained in the hands of the MDR. The parties that composed the broad-based transitional government were also to dominate the transitional legislative assembly with a small number of additional seats allocated, one each for less important parties.91

In the integrated army, the Rwandan government was to provide 60 percent of the troops, but would have to share command posts fifty-fifty down to the level of battalion with the RPF. The new army was to count no more than 19,000 soldiers and 6,000 national police, so both forces, the Rwandan army with more than 30,000 soldiers and national police and the RPF with some 20,000 troops, would have to demobilize at least half their military personnel.92

The carefully calibrated three-part division of power in the government made it unlikely that any one group could dominate and thus be able to disrupt the movement toward elections and real peace. But the hope of progress depended on each of the groups remaining coherent and able to act as a counterweight to the others. As the negotiators all knew, that was a doubtful premise given the division of the MDR just three weeks before the signature of the treaty. The Accords actually named Faustin Twagiramungu, head of the smaller of the two MDR factions, as the prime minister to take office when the broad-based transitional government was installed. This designation, approved by Habyarimana, permitted the signature of the Accords, but did not resolve the dispute within the MDR. The division in its ranks and the possibility that similar splits could take place – or could be caused – in other parties offered opponents of the settlement the chance to upset the whole peace process.

Opposition to the Accords

Even as the crowds were celebrating peace in the streets of Kigali, the radicals were hardening their opposition to the terms of the Accords. Two days after the treaty was signed, Belgian military intelligence reported much dissatisfaction among both soldiers and civilians, warning that "a wave of demonstrations, clashes and even assassination attempts" might begin within the next few days.93 Many soldiers were angry that Habyarimana had yielded to foreign pressure when the army had not been decisively defeated. Despite their rapid retreat before the RPF the previous February, some continued to believe that the Rwandan army could win if the battle were begun again. Soldiers disavowed the accords for personal as well as for political reasons. With the planned demobilization, many would lose the chance to live relatively well – from exactions if not from salary. This was particularly true for senior officers, many of them of Habyarimana's age-group, who would be among the first demobilized because of their age. Colonel Bagosora, although already retired, spoke for those whose careers would be ended by the Accords. He was completely opposed to the agreement and scorned those Hutu who had signed it as "House Hutu and opportunists."94 Presumably he included Habyarimana among this group.

Like the soldiers, some burgomasters and prefects feared losing their positions when the Accords were implemented. Administrators were to be subject to reviewwithin three months of the installation of the broad-based transitional government and those found to be incompetent or involved in prior human rights abuses were to be removed. Having seen a similar review process remove about one quarter of the burgomasters in February 1993, many administrators had no desire to expose themselves to the same fate.95

The CDR, opposed to the Accords from the start, had no place in the transitional institutions and continued to attack the agreement. Although CDR leader Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza held an important post in the foreign affairs ministry that had participated in negotiating the treaty, he visited the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs two weeks after its signing to "explain the reasons why the Arusha Accords are unacceptable and why their implementation will bring even more bloodshed."96 Radicals found their fears of Tutsi domination confirmed by the terms of the Accords, but even moderate Hutu, first disillusioned by the February 1993 attack, experienced growing concern that the RPF had gotten more than its fair share of power and might not want to continue cooperating with other parties.

In the months following the signing of the Accords, hard-liners pushed ahead with activities that appear linked to the "self-defense" program. In entries in his appointment book early in the year, Bagosora several times stressed the importance of controlling the flow of information to the public. In August the radio station RTLM began broadcasting, drawing listeners primarily with its popular music, building an audience for the time several months later when it would begin blasting forth propaganda and directives.

Buying Machetes

If the war were to resume and a self-defense force were to be put into action, its recruits would need arms. According to an entry in the appointment book, Bagosora had foreseen being able to provide firearms for only one third of the recruits. The others were to operate with traditional weapons: spears, bows and arrows, and machetes. Spears and bows and arrows were not easily available on the world market, but machetes were another matter. Requests for import licenses from January 1993 through March 1994 show that 581,000 kilograms of machetes were imported into Rwanda as part of a larger quantity of 3,385,000 kilograms of metal goods including also hammers, picks, and sickles. Assuming the average weight ofa machete to be one kilogram, this quantity would equal some 581,000 machetes or one for every third adult Hutu male in Rwanda. This was about double the number of machetes imported in previous years. These importations were remarkable not just for the extraordinary quantity but also for the identity of the importers. The most significant was Félicien Kabuga, a businessman from Byumba and friend of Habyarimana, to whom he was connected through the marriage of their children. Kabuga had built his wealth through the export of coffee and the import of a variety of goods, chiefly used clothing, food, and household goods. During this period, Kabuga ventured into large-scale importation of metal goods, including machetes, for which he received seven licenses for a total value of 95 million Rwandan francs, or about U.S.$525,000. One cargo of 987 cartons of machetes, weighing some 25,662 kilograms, was shipped to him from the Kenyan port of Mombasa on October 26, arriving in Kigali in early November.97

The only local manufacturer of machetes was Rwandex Chillington, a joint venture between Plantation & General Investments, based in the United Kingdom, and Rwandex, a coffee processing company. According to La Lettre du Continent, a Chillington employee said that in February 1994, the company had sold more machetes than it had during the entire preceeding year. The news account reported that Chillington officials found this so alarming that they had notified representatives of the United Nations peacekeeping force.98 Sebastian Hobhouse, Executive Director of Plantation & General Investments, categorically denied this information, saying there was no increase in sales whatsoever during the first three months of 1994.99 But, according to the production manager, quoted in the Sunday Times, the Chillington factory sold "an unusually high number" of the 16,000 machetes produced between August and December 1993 to two Rwandex employees, Eugene Mbarushimana and François Burasa.100 Mbarushimana was secretary-general of the Interahamwe and a son-in-law of Kabuga. Burasa, a retiredmember of the armed forces, was the older brother of CDR leader Barayagwiza. Researchers from Human Rights Watch and FIDH questioned both the local manager, Joe Hazel, and Hobhouse about machete production and sales as well as about general operating procedures of the plant during these months. Hazel found Hobhouse's information that the company supplied only 5 percent of the local machete market (a figure that Hobhouse subsequently raised to 8 percent) to be far too low, but he refused to provide his own assessment without consulting London. Hazel declared that there had been no foreign manager of the plant for about six months before his arrival in March 1994 and that the plant had been managed by Rwandan staff with only occasional visits by foreign staff based outside Rwanda. Hobhouse, on the other hand, asserted that there had been no gap in resident foreign supervision.101 These contradictions suggest that further investigation might produce useful information on the production and distribution of machetes in the months before the genocide.

Recruiting Supporters

In late 1993 and early 1994, hard-liners stepped up the recruitment and training of militia. As the training became increasingly public knowledge, Minister of Finance Marc Rugenera raised a question about it in the Council of Ministers. The minister of defense at the time, Augustin Bizimana, admitted that the training was going on, but said it was only to prepare the young men to be guards for the national parks and forests. In a document dated June 1996, Col. Bagosora and eleven others accused of genocide gave the same explanation.102 When the burgomaster of Butamwa commune asked questions about militia training at a cassiterite pit in his commune in early 1994, the military trainers told him that the trainees were preparing for work with private security companies and that the training program had been authorized by Minister of Defense Bizimana.103

The radical military group AMASASU had proposed in their January 1993 letter that the Ministry of Youth join with the Ministries of Interior and Defense tomount the civilian self-defense program. The minister of youth at the time was Callixte Nzabonimana, an MRND member, who has been accused of participating in the genocide in his home commune. In mid-October, the Ministry of Youth notified burgomasters that it would henceforth provide the salary for youth leaders at the commune level. Such posts had existed in the past but had been eliminated in many communes because of lack of funds. The financial situation of the national government had not improved in the meantime, but the minister of youth had decided nonetheless that the services of professional youth leaders were important enough to justify subsidizing their salaries.104 The subsidy allowed at least one of the communes, Nyakizu, to hire a youth organizer who was said to be an anti-Tutsi extremist and who may have assisted in the militia training programs that were carried out in Nyakizu in the months before the genocide. Youth organizers apparently continued to work throughout the genocide in Kibuye, when most other public services were not functioning.

Recruitment by the RPF

Not convinced that the Accords would be implemented, the RPF continued to enlist young people to be soldiers and trained them in the part of northern Rwanda under their control. At the same time, it intensified preparations for the political struggle. Since the start of the war, a small number of supporters had worked for the RPF within Rwanda, largely collecting money for the guerrilla effort. In late July or early August 1993, the RPF brought increasing numbers of young people to their zone to train them as political agents to broaden this network within the country. They prepared them with two or three weeks of theoretical and Marxist lectures on philosophy, history, and economics and then sent them home to gather information on local conditions and to organize sympathizers for the movement. According to witnesses who participated in or observed this program, only one day or one half day was spent on training in arms and most trainees were allowed to fire only one bullet. An apparently authentic notebook kept by a trainee and later captured by the Rwandan army substantiates this information. Of forty-seven pages of notes, only one and a half record information on guns, information apparently delivered in one two-hour session.105

RPF supporters organized several hundred cells during 1993, each including between six and twelve members. Leaders apparently insisted that each group include Hutu as well as Tutsi because they feared groups of Tutsi alone would be too easily isolated and attacked. If adherents could not attract Hutu participants, then the group was not to be formally constituted as a cell. Unarmed and virtually untrained in combat skills, these young agents hardly constituted a military threat. Even in the political domain, they did not yet threaten the Habyarimana regime. Some bolder supporters publically declared their affiliation with the RPF after the peace treaty was signed, but most still kept their preference hidden. Although the majority operated quietly, particularly outside of Kigali, the elite of Habyarimana supporters, military and civilian, knew they had arrived. Here, they said, were the "infiltrators" they had been talking about for so long.106

The United Nations Peacekeepers

The U.N. Security Council was still smarting under the failure of its peacekeeping efforts in Somalia when the request for a Rwandan force was presented. Members of the council were reassured by the detailed nature of the Accords and they were impressed that a joint delegation representing both sides had come to ask for a peacekeeping force. As one diplomat remarked, they thought "Rwanda would be a winner."107 Had they consulted the diplomats who had extracted the signature from the reluctant Habyarimana, they might have had a more realistic assessment of the chances of future success. Partly because they counted on an easy success, partly because they were not disposed to invest much in resolving the situation in Rwanda anyway, the Security Council failed to devote the resources necessary to ensure that the hard-won Accords were actually implemented.

From the start, Rwandans and some knowledgeable foreign observers recognized the precariousness of the Accords. The longer the delay before the installation of the broad-based government, the greater the likelihood that the entire structure would collapse into renewed war. The Accords called for a U.N. peacekeeping force to arrive thirty-seven days after the signing of the agreement. As experienced diplomats certainly knew, it would be impossible to keep to sucha schedule. It took three weeks beyond the thirty-seven days for the Security Council even to pass the resolution creating the force. Despite the warning by the U.N. secretary-general that delay would "seriously jeopardize" the agreement, it was another two months before substantial numbers of peacekeepers were in the country. As critical observers later commented, the Rwandan operation lacked a powerful patron among council members to force the normally slow pace of the U.N. bureaucracy. Only France had the interest to play that role, but its effectiveness was undercut by its close identification with the Habyarimana government.108

Resources and Mandate

Not only was the U.N. slow, it was also stingy. The United States, which was assessed 31 percent of U.N. peacekeeping costs, had suffered from the enormous 370 percent increase in peacekeeping expenses from 1992 to 1993 and was in the process of reviewing its policy on such operations. In the meantime, it was determined to keep the costs of the Rwandan operation as low as possible, which meant limiting the size of the force. One U.N. military expert had recommended that UNAMIR include a minimum of 8,000 soldiers. General Romeo Dallaire, named as commander, had asked for 4,500. The U.S. initially proposed 500. When the Security Council finally acted on October 5, 1993, it established the U.N. Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) at a level of 2,548 troops.109

The UNAMIR budget was formally approved on April 4, 1994, two days before the beginning of the genocide. The delay in funding, in addition to other administrative problems, resulted in the force not receiving essential equipment and supplies, including armored personnel carriers and ammunition. When the killing began in April, UNAMIR lacked reserves of such basic commodities as food and medicine as well as military supplies.110

Constrained by the relatively small size of the force as well as by a determination not to repeat the mistakes made in Somalia, the diplomats produced a mandate for UNAMIR that was far short of what would have been needed to guarantee implementation of the Accords. In a spirit of retrenchment, they weakened several important provisions of the Accords. Where the Arushaagreement had asked for a force to "guarantee overall security" in Rwanda, the Security Council provided instead a force to "contribute to" security, and not throughout the country, but only in the city of Kigali. At Arusha, the parties had agreed that the U.N. peacekeepers would "assist in tracking of arms caches and neutralization of armed gangs throughout the country" and would "assist in the recovery of all weapons distributed to, or illegally acquired by, the civilians." But, in New York, diplomats conscious of the difficulties caused by disarmament efforts in Somalia completely eliminated these provisions. In the Accords, the peacekeepers were to have been charged with providing security for civilians. This part of the mandate was first changed to a responsibility for monitoring security through "verification and control" of the police, but in the end it was limited to the charge to "investigate and report on incidents regarding the activities" of the police.111

Paragraph 17

Rules of Engagement translate the general policy directives – the mandate – of the Security Council into regulations that govern the conduct of the soldiers. Soon after General Dallaire and his staff arrived in Rwanda, they drew up these rules for UNAMIR. Like other such operations, UNAMIR was to use weapons "normally for self-defense only." The use of force for deterrence or retaliation was forbidden and self-defense, which was legitimate, was defined to mean "resistance to attempts by forceful means to prevent the Force from discharging its duties under the mandate of UNAMIR." The overriding rule was to be the use of minimum force. In accord with these directions, the force was lightly armed.

Dallaire specified that the maintenance of law and order was normally the job of Rwandan police, assisted, if necessary, by the U.N. police unit, UNCIVPOL. He added that it was "a very real possibility" that UNAMIR soldiers might be required to assist UNCIVPOL and local authorities in maintaining law and order.

In paragraph 17, Dallaire spelled out in extraordinarily strong and clear language the responsibility of the force if confronted with crimes against humanity. It reads:

    There may also be ethnically or politically motivated criminal acts committed during this mandate which will morally and legally require UNAMIR to use all available means to halt them. Examples are executions, attacks on displaced persons or refugees, ethnic riots, attacks on demobilized soldiers, etc. Duringsuch occasions UNAMIR military personnel will follow the ROD112 outlined in this directive, in support of UNCIVPOL and local authorities or in their absence, UNAMIR will take the necessary action to prevent any crime against humanity.113

The first paragraph of the document indicates that these Rules of Engagement "are drafted by the Force, but are approved by the U.N. and may only be changed wth U.N. authority."114 This document was a second version that included changes proposed in Kigali by Belgians and others involved in UNAMIR. Although the document was marked "interim," it was accepted by U.N. headquarters in New York and was not amended by it. It was circulated to the member states that provided troops to UNAMIR and was in effect at the time of the genocide.115

The Assassination of Melchior Ndadaye and Violence in Burundi

Had the situation in the region remained stable, there would have been at least some hope for actual implementation of the Accords. But it did not. On October 21, 1993, Tutsi army officers assassinated Melchior Ndadaye, the president of Burundi, setting off massive killings of both Hutu and Tutsi. This nation just to the south of Rwanda has a similar population of Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa, but had experienced a different political history, in part because Tutsi retained power after independence in 1962. Hutu had tried to win control several times, only to be put down by the Tutsi-dominated army, most savagely in 1972 when some 100,000 Hutu were slaughtered. In 1988, Hutu attacks on Tutsi had provoked excessive and unjustified military repression in parts of northern Burundi near the Rwandan frontier and tens of thousands of Hutu refugees fled into Rwanda. Underinternational and domestic pressure, the Burundi government then had initiated a series of reforms that culminated in a free and fair election in June 1993. The victor, Ndadaye, was the first Hutu to hold this office and his election was hailed as a great victory by Hutu in Rwanda as well as in Burundi. A moderate, he named a Tutsi prime minister116 from the opposing party and approved a politically and ethnically balanced cabinet. Ndadaye moved to establish his party's control over the administration, but left the Tutsi-dominated army largely untouched. Hutu in Rwanda, where he had once been a political refugee, followed his progress with interest and pride. Those Rwandans who most feared the RPF were reassured by Ndadaye's election because, they believed, it would eliminate the possibility that a Tutsi-dominated Burundi government might permit the RPF to invade Rwanda from the south.

Four months after the election, soldiers murdered Ndadaye and leading members of his government during an attempted coup. Although forced by apparently unanimous international pressure to return to the barracks and restore power to a civilian government, the soldiers had nonetheless taken the first step to a gradual reassertion of Tutsi control over the administrative system. In the days after the murder, Hutu retaliated, killing thousands of Tutsi, often at the incitement of local administrative officials. Under the guise of restoring order, the Tutsi army took savage reprisals, even in communities where there had been little or no violence against Tutsi.

The murder of Ndadaye and the ensuing killings worsened the situation in Rwanda immediately and dramatically. Moderates who had hoped that a peaceful transition in Burundi would show that Hutu and Tutsi could share power found it increasingly difficult to remain optimistic about the peaceful integration of the RPF into the government.Tutsi saw their fears of slaughter by Hutu justified once more and concluded that Tutsi control of the state was the only way to protect themselves. The CDR and MRND hard-liners saw the assassination as irrefutable proof that Tutsi were bent on dominating the entire region and would use force, if necessary, to achieve that goal.

For the anti-Tutsi propagandists, the assassination of the Burundian president offered just the kind of tragedy most helpful to their cause. It gave RTLM the chance to establish itself as the most virulent voice in the campaign against Tutsi.Eager to whip up revulsion against the assassins, its announcer Habimana Kantano came on the air for the evening news declaring:

    Burundi first. That's where our eyes are looking now. Even when the dog-eaters are few in number, they discredit the whole family. That proverb was used by the [Burundian] minister of labor, Mr. Nyangoma, meaning that those Tutsi thugs of Burundi have killed democracy by torturing to death the elected president, Ndadaye. Those dog-eaters have now started mutilating the body. We have learned that the corpse of Ndadaye was secretly buried to hide the mutilations that those beasts have wrought on his body.117

The press, too, circulated accounts that Ndadaye had been tortured and, some said, castrated before death. Even the national television, not ordinarily much involved in such propaganda, displayed a bloated and mutilated body for hours, wrongly claiming it was Ndadaye's corpse. All the reports of torture and mutilation were false.118

Rwandans in the southern prefectures of Butare and Gikongoro were more directly touched by the killings in Burundi than people who lived further from the border. Some 300,000 refugees streamed into southern Rwanda in the weeks after the Ndadaye assassination.119 They joined several tens of thousands of Burundians who had sought refuge in Rwanda following earlier episodes of violence. By the very misery of their existence in refugee camps, as much as by the tales of horror they related, these refugees showed Rwandan Hutu the damage that could be done by a Tutsi-run army.

Since at least the end of December 1991, several hundred Hutu guerrillas from Burundi had been living and training in refugee camps in Gikongoro.120 With the arrival of the new flood of refugees, the training increased to such a level that a representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees wrote to the Rwandan authorities, reminding them that such activities violated international agreements on refugees. In late November, Prime Minister Uwilingiyimana visited the largest camps to insist that the training stop.121 Camp directors and local authorities ignored her orders. The training even expanded to include recruits from Rwandan militia. By January, many diplomats in Kigali had heard reports of the training from representatives of international humanitarian agencies working in the camps.122

The murder of Ndadaye had great impact on the Rwandan situation in one further way: it showed once again that the international community was willing to tolerate slaughter in the pursuit of political ends. Once the Burundian army had bowed to international pressure and apparently returned control of the government to civilians, donor nations did nothing to insist that the guilty be brought to trial, neither those army officers responsible for the assassinations of the political leaders and the killing of other Hutu civilians, nor the Hutu administrators and ordinary people who had slaughtered Tutsi. Those most implicated in the killings continued to exercise power as they had before.123

In the days after the murder of Ndadaye, Hutu attacked Tutsi in many parts of Rwanda. They killed some forty in Cyangugu, twenty each in Butare and Ruhengeri, seventeen in Gisenyi, thirteen in Kigali and drove many others from their homes. Assailants tried to assassinate Alphonse-Marie Nkubito, a high-ranking judicial official and human rights activist who had frequently defended Tutsi, although himself a Hutu.124

Hutu Power

The movement known as Hutu Power (pronounced Pawa in Kinyarwanda), the coalition that would make the genocide possible, was built upon the corpse of Ndadaye. The doubts about RPF intentions, sown by the February 1993 attack and fed by the extent of RPF gains at Arusha, ripened following the assassination in Burundi. As one political leader commented during the genocide, "...Who didn't have his eyes opened by what happened in Burundi...[where they] elected President Ndadaye, who really wanted Hutu and Tutsi to live together, but you know what they did [to him]...."125

First announced at a meeting in Gitarama, Hutu Power drew widespread support at a rally in Kigali on October 23, 1993 where adherents met to deplore Ndadaye's assassination and to draw lessons from it. Present were members of the part of the MDR now resolved to reject cooperation with the FPR, members of the MRND and CDR, and even some Hutu members of the PL, increasingly sceptical of their party's link with the RPF. The second vice-president of the MDR, Froduald Karamira, took to the podium to declare that the RPF, including specifically its leader General Kagame, were among the plotters who had killed Ndadaye. Asserting that Kagame was depriving the people of Burundi of democracy, Karamira went on to say he would do the same thing in Rwanda because "he lied to us in Arusha when they were signing for peace and democracy..." Karamira called for all Hutu in Rwanda to stand up and take "appropriate action" which, he said, does not mean "uttering words just to 'heat heads,'" but rather unifying into one effective Hutu mass. Sounding very much like the MRND propagandist Mugesera one year before, Karamira reviled Twagiramungu, the MDR president who had been named to serve as prime minister in the transitional government, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, prime minister at the time, and Anastase Gasana, one of the chief negotiators for the Accords, calling them Inyenzi or "puppets of the Tutsi."

He continued, "We are not simply 'heating heads' by saying we have plans 'to work'...."126 and then he told the crowd that they must help authorities "to look for what is within us. The enemy among us here. We cannot sit down and think that what happened in Burundi will not happen here, since the enemy is among us." Karamira insisted that Hutu who work against Hutu solidarity are also part of the enemy. "We have clarified what we must avoid. Avoid fighting another Hutu. We have been attacked, so let us not attack ourselves. Let us avoid the invasion of the enemy who may steal our government." In a conclusion that evoked wild enthusiasm from the crowd, Karamira shouted:

    Hutu Power! MRND Power! CDR Power! MDR Power! Interahamwe Power! JDR Power! All Hutu are One Power!

After each shout, the crowd roared its response, "Power! Power! Power!"127

The split in the Liberal Party, signaled by the attendance of some of its leading members at this rally, was formalized several weeks later. After months of effort, Habyarimana had achieved his objective of splitting two of the parties that opposed him. The politicians immediately responsible for the rifts were hardly naive pawns in the game. They made their choices knowingly, based as much on calculations of personal interest as on their supposedly more principled opposition to the RPF. Some members of the MDR would try to repair the rift in their ranks in December, but without success.128 Rivalries among leaders troubled the PSD, too, but members would desert its ranks for the Power movement only after the genocide began.

With the consolidation of Hutu Power, party allegiances faded before the imperative of ethnic solidarity: political life was reorganized around the two opposing poles of Hutu and Tutsi. Hutu Power was the coalition that Habyarimana needed, but it was not yet his for sure. In his speech, Karamira had criticized the president, reiterating the CDR stand of the previous March that Habyarimana had conceded too much to the RPF. To take leadership of the Power movement,Habyarimana would have to carry through to its logical conclusion the position he had advocated since 1990. He would have to stand up to the RPF and rid the country of their "accomplices."

Hutu Power was to be implemented by the "popular army of strong young men" as sketched out by the AMASASU and by Bagosora the previous January. This army of self-defense was to supplement rather than to replace the party militia. Just a week after the Hutu Power rally, a commission of the Rwandan armed forces met to plan its organization. Perhaps aware of Bagosora's early caution that party considerations should be avoided in the distribution of guns, they decided that firearms should be distributed "within the framework of legal work" and that trainees who received them should be recruited so as "to avoid suspicions among the different layers of population and among political parties." They called for clear definition of administrative and technical responsibilities for what was now called "popular self-defense" or "civilian self-defense."129

At the end of March 1994, army officers – presumably members of the same commission – met again at the operations center to plan "defense of neighborhoods [and] the tracking down and neutralisation of infiltrators." In a letter to the minister of defense reporting on the meeting, Chief of Staff Colonel Nsabimana again echoed the ideas of Bagosora and the AMASASU. He specified that soldiers living outside their camps as well as former soldiers would command the recruits and, because the supply of firearms was limited, he proposed that the civilian population in communes outside Kigali should be instructed in the use of machetes, spears, swords, and bows and arrows.130

Rwandan military authorities writing later asserted that the new self-defense mechanisms were not yet in place when the catastrophe began. It appears that the system might indeed not have been fully in place by April 7, but what was already there served the intended purpose most effectively.


The U.N. had to move first to implement the Arusha Accords: its peacekeeping force had to be in place in Kigali so that representatives of the RPF could also take up residence in the capital and begin to function as part of the broad-based transitional government. At the end of December 1993 UNAMIR had finally deployed nearly 1,300 peacekeepers in Rwanda, some 400 of them Belgian soldiers assigned to the capital.1 UNAMIR was then able to escort the RPF civilian leaders, accompanied by some 600 of their soldiers, into Kigali. The RPF contingent was quartered at the national parliament building, the Conseil National de Développement (CND), an imposing structure set on a hillside a short distance from downtown Kigali. The choice seemed reasonable: there was no other space large enough and secure enough to house the troops. But it underlined how much the old regime had lost to the newcomers.

With UNAMIR in place, the next move fell to the Rwandans. Whether still hoping to win new ground through political maneuvering or whether simply to gain time for more preparations for war, Habyarimana – with the help of members of the Hutu Power block of the PL and MDR – launched a series of challenges to the interpretation of the Accords. He sought to assure ministerial posts for representatives of the PL Power and MDR Power wings and to get a seat in the transitional assembly for the CDR. He was most anxious to be able to count on one-third plus one of the total votes in the transitional assembly, the amount needed to block decisions of major importance – such as impeachment proceedings that could strip him of his power and leave him vulnerable to prosecution for past crimes.2 The RPF refused all such initiatives. As one weary observer remarked, the struggle during these months was like negotiating the Accords all over again. The installation of the new government, originally set for January, was postponed to February and then postponed again to March 25, and then again to March 28, and then again to early April.

As the weeks passed, preparations for renewed conflict increased. The warnings of catastrophe multiplied, some public, like assassinations and riots, some discreet, like confidential letters and coded telegrams, some in the passionate pleasof desperate Rwandans, some in the restrained language of the professional soldier. A Catholic bishop and his clergy in Gisenyi, human rights activists in Kigali, New York, Brussels, Montreal, Ouagadougou, an intelligence analyst in Washington, a military officer in Kigali – all with the same message: act now or many will die.

In Kigali, diplomatic representatives followed events carefully. Belgium, the U.S., France, and Germany all had good sources of information within the Rwandan community and frequently consulted with each other, even though there was little formal interchange among their military intelligence services.3 Like other U.N. peacekeeping operations, UNAMIR itself had no provision for gathering information about political and military developments. Belgian troops within UNAMIR, however, set up their own small intelligence operation and also gathered information informally from Belgian troops who were present as part of a military assistance project unrelated to the peacekeepers. Occasionally UNAMIR passed on confidential information to some of the diplomats, in one case only to find they already knew about it.4 Diplomats rarely shared what they knew with the peacekeepers. Dallaire later commented on this in the Canadian press:

    "A lot of the world powers were all there with their embassies and their military attachés," Dallaire said. "And you can't tell me those bastards didn't have a lot of information. They would never pass that information on to me, ever."5

Obviously no one observer, whether in Kigali, in a capital abroad or at U.N. headquarters, followed all the ominous signs during the months before the genocide. But, as the compilation below makes clear, the warnings of catastrophe were many and convincing; although international decision makers did not know everything, they knew enough to have understood that disaster lay ahead.


November 1993

Lt. Marc Nees, an intelligence officer with the Belgian paratroopers, among the first UNAMIR troops to arrive in Rwanda, reported that a meeting chaired by Habyarimana on November 5 at the Hotel Rebero decided "to distribute grenades, machetes and other weapons to the Interahamwe and to CDR young people. The objective is to kill Tutsi and other Rwandans who are in the cities and who do not support them [i.e., the Interahamwe and CDR]. The distribution of the weapons has already begun."6 These measures may have been linked to the military meeting on "self-defense" held at the end of October.

November 17-18: Unidentified assailants killed some forty persons, including local authorities, in a highly organized attack in the northern communes of Nkumba, Kidaho, Cyeru, and Nyamugali. One attack was in the immediate vicinity of a U.N. military observer post. UNAMIR investigated the killings, but never published any results. This was the first case to suggest that UNAMIR could not in fact assure the security of civilians nor even bring assailants to justice.7

November 23: The human rights group, Association des Volontaires de la Paix, issued a statement describing attacks on civilians throughout the country, many by members of the MRND and the CDR. Among other measures, they recommended closer supervision of Burundian refugee camps to ensure that the international prohibition of military activity in the camps was respected.8

November 23: The CDR issued a press release calling for the resignation or dismissal of the president and prime minister if they failed to act following the killings of November 17-18. If they do nothing, the CDR said, it would consider them "accomplices" of the RPF. The CDR asked the "majority population" to be ready to "neutralize by all means its enemies and their accomplices."9

November 26: The Belgian ambassador in Kigali reported to his ministry of foreign affairs that RTLM had called for the assassination of Prime Minister Uwilingiyimana and of Prime Minister-designate Twagiramungu.10

A Belgian Red Cross truck was deliberately targeted by government soldiers and blown up by a mine.11

November 29-30: Unidentified assailants killed more than a dozen persons in the northwestern commune of Mutura.12

December 1993

Early December: Six buses full of Interahamwe trainees stopped to refuel at a military camp en route home from a training session at Gabiro. The officer in charge, unsure if he was authorized to provide fuel to the Interahamwe, radioed an inquiry to Kigali. He was later reprimanded for having asked his question over the nation-wide military communications network and having thus revealed official support for the Interahamwe. He then changed his story to say the trainees were park guards.13

Early December: UNAMIR received reports of suspicious movements by armed militia. It noted that RTLM was broadcasting relentless and increasingly inflammatory propaganda urging Hutu to stand up to Tutsi. U.N. representatives asked diplomatic missions in Kigali to become more actively involved in expediting the installation of the transitional government.14

December 1: The Rwandan human rights organization ARDHO published a report of recent attacks on Tutsi, warning that the assailants "declare that thispopulation is an accomplice of the Inkotanyi because it is mostly Tutsi and its extermination would be a good thing."15

December 2: Assailants armed with machine guns fired on a UNAMIR patrol in northern Rwanda.16

December 3: Senior officers of the Rwandan Armed Forces wrote to General Dallaire, drawing his attention to recent killings of civilians at Kirambo, Mutura, and Ngenda and informing him that "More massacres of the same kind are being prepared and are supposed to spread throughout the country, beginning with the regions that have a great concentration of Tutsi....This strategy aims to convince public opinion that these are ethnic troubles and thus to incite the RPF to violate the cease-fire, as it did in February 1993, which will then give a pretext for the general resumption of hostilities."

The officers specified also that opposition politicians would be assassinated, including the Prime Minister-designate Twagiramungu and Félicien Gatabazi, head of the PSD. They remarked that Habyarimana himself initiated this "Machiavellian plan" with the support of a handful of military officers from his home region. They identified themselves as having been part of this circle until recently when a sense of the national interest "inspired us with revulsion against these filthy tactics."17

December 3: The Belgian ambassador in Kigali informed his foreign ministry that the Presidential Guard was training young men in three camps for "raids"on Kigali.18

December 8: The human rights coalition CLADHO addressed a memorandum about killings throughout the country to UNAMIR and the diplomatic missions in Kigali. They asked that the militia be disarmed.19

December 17: A coalition of nongovernmental organizations working for development issued a press release asking the army to discipline its troops and calling for disarming and dismantling the militia.20

December 24: According to its mandate, UNAMIR was charged with contributing to the security of Kigali, which was to be free of weapons. On this date, the procedures for establishing the weapons-free zone went into effect. UNAMIR, in cooperation with the National Police, was to enforce the ban on weapons.21

December 27: Belgian intelligence reported on a meeting of military commanding officers held from 11 am to 3 pm December 22 in the office of Chief of Staff Nsabimana, promoted several months before to the rank of general. A number of officers were ordered to supply light arms, ammunition, spare parts, and uniforms to Hutu extremists. The report said, "The Interahamwe are armed to the teeth and on alert. Many of them have been trained at the military camp in Bugesera. Each of them has ammunition, grenades, mines and knives. They have been trained to use guns that are stockpiled with their respective chiefs. They are all just waiting for the right moment to act."22

December 28: The bishop and clergy of the diocese of Nyundo, in northwestern Rwanda, issued a press release in which they noted the distribution of weapons in their parishes and asked the authorities "to explain clearly to the public the use [intended] for these weapons that have been handed out recently."23

The Kigali prosecutor asked the help of UNAMIR in arresting Setiba, head of a militia group that had been receiving training by the Presidential Guard in the Gishwati forest. UNCIVPOL, the police attached to UNAMIR, undertook themission but returned empty-handed because a detachment of Rwandan soldiers was camped in the vicinity of Setiba's house and appeared ready to protect him.24

With the installation of the RPF in the capital at the end of December, young people began taking political training courses in their Kigali headquarters. Others were recruited to go to RPF areas in the north for military training.25

January 1994

January 1-2: According to a report submitted by Belgian intelligence, Rwandan army units surrounded the CND building where the RPF were quartered and checked to be sure the building was within range of their weapons at those locations. They then withdrew to their own barracks.26

January 3: Belgian UNAMIR troops under the command of Colonel Luc Marchal seized hidden stocks of arms, ammunition, and explosives. But later they returned the weapons to the Rwandan army, which was said to have been their owner.27

January 4: The Belgian ambassador in Kigali reminded his ministry of foreign affairs about the distribution of weapons by supporters of the president. At a meeting the same day, Belgian officers had discussed the locations of stocks of arms and of training camps. This information was reported to General Dallaire.28

January 5: A crowd of CDR supporters attacked the Tanzanian ambassador whom they regarded as too favorable to peace negotiations.29

January 6: In a cable to the U.N. in New York, Dallaire reported that UNAMIR had no proof of who committed killings in northern Rwanda in November, but "the manner in which they were conducted, in their execution, intheir coordination, in their cover-up, and in their political motives, leads us to firmly believe that the perpetrators of these evil deeds were well-organized, well-informed, well-motivated and prepared to conduct premeditated murder. We have no reason to believe that such occurrences could not and will not be repeated again in any part of this country where arms are prolific and ethnic tensions are prevalent."30

January 6: The Security Council reviewed the situation, as was stipulated in the resolution establishing UNAMIR, to ensure that progress had been made toward implementing the Accords. It decided to deploy troops designated for phase II of the operation, even though the broad-based transitional government which was supposed to have been installed prior to the deployment had not been sworn in. General Dallaire requested the additional troops because he feared that violence might spread from Burundi to southern Rwanda and he wanted to post troops there. The Security Council stressed that continued support for UNAMIR depended on full and prompt implementation of the Accords.31

January 8: During a violent demonstration by Interahamwe – involving also the sub-prefect of Kigali and soldiers of the Presidential Guard in civilian clothes – the National Police did nothing to intervene. In a meeting afterwards, U.N. officers remarked that the events of the morning make "us think how few possibilities we have to deal with this kind of action." They acknowledged that UNAMIR might have to intervene more actively "to compensate for the lack of effectiveness of the National Police," even if doing so worsened relations with the population, which was already shouting anti-Belgian slogans that morning.32

January 8: Belgian intelligence reported on a January 7 meeting at MRND headquarters that reportedly brought together MRND president Mathieu Ngirumpatse, Minister of Defense Augustin Bizimana, Army Chief of Staff Nsabimana, National Police commander Gen. Augustin Ndindiliyimana, and the president of the Interahamwe, Robert Kajuga, as well as agents of the secret police(SCR). In response to the UNAMIR arms raid five days before and to avoid further losses, they decided that weapons would be stored at the homes of army officers loyal to the MRND and that their owners would come get them when necessary.

The leaders decided also to remove all hidden arms to new locations and to order Interahamwe to fight, with stones if necessary, to defend the weapons from UNAMIR.

In addition, the leaders resolved to disrupt relations between Rwandan police and the UNAMIR officers who were working with them and to create trouble between the Rwandan population in general and UNAMIR, particularly its Belgian contingent.33

January 8: The association Professional Women United (Pro-Femmes Twese Hamwe), the human rights coalition CLADHO, and the council representing nongovernmental organizations working for development, CCOAIB, issued a declaration appealing to Rwandan and international leaders to implement the Arusha Accords rapidly. They deplored the insecurity in the country, including massacres and grenade attacks, the terror caused by the army and the militia, and the risk of resumed war. They called on politicians and the media to cease their incitation to hatred and "condemned unreservedly" the distribution of weapons to civilians by those who seek "to provoke a civil war that would be devastating for the country."34

January 9: General Ndindiliyimana explained to Belgian UNAMIR officers that the National Police had not intervened in the demonstration the day before in order to avoid confrontations "that would inevitably lead to losses, especially when the population had many grenades."35

January 9: RTLM broadcast that UNAMIR was opposed to the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi and in favor of the RPF and parties allied to it. Such propaganda had begun sometime before in the written press and had stressed thesupposed success of Tutsi women in seducing UNAMIR soldiers, including the commander himself.36

January 10: A five hour meeting took place between leaders of the CDR and of the Palipehutu, an exiled guerrilla group from Burundi active in the Burundian refugee camps.37

January 10: Belgian UNAMIR officers met with an informant named Jean-Pierre, an Interahamwe commander, who offered to show the location of a weapons cache in return for protection for himself and his family. He said the Rwandan Armed Forces provided these weapons, as well as training, to the militia. He asserted that he could move the weapons wherever UNAMIR would like them put and that he could get back part of the guns already distributed. He also informed the officers that UNAMIR had been infiltrated with informers and that he was aware of everything that went on inside the U.N. forces. He revealed that the January 8 demonstration had been meant to provoke a confrontation with the Belgian UNAMIR soldiers, but that since no conflict had developed, he had never given the order to open fire.

January 11: Interahamwe and CDR supporters demonstrated again, with the participation of Ministers Pauline Nyiramasuhuko and Callixte Nzabonimana and authorities of Kigali prefecture.38

January 11: In a coded cable to Gen. Maurice Baril at the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York, General Dallaire passed on information received the previous day from Jean-Pierre. He reported that, according to the informant, the Interahamwe had trained 1,700 men, 300 of them since UNAMIR had arrived, in three-week sessions at Rwandan army camps. The training had focused on "discipline, weapons, explosives, close combat and tactics." Jean-Pierre stated that he had believed that the Interahamwe were to defend Kigali against the RPF. But since the arrival of UNAMIR [late November and early December], his superiors had ordered him to make lists of all Tutsi in Kigali, which persuaded him that the Interahamwe were to be used for a different purpose. Dallaire wrote:"Informant states he disagrees with anti-Tutsi extermination. He supports opposition to RPF, but cannot support killing of innocent persons." The informant estimated that the men he had trained, who were scattered in groups of forty throughout Kigali, could kill up to 1,000 Tutsi in twenty minutes. He had distributed 110 guns and had a stockpile of another 135 which he was willing to show to UNAMIR.

The informant confirmed that the January 8 demonstration, which he had commanded, had been meant in part to create conditions for killing Belgian UNAMIR soldiers, in the expectation that this would cause Belgium to withdraw its troops from Rwanda. He also confirmed that forty-eight Rwandan paracommando soldiers and some National Policemen in civilian dress had participated in the demonstrations for which the Rwandan army and the Interahamwe had provided radio communication.

In the chain of command, Jean-Pierre reported directly to the chief of staff of the Rwandan army and to the president of the MRND. Speaking of Habyarimana, he stated that "the president does not have full control over all elements of his old party/faction." He also warned, "...hostilities may commence again if political deadlock ends."39

Dallaire had some reservations about the "suddenness of the change of heart" of the informant and said the possibility of a trap was not excluded. Two days later he sent a UNAMIR officer to verify the information about hidden arms and found it to be accurate.

Dallaire informed New York that he planned to seize the arms within thirty-six hours. He concluded by saying, "Where there's a will, there's a way. Let's do it." Dallaire also asked for protection for the informant, who wanted to be assured of a U.N. guarantee before providing further information.40

January 11: The French military attaché, Colonel Cussac, and the Kenyan ambassador came separately to ask UNAMIR officers about evacuation plans for foreigners in the event of a serious crisis. They may have been reacting to thedemonstration on January 8 and to the latest failure to install the transitional government.41

January 12: Dallaire received a response from Iqbal Riza, writing over the signature of Kofi Annan, head of peacekeeping operations, stating that the UNAMIR mandate did not permit the planned operation against the arms caches. Riza directed Dallaire to discuss Jean-Pierre's information with Habyarimana and to inform the ambassadors of Belgium, France, and the U.S. He stated further that the U.N. could not offer protection to Jean-Pierre.42

January 12: The Secretary-General's Special Representative Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, the diplomat reponsible for political matters for the U.N. in Rwanda, joined Dallaire in meeting with representatives of the Belgian, French, and U.S. embassies. In a fax to New York the next day, Booh-Booh and Dallaire reported that these diplomats "expressed serious concern about the alleged activities and indicated that they would consult with their capitals for instructions and would act accordingly." Shortly after talking with the diplomats, Dallaire and Booh-Booh met President Habyarimana and warned him that the Security Council would be informed immediately if any threat of violence were carried out. According to the fax, Habyarimana "appeared alarmed by the tone of our démarche. He denied knowledge of alleged activities of the militia and promised to investigate." The U.N. team went on to meet with the president and secretary-general of the MRND, who suggested that any problems – apparently such as those at the demonstration of January 8 – came from "infiltrators and bandits" who hid behind MRND party insignia. Booh-Booh and Dallaire concluded:

    The initial feedback that we have received indicates that both the president and officials of his political party were bewildered by the specificity of the information at our disposal. The president of MRND seemed unnerved and is reported to have subsequently ordered an accelerated distribution of weapons.43

Adding that the extent of UNAMIR knowledge of their plans might force Habyarimana and the MRND to "decide on alternative ways of jeopardizing the Peace Process," the force commander and special representative of the secretary-general said they would continue to coordinate their strategies with the ambassadors of Belgium, France, and the U.S.44

January 13: The Belgian ambassador in Kigali reported to his ministry of foreign affairs that UNAMIR would have problems acting against the Interahamwe because its mandate was limited strictly to peacekeeping. Any investigation would have to be done together with the National Police, but since many of them were apparently involved with the militia, such an effort would be futile. For this reason, Boutros-Ghali decided instead to do a rapid démarche to Habyarimana and to push him to act within forty-eight hours. The ambassador remarked that any action by Habyarimana was unlikely.45

January 13: Belgian UNAMIR officers discussed Jean-Pierre's information with the Belgian ambassador and later saw Jean-Pierre himself, who was still ready to share information and to indicate the location of the arms caches. The informant urged prompt action, saying that the weapons might be moved before Tuesday of the following week. A Senegalese officer of UNAMIR visited several of the arms caches with him, including one at the headquarters of the MRND. One of the Belgian officers concluded after meeting with the informant, "The situation seems more and more ripe and with the information in our possession, it seems really unfortunate to not be able to intervene. New York has not changed its position."46

January 13: CLADHO again appealed to the international community and Rwandan leaders to implement the peace accords and once more condemned the violent broadcasts of RTLM, the distribution of arms, the military training for militia, as well as numerous exactions of the Rwandan army.47

January 14: Acting in the name of Dallaire, Colonel Marchal, who headed the Kigali sector of UNAMIR, asked the Belgian Ambassador Johan Swinnen to give asylum to Jean-Pierre and his family. After long discussion, the request was refused for fear of compromising Belgian neutrality within the UNAMIR force.48

January 14: The Belgian and U.S. ambassadors and the French chargé d'affaires visited Habyarimana to urge implementations of the Arusha Accords. The secretary-general had asked these diplomatic representatives to stress the urgency of acting on the information from the January 11 telegram, but they said nothing specific about it, apparently because the French opposed doing so.49

January 14: The secretary-general prohibited the operation to confiscate arms (apparently confirming the decision of his subordinates) because he feared an escalation that would force UNAMIR into a peacemaking rather than a peacekeeping role. According to the Belgian ambassador in Kigali, Boutros-Ghali was

    concerned about the serious political repercussions that such an action would cause and therefore before beginning such an operation, there must be serious reflection....That is why New York insists on inquiries and measures from Habyarimana's side.50

If Habyarimana did not act, Booh-Booh was to report this to the secretary-general who was to report to the Security Council which would make all this public and take appropriate measures.51

January 14: In Belgium, the military intelligence service briefed military commanders on fears that the Interahamwe might attack the peacekeepers,particularly those who were Belgian. They reported "Indeed, there are increasingly well substantiated indications of secret links and/or support to Interahamwe by high ranking officers of the Rwandan army or National Police."52

January 15: Colonel Marchal, who originally thought that Rwanda would prove to be "a textbook case" of peacekeeping, had become so concerned about the prospects of "grave troubles" that he asked his commanding officers in Belgium what role he should play in case of evacuation of foreigners. Would he keep his blue beret as a UNAMIR officer or would he act as a member of the Belgian military? He also urgently requested heavier arms than had thus far been provided to the force, foreseeing the need for such weapons if the airport had to be defended to assure a foreign evacuation.53

January 15: In a long message to his ministry of foreign affairs, the Belgian ambassador in Kigali reported that UNAMIR would have to act soon because otherwise the arms were going to be distributed to Interahamwe and other civilians. The ambassador expressed the opinion that UNAMIR regulations permitted Dallaire to seize the arms, but, he said, the commander was unwilling to act without explicit approval from New York.54

January 16: Four thousand to five thousand MRND supporters, many from outside the city, met at the Nyamirambo stadium in Kigali. The meeting looked like a general mobilization, but it was calm, with no indication of why it had been called. In one of the speeches, Justin Mugenzi, leader of the Hutu Power faction of the Liberal Party, played on ethnic divisions. Two days later, UNAMIR officers learned that arms were distributed at this meeting.55

January 17: Booh-Booh told assembled African diplomats that "We have proof of the existence of training camps for many recruits." He added that weapons of different calibres had been distributed widely to the population.56

January 18: Because none of the countries contacted (Belgium, France, U.S.) was willing to offer him asylum, Jean-Pierre ended his contacts with UNAMIR but he continued speaking informally with a Belgian officer for several more weeks.57

January 19: In a letter to MRND ministers, Prime Minister Uwilingiyimana accused the minister of defense of refusing to implement the order of the council of ministers to collect arms that had been illegally distributed to the population.58

January 20: Assassins tried to kill Justin Mugenzi, president of the Liberal Party and head of its Hutu Power faction.59

January 20: The Belgian ambassador to the U.N. reported to his ministry of foreign affairs that he had met Iqbal Riza, the assistant to Kofi Annan, to voice Belgian concerns over the situation in Rwanda and over the safety of its troops. Riza explained that the U.N. had chosen a diplomatic approach to try first to make Habyarimana take responsibility and, if that did not work, they would inform the Security Council. Riza also said that Habyarimana's behavior should be evaluated in two areas: first, disarming the population and dismantling the stocks of weapons and second, forming the transitional government. He admitted that first reports from Kigali were not encouraging since the militias were apparently continuing to distribute arms to the population.60

January 21-22: A French DC-8 landed secretly at night with a load of arms including ninety boxes of sixty mm mortars originally made in Belgium but coming from France. UNAMIR discovered the shipment, which violated the terms of the Arusha Accords, and put the arms under joint UNAMIR-Rwandan army guard.61

January 22: Dallaire again appealed to New York for a broader interpretation of the mandate.62

January 22: Belgian intelligence reported that RTLM was planning to install a new broadcast tower of 1,000 watts on Mont Muhe, in Habyarimana's homeregion, and that it had been assigned two new frequencies for broadcasting. It later began broadcasting from the new tower.63

January 24: Booh-Booh complained to the press that "weapons are distributed from arms caches around Kigali and even inside town."64

January 24: Interahamwe were arrested for bombing a house in Kigali and other Interahamwe rioted in the streets.65 In a separate incident, assailants shot at Belgian peacekeepers guarding Booh-Booh's residence.66

January 25: The Belgian ambassador in Kigali informed his ministry of foreign affairs that Dallaire had appealed to New York for new instructions concerning the UNAMIR mandate, indicating that the force must either be allowed to enforce the ban on arms in Kigali more strictly or UNAMIR must be withdrawn completely.67 He also reported a meeting with Donat Murego, secretary of the MDR, an intellectual of considerable standing who had become increasingly identified with Hutu Power. Murego warned that the Interahamwe were going to launch a civil war in which they would exploit hostility against the Belgians. He blamed Habyarimana, the businessman Kabuga, MRND president Ngirumpatse and propagandist Nahimana for fostering this anger against the Belgians.68

January 26 and 27: Two grenades exploded at the CND building where the RPF were quartered.69 In another incident, assailants fired on Belgian peacekeepers who were on patrol.70

January 26: MRND leaders, including Joseph Nzirorera, Edouard Karemera, Jean Habyarimana, and Robert Kajuga, president of the Interahamwe, reportedlymet to discuss ways to create conflict beween Interahamwe and Belgian soldiers of UNAMIR. The militia were ordered to never obey orders from Belgian soldiers, to call Interahamwe from surrounding areas whenever confronted by Belgians, and to get as many local people as possible to witness the confrontation. The final order was to try to create "a collective psychosis" among UNAMIR troops by using all possible deceptions.71

January 27: RTLM broadcast a call for Hutu to defend themselves to the last man. After a long diatribe against UNAMIR, the radio station called on the population to "take responsibility" for what was happening because otherwise the Belgian soldiers would give Rwanda to the Tutsi.72

January 30: Colonel Marchal reported to his superiors that UNAMIR found it impossible to act effectively and that the troops of other nations in the force were of poor quality. After 924 mobil patrols, 320 foot patrols, and establishing 306 checkpoints, UNAMIR had collected only nine weapons.73

January 30-31: A Belgian soldier threw stones and broke windows at the home of Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, the CDR leader, and supposedly threatened him. RTLM and Radio Rwanda both broadcast the news that Belgian soldiers had tried to kill Barayagwiza. The incident focused attention on the inappropriate behavior of some Belgian soldiers who clearly showed their disdain for pro-Habyarimana forces.74 In another incident, an assailant threw a grenade at UNAMIR headquarters.75 The same day, RTLM broadcast that "the time has come to take aim at Belgian targets."76

Late January: According to a confidential source, a U.S. government intelligence analyst estimated the potential loss of life should there be renewedconflict in Rwanda. He reportedly described three possibilities, the worst of which would result in the loss of one half million lives. A colleague of the analyst told a Human Rights Watch researcher that this person's work was usually highly regarded but that his superiors did not take this assessment seriously.77

Late January: The Human Rights Watch Arms Project published a report documenting the flow of arms into Rwanda. After detailing the distributions of arms to civilians, it concluded:

    It is impossible to exaggerate the danger of providing automatic rifles to civilians, particularly in regions where residents, either encouraged or instructed by authorities, have slaughtered their neighbors. In light of the widespread and horrific abuses committed by Hutu civilian crowds and party militia armed primarily with machetes and spears, it is frightening to ponder the potential for abuses by large numbers of ill-trained civilians equipped with assault rifles.78

February 1994

February 2: In a thirteen-page memorandum on the Interahamwe to various Belgian authorities, including Lieutenant General Mertens at the Maison Militaire du Roi and the Chef du Cabinet of the Ministry of Defense, Belgian military intelligence summarized much of what was known about the militia. It described their plan to attack Belgian UNAMIR troops in order to get Belgium to withdraw its soldiers from Rwanda, their targeting of Tutsi and members of parties opposed to Habyarimana, and their training and arming by the Rwandan army. The memo remarked that close links were reported between the Interahamwe and some Rwandan soldiers, particularly some in the Presidential Guard and the National Police. Noting that both Habyarimana and the president of the MRND denied the military activities of the Interahamwe, an intelligence officer concluded that the denials changed nothing and that there were strong indications that authorities close to the president of the republic and to the party were involved.79

February 2: Booh-Booh cabled New York that Habyarimana had done nothing to investigate or act on the security issue.80

February 3: Dallaire cabled New York:

    We can expect more frequent and more violent demonstrations, more grenade and armed attacks on ethnic and political groups, more assassinations and quite possibly outright attacks on UNAMIR installations...Each day of delay in authorizing deterrent arms recovery operation will result in an ever deteriorating security situation and may if the arms continue to be distributed result in an inability of UNAMIR to carry out its mandate in all aspects."81

In response, U.N. headquarters increased somewhat Dallaire's authority to make decisions on his own. It permitted him to assist Rwandan authorities in recovering weapons, but continued to insist that the mandate did not permit UNAMIR to conduct such operations alone.82

February 3: The Belgian ambassador in Kigali reported to his ministry of foreign affairs that UNAMIR was powerless and that it was urgent to halt the distribution of arms and to eliminate the stocks already built up.83 The same day, in Belgium, officers of the general staff informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that in their opinion the grenade attacks that caused insecurity in Kigali were the result of "an organized plan."84

February 6: Marchal and Dallaire suspended weapons searches at UNAMIR checkpoints following a number of incidents with Rwandan soldiers, the most recent with Chief of Staff Nsabimana himself. Marchal feared "a deliberate intention to create incidents with soldiers of the Belgian detachment."85

February 8: Marchal asked Dallaire to take action against the "continuous propaganda" of RTLM.86

February 11: Belgian Foreign Minister Willy Claes warned Boutros-Ghali that Rwandan leaders themselves "admit that a prolongation of the current political deadlock could result in an irreversible explosion of violence." He welcomed Boutros-Ghali's instructions to Booh-Booh to push harder for the installation of the transitional government and added,

    It seems to me, however, that this higher profile of the United Nations on the political level should be accompanied by a firmer stance on the part of UNAMIR with respect to security. I am aware of the complexity of the situation, and of the constraints imposed on you under Security Council resolution 872. Nevertheless, unless the negative developments we are witnessing are halted, UNAMIR might find itself unable to continue effectively its basic mission of playing a major supporting role in the implementation of the Arusha Peace Agreement.87

February 14: The Belgian ambassador at the U.N. reported that the reaction of the secretariat to the foreign minister's February 11 letter was "rather perplexed" because they had already authorised Dallaire to help local authorities collect arms and dismantle weapons stocks. Dallaire had not come back to the issue of a more active role for UNAMIR although the week before he had said he would make some concrete proposals.88

February 14: The first February issue of Kangura published a cartoon on its cover depicting the prime minister and the minister of finance as rats. Both were Hutu opposed to Habyarimana. A man is about to strike them with a wooden club studded with nails, a weapon that was often used in the genocide. The assailant refers to himself as "No Pity," recalling one of the Ten Commandments of the Bahutu which directs Hutu to have no pity on the Tutsi.

February 15: Dallaire and Booh-Booh again insist on the importance of recovering illegal weapons and ask for clarification of the mandate.89

February 15: Belgian military intelligence reported that the Rwandan army chief of staff had put all troops on alert, canceled leaves, ordered a check of stocks of ammunition and other war materials, and asked for recruitment of more soldiers.90

February 17: Senior officers of the National Police met with Habyarimana to express fears that war might resume. Habyarimana responsed, "If the RPF begins the war, we have plans to deal with their accomplices." When they asked for details, Habyarimana suggested that Minister of Defense Augustin Bizimana brief them. Bizimana declined and sent them to the Army Chief of Staff Nsabimana. He too refused to explain the plan.91

February 17: In response to information from the secretary-general delivered on February 10 and February 16, the Security Council "expressed concern" over delays in establishing the transitional government and over the deterioration in the security situation. It discreetly reminded the parties to "respect the weapons-free zone" and warned that UNAMIR would be supported only if they rapidly implemented the Arusha Accords. In a blunter release issued in Kigali, UNAMIR called for an end to militia training and "massive arms distributions."92

Mid-February: The Rwandan minister of defense requested landing authorization for three planes carrying arms. UNAMIR refused.93

February 20: Assassins tried to kill Prime Minister-designate Twagiramungu and did kill one of his bodyguards.94 In another incident, a crowd stoned Belgian peacekeepers and they had to fire 63 shots in the air in order to free themselves.95

February 20: Army Chief of Staff Nsabimana showed a relative, repected banker Jean Birara, a list of 1,500 persons to be eliminated in Kigali.96

Late February: Major Stanislas Kinyoni reportedly summoned the heads of National Police brigades in Kigali and told them to prepare lists of persons suspected of ties with the RPF. Some of the National Police officers refused and the effort was dropped.97

February 21: Assassins killed the minister of public works and head of the PSD party, Félicien Gatabazi. This murder, like that attempted the day before on Twagiramungu, had been predicted by high-ranking military officers in their December 3 letter to Dallaire, mentioned above. Investigations by UNCIVPOL reportedly revealed participation by several persons close to Habyarimana, including Captain Pascal Simbikangwa, long identified with secret service tortures, and Alphonse Ntilivamunda, son-in-law of Habyarimana.98 When U.N. police later helped arrest a suspect, RTLM reviled them. Several persons, including Simbikangwa, threatened the Kigali prosecutor who had ordered the arrest.99

February 22: Martin Bucyana, president of the CDR, was killed by a mob in Butare in retaliation for the killing of Gatabazi. In another incident, a UNAMIR convoy escorting the RPF was attacked with grenades; one RPF soldier was killed and a U.N. military observer was wounded. High-ranking RPF leaders weresupposed to have been part of the convoy but at the last minute changed their plans.100

February 23: UNAMIR peacekeepers sent to rescue a judge exchanged fire with attackers.101

February 22-26: Interahamwe killed some seventy people and destroyed property in Kigali. Belgian officers described the situation as "explosive," but UNAMIR, limited by its mandate, could do little to stop the violence.102

February 24: Boutros-Ghali called Habyarimana to insist that the Accords must be implemented and to warn that the international community would not take responsibility if the situation exploded.103

February 25: The Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote the Belgian ambassador at the U.N. about the need to strengthen the UNAMIR mandate. Among its points were the following:

  • "[A] new bloodbath" could result from the political murders and unrest. (Point 1.)
  • Under the present mandate, UNAMIR cannot carry out "a strong maintenance of public order." (Point 4.)
  • "In case the situation were indeed to deteriorate and the UNAMIR orders mentioned above remain in force, public opinion would never tolerate having Belgian peacekeepers remain passive witnesses to genocide and having the U.N. do nothing." (Point 5.) [Emphasis added.]
  • "UNAMIR should play a more active role and raise its profile to reinforce the credibility of the international community." (Point 6.)
  • "The question is whether this is possible without a new mandate from the Security Council. If strengthening UNAMIR requires a new mandate (a new Security Council resolution), there would be problems given the current policy of the United States. At this point, an extension of the operation (peacekeepers, funding) appears excluded for them." (Point 7.)
  • "It will be extremely important to see how the action can be reinforced under the present mandate (including Austrian peacekeepers? More decision-making powers for Dallaire? Temporary deployment of peacekeepers from other operations in the region?) and how to effectively increase diplomatic and political pressure." (Point 8.)

The memorandum closed by stressing that the Belgians themselves had made no decisions, but that they wanted these points taken into consideration (presumably at the U.N.) before new steps were taken.104

In response, the Belgian ambassador at the U.N. replied that he had discussed the matter with the secretariat and with principal members of the Security Council. (From minutes of a meeting between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense on March 3, it is clear that "secretariat" in fact means the secretary-general himself.105) The discussions yielded the following conclusions:

    1. that it is unlikely that either the number of troops or the mandate of UNAMIR would be enlarged; that the United States and Great Britain oppose this both for financial reasons and because the operation was undertaken under chapter 6;

    2. that it is also unlikely that the ROE [Rules of Engagement] would be modified;

    3. that Austrian troops could be called on only when troops were rotated and then only after Austria had formally requested this;

    4. that General Dallaire could help Rwandan authorities plan and carry out the elimination of weapons stocks and could do this in a visible way;

    5. that two companies of the Ghanaian battalion will be transferred from the demilitarized zone [in northern Rwanda] to Kigali.106

February 25: Robert Kajuga presided over a meeeting of Interahamwe leaders that recommended greater vigilance against Tutsi in the city of Kigali and asked that lists of Tutsi be drawn up. The leaders decided on a system of communication using telephones, whistles, runners, and public criers. They ordered militia members to be ready to act at any moment using traditional weapons and, for the more experienced – former soldiers and trained militia members – using firearms. In directions presaging collaboration between political parties during the genocide, leaders told the Interahamwe to be ready to come to the aid of members of the militias of the CDR and the MDR. Interahamwe were advised to have nothing to do with thugs who stole, raped, or otherwise harassed people in the name of Interahamwe.107

February 25: The human rights group AVP issued a declaration enumerating victims of recent violence in Kigali, condemning calls for the extermination of the Tutsi heard on RTLM, and urging UNAMIR to establish security in the city.108

February 25: Habyarimana warned Booh-Booh that his life was in danger.109

February 27: Dallaire again sought approval from New York for a plan to confiscate weapons. He also requested reinforcement by a company of 150 soldiers. On this date or shortly after, he expressed fears about a civil war. The peacekeeping office reminded him that the Rules of Engagement permitted the useof weapons only for self-defense and told him to concentrate on getting the new transitional government installed.110

February 27: Belgian intelligence reported on continuing arms deals for the Rwandan army. The arms, bought from Unita in Angola, supposedly were delivered through the Zairean military base at Kamina. From there they were sent to Goma and then across the border into Gisenyi, in northwestern Rwanda.111

February 25-28: The clearly anti-Tutsi character of continuing violence drove Tutsi to seek shelter in religious centers and with U.N. employees. On February 28, the U.N. opened two centers, one near Amahoro stadium and another at the Magerwa storehouse, for Tutsi who were seeking protection.112

February 28: A shell struck between the CND building where the RPF was quartered and the UNAMIR headquarters.113

Late February: The second issue of Kangura for February talked of "The Final Attack" that the RPF was supposedly preparing to make on Kigali. Saying that they knew where Inyenzi were hiding, the journalists mentioned that many were in the part of the city called Biryogo. They ask that "all who are concerned by this problem" be on the alert because "We will not perish little by little."114

March 1994

March 1: According to the Belgian ambassador in Kigali, RTLM was broadcasting "inflammatory statements calling for the hatred – indeed for the extermination" of the Tutsi.115

March 2: An MRND informant told Belgian intelligence that the MRND had a plan to exterminate all the Tutsi in Kigali if the RPF should dare to resume the war. The informant said this was possible because now "all Hutu speak the same language and are behind a Hutu leader, that is, President Habyarimana." Regionaldivisions are now ended and the morale of the army is higher than ever. The informant concluded that "if things go badly, the Hutu will massacre them without pity."116

March 3: UNAMIR Major Podevijn reported to Dallaire about the distribution of weapons to militia in Gikondo, a section of Kigali.117

March 6: A jeep involved in an automobile accident near the RPF headquarters at the CND was found to be fully loaded with ammunition and grenades. Assumed by many to have been destined for the RPF, the weapons had actually been sold by Rwandan soldiers to Burundian insurgents.118

March 10: UNAMIR discovered the manifest of a shipment of heavy weapons for the Rwandan army.119

March 10: Belgian intelligence again reported new arms and new recruits for the Rwandan army and improvement in its morale.120

March 10: Belgian intelligence reported that the MRND executive committee was angry that Habyarimana had gone off for discussions with President Museveni of Uganda without consulting them. The president of the party, Mathieu Ngirumpatse, said this constituted "a serious political error." Habyarimana had to explain his actions to the party leaders.121

March 13: Dallaire again requested reinforcements of 150 soldiers.122

Mid-March: Dallaire once more sought authorization to seize arms caches, again without success.123

Mid-March: After visiting Rwanda, Belgian Minister of Defense Léo Delcroix reported that Kigali, supposedly a weapons-free zone, was full of arms. He proposed that the mandate, soon to be renewed, be amended to provide "more freedom of movement," and "more persuasive action." 124

March 14: Marchal asked his Belgian superiors to respond promptly to his January 15 request for more ammunition. Five days later he remarked that the likelihood of serious conflict was "hardly a fantasy."125

March 15: The sponsors of the International Commission on Human Rights Abuse in Rwanda (Human Rights Watch, the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, the International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development, and the Interafrican Union of Human Rights) were joined by Amnesty International in a declaration deploring the growing violence in Rwanda, the distribution of arms, the delays in implementing the Arusha Accords and the efforts of the MRND to obtain a promise of amnesty for those involved in previous human rights abuses.126

March 15: The Belgian ambassador in Kigali reported that UNAMIR had blocked the delivery of loads of arms for the Rwandan army from the Mil-Tec Corporation of the United Kingdom and the Société Dyl-Invest of France.127

March 17: A repected source in the National Police (probably Chief of Staff Ndindiliyimana) told Belgian officers that the UNAMIR mandate should be strengthened so that it could take the initiative and act more firmly. According tohim, the National Police was unable alone to carry out the role assigned to it by the Arusha Accords.128

March 22: Georges Ruggiu, a Belgian announcer on RTLM radio, warned that the Belgians wanted to impose a RPF government of bandits and killers on Rwanda and that the Belgian ambassador had been plotting a coup. He told the Belgians to wake up and go home because, if not, they would face a "fight without pity," "a hatred without mercy."129

Third week of March: The officer in charge of intelligence for the Rwandan army told a group including some Belgian military advisers that "if Arusha were implemented, they were ready to liquidate the Tutsi." (Si Arusha était exécuté, ils étaient prets a liquider les Tutsis.)130

March 26: Dallaire told New York that he needed contingency plans in case an "extreme scenario takes place."131

March 28: Ferdinand Nahimana sent around to members of the elite his call for "self-defense" originally circulated in February 1993 and asked for suggestions for a "final solution" to the current problems. In the document, he calls for national unity, condemns "the Tutsi league" with its plan for a "Hima empire" and insists that the elite not remain "unconcerned" but rather work with local administrators to rouse the population to the danger of war.132

March 30: CLADHO issued a declaration detailing attacks by soldiers, including the Presidential Guard, and Interahamwe. It again demanded that the soldiers be disciplined and the militia be disarmed.133

March 31: Assailants killed Alphonse Ingabire (known as Katumba), operational head of the CDR. Militia of the CDR killed a member of the PSD and wounded three others.

March 31: In the last days of March, RTLM broadcast increasingly bitter attacks on UNAMIR, including Dallaire, the Belgians, and some Rwandan political leaders.

March 31: With the UNAMIR mandate about to expire, leaders of Rwandan human rights associations and other nongovernmental organizations issued a plea to the Security Council "to maintain and reinforce" UNAMIR because its withdrawal "would be interpreted as abandoning the civilian population to the worst of calamities."134

April 1994

April 2: RTLM announced that military officers had met with the prime minister to plan a coup against Habyarimana.135

April 2: Army Chief of Staff Nsabimana told Colonel Marchal that the Rwandan military expected an offensive soon by the RPF.136

April 3: RTLM broadcast a prediction that the RPF would do "a little something" with its bullets and grenades on April 3 to April 5 and again from April 7 to 8. This may have been an "accusation in a mirror" – like that advocated by the disciple of the propaganda expert Mucchielli – with Hutu hard-liners accusing Tutsi of preparing to do just what they themselves were planning.137 The prediction increased fears in an already tense situation. Some people who felt at risk sent their children away from Kigali while others took refuge in places thought to be safe havens.

April 3: The German ambassador, speaking for the European Union, expressed concern about increasing insecurity, proliferation of weapons and the "unacceptable role of some media." He suggested that continued support depended on implementing the Accords.138

April 4: At a party to celebrate the national day of Senegal, Bagosora told people that "the only plausible solution for Rwanda would be the elimination of theTutsi." Among those present at the time were Dallaire, Booh-Booh, Marchal, and Shariyah Khan, adviser to Booh-Booh. Bagosora reportedly told Marchal that if the RPF attacked successfully, the Rwandan forces had plans for guerrilla warfare against them.139

The U.N. Response to the Warning

The preparations for violence took place in full view of a U.N. peacekeeping force. The commander of that force reported evidence of the worsening situation to his superiors who directed him to observe the narrowest possible interpretation of his mandate. He was in effect to do nothing but keep on talking with the authorities while they kept on preparing for slaughter.

The secretary-general and his subordinates ordered this apparently aberrant interpretation of peacekeeping in an effort to keep within the constraints set by the Security Council. They knew that council members did not regard Rwanda as a priority and were reluctant to invest any more troops or funds in keeping the peace there. Stopping the preparations for slaughter required firm action, which itself might lead to an escalation of violence and the need for more troops and funds. Staff feared that requests for more resources might provoke the council simply to end the mission, thus marking another in a series of failures for the U.N. and its peacekeeping office.140

When Dallaire sent his January 11 telegram, he understood his mandate to permit seizing illegal arms: he stated that he was undertaking the operation rather than requested authorisation for it. But his initiative drew an immediate and supposedly unanimous negative response from the secretariat staff. Recalling that an attempt to confiscate arms had sparked violence and subsequent failure for the U.N. operation in Somalia, they ordered Dallaire not to act. Hiding behind legalities, they insisted that UNAMIR had no authority to create an arms-free zone, only to enforce one created by other parties.141

Dallaire sent five more messages about the need for action, on January 22, February 3, February 15, February 27 and March 13.142 In the last two, sent after the violence set off by Gatabazi's assassination on February 21, Dallaire requested more troops as well as for a broader interpretation of the mandate.

Dallaire's demands for action and grim predictions caused friction with his superiors, including the U.N. senior military adviser, Gen. Maurice Baril. Dallaire later protested that he never considered himself "a cowboy," that is, someone ready to leap to action without forethought, but Baril – a former classmate – and others saw him that way. Baril felt he had to keep Dallaire "on a leash" and other secretariat staff believed he was right to do so.143 Authorities in New York, apparently including the secretary-general, preferred Booh Booh's reports to those of Dallaire. A diplomat from Cameroon, Booh Booh reportedly thought highly of Habyarimana and presented optimistic assessments of his intentions. Following the late February killings of Tutsi, for example, Booh-Booh reported that there was no proof that the attacks had been ethnically motivated.144

With the UNAMIR troops limited to a passive role, Dallaire's predictions proved accurate. Unable to seize arms, to prevent the bloodshed of late February, or even to interrupt the broadcasts of RTLM, the force lost credibility rapidly.

Having prohibited Dallaire from acting militarily, the secretary-general sought to move Habyarimana through talk – his own, that of his special representative, and that of other foreign diplomats – combined with threats to take the matter to the Security Council if Habyarimana remained intransigent. On January 13, Boutros-Ghali set a goal of getting Habyarimana to halt the preparations for violence within forty-eight hours, but he then waited until February 10 to take the matter to the Security Council, despite indications much earlier that the Rwandan president did not intend to cooperate. The mild statement issued by the council on February 17 "expressing concern" over the situation only reinforced the impression of U.N. timidity – or perhaps indifference – in face of the preparations for slaughter.

Even though discussions seemed to be leading nowhere, Boutros-Ghali refused to push the Security Council to strengthen the mandate because he believed it was futile to propose a change that the U.S. was sure to oppose. Through early March, he also refused Dallaire's request for new troops, although he did permit the transfer of 200 Ghanaian peacekeepers from the demilitarized zone in the north to Kigali, changing the location but not the number of soldiers.

When the omens of disaster were multiplying, Boutros-Ghali kept on with the usual practices of the U.N. bureaucracy, doing his best to avoid any open conflict with the powerful members of the Security Council. Accused later of having failed to bring like the January 11 telegram to the attention of the Security Council, Boutros-Ghali and some of his staff asserted that they laid the matter – if not the document itself – before the Security Council the next day. This is not true.145 Although one staff member drew attention to the importance of the telegram by placing it in a black folder, the usual signal that this was a matter for urgent attention, the cable was not delivered to the council members nor were its contents communicated in summarized form, as was often the case for such messages. The subsequent treatment of the document suggests that someone regarded it as potentially damaging. When researchers consulted files from this period, they found the January 11 cable present but not in the appropriate order. Attached to it was the explanation that it had been at one point missing from the folder and was later put back into it. Some months after the genocide, a representative of a nongovernmental organization delivered a copy of the telegram to one high-ranking U.N. official who had stated that there was no such telegram and that rumors of its existence were propaganda by Rwandan extremists.146

In a confidential assessment of the Rwandan crisis, one U.N. staff member concluded that the peacekeeping office had failed to respond to Dallaire's calls for support and that it was "too conservative in meeting the challenge...[H]ad we usedour imagination we could have prevented the crisis by advising the [Security] Council of the increased tensions and rearmament activities that were going on."

Such readiness to admit error is welcome from staff, but the ultimate responsibility naturally rests with the secretary-general. His decision not to inform the council fully about the situation limited the possible courses of action open to council members. Even if discussion of the risks of massive slaughter – and of genocide – had not altered the policies of such members as the U.S., the U.K., and France, it might have prompted action by members who ultimately behaved responsibly after April 6. Had these members, the representatives of the Czech Republic, Argentina, Nigeria, New Zealand, and Spain been apprised of the preparations, they might have countered the inertia of others. And had the general public been alerted to the genocidal plans, some citizens and nongovernmental organizations would have had the chance to use the information to press their governments to take the issue seriously.

Responses of the French, U.S., and Belgian Governments

As the foreign governments most involved with Rwanda, France, the U.S., and Belgium followed the deteriorating situation and cooperated with the U.N. and with each other in trying to speed implementation of the Arusha Accords. Despite the clear signs of imminent violence, both France and the U.S. failed to respond with any new initiatives and continued to operate within the same constraints that had shaped their policy towards Rwanda for some time. Belgium, spurred by the added responsibility of having troops on the ground, sought a greater international commitment to prevent the disaster, but failed to invest the energy needed to make the other powers respond.

With close ties to Habyarimana and other high-ranking Rwandan officials and with an undercover intelligence operation in place, France certainly knew about the preparations for killing Tutsi and opponents of Hutu Power. French diplomats and military officers discussed the risk of genocide beginning in 1990 and, according to former Ambassador Martres, the 1994 genocide could have been foreseen in October 1993.147 Bound by its old loyalties, however, France continued to support the Rwandan government diplomatically, in discussions in the Security Council, for example, and militarily, with the delivery of arms. After the January 11 telegram, Boutros-Ghali had looked to France, Belgium, and the U.S. to support his efforts to get Habyarimana to halt the preparations for violence. According to Belgian diplomatic correspondence, it was France that prevented the three fromaddressing the issue when they met with the Rwandan president. Along with the others, France refused to give shelter to the informant.

In the U.S., senior officials may not have listened to the prediction of potential widespread carnage from within their own ranks, but, according to Anthony Lake, then national security adviser to the president, they were aware of Belgian efforts to alert them to such a risk. On one occasion, civilian and military authorities discussed the possibility of sending more troops to Rwanda, but they decided that the number was already too large if the soldiers were there only to observe and that if the proposed reinforcements were sent, the force would still be too small to stop a conflict.148 The U.S. was ready to use diplomatic pressure to improve the situation in Rwanda – and sent Associate Secretary of State for African Affairs Prudence Bushnell to Rwanda for that purpose – but it was not ready to spend more money. U.S. officials refused to support broadening the mandate or any other measure that would substantially increase the expense of UNAMIR.

Belgium tried hardest to respond to the warnings of imminent slaughter. Its representative at the U.N. pushed the secretary-general and members of the peacekeeping staff to permit Dallaire greater freedom of action and to demand faster progress from Habyarimana. Although Foreign Minister Claes conceded on February 11 that broadening the mandate was out of the question, he changed his mind after the killings of late February and actively campaigned for a stronger mandate. One Foreign Ministry official acknowledged the risk of genocide in late February – even using that term – and argued that "If conditions deteriorate, the U.N. and Belgium could not really allow themselves to withdraw from Rwanda."149

The first Belgian effort to strengthen the mandate failed when the U.S., along with the U.K., refused to consider the proposal and even suggested they would favor a complete withdrawal should the difficulties continue. In mid-March, after the visit of Minister of Defense Léo Delcroix to Rwanda, the Belgians again raised the issue. In discussions with representatives of France and the U.S. on March 22, Belgium proposed that the mandate, about to expire, should be renewed for only a brief period and should be strengthened. France refused to support a stronger mandate, but all agreed that the new term of the mandate should be brief, in order to exert greater pressure on the parties for concrete progress. Delcroix still maintained the importance of a more flexible mandate and on March 29 eventhreatened to end Belgian participation in UNAMIR if no revision were made.150 Although Belgian authorities invested far less energy in trying to change the mandate than they would several weeks later when attempting to end UNAMIR completely, they still did more than other international actors to try to interrupt the movement towards catastrophe.

A Solemn Appeal

On March 28, at the end of the seventh month since the signing of the Accords, Habyarimana and his supporters failed to appear for yet another of the ceremonies scheduled for swearing in members of the broad-based transitional government. The issue this time was whether the CDR should have a seat in the assembly. The RPF and other parties had refused, insisting that the Accords provided for representation of only those parties that subscribed to the Accords, which, at the start, the CDR vociferously did not. But recently the CDR had changed its position and finally subscribed to a code of ethics for political parties, an essential precondition for participation in the assembly. Habyarimana was determined to have the CDR seated because it could provide him with the final vote necessary to block any effort to impeach him.

The same day, the special representative of the secretary-general, the apostolic nuncio, the ambassadors of Belgium, France, Germany, the U.S., Zaire, Uganda, Burundi, and the representative of the Tanzanian facilitator joined in "a solemn appeal" to all parties to resolve their differences and implement the Accords. They expressed the opinion that all political parties in existence at the time the Accords were signed should be represented in the Assembly, that is, that the CDR should have a place. This was in line with the thinking of many diplomats since the beginning – that it was wiser to include the extremists than to attempt to shut them out of power.

With this concession from the international community in hand, Habyarimana set off for Dar es Salaam a few days later to meet with heads of neighboring states. It was expected that this meeting of his peers would exact from him a final commitment to install the new government. Col. Elie Sagatwa, responsible for the security of the president, met twice with Colonel Marchal to plan for the installation ceremonies, which also contributed to the impression that Habyarimana really meant to permit the new government to take power.151 The international actors also knew, as the French ambassador reported to Paris on March 28, that"the cash-drawer was empty."152 Since the donor nations refused to provide more money until the broad-based government was installed, they may all have counted on near-bankruptcy forcing cooperation, as had been the case with the signing of the Accords the previous August.

Renewing the Mandate

Although some of the signs at the very end of March seemed promising, they did not outweigh the grim indications of trouble ahead. Called upon to assess the situation in his formal report on UNAMIR at the end of its mandate, the secretary-general on March 30 detailed the warnings of the previous months: the distribution of arms, the training of militia, the assassinations, the violent demonstrations, and the laying of mines. Boutros-Ghali could have used this opportunity to insist on strengthening the mandate and sending reinforcements to the peacekeepers, but he did not. To have done so would have involved confronting the reluctance of the Security Council – and specifically the U.S. – to devote the resources needed to improve the situation. It would also have required negotiating with other member states over the numbers of troops to be provided and the duties with which they would be charged.

The secretary-general was ready, however, to risk confrontation over the length of the mandate. The major international actors in Rwanda, as well as the department of peacekeeping, had agreed that the new mandate must be for a brief term of two or three months in order to keep the greatest possible pressure on the parties to implement the Accords. In a surprise move, Boutros-Ghali recommended an extension of six months. Such a time span would have restricted leverage over Habyarimana and opened the way to further delays and continued preparations for violence. After strong reaction from the council members, the term was finally settled at four months.

In analyzing the deteriorating security in Kigali, the secretary-general had noted that "most incidents can be attributed to armed banditry."153 This explanation was astonishingly like that made by leaders of the MRND on January 12 when Dallaire and Booh-Booh reproached them for violence in the capital. Only secondarily did Boutros-Ghali remark that "ethnic and politically motivated crimes" also had increased. Having stressed that common crime was the problem in Kigali, Boutros-Ghali was in a good position to propose a small increase in the ranks of UNCIVPOL as the solution. At a time when the UNAMIR commanderwas requesting 150 experienced troops to deal with the threat of ethnic and political violence and his second was calling for heavy weaponry to defend the airport, the secretary-general asked the Security Council for forty-five policemen. He assured council members that "the cost implications of this proposed personnel increase will be minimal."154 It was the cheaper solution – or so it seemed.


By early April, the increasingly vicious incitements to hatred and violence, the frequent predictions of imminent catastrophe, the recurring delays in implementing the Accords, the widespread awareness of training and arming of militia, and the threat that UNAMIR and other foreign actors might end or reduce their role in Rwanda had all caused great anxiety, particularly among people in the capital. Both the Hutu Power group and the RPF understood the likelihood of violence and were moving their forces into position.

Hutu Power advocates were far from done implementing their "self-defense" program, but they did already have some 2,000 militia in place in Kigali. In addition, there were some 7,000 regular troops in Kigali and its environs, although not all of them were combat troops.1 Many feared renewed battle, but those committed to Habyarimana were buoyed by the new solidarity of Hutu Power and felt a renewed sense of purpose. On April 3, a RTLM commentator declared that the people were ready to serve as a "fourth column" against the "enemy." He said:

    The people, there is the real shield, it is the true army that is strong...the armed forces [i.e., the regular Rwandan army] fight, but the people, they say: we protect your rear, we are your shield. The day when the people rise up and want no more of you, when they hate you all together and from the bottom of their hearts, when you make them sick to their stomachs, I...I wonder then where you will escape to. Where will you go?2

The RPF had strengthened its position by secretly bringing arms and several hundred troops into Kigali to supplement the 600 soldiers permitted by the Arusha Accords. The movement had also grown politically, both in Kigali and throughout Rwanda. With a RPF role in government assured by the peace agreement, supporters previously reluctant to declare their loyalties now acknowledged that they were RPF members. Political organizers who had gone to the RPF zone for training programs returned home eager to recruit new members. By early April, the RPF had some 600 cells throughout the country, 147 of them in Kigali. With each group counting between six and twelve members, this made a total of between3,600 and 7,200 persons who had openly or privately declared their support for the RPF. The greatest number, some 700 to 1,400, were in the capital.3

Well-aware of the training and arming of the Interahamwe, the RPF had begun exploring the organization of a joint militia with the MDR and the PSD to counter possible attacks. The MDR rejected the plan but the PSD was still considering it in early April. Few RPF members had firearms.4 Those who did had apparently not received them from the movement but had bought them on their own initiative. During the genocide, Hutu Power supporters talked incessantly about "infiltrators" and their stocks of arms. Although the RPF soldiers brought into Kigali in contravention of the terms of the peace agreement could be called "infiltrators," unarmed and untrained Tutsi citizens – even if they happened to back the RPF – could not be described by that term. When these Tutsi residents were attacked after April 6, virtually all resisted with sticks, stones, machetes or spears, not with Kalashnikovs or grenades.5 The vast majority who survived owed their lives to their own strength, good fortune or the assistance of Hutu, not to previous military training.

The Attack on Habyarimana's Plane

The genocide of the Tutsi, the murders of Hutu opposed to Habyarimana, and the renewed war between the Rwandan goverment and the RPF were all touched off by the killing of President Habyarimana. This extremely significant attack remains largely uninvestigated and its authors unidentified.

Habyarimana died on Wednesday evening, April 6, 1994, when the plane bringing him home from Dar es Salaam was shot down. He had been attending a meeting of heads of state where he had supposedly finally consented to put in place the broad-based transitional government. The president of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira, who had also attended the meeting, had decided to fly home inHabyarimana's plane rather than in his own. He too died in the crash as did General Nsabimana, chief of staff of the Rwandan army, and several others. As the plane was coming in for a landing, it was hit by ground to air missiles shot from a location near the Kigali airport. The Rwandan army later stated that it had recovered two launchers from the missiles. The registration numbers on the launchers identified them as SA 16s, sophisticated weapons that require a certain level of training to be used sucessfully.6

The RPF, politicians opposed to Habyarimana, and the circle of his own supporters all might have wanted the Rwandan president dead and could have found the means to bring down his plane.

The RPF might have launched the missiles either because they believed that Habyarimana would never permit the Accords to be implemented or, conversely, because they thought he was about to do so and they preferred a clear military victory to sharing power as part of a coalition. In support of allegations of RPF responsibility for the crime, former French Minister of Cooperation Bernard Debré, asserted that records of RPF communications prove that their soldiers were ordered to begin advancing towards Kigali on the morning of April 6.7 Some Rwandans present in the region north of the capital at the time also assert that RPF troops began their march south before they could have known of Habyarimana's death.8

Hutu moderates, either alone or with the RPF, could have assassinated the president. The small group who had supposedly discussed the possibility of a coup with Prime Minister Uwlingiyimana a few days before might have believed that killing Habyarimana offered the only hope of preempting the violence that was planned.9

Some in Habyarimana's own circle might have wanted to eliminate him to avoid the installation of a new government that would diminish their power. The CDR and even MRND leaders had criticized Habyarimana for talking with Museveni in early March and some feared that he would return from Dar es Salaam ready to implement the Accords. Enoch Ruhigira, Habyarimana's chief of staff,says that the president had, in fact, made such a decision and had told him to bring an announcement to that effect to the airport when he came to welcome him home.10 The expectation that the new government was about to be installed would have increased pressure on Hutu Power advocates to launch the violence immediately, whether fully prepared or not. Once the new authorities were in place, the RPF would take over the Ministry of the Interior and Communal Development and the MRND would lose control of the administrative structure so helpful in mobilizing the population. Some of the Hutu Power group, including Bagosora himself, would lose their posts and would have no more authority to give orders.11

There are indications that Bagosora and other soldiers may have expected something to happen at the time of Habyarimana's return. According to one witness, Bagosora left Kigali for vacation on March 30 or 31 but then suddenly returned on April 4. Several witnesses assert that soldiers of the Presidential Guard had put up barricades and were patrolling the neighborhood inhabited by ministers and other MRND leaders, either before or within minutes after the plane was shot down.12 Sporadic gunfire began almost immediately after the crash in the vicinity of the Kanombe camp that housed the Presidential Guard. Soon after, soldiers from the paracommando battalion, one of those most closely linked to the hard-liners, began killing the people who lived on Masaka hill, the site from which the missiles had been launched. These soldiers of one of the best trained units in the Rwandan army apparently continued the sweep against the Masaka civilians for thirty-six hours after the renewal of combat with the RPF, when they could presumably have been better used against the military foe. Since the local people clearly had not been the ones to shoot the missiles, the soldiers could not have been seeking revenge and may have been trying to eliminate witnesses to the crime.13

Habyarimana's supporters accused the Belgians of involvement in the assassination, but never presented any proof. Others have suggested that the French – probably a nucleus of powerful individuals rather than the government as such – assisted in assassinating a leader who was no longer useful to them. According to some European intelligence sources, the missile launchers bore numbers that identified them as weapons that France captured from Iraq during the Gulf War. One French soldier confirmed this information and another reported attempts to buy such missiles from a private arms dealer and from a French company authorized to export them.14 The French government denies these allegations. A source in the United States intelligence service thought it unlikely that France had captured the missiles in Iraq but that it could well have obtained them elsewhere.15 Former minister Debré claimed that the U.S. was the source of the missiles, having provided them to Uganda which then gave them to the RPF.16 Uganda did in fact have some of the missiles, as did other governments in the region like Tanzania and the Sudan. Mercenaries could also easily have purchased the weapons and put themselves and the missiles at the service of anyone ready to pay their fee.

Other unexplained elements suggest a link to French actors. The plane, a gift of the French government, was operated by a crew of three French citizens, supposedly employed by a private company. French officials recognized that the crewmembers had died in the service of their country, but undertook no public investigation into the downing of the plane. Nor did French authorities draw attention to the murders of two French policemen, apparently communications experts, and the wife of one of them, who were found in a house near the airport and killed by the RPF on April 8.17 In another unexplained case, François de Grossouvre, a confidant and adviser to President Mitterrand on African affairs, committed suicide on April 7 at the presidency in Paris. De Grossouvre had been linked to Habyarimana and to Captain Paul Barril, a former French policeman whohad been employed to provide security for Habyarimana. Barril, who was in Rwanda on April 7, continued in the service of Madame Habyarimana, notably in trying to persuade the press that the RPF was responsible for downing the plane.18

Responsibility for killing Habyarimana is a serious issue, but it is a different issue from responsibility for the genocide. We know little about who assassinated Habyarimana. We know more about who used the assassination as the pretext to begin a slaughter that had been planned for months. Hutu Power leaders expected that killing Tutsi would draw the RPF back into combat and give them a new chance for victory or at least for negotiations that might allow them to win back some of the concessions made at Arusha.

The Presidential Guard began the slaughter of Tutsi and other civilians shortly after Habyarimana's death. Sixteen hours later the RPF came out of their headquarters to engage the Rwandan soldiers and the war had begun again.

Taking Control

Bagosora In Command

With the death of Habyarimana, Colonel Bagosora took charge. The minister of defense, Augustin Bizimana, and two members of the general staff, Col. Aloys Ntiwiragabo and Col. Gratien Kabiligi, were abroad and the chief of staff had died with Habyarimana. When sixteen high ranking officers got together to decide on a course of action just after the crash, Bagosora ran the meeting. Although only a retired officer, he took precedence over senior officers in active service, he says, because he was the ranking official present from the Ministry of Defense and the meeting was "to discuss questions of a politico-military nature."19 Bagosora prevailed in taking the chair, but he lacked strong support in the group. Some senior officers closest to him, such as the commander of the Presidential Guard, the commander of the paracommandos, and some of the territorial commanders, were absent.

Bagosora proposed naming Col. Augustin Bizimungu, then commander at Ruhengeri and an officer whom he could trust, as the new chief of staff. The group rejected Bizimungu, who was junior in rank and experience to a number of other officers. Col. Léonidas Rusatira, present at the meeting, was the senior ranking army officer and a northerner, but Bagosora saw him as a rival. Some time before,Bagosora and his supporters had succeeded in relegating Rusatira to the command of the Ecole Supérieure Militaire, a school where he had no combat troops under his orders. Rusatira's name was proposed, but, perhaps anxious to avoid a conflict during this time of crisis, the officers passed over him and chose Col. Marcel Gatsinzi as interim chief of staff.20 At that time, Gatsinzi was commanding the southern sector in Butare. Originally from Kigali, he was not a member of the inner circle of powerful officers from the northwest and would be unlikely to be able to mobilize a following strong enough to challenge Bagosora and his group.21

Bagosora pushed hard for the military to take control of the government, but on this matter, too, he was rebuffed. General Dallaire, who was at the meeting, declared that any military take-over would result in the immediate withdrawal of UNAMIR. He urged the officers to make contact instead with Prime Minister Uwilingiyimana to arrange for a legitimate continuation of civilian authority. Bagosora adamantly refused the suggestion, which Dallaire made several times.22 Bagosora, like other Hutu Power advocates, distrusted Dallaire, whom he believed favorable to the RPF. Under pressure from the other officers, Bagosora did agree to consult the special representative of the secretary-general. Booh-Booh also insisted that some form of civilian authority was necessary and Bagosora finally accepted that advice. Like Dallaire, Booh-Booh pressed for contacts with the prime minister and again Bagosora refused, saying that "the military would not accept her" and that "her own government and the Rwandan people had rejected her."23 Bagosora had only contempt for Mme. Uwilingiyimana who had, he later asserted, "morally and materially demobilized" the Rwandan army when it was fighting for its life against the RPF.24 Acting on Booh-Booh's recommendation that the MRNDprovide a candidate to replace Habyarimana as president, Bagosora contacted the party leaders to ask them to nominate someone to the post.

At the meeting with the military commanders, Dallaire asked them to keep the militia under control and to recall to barracks the Presidential Guard, which was already out on the streets. Bagosora assured Dallaire of "all necessary cooperation required by the situation" and asked in return that UNAMIR keep close watch over the RPF headquarters at the CND. Dallaire saw the importance of having the peacekeepers visible throughout the city and he arranged for them to do joint patrols with the National Police.25

"The Prime Minister Isn't Working Anymore..."

As discussions went on for an orderly transition, soldiers and National Police were active throughout the city preparing just the opposite. Since Gatsinzi had not yet come from Butare, Bagosora was the effective military commander and apparently directed these operations in a series of private telephone conversations carried on during the meeting. He also had at his disposal a direct and private radio link with the Presidential Guard.26

Rwandan soldiers blocked Belgian UNAMIR troops at the airport twenty minutes after the plane crashed. Within an hour, soldiers of the Presidential Guard and the reconnaissance battalion were blockading the home of the prime minister. Two hours later soldiers from the Presidential Guard began evacuating MRND politicians and their families from the neighborhood of Kimihurura to a military camp. They ordered leading politicans from other parties to remain in their homes in the same neighborhood. The Ministry of Defense had recently transferred responsibility for the security of MRND leaders from the National Police to a unit of the regular army, an arrangement which facilitated their evacuation on April 6.

Lt. Col. Innocent Bavugamenshi feared violence as soon as he heard that MRND politicians had been moved to the military camp and other leaders left behind. As head of the National Police unit responsible for other political leaders, he sent reinforcements to the home of the prime minister and tried in vain to get others from UNAMIR and from National Police headquarters. His commander, General Ndindiliyimana, could not be found, either at home or at headquarters. Atabout midnight, Bavugamenshi was informed of the first killing of a government official, the administrative head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.27

Between 1 and 2 a.m., Interahamwe were out on the streets patrolling. By 2:30 a.m., the military had blanketed the middle of the city so thoroughly with barriers that UNAMIR soldiers ordered to the home of the prime minister needed three hours to cover a distance usually traversed in fifteen minutes.28

Mme. Uwilingiyimana had been alterted to the danger she faced half an hour after the crash and she called for more protection from military headquarters. The additional police sent by Bavugamenshi never reached her home. At 1 a.m., Booh-Booh had informed her that the military rejected her authority, but she refused to flee. She arranged for UNAMIR soldiers to escort her to the radio station in the morning so that she could speak to the nation and show that the civilian authority was in control and committed to the Arusha Accords. This was exactly what those in command intended to prevent. When one officer called headquarters to ask about gunfire he had heard at about 5 a.m., Lt. Col. Cyprien Kayumba, the officer on duty, supposedly told him "That's us. We want to keep the prime minister from going to the radio."29 Shortly after that, a UNAMIR officer told Rwandan soldiers at the radio station that the prime minister would be arriving shortly to make a broadcast. The Rwandans replied, "The prime minister isn't working anymore..."30 Other Rwandan soldiers told a different group of peacekeepers that only orders from the minister of defense, whose authority was then being exercised by Bagosora, could permit the prime minister to address the nation on the radio.31

When UNAMIR soldiers arrived in four jeeps at the prime minister's home on the quiet, tree-lined street soon after 5:30 a.m., Rwandan soldiers opened fire onthem and immediately disabled two of the four jeeps. The peacekeepers, unable to withdraw, and Mme. Uwilingiyimana waited in vain for reinforcements. Just before 8:30, she and her husband tried first to scale the wall to get to the residence of an American diplomat next door. When that proved impossible, they fled in the other direction to the adjacent home of a U.N. employee.

Rwandan soldiers took the fifteen UNAMIR peacekeepers prisoner and, at about 9 a.m., delivered them to the Kigali military camp, only a few hundred meters from the prime minister's residence. There the five Ghanaian peacekeepers in the group were led away to safety and the ten Belgians were left at the hands of a furious crowd of soldiers, including a number who had been wounded in the war. The Rwandan soldiers had been prepared to hate the Belgian troops by months of RTLM broadcasts and believed the rumor – spread by their officers and later broadcast by RTLM – that the Belgians had helped the RPF shoot down Habyarimana's plane. They set upon the Belgian peacekeepers and battered most of them to death. The surviving Belgians took refuge in a small building near the entrance to the camp. They killed a Rwandan soldier and got hold of his weapon. Using that, they fought off the attackers for several more hours.32

At 10 o'clock that morning, about one hundred officers of the Rwandan armed forces assembled under the leadership of Bagosora to discuss a transitional government. The meeting took place at the Ecole Supérieure Militaire, just adjacent to the camp where the UNAMIR soldiers were being held. Bagosora once again proposed that the military take control of the government, but was once again rebuffed by his fellow officers who argued that soldiers had no place in politics. They did agree, however, to create a "crisis committee" to assist civilian politicians in forming a government. At about 10:30, the camp commander came to inform Bagosora and General Ndindiliyimana that Belgian soldiers were under attack at the camp, but they did nothing, not even shortly after when the sound of gunfire from the camp interrupted the meeting briefly.33

Just before 11 a.m., Dallaire drove to the meeting, passing by the entrance to the military camp where he saw that several UNAMIR soldiers lay on the ground. He wanted to enter the camp, but was prevented from doing so by his Rwandanmilitary escort. At the meeting, he did not raise the question of the UNAMIR soldiers at the camp until the session ended at about noon. Dallaire then asked Ndindiliyimana to intervene to rescue them. Ndindiliyimana reportedly told him that Bagosora would take care of the problem.Throughout the day, Dallaire tried repeatedly to obtain permission to enter the camp, but Bagosora, who was clearly in charge, refused to allow him to do so. Dallaire believed that his troops and resources were too limited to fight his way into the camp to rescue the peacekeepers.34

As the leaders of the Rwandan armed forces debated the future government in the presence of the commander of the U.N. peacekeepers, soldiers continued their search for the current prime minister in the neighborhood just across the road from the meeting place. Capt. Gaspard Hategekimana of the Presidential Guard, apparently in charge of finding the prime minister, kept checking at various barricades, insisting that Mme. Uwilingiyimana could not have escaped the blockade that had been in place since the night before. Shortly before noon, soldiers discovered Mme Uwilingiyimana in her hiding place. Other soldiers in the area heard the applause and shouts of joy and knew that she had been captured. She came out quickly and without struggle, apparently because she wanted to protect her children who were hiding in the same area. She tried to persuade the soldiers to take her to the military camp. A small group, including some from southern Rwanda, were willing to do so. Others refused and wanted to execute her immediately. Captain Hategekimana reportedly arrived and gave the order to kill her on the spot. A lieutenant of the National Police, who was in training to become a judicial officer, shot the prime minister, blowing away the left half of her face. Witnesses who came to the house soon after found her nearly naked body on the terrace and carried it into the house. Another witness who passed an hour or so later found that her dressing gown had been thrown up over her upper body and that a beer bottle had been shoved into her vagina.35 Her husband and two other men werealso slain, but her five children escaped and were eventually brought to safety by Capt. Mbaye Daigne, a Senegalese officer of the U.N. contingent.36

Officers leaving their meeting just after noon learned that the prime minister had been killed. At that time, Bagosora went to the military camp next door. Shortly after, Rwandan soldiers renewed the attack on the last Belgians, overcame their resistance, and killed them in the early afternoon.37

Early that same morning, soldiers and police had executed the two candidates for the presidency of the transitional assembly, Félicien Ngango of the PSD, and Landoald Ndasingwa of the PL, one of whom would have replaced Habyarimana according to the Arusha Accords. They had also murdered Joseph Kavaruganda, the president of the Constitutional Court, who would have been needed to swear in new authorities. RTLM had targeted Ndasingwa since December and, in February, the radio station had remarked of Kavaruganda that "we should rid ourselves of [him], one of the biggest accomplices of the RPF."38 Rwandan soldiers and National Police had attacked the other heads of opposition political parties, either killing them or forcing them to hide or flee. They had worked from lists that allowed them to locate their victims efficiently.39

By mid-day April 7, the Presidential Guard, with the help of soldiers of other elite battalions and some National Policemen, had eliminated those leaders who could have legitimately governed. Bagosora, who was giving the orders to these soldiers, had failed in his effort to get himself installed officially as head of a new government, but he still had the chance to influence – if not to dictate – the choice of persons who would form a new government. At the same time, Rwandan soldiers had killed ten Belgian peacekeepers, the first step in the plan revealed inthe January 11 cable for getting rid of an effective UNAMIR force. The afternoon of April 7, both Bagosora and Ndindiliyimana told Dallaire that the killings at Camp Kigali showed that it might be best for Belgian troops to leave Rwanda.40 While the leadership of the Rwandan armed forces and of UNAMIR sat in the meeting room at the military school, just outside the decisive blows had been struck against both Rwandan and foreign forces that could have assured a peaceful transition and that could perhaps have averted a genocide.

Ambiguities and Double Language

In the afternoon of April 7, Bagosora carried on the pretense of restoring order by issuing a press release in the name of the Rwandan army about efforts "to stabilize the situation in the country rapidly." Knowing that it was the Presidential Guard and other elite units that were engaged in slaughter throughout the city, he "invited" the armed forces to "restore order in the country." Fully aware that the prime minister and other leading officials had been slain, he urged creating the "conditions necessary for authorities to work in good order." He asked the "government in power" to do its job knowing that there was no such government. He called for speedy implementation of the Arusha Accords although preventing this had been his stated objective for months. And he asked the population to resist all efforts to increase hatred and all kinds of violence even as he was presumably counting on just such hatred and violence to achieve his objective.41

Many military officers understood that Bagosora and his supporters were saying one thing and doing another. One officer observed, "The official orders were to restore order. But it was clear that, in fact, other orders were also being given."42 A high-ranking officer declared in a sworn statement that there were "operations carried out by soldiers, including those of the PG [Presidential Guard] which implemented a preestablished plan that was known to a hidden network."43 When a senior officer ordered Col. Muberuka, who commanded the zone of Kigali, to have the Presidential Guard halt their attacks, he replied that he had tried to doso but that the immediate commander of the unit asserted that all his troops were already in camp.44

Not everyone playing a double game was part of the "hidden network." In the first day or two, other officers, unsure who would finally dominate and what the program would be, temporized and tried to please superiors – and foreigners – who had different objectives. Commanding officers made commitments that their subordinates failed to honor, leaving open the question of whether it was the superior officer or the subordinate who was obeying instructions from the hidden network. Throughout the first days, for example, Ndindiliyimana repeatedly professed willingness to collaborate with UNAMIR, but many of his men delayed or refused participation in joint patrols, sometimes asserting they had received no orders to do so. In one case, National Policemen even backed a hostile crowd attacking UNAMIR soldiers. In another, Ndindiliyimana reportedly sent National Police to protect endangered people at the Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO), a technical school in Kigali, but the troops joined the assailants rather than stopping them. Elsewhere in Kigali, National Police officers at a barrier confronted each other over the question of whether armed militia should be allowed to pass without being disarmed. Each was obeying a different set of instructions.45

Not even the new chief of staff was safe from the double game. Bagosora had called Colonel Gatsinzi in Butare at 2 a.m. to inform him of his nomination and to insist that he come to Kigali before dawn. Gatsinzi refused to travel at night, given the uncertainty of the situation. When he did arrive in the capital the next day, his vehicle was fired on as it approached the city and one of his escort was wounded. The newly named interim president, Dr. Théodore Sindikubwabo, was also traveling with Gatsinzi. It is unclear whether one or both were targeted and by whom, but the attack may have represented one more effort to prevent the installation of a civilian government or of a military chief of staff not chosen by Bagosora himself.46

With Gatsinzi at least nominally in command of the armed forces, he, Rusatira, and Ndindiliyimana sought to wrest control from Bagosora. When the crisiscommittee met on the evening of April 7, they refused to allow him to run the meeting. He insulted the others, particularly Rusatira and boycotted the rest of the meeting. The others made some plans for bringing the Presidential Guard under control and for setting up a government based on the Arusha Accords.47

To outvote Bagosora was much simpler than it would have been to outfight him. The Presidential Guard, with the best trained and best armed soldiers in the Rwandan armed forces, stood outside the normal command structure and had been under the orders of Col. Elie Sagatwa, Habyarimana's private secretary who had died in the plane crash. Bagosora reportedly took control of this unit after Sagatwa's death and also had the loyalty of the commanders of the reconnaissance and paracommando battalions, the other two strongest units in the Rwandan army. The Presidential Guard numbered between 1,300 and 1,500 men, having been strengthened soon after the Arusha Accords by the transfer of two companies from the paracommandos.48 The majority of these troops were posted in Kigali. With some 800 men of the paracommando and reconnaissance battalions, this made a total of some 2,000 elite troops that Bagosora could count on. In contrast, Rusatira, head of a school instead of a fighting unit, had about 100 soldiers at his command, his personal bodyguard and the staff and students of his school. Gatsinzi headed a battalion, but it was located in Butare. Ndindiliyimana commanded thousands of National Police, but, with the resumption of the war, some of the force was integrated into the regular army command, thus limiting his freedom of action. He had perhaps 1,000 men in Kigali and its vicinity but his troops lacked both the battle experience and the heavy weaponry of combat soldiers.49 In addition, they had surrendered many of their best weapons, R 4 rifles, to UNAMIR in mid-March as part of the process of creating a weapons-free zone for Kigali, while the Presidential Guard had not given over any of theirs. Before dawn on April 7, the reconnaisance battalion recalled to Kigali the armored personnel carriers that theyhad sent to Rambura, in the north, to evade UNAMIR control.50 Bagosora's clear superiority in arms and troop strength was no doubt one reason the other officers preferred to challenge him at the committee table rather than on the battlefield.

Resumption of the war late in the afternoon of April 7 complicated the struggle for dominance within the Rwandan government forces. RPF leader Tito Rutaremara had warned Ndindiliyimana and Bagosora that the RPF would attack if the slaughter of civilians did not stop. When the killings continued, RPF troops came out of their CND headquarters and engaged the Presidential Guard.51 With the RPF in the field, those opposed to Bagosora had the possibility of cooperating with them to restore order and they explored this possibility through the good offices of Dallaire. General Kagame was receptive and even sent Seth Sendashonga with an offer to create a joint force composed of 300 soldiers each from the RPF, the Rwandan army units opposed to Bagosora, and UNAMIR to bring an end to the massacres.52 During the weekend of April 9 to 10, Radio Muhabura, the voice of the RPF, encouraged Rwandan government soldiers to dissociate themselves from their fellows who were slaughtering civilians. They even publicized the names of officers who, they said, were threatened because they had refused to participate in such killings.53

The senior officers opposed to Bagosora either could not bring themselves to join forces with the long-standing enemy or did not believe that they could lead a substantial number of soldiers into such an arrangement. They looked instead to the international community for support. Dallaire would have liked to help what he saw as a "new army," but he was blocked by the narrow interpretation of the mandate as well as by a shortage of troops and equipment. Ndindiliyimana explored the possibility of foreign support with the Belgian ambassador Johan Swinnen on the evening of April 7 and Rusatira had contacts with Swinnen, with representatives of the U.S., and with a French general in Paris. But diplomats inKigali, as well as their ministries back home, were all focused on evacuating citizens of their own countries. No one had resources to offer to dissenters who hoped to oust Bagosora and stop the slaughter of Rwandans.54

The Interim Government

Early on the morning of April 8, Bagosora assembled party leaders to fashion a civilian government, all of them, not surprisingly, from the Hutu Power end of the political spectrum. The MRND was represented by its president Mathieu Ngirumpatse, Edouard Karemera, and Joseph Nzirorera, an intimate of the Akazu; MDR by its Power leaders, Froduald Karamira, the Hutu Power orator of October 1993, and Donat Murego, one of those originally courted by Habyarimana in March 1993; and PL by its Power advocates, Justin Mugenzi and Agnes Ntamabyaliro. It had been difficult to locate representatives of the PSD because its entire national committee had been killed or was in hiding, so two members of the political committee, François Ndungutse and Hyacinthe Nsengiyumva Rafiki were pressed into service. In attendance for the PDC were Jean-Marie Vianney Sibomana, Célestin Kabanda, and Gaspard Ruhumuliza, another who had been attracted by Habyarimana a year before.55

On the recommendation of MRND leaders, the group decided to install Dr. Théodore Sindikubwabo, an aging pediatrician and politician from Butare as president. Described by another public official as "someone with no personality," Sindikubwabo was a lonely figure, who was often found reading in his office. He had barely held on to his seat in the parliament at the time of the last election and played the figure-head role of president of that body with suitable docility.56 Claiming that the Arusha Accords had not yet taken effect, the politicians made Sindikubwabo president of Rwanda under the terms of the 1991 constitution.

For prime minister the politicians settled on Jean Kambanda, a far younger and more vigorous man, but one with relatively little standing or experience at the national level. An economist and banker, he had unsuccessfully challenged AgatheUwilingiyimana for the post of prime minister in August 1993. On April 7, Kambanda had fled to a nearby military camp where Karamira and Bagosora found him the next day and offered him the post. He reportedly accepted unwillingly and was driven away in a military vehicle.57

Sindikubwabo and Kambanda supported different parties – the MRND and MDR-Power – but both were from Butare. In addition, the minister of family and feminine affairs, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, who had held the same post in the previous government, was from Butare, as was a newcomer to politics, Dr. Straton Nsabumukunzi, who was named minister of agriculture. The minister of interior, a hold-over from the previous cabinet, happened to be abroad at the time and refused to return to Rwanda.58 Until a replacement was named at the end of May, the administrative head of the ministry acted in his place. He was Callixte Kalimanzira, also from Butare. Never before had Butare been so well represented in the most important positions of power. In inviting so many southerners to join them, Hutu Power advocates hoped both to increase their legitimacy generally and to augment the effectiveness of their control in the south. The arrangement corresponded exactly to what Bagosora had specified in his diary in early 1993 when he had written "War for the Bakiga, Politics for the Banyanduga." "Bakiga" meant people of the north and "Banyanduga" meant people of the central and southern part of the country.59

Bagosora presented the interim government to the crisis committee and other high-ranking military officers soon after its formation on April 8. As they looked over the proposed new authorities, the military officers saw quickly that Bagosora "had chosen these men himself and that this was not at all what the meeting the night before had decided."60 But the same officers who for two days had resisted Hutu Power in the military incarnation of a Bagosora now accepted it in thepolitical form of a self-proclaimed government. With the RPF pushing ahead vigorously, they felt pressure to shun politics and devote themselves completely to the work of being soldiers. Perhaps they also felt that they had taken their opposition as far as they could given the relative troop strength of the two sides and the absence of encouragement from foreign powers. Having accepted a proposed government that fell far short of the balanced group that some had expected, the crisis committee adjourned, never to meet again.61

The interim government presented itself as a legitimate continuation of the previous one, formed, like it, under the terms of an agreement between the parties signed on April 16, 1992. The party representatives summoned by Bagosora to set up the government even drew up a protocol to make their arrangements look proper.62 But anyone aware of the divisions within the parties and acquainted with the positions of their representatives could see through the pretense: the interim government may have adhered to the letter of the 1992 arrangement, but it completely violated the spirit, representing as it did a single point of view. In announcing its goals, the interim government carried on the deception. The interim president Sindikubwabo declared that the new government would rapidly re-establish security and would continue negotiations with the RPF in order to install the broad-based government within six weeks. The actions of the new authorities would reveal what the words did not. Security would be limited to Hutu who supported their position and serious negotiations would not take place. The third of the stated goals, to cope with the problem of famine was genuine, a response to the increasingly serious shortage of food in the country.63

The interim government took office on April 9 and fled from the capital on April 12, just after the first RPF troops from northern Rwanda arrived in Kigali to reinforce those previously quartered in the city. It operated for a number of weeks at Murambi, near the capital of the prefecture of Gitarama, before fleeing further west and then north to Gisenyi and leaving Rwanda in mid-July.

Launching the Campaign

The Initiators

By April 6, hundreds of thousands of Rwandans counted themselves part of Hutu Power, but those who launched the genocide and slaughter of Hutu adversaries were few in number. The initiators appear to have included military officers like Bagosora and the commanders of the three elite units, Major Protais Mpiranya of the Presidential Guard, Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemye of the reconnaissance battalion, and Major Aloys Ntabakuze of the paracommando battalion, as well as Lt. Col. Léonard Nkundiye, formerly head of the Presidential Guards, Captain Gaspard Hategekimana, who oversaw the execution of the prime minister, and Major Bernard Ntuyahaga, who apparently directed killings in the central residential area of Kigali and celebrated them afterwards in noisy parties at his home.64 Given the number of attacks that took place almost immediately in the northwestern prefecture of Gisenyi, Col. Anatole Nsengiyumva, the local commander, seems to have been among the first implementers of the killing plan.65 Col. Tharcisse Renzaho, a military man who was prefect of Kigali, quickly marshalled his administrative subordinates to organize the patrols and barriers needed to capture and kill Tutsi. He also maintained links with the militia who accorded him immediate obedience when he went around the city.66

Some militia were out in the streets before dawn April 7 and others, identifiable as MRND and CDR members through their distinctive caps, were digging up buried weapons at daybreak.67

The president and vice-president of the Interahamwe, Robert Kajuga and George Rutaganda, as well as the heads of the MRND and the CDR, Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, may have called them out. Ngirumpatse and other politicians, such as Froduald Karamira, Joseph Nzirorera, Edouard Karemera, Justin Mugenzi, and Donat Murego, put together the interim government at the request of Bagosora and hence were responsible for thecomposition of this group that put the state at the service of genocide. They also mobilized their followers, directly and by radio, to join in the killings.

Some members of the akazu appear to have played significant, but less public, roles. Witnesses present during the first two days after the plane crash claim that Mme. Habyarimana was involved in political decisions, including the naming of Gatsinzi to the post of chief of staff of the army, an assertion which she has denied. The witnesses also declared that she and others followed events closely and that "...all the family that was there, including the religious sisters, rejoiced when they announced the death of one or another opponent. It was the Presidential Guards who announced that and they boasted about these murders."68 Madame Habyarimana was evacuated from Rwanda on April 9 by the French government. She may have continued to influence decisions from Paris, but it is unlikely that she was involved in detailed management of political affairs at that distance.

The activities of others close to the Habyarimana family should be investigated for possible links to killings. Michel Bagaragaza, the director of the Rwandan tea marketing office OCIR-Thé and linked to Mme. Habyarimana, was at home on April 6 and 7 near the parish of Rambura, supposedly to prepare for a family wedding. Rambura was the site of some of the first killings outside Kigali. Three priests at the parish were slain at dawn, followed soon after by three Belgian volunteers who worked at a school run by persons linked to the akazu, including Bagosora.69 During the days of large-scale slaughter, Colonel Rwagafilita, a member of the akazu, was frequently seen at the military camp in Kibungo. Soon after militia and military had massacred some 1,000 people at the St. Joseph Center at the bishopric, a witness found Rwagafilita at the camp drinking beer with Cyasa Habimana, the local head of the Interahamwe who had led the attack, and the camp commander, Col. Anselme Nkuliyekubona.70

The first killers, like the first leaders, represented only a small part of the number who would finally be drawn into participation. In Kigali, where theviolence was most concentrated, they included more than a thousand Presidential Guards along with several hundred troops from other elite battalions or from the National Police. The militia provided another 2,000.71 Outside the capital, assailants killed Tutsi at sites that were widely dispersed, but relatively few in number, perhaps some two dozen in the first day or two. The killers who responded to the initial call to slaughter probably numbered no more than 6,000 to 7,000 throughout the country.

For the first few days, it was not clear how many more of the hundreds of thousands who had been influenced by the ideas of Hutu Power were prepared to kill, rape, maim, burn, or pillage in its name. But by the middle of the following week, the initiators were assured of the support they needed to attempt the wholesale elimination of the Tutsi.

Sharpening the Focus on Tutsi

By Monday, April 11, an estimated 20,000 Rwandans had been slain, the vast majority of them Tutsi.72 But because some of the first victims had been highly visible Hutu and because assailants continued to target Hutu adversaries of the MRND and the CDR, many Hutu also feared for their lives. They saw the killings as broader than a genocide and as constituting also an extreme form of kubohoza with victims chosen on partisan, regional or economic grounds. Both in Kigali and elsewhere, Hutu cooperated with Tutsi in fighting off militia attacks or they fled together to places of refuge. Often Hutu made such decisions not just because of their political beliefs but also because of ties of family or friendship with Tutsi.73

Bagosora and his supporters set out to reorient the violence on more specifically ethnic grounds, both to break the bonds between Hutu and Tutsi and to win over Hutu from outside the MRND and the CDR who feared that the new authorities had seized power for the exclusive benefit of these parties. They first distanced themselves from the "serious troubles" that had resulted in the murders of Hutu political leaders, like Prime Minister Uwilingiyimana, and blamed thesecrimes on unruly troops acting without orders.74 Then on April 11 and 12, political and governmental leaders began working more actively to build an anti-Tutsi alliance that cut across party and regional lines.

On Monday, April 11, the new authorities summoned the prefects to Kigali, but only five attended the meeting. Four posts were vacant – one because the Ruhengeri prefect had just been killed by the RPF – and two other prefects did not attend. The meeting was brief and seemingly inconclusive. The interim prime minister had hardly come to terms with his new power, the minister of interior was absent and represented by a subordinate, and the success of the new authorities was hardly assured. Still the session permitted national leaders to track the progress of the slaughter and to evaluate the willingess of the administrators to be drawn into further action. After making their reports, the prefects were sent home without clear orders or any additional resources to end the violence. In this highly centralized political system where superiors regulated even minor details of policy implementation, the absence of a message was itself a message: attacks were to continue.

The next day, both political and governmental leaders began mobilizing popular support for genocide. By inciting the people against Tutsi, they clarified the indirect message delivered the previous day to the administrators. Speaking on Radio Rwanda early on the morning of April 12, MDR-Power leader Frodauld Karamira told his listeners that the war was "everyone's responsibility," an idea that would be repeated frequently in the next few weeks. He called on people to "not fight among themselves" but rather to "assist the armed forces to finish their work."75 This was a directive to the MDR-Power supporters to forget their differences with the MRND and the CDR and to collaborate with them in tracking Tutsi. Without this collaboration, advocated by Karamira since his "Hutu Power" speech the previous October, the genocide would have remained limited to strongholds of the MRND and the CDR.

An hour later, Radio Rwanda broadcast a press release from the Ministry of Defense. It denied "lies" about divisions in the armed forces and among Hutu generally and insisted that:

    Soldiers, gendarmes [National Police], and all Rwandans have decided to fight their common enemy in unison and all have identified him. The enemy is still the same. He is the one who has always been trying to return the monarch who was overthrown....the Ministry of Defence asks Rwandans, soldiers and gendarmes the following: citizens are asked to act together, carry out patrols and fight the enemy.76

One witness recalled: "They talked only about uniting together, saying we had to fight the enemy. They said that parties and kubohoza were no longer important."77 In the streets of Kigali, people were singing a little song that told it all:

    Umwanzi wacu n'umwe Our enemy is one

    turamuzi We know him

    n'umututsi78 It is the Tutsi.

The RPF sought to counter this effort to redefine the violence on ethnic grounds. On Radio Muhabura, Kagame denounced the use of ethnic strife as a pretext and declared that it was clear "that these acts of murder are political."79 Much as Radio Muhabura had played upon divisions between moderate and Hutu Power soldiers, so, too, it stressed the partisan and regional nature of attacks on civilians.80

RTLM in turn sought to discredit the image of Hutu-Tutsi cohesion within the RPF by broadcasting a false report that Kagame, the Tutsi general, andKanyarengwe, the Hutu president of the RPF, had killed each other in a power struggle.81

As RTLM and Radio Rwanda increasingly defined the Tutsi as the target, officials moved to prevent their escape from the country. On April 13, an officer of the army general staff telephoned the official in charge of immigration at the Butare prefecture and ordered him to grant no more authorisations for travel to adjacent countries. That night, Tutsi attempting to cross the river to Burundi were slaughtered at Nyakizu. Authorities in Gisenyi also refused permission to Tutsi to cross into Zaire.82 As Mugesera had declared in November 1992, and many others had echoed since, authorities had made a serious mistake in permitting Tutsi to flee after the 1959 revolution. That mistake, they said, must not be repeated.

Military Opposition: The April 12 Statement

After having permitted Bagosora to install the interim government, the senior officers opposed to him briefly suspended open political action. Whether motivated by hope, fear, or opportunism – or simply absorbed in combat with the RPF – they made no public protest as the bodies mounted on the streets of Kigali. But, on April 12, Rusatira, who had presented himself to foreign diplomats as the liaison of the new government three days before, decided that he must seek to halt the slaughter.83 That day he escorted dozens of persons whom he had been sheltering in his own Kigali home to Gitarama. En route Rusatira saw many cadavers, including those of two National Policemen shot because they were Tutsi or because they had been trying to defend civilians. At Gitarama he sought out political leaders and tried in vain to persuade them to halt the killings. When Rusatira returned to Kigali, he enlisted nine other officers to sign a statement that he drafted. Without the approval of the interim government, they had the declaration broadcast on the radio, calling for an "end to this tragedy." They proposed a truce to facilitate talks with the RPF to "promptly restore order in the country and install the broad-basedtransitional government, in order to avoid continuing to spill innocent blood for no reason at all."84

This effort came too late. The initiators of genocide had chosen their strategy and were prepared to stand behind it. Bagosora and his supporters were outraged by the officers' initiative and regarded it as proof that the signers were traitors. Rusatira was informed that a squad of the Presidential Guard was to assassinate him that night and went into hiding. Soon after, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education André Rwamakuba and MDR-Power leader Shingiro Mbonuyumutwa reportedly denounced the officers who had signed the statement during a public meeting at Kibilira, in Gisenyi prefecture. Whether to respond to the senior officers or to external pressure, the interim government named a delegation to talk with the RPF, but the discussions went nowhere.85

Strategies of Slaughter

Priority Targets

From the start, in Kigali and out on the hills, leaders directed two kinds of killing: that of specific individuals and that of Tutsi as a group.86 The organizers aimed first to eliminate any authorities who could stand in the way of their taking power. They kept track of their deaths and, according to one military witness, "passed on the news of each assassination like a trophy."87 They were angered at the escape of a few intended victims, like Prime Minister-designate Faustin Twagiramungu, and pursued them relentlessly. The organizers also sought to kill other individuals who had criticized the Habyarimana regime and who could be expected to criticize the interim government: leaders of the MDR, PL, PSD, and PDC who rejected Hutu Power, members of the judiciary, human rights activists, clergy, journalists, and other leaders of civil society. Most of the targeted political authorities were Hutu, as were many of the leaders of civil society. In addition, theorganizers marked particular Tutsi as priority targets, either because of their wealth and influence or because of their real or presumed support for the RPF.

As early as daybreak on April 7, the organizers had already distributed lists of the names of these specially targeted persons, both Hutu and Tutsi, to squads of killers. At 7:30 that morning, one Rwandan soldier on the outskirts of the city heard gunfire near his house. When he went out to see what was happening, he observed a typical scene:

    ...I saw nine soldiers of the paracommando battalion and of the GP and a civilian who was apparently guiding them. He held a list of names in his hand. It was a list of people to be killed. They went to another neighbor and threw grenades and shot open the door of the house. They killed the people inside. They left on foot. My household worker, whom I sent to follow them, told me later that they had shot at a series of houses (four families).88

Radio RTLM involved the general public in hunting down named individuals, directed killers where to find them and then announced their murders. One person who was targeted recalls that he and others at risk listened to RTLM because it "indicated the victims and we wanted to know if we were on the list of people selected to be hunted."89 On April 8, announcer Valérie Bemerki told listeners that RPF hiding at the home of Tutsi businessman Antoine Sebera had been attacked and "now they are being grilled right there...now they are burning."90 In fact, Sebera's home had not yet been attacked but the report set it up as a target and it was besieged and burned soon after. Several days later, Noël Hitimana announced that the home of Joseph Kahabaye in Kivugiza was a RPF bastion, with many agents hidden in the ceiling. Militia attacked the area within hours and killed Kabahaye. Charles Kalinjabo, too, was murdered after having been denounced on RTLM.91 On April 10, Bemerki read a list of thirteen "responsables du FPR," important agents of the RPF, their addresses, places of work, and where they spenttheir leisure time. The information had supposedly come from a document found in the possession of a RPF agent. Asserting that these people were preparing to kill Hutu, Bemerki urged all people who wanted security to "rise up" against these "spies":

    ...you have heard their names, with their sectors and their cells, so we find that these people are really plotting with the Inyenzi-Inkotanyi in order to kill...Rwandans.92

She invited listeners who would like to look for these persons to call her for more information.

Targeted individuals who escaped were tracked by authorities to the other side of Kigali, to other communes, or even to the island of Idjwi in Zaire.93 Tutsi who fled to the large displaced persons camps at Kabgayi in central Rwanda were followed by people from their home regions who appeared, list in hand, to search for them among the crowds. In one well-known case, a group of Tutsi assembled in this way at Kabgayi were stripped naked and forced on a bus that took them to Ngorerero in Gisenyi, where they were killed.94

Even when assailants were preparing to massacre large numbers of Tutsi at places of refuge, they often had in mind specific persons whom they wanted to be sure to kill. A survivor of the massacre at Mugonero hospital in Kibuye reported that he heard such a list read over a loudspeaker before the attack began.95 Another survivor declared that once the killing was finished,

    They sent people in among the bodies to verify who was dead. They said, "Here is the treasurer and his wife and daughter, but where is the younger child?" Or, "Here is Josue's father, his wife and mother, but where is he?" And then, in the days after, they tried to hunt you down if they thought you werestill alive. They would shout out, "Hey Josue, we see you now" to make you jump and try to run so that they could see you move and get you more easily.96

Thorough Elimination: "Begin on One Side..."

As squads sought out the most wanted victims on the morning of April 7, Bagosora was reportedly overheard directing the commanders of the elite military units, "Muhere aruhande," "Begin on one side...," ordering a systematic sweep of Tutsi and opponents of Hutu Power from one side of the city through to the other.97

A witness in the section known as Remera related the progress of the killers in her neighborhood in telephone conversations every half hour of the first night of the genocide. She told a Human Rights Watch researcher in the United States how a group of soldiers were shooting people in houses on the street below her home. Then she recounted how they were moving up her street, from one house to the next. With the sound of gunfire in the background, she described how three neighbors from the house next door were being executed at the corner of the street. When the soldiers banged on her own door, she hung up the phone. She fled, hid for several days, and was finally evacuated to safety.98

Both RTLM and Radio Rwanda identified areas of Kigali to be attacked, like Gikondo or the buildings of the law faculty of the university. RTLM announcer Hitimana congratulated those who had searched out Tutsi:

    ...the population is very vigilant, except in certain sectors...where people are still downcast; otherwise, everywhere else, they have sacked all the houses, the rooms, the kitchens, everywhere! They have even torn out all the doors and windows in all the uninhabited houses, [and] in general they find inkotanyi hidden inside. They have searched everywhere!...If they [the inkotanyi] gethungry, they'll all come out before you arrive. That is why you must act very fast! Force them to come out! Find them at whatever cost.99

Georges Ruggiu, the Belgian announcer who worked for RTLM, enthusiastically joined in inciting violence. He alerted listeners that

    around the hill Mbunabutuso [sic, Mburabuturo], in the woods...suspect movements of people have been observed...People of Rugonga [sic, Rugunga], of Kanongo [sic, Kanogo], by the gas station, pay attention, go to check out that woods, go ensure security and that the inyenzi have not gotten in there.100

By mid-day April 7, assailants were killing and pillaging Tutsi in the northwest, in the town of Gisenyi, and at Byangabo, Busogo, Busasamana, Mudende, Muramba, Kivumu, and Rambura; south of Kigali, at Ruhuha and Sake; northeast of Kigali at Murambi; in Gikongoro at Muko and in the far southwestern town of Cyangugu. Later that night and the next day, the killers began their "work," as they called it, in other regions in the east and west.


At first assailants generally operated in small bands and killed their victims where they found them, in their homes, on the streets, at the barriers. But, as early as the evening of April 7, larger groups seized the opportunity for more intensive slaughter as frightened Tutsi – and some Hutu – fled to churches, schools, hospitals, and government offices that had offered refuge in the past. In the northwestern prefecture of Gisenyi, militia killed some fifty people at the Nyundo seminary, forty-three at the church of Busogo, and some 150 at the parish of Busasamana. A large crowd including Burundian students and wounded soldiers took on the task of massacring hundreds of people at the campus of the Seventh Day Adventist University at Mudende to the east of Gisenyi town.101 In Kigali,soldiers and militia killed dozens at a church in Nyamirambo on April 8 and others at the mosque at Nyamirambo several days later. On the morning of April 9, some sixty Interahamwe led by Jean Ntawutagiripfa, known as "Congolais," and accompanied by four National Policemen, forced their way into the church at Gikondo, an industrial section of Kigali. They killed more than a hundred people that day, mostly with machetes and clubs.102

RTLM encouraged these attacks on April 8 when announcer Hitimana broadcast advice which he described as especially credible because it came from "a Doctor [whom] I really trust." The "Doctor" said that seeing people gathering in churches was "not good at all," especially when the RPF had put them there along with grenades and other arms. RTLM followed up this general counsel with specific warnings about the church and the mosque in Nyamirambo that spurred almost immediate attacks on these places of worship.103

Even when news of the massacres began to spread, some Tutsi still sought sanctuary in public places because the choice seemed no worse and perhaps better than staying at home or attempting to flee much further away. Some did, in fact, survive at the gathering places, either as the fortunate few who escaped at the time of a massacre or because their place of refuge was not attacked. In the two most remarkable cases, some 24,300 Tutsi in the camps at Kabgayi, a large church complex in the central province of Gitarama, were rescued by the arrival of the RPF and another 10,000 at Nyarushishi, in Cyangugu, were protected by National Police under Colonel Bavugamenshi until the arrival of French troops under Operation Turquoise. Tutsi at Rukara in eastern Rwanda were saved when the gunfire from advancing RPF troops frightened away assailants who were besieging the church.104

Beginning in the week of April 11, government officials exploited the Tutsi impulse to seek refuge and promised them protection if they would assemble in designated sites. Those who declined the offer were often forced to go there anyway. This effort was so general throughout the country that it must havereflected orders from above. As Rwandans remarked, "it was like sweeping dry banana leaves into a pile to burn them more easily." The prefects of Kibuye and Cyangugu directed Tutsi to assemble in the local stadiums. In Kivumu commune, Kibuye prefecture, the burgomaster reportedly drove a white pick-up truck around to gather Tutsi who were straggling along the road. He was anxious to get them to Nyange church, where they would later be massacred by a bulldozer that flattened both the church and the people inside. In some cases, authorities did not order the massacre immediately after people assembled, apparently because they were waiting to gather either the maximum number of people or the forces necessary to attack them. In the meantime, they restricted supplies of food and water to the displaced persons, or prohibited them completely, so weakening the population in readiness for the attack. Often several National Policemen or communal policemen "guarded" the displaced persons. This "protection" reassured the Tutsi and encouraged them to remain quietly at the site. If any did try to leave, the "guards" were there to stop them.105

From April 11 to the first of May, killers carried out the most devastating massacres of the genocide, in some cases slaying hundreds or even thousands of people in one or two days. This kind of slaughter took place near the ETO school in the city of Kigali; at Ntarama and Nyamata in Kigali prefecture; at Kiziguro in Byumba; at Musambira, Mugina, and Byimana in Gitarama; at Nyarubuye church, Rukara church, Rukira commune, and the St. Joseph center in Kibungo; at the church and stadium in Kibuye town, Mubuga church, Birambo and Mugonero church and hospital in Kibuye prefecture; at Shangi, Nyamasheke, and Mibirizi churches in Cyangugu; at Kibeho, Cyanika, and Kaduha churches in Gikongoro; at Cyahinda, Kansi and Nyumba churches, Butare hospital and the university in Butare; and at Nyundo Cathedral in Gisenyi.

When Hutu who had feared attack because of their political convictions heard that "Tutsi alone were for killing," most left their places of refuge to return home. But other Hutu, particularly those who had taken refuge with Tutsi family members, remained in the churches, schools, and hospitals. Killers generally tried to restrict slaughter to the Tutsi and directed others to leave before the attack. Oftensoldiers, National Policemen, or militia verified identity papers to ensure that only those classed as Hutu left.106

Hutu with Tutsi relatives faced wrenching decisions about whether or not to desert their loved ones in order to save their own lives. At Mugonero church in Kibuye, two Hutu sisters, each married to a Tutsi husband, faced such a choice. One decided to die with her husband. The other chose to leave because she hoped to save the lives of her eleven children. The children, classed as Tutsi because their father was Tutsi, would not ordinarily have had the right to live, but assailants had said that they could be allowed to depart safely if she agreed to go with them. When she stepped out of the door of the church, she saw eight of the eleven children struck down before her eyes. The youngest, a child of three years old, begged for his life after seeing his brothers and sisters slain. "Please don't kill me," he said. "I'll never be Tutsi again." He was killed.107 If assailants tried as much as possible to kill only Tutsi, so they tried, too, to kill all Tutsi. Survivors and other witnesses from many parts of Rwanda speak of the killers approaching the destruction of the crowds at a church, hospital, or hilltop as a piece of work to be kept at until finished. One compared killers to government workers putting in a day at the office; another likened them to farmers spending a day at labor. In case after case, killers quit at day's end, to go home and feast on food and drink they had pillaged or been given, ready to come back the next morning, rested and fit for "work." At Mugonero hospital, after hours of slaughter, assailants tossed tear gas cannisters in among the bodies. They wanted to make any survivors cough so they could locate them and finish them off.108 If killers were too tired to complete the "work" on any given day, they assured the Tutsi that they would come back. And, generally, they did.

Impeding Flight: Barriers and Patrols

Organizers tranformed practices once instituted to promote security into mechanisms for genocide and the killing of political adversaries. Even before the October 1990 invasion, guards maintained barriers on roads and paths where they examined the papers and belongings of passersby. More recently the administrationhad established patrols to check rising crime and political attacks within neighborhoods in town or out on the hills. Soldiers or National Police manned important barriers on main roads, but it was communal police and citizens themselves who were responsible for the others and who made up the neighborhood patrols. In Butare town, workers at the university and other persons with salaried employment hired zamu or nightwatchmen to do this work in their stead. Security committees at the various levels from sector to prefecture oversaw the implementation of these measures within their areas of jurisdiction.

At the start, authorities instructed Rwandans to stay at home. The curfew allowed authorities and local political leaders to put in place the barriers and patrols necessary to control the population, multiplying them in communities where they were already functioning and reestablishing them in places where they were no longer in operation. Tutsi as well as Hutu cooperated with these measures at the start, hoping they would ensure their security. The hope was disappointed. RTLM, which had at first encouraged Tutsi to join Hutu at the barriers and on the patrols, subsequently began advising listeners to look carefully at coworkers and examine their motives for participation. Incited by such messages from the radio and from local leaders, Hutu in some communities turned on Tutsi at the barriers or on patrols and killed them.109

By restricting movement, the barriers made it less likely that people at risk would dare to flee and they also offered a means of catching those who did try to escape. Their keepers scrutinized papers, particularly that line under the photograph that gave the ethnic affiliation of the bearer, to ensure that no changes had been made or false data entered. They examined facial characteristics and configuration of the body to "expose" Tutsi who were trying to pass as Hutu. In some cases, they wrongly assumed that Hutu were Tutsi because they looked Tutsi. They checked passersby for other supposed signs of links with the RPF, marks on their shoulders made by the rubbing of a gunstrap or traces on their ankles resulting from the chafing of boots, or even scars or other marks that could be labeled tattoos indicating loyalty to the RPF.110

Barriers were often set up in front of local bars or in nearby commercial centers. Local businessmen or other well-to-do people sponsored barriers, whichmeant supplying the guards with food, drink, and sometimes marijuana as well.111 As in the past, soldiers and National Police manned barriers on the main roads while communal police, militia, and other civilians guarded others. Even at the barriers maintained by civilians, at least one of the guards would often carry a firearm and others might have grenades as well as machetes.

The guards, drunk or sober, had the power of life and death over those who sought to pass and sometimes over persons captured and brought to them by patrols in the area. In considering the case, they might evaluate if the person looked Tutsi or was known personally to any of them as being Tutsi or a RPF supporter. They might also weigh how much the person could pay to save his or her life and, if a woman, how desirable she would be either as an object for rape or for longer-term sexual service. Then the guards as a group, or the leader among them, decided whether the person was to be killed on the spot, raped, kept for service or future execution, or perhaps released. Barriers sometimes served as temporary places of detention.

Some barriers were manned by opponents of the genocide who participated under threat of death to themselves or their families if they were to refuse. Survivors remembers these barriers as "good" ones where Tutsi would not be killed and where the guards might warn of more dangerous barricades further down the same road.112

Patrols searched for Tutsi in and out of their houses, in the fields, in the bush, in the swamps, wherever they might be hiding. Often they invaded the homes of Hutu as well under the pretext of verifying reports about hidden arms or a stranger who was residing there. They checked the space between ceiling and roof, under the beds, in the cupboards, in the latrines. In the search, they often helped themselves to whatever goods attracted them. In addition to the patrols that did regularly scheduled tours of the neighborhood, there were others organized in response to reports from informers who had noticed suspicious indications, such as unfamiliar clothes hung out to dry in a backyard or unusual kinds or quantities of food being purchased.113

Rape and Sexual Servitude

During the genocide, tens of thousands of women and girls were raped, including one who was only two years old.114 The assailants raped as part of their attempt to exterminate Tutsi, some of them incited by propaganda about Tutsi women disseminated in the period just before the genocide. The women had been depicted as devious and completely devoted to the interests of their fathers and brothers. Generally esteemed as beautiful, Tutsi women were also said to scorn Hutu men whom they found unworthy of their attention. Many assailants insulted women for their supposed arrogance while they were raping them. If assailants decided to spare the lives of the women, they regarded them as prizes they had won for themselves or to be distributed to subordinates who had performed well in killing Tutsi. Some kept these women for weeks or months in sexual servitude. In the commune of Taba, women and girls were raped at the communal office, with the knowledge of the burgomaster.115 At the Kabgayi nursing school, soldiers ordered the directress to give them the young women students as umusanzu, a contribution to the war effort.The directress, a Hutu, Dorothée Mukandanga, refused and was killed.116

Assailants sometimes mutilated women in the course of a rape or before killing them. They cut off breasts, punctured the vagina with spears, arrows, or pointed sticks, or cut off or disfigured body parts that looked particularly "Tutsi," such as long fingers or thin noses. They also humiliated the women. One witness from Musambira commune was taken with some 200 other women after a massacre. They were all forced to bury their husbands and then to walk "naked like a group of cattle" some ten miles to Kabgayi. When the group passed roadblocks, militia there shouted that the women should be killed. As they marched, the women were obliged to sing the songs of the militia. When the group stopped at nightfall, some of the women were raped repeatedly.117

Crimes of Extraordinary Brutality

Some killers tortured victims, both male and female, physically or psychologically, before finally killing them or leaving them to die. An elderly Tutsi woman in Kibirira commune had her legs cut off and was left to bleed to death. A Hutu man in Cyangugu, known to oppose the MRND-CDR, was killed by having parts of his body cut off, beginning with his extremities. A Tutsi baby was thrown alive into a latrine in Nyamirambo, Kigali, to die of suffocation or hunger. Survivors bear scars of wounds that testify better than words to the brutality with which they were attacked. Assailants tortured Tutsi by demanding that they kill their own children and tormented Hutu married to Tutsi partners by insisting that they kill their spouses. Victims generally regarded being shot as the least painful way to die and, if given the choice and possessing the means, they willingly paid to die that way.

Assailants often stripped victims naked before killing them, both to acquire their clothes without stains or tears and to humiliate them. In many places, killers refused to permit the burial of victims and insisted that their bodies be left to rot where they had fallen. Persons who attempted to give a decent burial to Tutsi were sometimes accused by others of being "accomplices" of the enemy.118 The Hutu widow of a Tutsi man killed at Mugonero in Kibuye expressed her distress at the violation of Rwandan custom, which is to treat the dead with dignity. Speaking of Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana of the Adventist church, she stated:

    What gives me grief is that after the pastor had all these people killed, he didn't even see to burying them, including his fellow pastors. They lay outside for two weeks, eaten by dogs and crows.119

Strategies of Survival


Tutsi fought for their lives at Bisesero, Karongi, and Nyamagumba in Kibuye; at Nyakizu, Nyamure, and Runyinya in Butare; at Bicumbi and Kanzenze and in the swamps of Bugesera in Kigali; at Gashihe in Gisenyi; at Gisuma and Cyangugu stadium in Cyangugu; at Kibeho and Kaduha churches in Gikongoro; at the Muhaziand Rukira communal offices in Kibungo.120 The names of these and other major sites of resistance are known, but unrecorded are the thousands of places where Tutsi struggled hand to hand with their aggressors, in their homes, on the paths and in the fields. Each place of struggle has its own story of heroism, but most share common elements: Tutsi (in the early days, in some places, mixed groups of Tutsi and Hutu) repelled the initial attack; the aggressors obtained reinforcements in people and material, usually from soldiers or National Police; the aggressors attacked repeatedly until they overcame the resistance. Some Tutsi survived, hidden among the bodies or elsewhere, or by fleeing.

At some sites, the besieged people formulated strategies for fighting or for fleeing. At Rubona in Butare and at Bisesero at Kibuye, resisters used a tactic called "merging," or kwiunga.121 This involved lying down and waiting until assailants had moved in among the intended victims, then rising up to face them in close combat. This tactic decreased the likelihood that assailants would shoot because they would fear being caught in fire from their own side. The two sites where the tactic was used are far apart and probably had no communication between them during the genocide. Perhaps the RPF had taught this way of fighting during training sessions for its adherents or had disseminated it in some other way. At Bisesero, where the numbers of resisters were large and the struggle long, the Tutsi put into place a command structure. Leaders directed the combat and even beat those who refused to advance under attack.122 In Nyakizu, most Tutsi were besieged for only a few days under attack, but they too worked out a division of tasks in the combat. When they decided to flee, they arranged the departure of groups at different times and in different directions to increase their chances for escape.

The best known case of resistance was that of Bisesero, a mountainous ridge in Kibuye where Tutsi stood off militia and military from April 8 until July 1. In explaining why Tutsi had fled to Bisesero, one survivor related:

    We fled to the hill because it was high and we could see the attackers coming....It had lots of woods on it and so many hiding places. The attackers would come to kill during the day and at night they would go off to eat and drink.123

Others recalled that Bisesero had been an important site for defense at the time of the 1959 revolution, a consideration which determined the choice of site for people in other prefectures as well. According to some witnesses, Radio Muhubura encouraged Tutsi to assemble at Bisesero.

During the genocide people living in the town of Kibuye became used to the sound of the vehicles rolling by en route to Bisesero with their loads of assailants. Obed Ruzindana, a local businessman and prefectural head of the CDR, is accused of having led attacks on the hilltop along with a councilor, Mika Muhimana. One survivor declares that Dr. Gerard Ntakirutimana, son of Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, who headed the Adventist church, came to the hill often, "wearing white pants and a white and red sweater and carrying a R4 rifle." The witness thought that Dr. Ntakirutimana would help him because their fathers had exchanged cattle, a sign of a close and enduring bond. He says, "So I fled to Ntakirutimana for protection, but instead he shot at me." The burgomaster, Charles Sikubwabo, a former soldier, helped organize the repeated assaults on the hill. From time to time, Alfred Musema, head of a nearby tea factory, came to observe.124

The local militia, gathered from three surrounding communes, was not enough to overcome resistance on the hill, so the organizers called in reinforcements from a considerable distance. A militia leader well-known in Cyangugu, John Yusufu Munyakazi, brought his men from that prefecture and both militia and soldiers came from Gisenyi. In late April, the resisters, using spears and machetes, killed a lieutenant of the Presidential Guard and four National Policemen. There followed a respite of two weeks. Then on May 13, soldiers, backed by eight busloads of militia, charged the hill. They killed thousands of Tutsi. According to a survivorwhose wife and mother were killed there, the assailants "speared women through the vagina to their heads, saying 'May you give birth to a child.'"125

During the weeks on the hilltop, the Tutsi first consumed supplies they had brought with them and then foraged for food and stole from the fields of farmers. The attackers were divided into two teams, those who assaulted the hill during the day and those "who went around at night trying to find where people were hiding by smelling or seeing their cooking fires."126

The prefect, Dr. Clément Kayishema informed his superior on May 5 about the continued existence of "a little spot of insecurity in the Bisesero zone,"127 and wired them on June 2 to request "military reinforcements to help the population monitor the [areas of] high altitude." Perhaps to ensure a prompt and positive response, Kayishema reminded his superior that this region included a radio transmitter, an installation of Electrogaz, and the tea factory. He also reported that there were RPF infiltrators among incoming refugees and that an RPF attack was rumored to be coming from Nyanza to the east and from Idjwi island in Lake Kivu.128

The prefect got the response he wanted some two weeks later when the council of ministers instructed the military commander at Gisenyi to send troops to join the National Police at Kibuye "to lead a search operation, with the help of the population, in sector Bisesero...which has become a sanctuary of the RPF." The interim government insisted that the operation be "finished definitively" by June 20 at the latest, perhaps because they anticipated the arrival of French troops of Operation Turquoise at about that time.129 The attack took place, killing and maiming many of the ragged and starving survivors who clung to life on top of the hills. A foreign witness present in Kibuye town heard the militia and troops coming home shouting their ibyivugo, a formalized boast that dates to the precolonialperiod, declaiming the numbers they had slain and the details of how they had killed them.

A survivor estimated that of the thousands of Tutsi hidden in the woods on top of the Bisesero hills, fewer than 1,500 survived.130

Flight, Hiding, and Buying Safety

Many of the Tutsi alive today fled in search of safety, some many times over. A young man from Bisesero first fled south with a group heading for Burundi, but they were caught in the Nyungwe forest by the Presidential Guard. They escaped and made their way back to Bisesero. He tried again, heading southeast, planning to circle through the northern part of Gikongoro to reach the RPF zone. Forced to retreat again to Bisesero, he started out a third time to the northeast, through Birambo but once more was driven back to the hilltop. As he remarks, "All this was in April, the month that would not end."131 Some fled from one place to another, like a group that escaped from the massacre at Kibeho and went to Muganza and from there to Cyahinda and from there to Agatobwe to Nkomero and finally across the border to Burundi. Tracked by assailants from their places of origin, harassed by new attackers along the way, those in flight traveled at night, frequently backtracking and following circuitous routes. One witness needed six days to traverse a distance that he could normally walk in two hours.

Many hid in every imaginable kind of space: latrines, ceilings, unused wells, in trees, in empty buildings in the city and in fields of sorghum or sugar cane. Some profited from a momentary distraction or temporary weakening of will on the part of a captor. One woman at the crowded Kabgayi camp who was selected for killing by militia begged the chance to suckle her infant one last time. While she was doing so, her captor got bored and looked away and she disappeared into the crowd. A teenaged girl was lined up with others waiting to be killed at the edge of a grave. When the killers began to dispute the division of the spoils taken from the victims, she sped off into the night. Some bought their lives once with a watch or a small sum of money; others made payments to soldiers or militia every day or every week throughout the genocide. Some negotiated a temporary reprieve through wit and promises, staying alive day by day.

Resisters in places like Bisesero or the Bugesera swamps seem to have been largely self-sufficient, but others who survived through flight, hiding, or buying their safety usually needed help from Hutu. Some of those who opened their doors,showed a path, or delivered food acted from principle, responding to a sense of common humanity with the victim, even if a stranger. Some acted from family feeling, friendship, or sense of obligation for past services rendered. Others sold their help, but, in doing so, they, too, saved lives.

Authorities and political leaders defined aiding Tutsi as helping the "enemy." In many places, they specifically ordered Hutu not to assist Tutsi and threatened them with death or other punishment if they did so. Hutu who disobeyed such orders and were caught often had to pay fines. In some cases, the protectors, like those whom they were trying to protect, were raped, beaten, or killed. These cases were widely known in local communities and often led other Hutu to refuse or end their assistance to Tutsi.132 When an elderly Tutsi in Bisesero appealed to an old Hutu friend to hide his grandsons, the old friend responded, "I would like to, but I can't. The orders are that I must not."133


In the past, the Rwandan government had often mobilized the population for campaigns of various kinds, such as to end illiteracy, to vaccinate children, or to improve the status of women. It had executed these efforts through the existing administrative and political hierarchies, requiring agents to go beyond their usual duties for a limited period of time for some national goal of major importance. The organizers of the genocide similarly exploited the structures that already existed – administrative, political, and military – and called upon personnel to execute a campaign to kill Tutsi and Hutu presumed to oppose Hutu Power. Through these three channels, the organizers were able to reach all Rwandans and to incite or force most Hutu into acquiescing in or participating in the slaughter.

The organization that ran the campaign was flexible: primacy depended more on commitment to the killing than on formal position in the hierarchy. Thus within the administrative system, sub-prefects could eclipse prefects, as they did in Gikongoro and Gitarama, and in the military domain, lieutenants could ignore colonels, as happened in Butare. This flexibility encouraged initiative and ambition among those willing to purchase advancement at the cost of human lives. To preserve appearances, an inferior might obtain the approval of his superior for decisions he made, but those receiving the orders knew who really had the power.1

Similarly, actors bypassed the usual legal and bureaucratic limits on their activities. Military men, retired or in active service, took charge in the civilian domain, as did Col. Simba when he took the chair of prefectural meetings away from the prefect of Gikongoro, and civilians, even those with no legal authority, obtained military support for their attacks on Tutsi. Administrators gave orders to militia groups and Interahamwe leaders intervened in the administrative realm, as when their national committee ruled on the acceptability of the candidate to replace the prefect of Butare. Party leaders like Karemera of the MRND and Murego of the MDR-Power participated in meetings of the council of ministers while others like Ngirumpatse of the MRND represented the interim government abroad in its efforts to legitimate the genocide.2 The prime minister and the Ministry of the Interior directed prefects to involve local politicians in the efforts to assure "security." Theydid and they made sure their subordinates did the same.3 Like officials of the administration, important party leaders were protected by military guards and, like them, they toured the hills bringing the message of the government to the people.

Individuals from other sectors – the akazu, the church, the business community, the university, schools and hospitals – backed the efforts of the officials.

The Military

Soldiers and National Police, whether on active duty or retired, killed civilians and they gave permission, set the example, and commanded others to kill. Although fewer in number than civilian killers, the military played a decisive role by initiating and directing the slaughter. In the first hours in Kigali, soldiers of the Presidential Guard and the paracommando and reconnaisance battalions, along with some National Policemen, carried out the carnage in one neighborhood after another. Soldiers, National Police and the communal police also launched the slaughter and organized all large-scale massacres elsewhere in the country.

Witnesses in Kigali and other towns have identified as killers certain soldiers and National Policemen whom they knew before the genocide. But elsewhere, witnesses found it difficult to identify the persons or even the units responsible for given crimes because soldiers and National Police wore the same uniforms and only sometimes wore the berets of different colors which indicated the service to which they belonged. Witnesses often say that soldiers from the Presidential Guard attacked them, but troops from other army units or from the National Police may actually have committed some of these crimes.4

Regardless of the responsibility of individuals or units, the widespread and systematic participation of military personnel throughout the entire period of genocide indicates that the most powerful authorities at the national level ordered or approved their role in the slaughter. Bagosora, as shown above, has been identified by other officers as the leader who launched the genocide. General Bizimungu, named chief of staff with Bagosora's support, and Minister of DefenseAugustin Bizimana at the least collaborated actively with Bagosora, while officers in charge of the elite units, Majors Protais Mpiranya, François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, and Aloys Ntabakuze, as well as others like Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho, Lieutenant Colonels Léonard Nkundiye and Anatole Nsengiyumva, Captain Gaspard Hategekimana, and Major Bernard Ntuyahaga carried out the killings of Tutsi and Hutu civilians.

On April 10, Colonel Gatsinzi, then temporarily chief of staff, and the Ministry of Defense each ordered subordinates to halt the killings of civilians, using force if necessary. The Ministry of Defense sent a second, weaker command on April 28 "to cooperate with local authorities to halt pillage and assassinations." But neither the general staff nor the Ministry of Defense enforced the orders, leaving subordinates to conclude that the directives had no importance. In fact, as some officers had observed from the start, the authorities countermanded the official orders by another message, passed discreetly to like-minded officers who executed the informal order to kill rather than the official directive to stop the killings.5

The military also led militia and ordinary civilians in slaughter, giving orders to citizens directly and through civilian administrators. At the national level, civilian and military authorities directed the population to obey these orders, insisting that civilians must "work with," "assist," or "support" the army.6 According to a foreign witness, soldiers taught hesitant young people to kill on the streets of Kigali. When the young people balked at striking Tutsi, soldiers stoned the victims until the novices were ready to attack.7 In the prefecture of Gitarama, soldiers said to be Presidential Guards drove around in a black Pajero jeep, killing and inciting others to kill in the communes of Musambira and Mukingi. Others launched the killing of Tutsi at a market in the commune of Mugina. In Kivu and Kinyamakara communes in Gikongoro, soldiers or National Police directed crowds gathered at market and people found along the roads to attack Tutsi. Soldiers led killing in Cyangugu starting on April 7.8

Soldiers and National Police distributed arms and ammunition to civilians discreetly before April 6 and openly after that date.9 They also provided reinforcements in men and materiel to civilians who found it impossible to overcome resistance from Tutsi. A medical assistant who was trying to kill Tutsi in the commune of Ntyazo at the end of April asked for military support:

    Mr. Muhutu A.


    We have a large number of Tutsi at Karama (sector headed by the councilor Kanamugire). We have tried to fight them, but they have turned out to be stronger than we expected. So we ask for your help once again; send us a few National Police and four other [communal?] police to help the population that is fighting with bows.

    P.S. We have guns and grenades.


Military personnel also ensured the spread of the genocide by refusing assistance to authorities, including the prefect of Gitarama and burgomasters in Gitarama, Gikongoro, and Butare who tried to stop killing and other acts of destruction.11

In addition, soldiers and National Police used force or the threat of force against Hutu who tried to resist the slaughter. At the request of administrators, like the burgomaster of Nyakizu, they intimidated citizens into joining in attacks. Even more extraordinary, they directed or permitted militia to exert the same kind of pressure on administrators if they dissented from the campaign of genocide.

Soldiers who had been wounded in war formed a particularly brutal category of military killers. Some joined in beating Belgian UNAMIR peacekeepers to death, others attacked Tutsi at the Adventist university at Mudende, and still others killed and harassed Tutsi in the town of Butare, at Kabgayi, and near the hospital at Cyakabili.12

Politicians and Militia

Political leaders at every level championed the genocide, launching themselves into the killing campaign as a way to increase their own importance and to displace rivals. They were uninhibited by any of the formal responsibilities that sometimes constrained administrators and led them to disguise their intentions in indirect language. Invited by authorities to participate fully in official meetings from the national to the local level, they took the floor to demand ruthless action against Tutsi and those who helped them.13

Politicians used their personal authority and channels of communication within their parties to direct attacks on Tutsi. In Taba commune, Gitarama prefecture, the local MRND leader Silas Kubwimana distributed arms and launched killings.14 In Butare prefecture, National Assembly Deputy Muhutu arranged military support for civilian killers, Deputy Bernadette Mukarurangwa ordered barriers put up, and Deputy Laurent Baravuga reportedly patrolled with his own band of killers.15 In some cases, politicians organized "security" measures in accord with the local administrators. In other cases, where administrators showed no commitment to thegenocide, political leaders effectively took over the extermination campaign in their communities.

Politicians claimed to speak for the people in demanding the extermination of the Tutsi when in fact they often incited them to make that demand.16 In person and on the radio, Shingiro Mbonyumutwa of MRD-Power, son of the president of the first Rwandan Republic, used his considerable prestige to whip up fear and hatred of the Tutsi. In a use of the now-familiar "accusation in a mirror," he told Radio Rwanda listeners that Tutsi intended to carry out a genocide of the Hutu:

    They are going to exterminate, exterminate, exterminate, exterminate [ugutsembatsemba-tsembatsemba]...They are going to exterminate you until they are the only ones left in this country, so that the power which their fathers kept for four hundred years, they can keep for a thousand years!17

The Militia

Political organizations provided the civilian striking force of the genocide, the militia. Before April 6, the militia – in the sense of those who had at least some training and experience fighting as a unit – numbered some two thousand in Kigali, with a smaller number outside the capital in communes where the MRND and the CDR were strong. Once the genocide began and militia members began reaping the rewards of violence, their numbers swelled rapidly to between twenty and thirty thousand for the country as a whole.18

The Interahamwe was an unincorporated organization supposedly independent of the MRND, but heavily influenced by it. The militia was directed by a national committee that included Jerry Robert Kajuga, president (himself the son of a Tutsi father and Hutu mother), Phénéas Ruhumuriza, first vice-president, George Rutaganda, second vice president, Eugene Mbarushimana, secretary-general, Dieudonné Niyitegeka, treasurer and, as councilors, Bernard Maniragaba, Joseph Serugendo, Ephrem Nkezabera, Jean-Marie Vianney Mudahinyuka, and Alphonse Kanimba. The Interahamwe had committees at the prefectural level, but it is unclear how important a role they played in the genocide. The best trained groups, those in Kigali, operated under the command of local leaders like "Congolais" inthe region of Gikondo and Kigingi and Jean-de-Dieu in Nyamirambo.19 The Impuzamugambi had no leaders apart from those of the CDR, the best known of whom was Barayagwiza.

Once the genocide began, there was virtually no distinction between Impuzamugambi and Interahamwe in the field, although members of each might still wear the distinctive garb or colors belonging to their parties. Some men participated in both groups, attacking when and where action seemed most profitable. As early as February, the Interahamwe were directed to cooperate also with Inkuba, the MDR-Power militia, but in the first days of the genocide, many MDR members – including those identified with MDR-Power – fought against the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi. After Karamira's April 12 message on the radio and similar directives by other party leaders, however, MDR youth groups began cooperating with the Interahamwe in attacking Tutsi. In Butare, the young supporters of the PSD also eventually participated in attacks with the Interahamwe, exchanging one party hat for another and putting into effect the order that it was time to forget party loyalties for the larger good of the killing campaign.20

From the start of the genocide, political leaders put the militia at the disposition of military. In a statement prepared for judicial proceedings, General Dallaire declared:

    ...[W]henever we attempted to establish communications with the Interahamwe leadership for cease-fire and humanitarian operations, our most sure and effective conduit to them was Colonel Bagosora. I believe, based on my experiences with the cross-line refugee exchanges in particular, that the militia and the control thereof seemed to be responsive to direction received from Col. Bagosora.21

As Interahamwe head Kajuga explained to a reporter,

    The goverment authorises us. We go in behind the army. We watch them and learn....We have to defend our country. The government authorises us to defend ourselves by taking up clubs, machetes and whatever guns we could find.22

In his radio address on April 12, Karamira used the same phrase, remarking that the militia "go in behind the army." At major massacres, such as the attack on Gikondo church on April 9, witnesses report that militia were clearly following the orders of the soldiers on the spot.23

In an account written later, CDR leader Barayagwiza recounts how the militia became real paramilitary forces once the "interethnic massacres" began. He admits that they attacked Tutsi civilians:

    The targets were no longer the youth of other political parties [as in the days of kubohoza] but the soldiers of the RPF, especially infiltrators in the ranks of civilians, as well as the civilian accomplices of the enemy.24

Militia also carried out the commands of civilian administrators. Witnesses report that prefect Renzaho gave orders to the Interahamwe during their attack in late April at the Centre d'Etudes des Langues Africaines (CELA) in Kigali and that Odette Nyirabagenzi, a communal councilor in Kigali, sent militia to seize Tutsi to be killed at the Sainte Famille church and the adjacent St. Paul's center. In another case, a witness relates that he was attacked by Interahamwe at the direction of Rose Karushara, also a communal councilor in Kigali, who urged the assailants to kill him.25

In response to needs identified by the authorities or party heads, the militia leaders displaced their men from one area to another. These temporary transfers ofassailants demonstrate the extent to which the genocide was centrally directed. Leaders dispatched militia from Kigali to Butare town and others from Nyabisindu were ordered to Gatagara in Butare prefecture. They sent militia from other locations to participate in massacres at Kaduha church in Gikongoro, at Rutonde commune in Kibungo, and at Ntongwe commune in Gitarama. They transported militia from Gisenyi to Kibuye, where they lodged at the Golfe Eden Rock Hotel and assisted the military and the local population in attacking the large groups of Tutsi at Karongi and Bisesero. They ordered militia from several places to help attack Mugonero hospital in Kibuye. A survivor of that massacre identified the party affiliation of the assailants from their distinctive garb, the blue and yellow print boubou of the Interahamwe and the black, yellow, and red neck kerchiefs and hats of the Impuzamugambi. He could tell, too, that they came from several regions. As was common in such large-scale attacks, assailants wore leaves from the plants found in their home regions to distinguish themselves from the victims. The witness saw assailants wearing leaves from tea plants, probably from Gisovu, others with leaves from coffee plants, presumably from Gishyita and Mubuga, and those of a third group with leaves from banana plants, apparently from Cyangugu.26 In mid-June when national authorities began to fear increased RPF pressure on the capital, Interahamwe leaders broadcast orders over RTLM recalling their men to Kigali.27

National leaders used militia, as they did the military, to destroy Hutu opposition to the genocide. They sent groups across communal and prefectural boundaries to intimidate reluctant Hutu into attacking Tutsi.

Although generally responsive to directives from civilian and military authorities, leaders of the militia represented a force with its own base of power – particularly as the number of their members grew – and they dealt with authorities at the highest level. On occasion they met with ministers, prefects, and the chief of staff of the army.28 Like the leaders of political parties, they often claimed to speak for the people in demanding the most extreme measures against Tutsi. In early May, militia attacked a convoy of civilians leaving the Hotel Mille Collines although it had received a safe conduct from General Bizimungu. In asimilar case in mid-May, U.N. officers negotiated for three hours to obtain the authorization of military and civilian authorities to evacuate a group of orphans. Then some young militia members in tee shirts and jeans stood up and imposed conditions that made the operation impossible. The officials said nothing and the effort failed.29 In such cases the greater radicalism of the militia may have been contrary to the stated position of officials but in conformity with their real, hidden intentions. If militia acted without military approval and soldiers wished to stop them, they generally had little difficulty doing so. When General Bizimungu disapproved of an Interahamwe attack on the Hotel Mille Collines on June 17, for example, he quickly expelled them although he had only his personal guard at hand to enforce his order.30

The Administration

The military and the militia brought essential skills and and firearms to the slaughter, but they were too few to kill Tutsi on a massive scale in a short span of time. Executing an extermination campaign rapidly required the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people, tens of thousands to actually slaughter and the others to spy, search, guard, burn, and pillage. In some situations, crowds were needed immediately and for only a few days to participate in a massacre; in others, a reliable supply of long-term "workers" was required to do patrols, man the barriers and track survivors. Bagosora, the AMASASU, the CDR, and Kangura had foreseen that turning out large numbers of civilians was the only way to attack an "enemy" dispersed in the population. As Karamira had said in his radio speech of April 12, this "war" had to become everyone's responsibility.

The interim government directed the administration to carry out this mobilization. Some ministers already known for their determined support of Hutu Power, such as Minister of Family and the Promotion of Women Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, Minister of Commerce Justin Mugenzi, Minister of Information Eliézer Niyitegeka, Minister of Youth Callixte Nzabonimana, and Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Dr. André Rwamakuba were apparently the most insistent about executing the genocide.31 Judging from the way InterimPresident Sindikubwabo and interim Prime Minister Kambanda were assigned their roles in the government, they probably lacked the stature to influence major decisions, but they nonetheless shared responsiblity for implementing them.32

Passing the Word

On April 19, Interim President Sindikubwabo identified his government as "a government of saviors" that would come directly to the people "to tell you what it expects of you."33 Ministers and other high-ranking government representatives did indeed go out to the countryside, exhorting and insisting on the need to support the genocide, promising rewards to supporters and threatening sanctions against dissenters.34 The practice of going out to the hills had been used to mobilize people for projects of public good, but it also harked back to the 1960s when ministers used tours of rural areas to set off the killing of Tutsi.35

In the continuing absence of the minister of interior and communal development, the administrative head of the ministry, Callixte Kalimanzira, was responsible for implementing the government policy. He counted on a bureaucracy that was known for executing orders promptly and fully. When he directed subordinates to "alert the population to the necessity of continuing to track the enemy wherever he is to be found and wherever he hid his arms," most of them did so. To make clear that directives about "security" came from the highest authorities and must be obeyed, Kalimanzira ordered that speeches by the president and theprime minister be disseminated widely. This would serve, he said, to make citizens "more determined to assure their own security and to warn all troublemakers."36

When Kalimanzira directed that meetings about security be held, prefects passed the order to burgomasters, who scheduled meetings and alerted councilors and cell heads. The burgomaster of Bwakira, for example, wrote to subordinates on April 19, ordering them to inform all residents of a series of scheduled meetings. He told them to use whistles and drums to summon the population "so that no one will be absent."37 Prefects and sub-prefects expected and received reports of these meetings, many of which were recorded in minutes that were carefully taken and neatly transcribed.38

Administrators were responsible for informing their superiors about all important developments within their jurisdictions. In correspondence, in telephone conversations, and in meetings they regularly reported on the "state of security."

In orders passed down the administrative hierarchy as in the reports passed back up, crucial elements were sometimes left unstated, or were expressed in vague or ambiguous language.39 Superiors told their subordinates to seek out the "enemy" in their midst, but did not specify what was to be done with him when found. Subordinates reported on the capture of "accomplices" but neglected to mention what measures had been taken against them. No one asked for further clarification because everyone understood.

As was usual in Rwanda, authorities at the national level dealt even with matters of detail. The widespread use of banana leaves or other foliage to distinguish attackers from intended victims throughout the country suggests adecision made in Kigali, as does the frequent reliance on whistles as a means of communication among assailants.

Mobilizing the Population

Prefects transmitted orders and supervised results, but it was burgomasters and their subordinates who really mobilized the people. Using their authority to summon citizens for communal projects, as they were used to doing for umuganda, burgomasters delivered assailants to the massacre sites, where military personnel or former soldiers then usually took charge of the operation. Just as burgomasters had organized barriers and patrols before the genocide so now they enforced regular and routine participation in such activities directed against the Tutsi. They sent councilors and their subordinates from house to house to sign up all adult males, informing them when they were to work. Or they drew up lists and posted the schedules at the places where public notices were usually affixed.

Burgomasters were responsible for ensuring the continuity of the genocidal work over a period of weeks, a task that many found difficult. "Intellectuals" were needed at barriers to read documents presented by passersby, but many disliked the duty and tried to evade it. Some councilors tired of making the rounds to check on the functioning of barriers. Burgomasters threatened sanctions against laggards and removed councilors who failed in their responsibilities.40 The administrators also had to resolve squabbles among participants and sometimes resorted to having them draw up written agreements, such as that produced by workers assigned to the checkpoint near the Trafipro shop in the commune Bwakira. All the participants agreed to "be more vigilant" and to refuse bribes. They were reminded to check identity cards and baggage carefully and to interrogate all passersby. They were cautioned against drunkenness and disagreements. "To avoid such disorders, the meeting resolved to create teams, with a leader for each team. The leader will be accountable... for whatever happens at his checkpoint. He will be responsible for the success of the patrol. Every team will have its own patrol day." And because "it is not easy to check everyone, since some travellers dodge checkpoints," the group asked the whole population to stop and interrogate any unfamiliar person, wherever encountered.41

Burgomasters, as well as those above and below them in the hierarchy, worked with local councils in implementing the genocide. In some cases, the elected communal council assisted them, but more often a committee or council42 devoted specifically to security played this role. Security committees had existed before April 6 at the level of the prefecture and commune and, in some places, in sectors and cells as well. At the prefectural and communal levels, they had included government employees, military or police officers, and other locally important people such as clergy. At the lower levels, they were comprised mostly of community leaders. After the genocide began, administrators set up security committees for jurisdictions where they had not previously existed and gave new importance to committees that had existed before in name only. The officials regularly invited party leaders to meetings, as was being done at the national level and as they had been directed to do by Kalimanzira.43

In some communes, the security committee did little but approve decisions made privately by the burgomaster and his immediate circle, but in others they helped determine the daily details of the genocide, such as whose house would be searched and where and by whom barriers would be maintained. As the following document from Ntyazo commune shows, the committee sometimes determined the fate of Tutsi who had been caught.

    Monsieur Gatwa Abias

    "Barrier chief at Bugina"

    Concerning the three girls of Gapfizi, I ask you to find two or three men to take them very early tomorrow morning to the sector councilor [illegible] where the measures will be carried out regarding them as was decided at the last meeting of the communal security committee that was held on May 13, 1994.

    Ndahimana Mathieu

    Assistant Médical

    P.S. [illegible] asks permission to miss the patrol because he is very tired.44

Burgomasters occasionally called in soldiers or National Policemen, particularly if there were many Tutsi to kill. More usually they relied on local resources: the population, militia, and the communal police. In the course of the preceding months, many communal police had received new firearms or additional supplies of ammunition so they were well-equipped to serve as the local force for slaughter. They often guarded the sites where Tutsi had gathered until groups of assailants were organized for the attack and they then helped direct the massacre. Others led search parties to capture and kill Tutsi in their homes or in the bush.45 Although most communal police followed orders to participate in the extermination, some did refuse. Others were killed themselves, either because they were Tutsi or because they tried to save the lives of Tutsi.

Burgomasters used the same forces to oblige dissident citizens to join in the genocide. They directed or permitted communal police, militia, or simply other citizens to burn down houses and to threaten the lives of those who refused to join in the violence.46

They also offered powerful incentives to draw the hesitant into killing. They or others solicited by them provided cash payments, food, drink and, in some cases, marijuana to assailants. They encouraged the looting of Tutsi property, even to the point of having the pillage supervised by communal police. In many areas, authorities led the people from one stage of crime to the next as they directed them from pillaging property to burning homes to killing the owners of the homes. In several places, police reprimanded those people who wanted only to pillage and not to kill. Assailants at Nyundo reminded each other "Kill first and pillage later."47

One of the most important resources for the burgomaster in enlisting participants was his authority to control the distribution of land, a much desired andscarce source of wealth for the largely agricultural population. Hutu who had attacked Tutsi in the 1960s had acquired the fields of their victims. A generation later, people again hoped to get more land by killing or driving Tutsi away. As Pasteur Kumubuga commented in a meeting in Bwakira commune "Those who killed say that the properties of the victims belong to them."48 At a later meeting, another participant commented that people were cultivating lands taken from victims "to reward themselves for the work they had done."49 As usual, "work" meant "killings."

Enforcing Regulations

The burgomaster did more than just recruit and organize participants in attacks and patrols. As head of the local administration, he became the arbiter of life and death through the implementation of administrative regulations. Because population registration was done at the commune, the burgomaster was the ultimate authority in cases of contested ethnic classification. In the commune of Bwakira, the burgomaster responded to an appeal from a woman named Mujawashema who said people accused her children of being Tutsi and wanted to kill them. The burgomaster carried the research back three generations to the status of Nsengiyumva, grandfather of the children's father. From a file completed on April 16, 1948, the burgomaster learned that the greatgrandfather of the children was Hutu. He concluded, "Therefore, no one must harm those children."50

In the commune of Ndora, members of a family accused of being Tutsi wrote to the burgomaster:

    After the misfortunes that have struck our family in the course of the recent troubles, misfortunes caused by the jealousy and the hatred spread by certain residents of the commune against us and which resulted in the pillageof our goods, in the destruction of our houses, and even in the massacre of several of our family under the pretext that they could try to make them [i.e., the wrongdoers] pay for what they had done, and to this end, they have accused us of belonging to the ethnic group of the Batutsi, to the point that those [among us] who are safe owe this to their having a son in the national army; and even so, these residents are still pursuing them in the place where they have sought refuge.

    We are writing to ask your help especially concerning the question of our ethnic affiliation, which is the pretext put forward by the residents of the commune, that it be clarified and explained to them because the ethnic group in which we believe and with which we identify is that of the Bahutu.51

They concluded by giving the names of four past and present officials in Ndora commune and others in Gishamvu, where the family had originally lived, who could verify their Hutu identity.

Persons who hoped to pass for Hutu often "lost" their identity cards and then requested temporary papers from the councilor or a new card from the burgomaster, hoping the administrator would be persuaded to falsify the document. In testimony at the International Tribunal about his powers during the genocide, one former burgomaster declared, "In the countryside, the mere fact of giving an attestation to a person sufficed to save him."52 Tutsi who succeeded in obtaining such papers in their home communes sometimes found themselves caught by less obliging officials as they tried to flee through other communes. In another manoeuvre, Hutu mothers of children fathered by Tutsi sometimes tried to protect their children by claiming they were illegimate and seeking to have them registered on their cards – as Hutu – rather than on the cards of the fathers. The burgomaster of Huye commune, reluctant to deal with these issues, passed such a case to the local judicial official, who passed it back to him with a bare explanation of the law that gave no real guidance on how to deal with the problem.53

In several cases, the burgomaster himself or members of his family were accused of hiding a Tutsi identity behind an officially Hutu exterior. One of them, the burgomaster of Mabanza, appealed to the Kibuye prefect, Kayishema, to defend him. He wrote:

    Regarding my personal problem – [accusations] that my wife is a Tutsi, that I am supposedly an accomplice of the enemy, that I protect Tutsi and Hutu with Tutsi wives – these rumors are spread by my political opponents who want to replace me. My wife is a Hutu of the Bagiga, a large Hutu family who live at Rubengera, commune Mabanza.

    The accusations that my mother-in-law is Tutsi are groundless as well. And if she were, children take the ethnic identity of their father, not their mother. Those who say that my mother-in-law is Tutsi are wrong: she is from sector Ruragwe, commune Gitesi, from the Barenga family, a well-known Hutu family, as the burgomaster of Gitesi explained in his letter no. D 249/04/05/3 of June 6, 1994, addressed to the councilor of sector Ruragwe and of which you have a copy.54

Administrative officials recorded changes in the population extremely carefully before the genocide, noting births, deaths, and movement into and out of the commune on a monthly as well as a quarterly basis. With this data, officials knew how many Tutsi, whether male or female, adult or child, lived in each administrative unit, information useful in any attempt to eliminate them. Prefect Kayishema was so concerned about the accuracy of this data that he took time in early May to review census data submitted by burgomasters for the last quarter of 1993. He found errors in at least two of the reports, that of Mabanza, which recorded the increase in female Tutsi as fifty-two instead of fifty-three, and that of Rwamatamu where an error of seven was made in accounting for the male Tutsi population and an error of six was made in recording that of female Tutsi.55

Even before April 1994, Rwandans were supposed to be registered in the communes of residence if these differed from their communes of birth. Nyumbakumi, cell heads, and councilors all were involved in making sure that no strangers lived unnoticed in a commune. With the start of the genocide and the renewal of combat, tens of thousands of people fled the capital, some heading directly south, others returning to their communes of origin, wherever they might be. Authorities and radio announcers warned from the start that the Tutsi among these displaced persons were often "infiltrators" in disguise and stressed the need to keep close track of them. Officials usually directed the displaced to a common gathering place and sought to discourage their taking shelter with private families, where it would be harder to keep track of them. But recognising that some went to stay with friends or family, burgomasters passed instructions down to councilors, cell heads, and nyumbakumi that such people must be registered immediately.56 Administrative officials also insisted that clergy or persons responsible for sheltering the displaced provide as much data as possible about those whom they were lodging. Administrators generally declared that such data was needed to assure adequate food supplies, but the information also allowed them to know how many Tutsi were still alive and where they were staying. Often a gathering place was attacked soon after officials had collected data on the displaced persons sheltered there.57

Authorities also revived an earlier requirement that persons wishing to travel outside their communes receive written authorisation to leave (feuilles de route). Burgomasters controlled the distribution of these documents which could permit Tutsi to try to flee for their lives. During periods of curfew, burgomasters also decided who must obey the regulations to remain at home. Officials insisted that Tutsi remain in their houses while granting passes to assailants who could then move freely around the commune to attack them.

Burgomasters and other officials sought to keep accurate records on the dead and missing. In Bwakira, for example, the burgomaster ordered subordinates to prepare such lists on April 29. Five days later councilors submitted lists, by sector, of household heads who had died, the number of people in the household killed,and the number from the household who had fled.58 In Butare, at Kabgayi and elsewhere, some Tutsi were sent back to their home communes to be killed, in part to enable local officials to verify that they were actually dead. Burgomasters kept track not just of overall numbers of dead, but also of the elimination of those persons named as priority targets for their communes. They seem to have borne final responsibility for ensuring that such persons had in fact been slain. Where there was any doubt that a person in question had in fact been killed, authorities would insist on seeing the body to confirm the death. In some cases, burgomasters tracked down escapees from their communes into adjacent areas, including those who had just sought temporary refuge in their jurisdiction before being driven away.

Burgomasters were also charged with disposing of the bodies. Sometimes they left the bodies unburied for days or weeks, a practice which contributed to the "normality" of violent death, but after a while public health considerations dictated disposal of the remains. Authorities summoned people for umuganda which consisted of stuffing bodies down latrines, tossing them in pits, throwing them into rivers or lakes, or digging mass graves in which to bury them. In Kibuye, workers used a bulldozer to push bodies into a pit behind the little church on a peninsula jutting into the lake. In Kigali, Gikongoro, Butare, and elsewhere, authorities also called upon drivers of bulldozers to assist in disposing of the bodies. In Kigali, prisoners went through the streets every three days to gather up the bodies, a service that prisoners performed in Butare as well. One witness related his shock in the early days of killing when he came across a group of prisoners, dressed in their pink prison shirts and shorts, tossing cadavers into a truck. They were appropriating all valuables from the bodies, stripping glasses and watches from them, plunging their hands into pockets to be sure they had extracted all they could from the dead, and then squabbling among themselves over the division of the spoils.59

Support Services: Ideas and Money

Behind the intertwined triple hierarchy of military, administrative, and political authorities stood another set of important, but unofficial and less visible actors. Anumber of them, left over from the akazu, came together under the leadership of Félicien Kabuga, the wealthy businessman who had helped organize RTLM and who had ordered the thousands of machetes imported in 1993 and early 1994. In early April, many of the group retired to the luxury of the Hotel Meridien or other comfortable lodgings in the pleasant, lakeshore town of Gisenyi. From there they gave advice to the interim government on finance, foreign relations, food supply, and even military strategy.

On April 24 and 25, Kabuga brought together a group of local elite and important persons displaced from Kigali to discuss how to support the army "and the young people," i.e., militia. The meeting established a "Provisional Committee," including Kabuga, Abijah Kwilingira, and Stanislas Harelimana to present their ideas to the government. In an April 26 "Message to the Government," the group urged the interim government to improve its image abroad, an objective that it had just decided to address by sending delegations abroad to try to justify the genocide. Several days later, the Rwandan ambassador in Bruxelles released a statement detailing the "pacification" efforts of the interim government and supposed massacres by the RPF of 20,000 civilians.60 The memo by Kabuga and his group also urged immediate action against the Rwandan ambassador in Paris, Jean Marie Vianney Ndagijimana, who had denounced the interim government on French radio. Four days later, the interim government removed Ambassador Ndagijimana. The committee asked the interim government to accuse Uganda and Belgium formally of aiding the RPF. Two weeks later, the Rwandan representative to the U.N. filed a complaint of aggression against Uganda with the U.N. secretary-general and requested an urgent meeting of the Security Council to examine the charges.61

Kabuga and his group also demanded that all young people receive military training. Repeating the language used by the military commission writing about self-defense at the end of March, they urged that "large quantities of traditional weapons" be found for the recruits since there would not be enough firearms for all of them. Several weeks later, Minister of Interior Edouard Karemera orderedprefects to have people arm themselves with such weapons and soon after, several communes established training camps to teach young people how to use them.62

Kabuga and his associates announced a fund to support the "youth" and contributed the first monies for the account. The committee called on the government to publicize this idea rapidly so that others could contribute.63 Within ten days, the project had been relayed to Washington and probably other foreign capitals as well. The Rwandan ambassador in Washington wrote Rwandan citizens resident in the U.S. and asked them to send contributions to an account he had established at Riggs National Bank.64 Within the country, prefects directed their subordinates, businessmen, and the heads of government departments to collect contributions for such a fund from the people under their authority. The contributions solicited by Kabuga from his immediate circle, 25 million Rwandan francs, about U.S.$140,000, was divided among the prefectures and the Ministry of the Interior to allow each to establish its own account. Dr. Jean-Berchmans Nshimyumuremyi, the vice-rector of the National University of Rwanda, pressed faculty and staff of the university to contribute and within five days had more than 6 million Rwandan francs, about U.S.$34,000 available for deposit in the local fund. The money was transferred from the university "Caisse d'Epargne," the savings plan of university employees, suggesting that the vice-rector had taken some or all of it from this account. If so, he would have followed the model of the national government which apparently diverted money from the pension fund for state employees to pay the expenses of war.65

The previous government had also solicited contributions to help pay the costs of war, but this fund was different because it was destined "to help civilians fight the enemy," as wrote the prefect of Kibuye.66 The Ministry of Interior instructed that the money was to be used to pay the expenses of the militia, including their "refreshments," meaning certainly the beer and, in some cases, drugs used to intoxicate the killers before an attack. The funds were meant also to buy traditional weapons and communications equipment and to pay the costs of transporting the militia (gasoline and the maintenance of vehicles) to the sites of their "operations."67 The need for "refreshments" was so important that the prefect of Kibuye requested a police escort for a boat bringing beer from the BRALIRWA brewery in Gisenyi to remedy "the scarcity of drinks" in his prefecture.68 Before money became available through the fund, administrators were forced to find resources themselves to pay the costs of keeping militia active. The prefect of Kibuye emptied the MRND youth fund to pay transportation costs and the burgomaster of Taba used funds of the commune to buy food and beer for militia.69

In addition to responding rapidly to the solicitation of money for the civil defense fund, university staff in Butare shared ideas with both Kabuga's group and the interim government. In an April 18 press release, the "intellectuals of Butare" laid out a justification for the genocide that would be exploited by delegations sent abroad the following week. They blamed the RPF for having refused a cease-fire and for having thus obliged Rwandan troops to remain at the front instead of going to save Tutsi. At a meeting arranged by Vice-rector Nshimyumuremyi in mid-May, interim Prime Minister Kambanda thanked the intellectuals of the university for the ideas and other support they had provided in the past. In the discussion that followed, speakers repeated some of the ideas enunciated by Kabuga on April 26:the importance of a rapid media response to RPF charges against the government, the usefulness of accusing Uganda and Belgium of supporting the RPF, and the need for civilians to help the army fight the war. These same ideas had appeared in a press release on May 10 by the Groupe de Rwandais Défenseurs des intêrets de la Nation and would be discussed at a later meeting of this group and another at the university, Le Cercle des Republicains Universitaires de Butare.70

The Clergy

Within the first twenty-four hours after the plane crash, it was clear that Tutsi clergy would be killed like any other Tutsi and, a day after that, it was evident that the churches would be desecrated by slaughter carried out at the very altar. Still, four days later, the Catholic bishops promised their "support to the new government." They asked all Rwandans to "respond favorably to calls" from the new authorities and to help them realize the goals they had set, including the return of peace and security. The bishops balanced the statement with a denunciation of troublemakers and a request to the armed forces to protect everyone, regardless of ethnic group, party or region.71 The statement was issued from the Vatican, where the first synod of African bishops was beginning. The Rwandan bishops had been scheduled to attend, but did not leave Rwanda because of the onset of violence.

As the slaughter continued, the bishops reportedly felt the need to temper their early support of the government with criticism but were not allowed to broadcast such a firm statement.72 On April 17, the bishops spoke again, but only to call for an end to bloodshed for which they held both the RPF and the government responsible. It was only a month later that four Catholic bishops, the Anglican archbishop and other Protestant clergy took a stronger position, urging an end to the war, massacres and assassinations. They "condemned all scandalous acts" and,without explicitly denouncing the genocide, asked all Christians to refuse to kill.73 With the hierarchy slow to take a clear stand against the genocide, many local clergy, both Catholic and Protestant, gave tacit approval to the slaughter by participating in security committee meetings.

By not issuing a prompt, firm condemnation of the killing campaign, church authorities left the way clear for officials, politicians, and propagandists to assert that the slaughter actually met with God's favor. Sindikubwabo finished a speech by assuring his listeners that God would help them in confronting the "enemy."74 RTLM announcer Bemeriki maintained that the Virgin Mary, said to appear from time to time at Kibeho church, had declared that "we will have the victory." In the same vein, the announcer Habimana said of the Tutsi, "Even God himself has dropped them."75

Far from condemning the attempt to exterminate the Tutsi, Archbishop Augustin Nshamihigo and Bishop Jonathan Ruhumuliza of the Anglican Church acted as spokemen for the genocidal government at a press conference in Nairobi. Like many who tried to explain away the slaughter, they placed the blame for the genocide on the RPF because it had attacked Rwanda. Foreign journalists were so disgusted at this presentation that they left the conference.76

Some clergy who might have been able to save lives refused to even try to do so. On April 15 Abbé Pierre Ngoga, who had fled the Kibeho church after soldiers and local people had begun massacring thousands of Tutsi there, called the Bishop of Gikongoro. Abbé Ngoga asked him to rescue the Tutsi who had survived and faced renewed attack. The bishop reportedly refused to help, saying that he had no soldiers to accompany him to Kibeho and that the Tutsi had been attacked because they had arms with them.77

Some clergy, Rwandan and foreign, turned away Tutsi who sought their protection, whether from fear, from misjudgment of the consequences of their action, or from desire to see them killed.78 In other cases, the clergy protected most who sought refuge with them, but nonetheless sacrificed others. At the large Catholic church center at Kabgayi, some 30,000 refugees gathered under the protection of the Archbishop of Kigali, two bishops, and many clergy. Of that number, about 25,000 were Tutsi, 1,500 of whom would be extracted in small groups from the camps and killed during the course of the genocide. In some cases, burgomasters or militia leaders arrived to collect individuals from their communes to take them home to be killed. In other cases, militia, soldiers, and National Police passed through the crowds and chose persons to execute because they looked like members of the elite. They also took women to rape and sometimes to kill afterwards. Shortly before the arrival of the RPF, four soldiers and five militia members presented the archbishop with a list of names of clergy and lay people whom they were seeking because they had links with the "enemy." The archbishop stood aside and allowed the squad to search the rooms. The killers departed several hours later with sixteen persons, seven religious brothers, four priests, one religious sister, and four lay persons. The nun, Sister Benigna, an older Hutu who was known throughout the region for her work with single mothers and orphans, was apparently battered to death with a hammer. Her body was found in the woods next to the church center.79

A small number of clergy and other religious persons have been accused of having incited genocide, delivered victims to the killers or even of having killed themselves. Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana has been indicted before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in connection with the massacre at Mugonero and Abbé Wenceslas Munyeshyaka of the Sainte Famille Church in Kigali has been charged in France with torture. Two Rwandan priests have been found guilty of genocide and condemned to death by a Rwandan court.

Despite the silence of many clergy, some did defend Tutsi, even at the risk of their own lives. Bishop Frédéric Rubwejanga went to the local military camp to ask protection for Tutsi attacked at the St. Joseph center in Kibungo, as describedbelow. Mgr. Thaddée Ntihinyurwa of Cyangugu preached against the killing of civilians on April 10 and went to Nyamasheke when he learned that Tutsi in the church were under attack. When he returned to the town of Cyangugu the next day, he tried to evacuate Tutsi religious brothers but was unable to protect them from militia who stopped the cars on the road. The three brothers were killed before his eyes.80

One of the most courageous examples of opposition to the genocide was that of Felicitas Niyitegeka of the religious congregation of the Auxiliaires de l'Apostolat. A Hutu, she had given shelter to many Tutsi in Gisenyi since the start of the genocide and had helped them across the border to Zaire. Her brother, Col. Alphonse Nzungize, who commanded the nearby Bigogwe military camp, heard that she was threatened with death for her work and asked her to give it up. She refused. On April 21 she was taken to a cemetery for execution with forty-three persons, including other religious sisters and Tutsi who had sought refuge with them. Once there, militia members who feared retaliation from her brother offered her the chance to leave. She refused to abandon the others. They repeated the offer after they had slain thirty people. She still refused and was shot and thrown naked with the others into the common grave. When her brother heard the news, he went to find her body and had it dressed and properly buried.81

The Radio: Voice of the Campaign

Throughout the genocide, Radio Rwanda and RTLM continued to broadcast both incitations to slaughter and the directions on how to carry it out. Authorities knew that they could reach a far wider audience through the radio than through popular meetings and so told people that they should listen to the radio to know what was expected of them. The burgomaster of Bwakira commune, for example, reminded people that they "have to follow all orders transmitted in meetings or onthe radio."82 Radio Rwanda also alerted listeners that heads of political parties would use the airwaves to "send messages to their members concerning how they should behave during these times when all of us should be alert and protect the sovereignty of our country."83 Repeatedly authorities used the radio to caution against "infiltrators" who were said to be coming to kill Hutu and to ask the population to be vigilant in watching out for them.84

On April 12, the same day when Karamira and the Ministry of Defense used the radio to make clear that Tutsi were the target of killing, Prefect Renzaho used Radio Rwanda to give detailed instructions about where to look for them:

    ...we ask that people do patrols [amarondo], as they are used to doing, in their neighborhoods. They must close ranks, remember how to use their usual tools [i.e., weapons] and defend themselves...I would also ask that each neighborhood try to organize itself to do communal work [umuganda] to clear the brush, to search houses, beginning with those that are abandoned, to search the marshes of the area to be sure that no inyenzi have slipped in to hide themselves there...so they should cut this brush, search the drains and ditches...put up barriers and guard them, chosing reliable people to do this, who have what they need...so that nothing can escape them.85

Authorities used the radio to recall retired soldiers to active duty and to summon the personnel needed for special tasks, such as the drivers of bulldozerswho were urgently called to Kigali prefecture, presumably to help in digging trenches to dispose of bodies.86

Throughout the genocide, RTLM continued its informal, spontaneous style, with announcers recounting what they had seen on their walks around Kigali. The radio made the war immediate for people distant from the front: listeners could hear the explosions of mortars being shot at RTLM. So lively was the wit of the announcers that even wounded RPF soldiers listened to RTLM from their hospital beds. The station carried not just the rhetoric of politicians but also the voice of the ordinary people who took time off from their work on the barriers to say hello to their families back home. The consistency of the message, delivered by the man in the street as well as by ministers and political leaders, increased its impact on listeners. They were convinced by hearing one of the "abaturage," the masses, declare that a person who could not present the right identity card at a barrier should "maybe lose his head there."87

The announcers replayed all the now familiar messages of hate: the inherent differences between Hutu and Tutsi, the numerical superiority of the Hutu – the rubanda nyamwinshi, the majority people – the cleverness of the Tutsi in infiltration, their cruelty, their cohesiveness, their intention to restore past repression, the risk they posed to the gains of the 1959 revolution, and, above all, their plan to exterminate the Hutu. Such messages concluded with calls to action, like the following by Kantano Habimana: "Fight them with the weapons that you have at hand, you have arrows, you have spears...go after those inkotanyi, blood flows in their veins as it does in yours...." One RTLM announcer promised that a "shining day" would dawn when there would be not a single Inyenzi left in the country and the word could be forgotten.88

The radio castigated those who failed to participate enthusiastically in the hunt. One listener remembers RTLM saying:

    All who try to protect themselves by sympathizing with both sides, they are traitors. It is they who tell a lot to the Inyenzi-Inkotanyi. It is they whom we call accomplices [ibyitso]. They will pay for what they have done.89

Disseminating the message that "there is no place for moderates," RTLM heaped scorn on those who refused to participate:

    The inhabitants of certain sectors don't dare search! They say that the houses are occupied and that their owners are shut up inside them; they don't dare search even in the banana groves!90

They warned that those who refused to search could expect sanctions and they cautioned that those who deserted the barriers could expect severe punishment, just as did soldiers who deserted the battlefront.91

RTLM occasionally went beyond government policy. While officials and political leaders were directing militia to follow the lead of the army and not get ahead of the professionals, RTLM exhorted the people of Rubungo commune to attack on their own. It urged them:

    Courage! Don't wait for the armed forces to intervene. Act fast and don't allow these enemies to continue their advance! If you wait for the authorities, that's your problem. They are not the ones who are going to look out for your houses during the night! You must defend yourselves.92

RTLM announcer Kantano Habimana even dared criticize the interim government for its decision to withdraw to Gitarama. He asked when these authorities would return to Kigali to support the population and the soldiers and he hoped, "that they aren't spending their time, sitting inside, receiving their friends...." Instead theyshould "go out on the hills...to support the people, to teach them how to dodge the inkotanyi, how to cut them off, how to kill them with spears...."93

Deception, Pretext, and Pretense

Authorities, military, administrative, and political, engaged in deception with three objectives in mind: they wanted to confuse foreigners in order to avoid criticism and perhaps even to win support; they wanted to mislead Tutsi to make it easier to kill them; and they wanted to manipulate Hutu into participating energetically in the genocidal program. Sometimes a given strategem served more than one purpose and misled two or even all three target audiences at once. The whole effort of deception was remarkably coherent, with diplomats abroad proclaiming the same lies as those told at home and with officials and politicians using the same pretenses in widely separated communities at the same time.

Just as the organizers used genocide to wage war, so they used the war to cover the genocide. Whether speaking in foreign capitals or at sector meetings out on the Rwandan hills, representatives of the interim government always began with a reminder that the RPF had invaded Rwanda in 1990 and from that deduced that the RPF was responsible for all subsequent developments, including the massive killing of Tutsi by Hutu. Without hesitation, they blamed the assassination of Habyarimana on the RPF, making it an illustration of the larger theme of Tutsi aggression and ruthlessness.

In early April, Sindikubwabo described the violence as a spontaneous outburst of rage sparked by "sorrow and aggressive feelings of frustration" after the assassination.94 Kambanda explained that Habyarimana was "not an ordinary man, not a man like any other," and asserted that his killing created "a certain frustration among people, a certain vague anger that made it impossible for people to keep control after the death of the head of state."95 The excuse of "spontaneous anger" echoed the attempts at justification during the Habyarimana period when authorities attributed killings of Tutsi to uncontrollable popular wrath.

The pretext of popular anger was meant not just to confuse foreigners about the organized and systematic nature of the violence, but also to encourage Rwandans to feel justified in participating in it. According to witnesses, many assailants declared during attacks that Tutsi deserved to die because the Inyenzi hadkilled the president. After the militia leader, Cyasa Habimana, led the slaughter of some 1,000 persons at the Saint Joseph center in Kibungo, the bishop confronted him to ask why he had killed. The militia leader pointed to the portrait pin of Habyarimana that he wore on his chest and said, "They killed him."96 In the days just after the plane crash, many Rwandans in the MDR stronghold of Gitarama prefecture began wearing such portrait pins, which had not been seen in the region since the end of the MRND monopoly of power in 1991. The widespread appearance of the pins demonstrated the success of the campaign to make a martyr of the president.97

In another reprise from the Habyarimana years, authorities occasionally tried to shift the blame for violence from the guilty to someone else, even to the victims themselves. In the first days of the genocide, military authorities claimed that it was not soldiers of the Rwandan army but others wearing their uniforms who were slaughtering political leaders. When they could not sustain this pretense, they assigned guilt to a few unruly elements who were said to have disobeyed orders. Later, RTLM announcer Bemeriki asserted that Interahamwe attacks on the Hotel des Mille Collines and the Sainte Famille church were carried out by "people disguised as Interahamwe." Soon after she claimed that Tutsi were responsible for burning their own houses as a way to trap and kill Hutu.98

Also familiar from the Habyarimana years was the claim that authorities were doing everything posssible to restore order. In speeches on April 13 and 14, Sindikubwabo even went so far as to assert that the "troubles and killings" had ended with the installation of his government. He later retreated to a position of claiming only that the government was there "to prevent the worst" and would work to see "that these troubles, murders, and thefts are ended in Rwanda once and for all." When Kambanda took office on April 9, he promised that the government "will do everything possible to restore peace as soon as possible, let us say within about two weeks." Whether coincidence or indication of prior planning, it wasfifteen days later that authorities began real efforts to make killing more circumspect.99

The "spontaneous anger" excuse became less plausible as the days passed and the killings continued, so authorities replaced it with the pretext of slaughter as "self-defense." On April 15, the foreign ministry directed Rwandan diplomats to inform the world that "the civilian population which rose as a single man...has greatly contributed to the security of persons and property as well as to exposing the FPR combatants who had infiltrated different parts of the city."100 On his tour abroad to explain the genocide, Mathieu Ngirumpatse would proclaim, "The population is trying to defend itself."101

Authorities and propagandists insisted that the war was present throughout the country, even if it were not apparent, and the enemy was everywhere, even if he were not obvious.102 Beginning on April 8, Bemeriki had cautioned that "Inkotanyi are now dispersing...spreading out amongst the inhabitants."103 Hitimana warned that "they are taking off for the hills...They know how to hide and reappear!"104 In another broadcast, RTLM declared that Inkotanyi were arriving "dressed as civilians and unarmed," leading listeners to believe that all who looked like the "enemy," i.e., Tutsi, should be considered RPF soldiers.105 As Bemerki exhorted on April 13,

    People have to look at who is next to them, look to see if they are not plotting against them. Because those plotters are the worst. The people must rise up, so that the plotters will be exposed, it is not hard to see if someone is plotting against you...106

On April 17, MDR leader Karamira informed Radio Rwanda listeners that the RPF soldier "is not a soldier in any obvious way..." He added that many "are not in uniform and are hidden among the people..."107 In mid-April, the radio intensified this campaign by reporting that not only individual Tutsi but also organized RPF brigades were operating throughout the country and were responsible for alleged attacks, such as on the burgomaster of Runda.108

The "enemy" who was everywhere was extraordinarily cruel, according to the propagandists. Announcers on RTLM frequently reminded listeners of the dozens killed at Kirambo the previous November and insisted that the RPF had committed that massacre. Bemeriki charged the RPF with cannibalism, saying they killed people by dissecting them and cutting out their hearts, livers, and stomachs.109 On the air and in public meetings, officials and political leaders also contributed to this sense of a people besieged by a heartless enemy. In an April 15 broadcast, the minister of defense charged the RPF with "extreme cruelty," saying that it had massacred 20,000 people and had burned people with gasoline at Nyamirambo in Kigali.110

To make the need for "self-defense" seem more pressing, RTLM and Radio Rwanda announcers broadcast false news reports of Belgian or other Europeanassistance to the RPF or of invasions being planned or actually under way by troops from Uganda or Burundi.111

Like the "spontaneous anger" justification, this effort at legitimating violence through "self-defense" was meant both to quiet foreign critics and to incite Hutu to kill more. When the propagandist who disseminated his summary of the work of Mucchielli wrote about "accusations in a mirror," he recommended that adversaries be accused of terrorism because "honest people" will take action if they believe they are legitimately defending themselves.112 Officials and propagandists alike encouraged Hutu to feel righteous anger at the Tutsi and to give "them the punishment they deserve."113

Local authorities invoked several kinds of "proof" to convince Hutu that Tutsi were planning to attack them and hence should be killed first. Both the practice of presenting such "evidence" and the kinds of "evidence" presented were remarkably uniform throughout the country, indicating the central direction to the deception. They also echoed the strategems of the Habyarimana years. In some cases, the "proof" was a local replay of the nationally-broadcast scenario of Hutu being attacked. In Huye commune near Butare, Tutsi were said to have attacked a soldier. In the town of Butare itself, Tutsi were said to be preparing to kill Hutu. In Kibuye, the rumor circulated that the RPF would launch a helicopter strike to free Tutsi in the stadium.114

A still more widely used "proof" of Tutsi guilt was the supposed possession of arms. At the western most reaches of Rwanda, the first Tutsi killed in Kibuye town was accused of having grenades stored in his toilet and Pastor Ezekiel Semugeshi was accused of having arms and Inkotanyi at his home in Mugonero. In Kibungo, all the way to the east, soldiers showed the bishop four gunssupposedly found in a hedge next to the church to justify their slaughter of the Tutsi who had sought shelter there. In the north, at the parish church of Gisenyi, Abbé Ntagara was accused by RTLM of having "replaced the communion hosts with ammunition." And in the south, Tutsi were accused of having arms at Kibeho church.115

Authorities also discredited Tutsi by reporting that they possessed suspicious documents, ordinarily lists of Hutu to be killed, but alternatively records of RPF meetings or of dues collected for the RPF, maps with houses marked for attack, letters supposedly from RPF members, or diagrams showing how land was to be redistributed in the community once all the Hutu were eliminated. Just as some authorities displayed arms supposedly found in searches, so others produced actual pieces of paper to add credibility to the charges. The prefect of Kibuye kept examples of such suspicious papers to show to foreign visitors in an effort to legitimate the killing that had taken place in his prefecture.116 Militia at a barrier in Kigali asserted that a newspaper containing a letter from RPF president Alexis Kanyarengwe was proof that the person in whose house it had been found was in communication with the RPF.117 Echoing the speech by Léon Mugesera in November 1992, as well as many subsequent similar statements, some local authorities charged families with having sent their children to join the RPF. They also leveled other accusations that had been heard in prior years: that the Tutsi were holding secret meetings, that they had radio equipment for contacting the RPF, and that they had traveled abroad recently. Some said the very flight of Tutsi to churches and other places of refuge showed that they planned some terrible crime and wished to be clear of the scene before the plot was put into operation.

In some instances, Tutsi did have arms or were assisting the RPF, and authorities did have real evidence of their actions. But the cases were few and instead of dealing with them responsibly, officials exaggerated their importance and used them to cast suspicion upon all Tutsi.

Officials and political leaders used some of the same "proofs" as pretexts for attacking Hutu opposed to them, but more often they charged them with hiding Tutsi. They also accused them of having changed their identity from Tutsi to Hutu.

The "intellectuals" of Butare discussed the need for "uniformity and harmony" of language at two meetings that they held during the genocide.118 In official statements made at meetings, in correspondence among administrators and politicians, and in radio broadcasts, this "uniformity and harmony" prevailed and in the vocabulary used even long after the fact by participants, it still prevails. Some ordinary words carry a special meaning, like "to work," which appears frequently and almost casually, meaning to kill Tutsi and their Hutu supporters. The word refers back to the 1959 revolution and its violence against Tutsi, a link indicated in phrases that advocate "finishing the work of the revolution." "Work" requires "tools," that is, firearms, machetes, clubs, spears. In a report on security meetings that he conducted, one sub-prefect declares that he made people understand what they needed to do for their own welfare. In parentheses he adds, "to work."119

Always using the war to cover the genocide, authorities refer to massacres as "battles" and to the genocide as "interethnic fighting." The enemy was the Tutsi. Such was the message of the street song, but it was rarely stated openly. Instead Tutsi were described as "accomplices," "infiltrators," "Inyenzi," "Inkotanyi" and "the minority." The Hutu were called "the great mass" (the rubanda nyamwinshi) or "the majority people" and "the innocent," meaning the innocent victims of the Tutsi aggressors. Officials also spoke of "the Rwandans," when they clearly meant only Hutu, thus reinforcing the belief that Tutsi were alien. The interim government repeatedly announced that it intended to ensure security, peace, and the protection of property, but they meant those benefits only for the Hutu, not for all Rwandans.

Authorities issued statements carrying a double message, knowing that Rwandans would be able to decipher their real meaning. In an April 14 speech that is a model of ambiguity, Sindikubwabo began by preaching the need for "peace in the hearts of our citizens so that they will be tolerant of each other and pardon each other." He directed them to "keep calm, to forget all feelings of anger, hatred or vengeance." But then he insisted that people must collaborate with the government in "denouncing any person who still has the evil intention of making us return tothe situations of the past," a phrase that could refer only to Tutsi. He returned to the more benign mode to counsel good behavior so that no one would be unjustly injured. Then, immediately after, he switched to the attack again: "On the other hand, point out [enemies] and alert the army and security authorities, do patrols...."120 In a similarly ambiguous statement on April 15, the minister of defense urged listeners to work with the army to put the enemy "to flight and exterminate [kumulimbura] him wherever he is" but also stated that "we cannot permit the people to begin killing each other."121 A week later, Kalimanzira of the Ministry of Interior ordered prefects to "Make people aware of the need to continue to hunt the enemy wherever he is...[but] without doing harm to the innocent."122

The deceptions in language were echoed and intensified by the deceptions in action, such as the pretense of providing police protection to sites where Tutsi had taken refuge. On a number of occasions, authorities or political leaders used promises to lure Tutsi into situations where they could be attacked: in Musebeya, it was the assurance of transport home; in Muko, it was the guarantee of a ride to the Kaduha church; and at Mugonero, it was the promise of protection by U.S. forces who were said to have arrived in the area. A councilor in the Kicukiro commune, Kigali, offered to hide Tutsi, then reportedly put them in a truck and delivered them to militia. Busloads of displaced persons were transported by order of the prefect of Cyangugu from the stadium to a camp at Nyarushishi. En route, one bus took another route and all the persons on it were killed.123

In other cases, those who had escaped death by flight and hiding were summoned to return home, by drum, voice or loudspeaker. The authorities assured them that the killing was finished. When they came out, they were set upon and slain. In a variant of that deception, survivors were told that the killing was over at the end of an attack, only to see the killers reappear later to finish off those whowere still alive.124 After the previously mentioned massacre at the Kibungo bishopric, the leaders of the attack assured the bishop that the survivors would be permitted to live. The militia had even delivered survivors of other attacks to the Saint Joseph center to receive medical care. At the Kibungo military camp three days later, the bishop raised the issue and was again told by Colonel Nkuliyekubona, the camp commander, Colonel Rwagafilita of the akazu, and the local militia leader Cyasa Habimana that the survivors would not be harmed. He returned directly to the bishopric several kilometers away and found that, in his brief absence, the survivors had been loaded into a truck and taken to a large mass grave near the hospital. There the survivors – more than half of them children – were slain and buried or buried alive. The bishop returned to the camp to confront the three leaders. The two colonels seemed to indicate that it was the militia leader who was responsible, but they made no move to arrest him or otherwise hold him accountable for the massacre.125

Deception was central to the genocide. Without being persuaded that the war was in every community, no matter how far from the line of battle, and without believing that all Tutsi – whether strangers on the road or neighbors known for a lifetime – were enemies, some people would have found it harder to transform their Hutu Power beliefs into deadly action.

Popular Participation

When the national authorities ordered the extermination of Tutsi, tens of thousands of Hutu responded quickly, ruthlessly and persistently. They killed without scruple and sometimes with pleasure. They jogged through the streets of Kigali chanting, "Let's exterminate them all." They marched through the streets of Butare town shouting "Power, Power." They returned from raids in Kibuye singing that the only enemy was the Tutsi. They boasted about their murders to each other and to the people whom they intended to kill next.

Many of these zealous killers were poor, drawn from a population 86 percent of whom lived in poverty, the highest percentage in the world.126 They included many young men who had hung out on the streets of Kigali or smaller commercial centers, with little prospect of obtaining either the land or the jobs needed to marry and raise families. They included too thousands of the displaced who focused their fear and anger on the RPF and defined that group to include all Tutsi. As Bagosora and Nahimana had anticipated, young men from the camps were easily enlisted in the "self-defense" effort. Convinced partisans of the MRND or the CDR, particularly those from the northwest who had grown up hearing accounts of Tutsi oppression and who had little contact with Tutsi in their daily lives, constituted another important pool of assailants.

Many refugees from Burundi, who transferred their anger from their Tutsi-dominated government at home to the Tutsi of Rwanda, also rushed to join the killing campaign. They had been trained at some camps by Rwandan soldiers and militia since late 1993 and were prepared to strike. Refugees from Gisali camp in Ntongwe commune launched attacks on Tutsi in the vicinity, while others killed at Gashora commune in Kigali, at Mugina in Gitarama, at Nshili in Gikongoro, and at Nyakizu, Muyaga, Mugusa, and Butare town in Butare.127

Some Rwandans, previously scorned in their communities, seized on the genocide as an opportunity to gain stature as well as wealth. Using their physical strength, their fighting skills, or their knowledge of weapons, men generally regarded as thugs organized bands to serve as ready-made militia to exterminate Tutsi. Women and children sometimes joined in pillaging or destroying property. Less often they too injured or killed Tutsi. As one UNAMIR officer remarked, "I had seen war before, but I had never seen a woman carrying a baby on her back kill another woman with a baby on her back."128

Not all killers were poor and living in misery. The authorities who directed the genocide constituted a substantial part of the Rwandan elite, vastly richer and better established than the masses – whether participants or victims.

Nor were all the poor killers. Some refused to attack Tutsi, even when offered the prospect of pillage or the chance to acquire land that might provide security for their families. The people of Butare, arguably the poorest and most over-populated prefecture, were the last to join the killing campaign. Those who initially rejected violence wanted only to get on with their own lives. They hoped mostly for an end to war and the seemingly interminable political squabbles of the elite.

Some who refused at the start became convinced to act when all authorities seemed to speak with one voice, when the leaders of their parties joined with administrators to demand their participation and when the military stood behind, ready to intimidate those who hesitated. At this point, the hesitant accepted the deceptions of the supposedly legitimate officials and hid behind them to commit crimes unthinkable in ordinary circumstances.

Unlike the zealous assailants, the reluctant set limits to their participation: they might massacre strangers in churches or at barriers, knowing only that they were Tutsi, and refuse to attack neighbors, knowing that they were Tutsi but knowing also that they were not enemies. They might agree to pillage a Tutsi envied for his wealth and refuse to burn the house of a poor widow; they might join in killing a young man who loudly proclaimed his loyalty to the RPF but refuse to slay an infant. Some became more hardened with experience and learned how to slaughter even those whom they had once refused to harm; others went the other way, apparently swept up by fear or greed in the first days of slaughter, they were later repelled by the efforts to exterminate even the vulnerable.

Tens of thousands of Hutu refused to join the killing campaign and saved Tutsi lives. Hundreds of thousands more disapproved of the genocide but did nothing to oppose it or to help its victims. They did not answer the call of the local cell leader but neither did they respond to the cries of Tutsi in distress. As one witness reported, "We closed the door and tried not to hear."129


In the first days of the genocide, its leaders rapidly rallied support among military, militia, and administrators who supported the MRND and the CDR. The next week, with the announcement on April 12 that Tutsi were the only enemy, they attracted increasing numbers of officials from MDR-Power and other parties to the killing campaign. But by mid-April, they still had not won the support of some influential military officers and administrators. The prefects of Butare and Gitarama and many of the burgomasters under their direction as well as isolated administrators elsewhere, like the burgomasters of Giti in Byumba and of Musebeya in Gikongoro, continued traveling through their regions to deter attacks, facing down crowds of assailants, and arresting the aggressors. In those areas, there were relatively few Tutsi killed before the interim government decided to extend the genocide.1

The leaders of the killing campaign had to invest considerable political and military resources to end opposition to the genocide and they did so, belying their assertion that they were trying to halt the slaughter. They killed or removed some of the dissenting soldiers and officials and intimidated others into compliance. They left other opponents of the slaughter in place, but destroyed their effectiveness – by bypassing them, by sapping their political control, or by withholding or withdrawing the military or police support they needed.

As they extended the slaughter, national leaders also sought to tighten control over it by formalizing the system of "civilian self-defense." They hoped to improve their image abroad by making the killing more discreet as well as to curb dissension among Hutu as they finished the "work" of eliminating Tutsi. As the number of Tutsi diminished, Hutu attacked each other over questions of property and power, often using the same accusations and deceptions against each other that they had been using against Tutsi. In the end, the leaders of the genocide failed in their goal of creating Hutu solidarity, which they had been ready to purchase at the cost of so many Tutsi lives.

The rapid advance of the RPF spurred some authorities to more frenetic killing but also showed others, officials and ordinarily people alike, the futility of trying to fight the war through the genocide. With the final victory of the RPF, the interim government fled to Zaire, leaving behind a people divided by fear and hatred as never before in their history.

Removing Dissenters

Ten days after the start of the genocide, leaders of the killing campaign had to contend with continuing opposition within Rwanda but faced no challenge from abroad to their policy. The evacuation of foreigners, begun a week before, had been concluded and the troops sent for that purpose had also left Rwanda without intervening in the slaughter. The Belgians had withdrawn their soldiers from the peacekeeping force and, at the end of its April 15 meeting, the Security Council was leaning towards a total recall of UNAMIR, although no decision had been made. The Rwandan ambassador to the U.N., a member of the Security Council at the time, no doubt promptly communicated the tenor of the debate to the interim government.2

The next morning, on April 16, the ministers – presumably assisted, as usual, by political leaders – felt sufficiently confident to move against opponents of the genocide. In the military domain, they removed Gatsinzi as chief of staff of the armed forces and named instead Col. Augustin Bizimungu, whom Bagosora had first proposed on April 6. They promoted Bizimungu to general and did the same with Gatsinzi and Rusatira, perhaps hoping in this way to win their support.3

The Ministry of Defense also recalled to active duty certain officers who had been obliged to retire sometime before, including Bagosora himself and Colonels Rwagafilita, Serubuga, and Gasake, all supporters of Bagosora. Gatsinzi signed the recall shortly before his removal and then tried to cancel it after learning that he could invalidate the order on a technicality. His radio announcement voiding the recall was apparently ignored.4

In the civilian sphere, the government on April 17 removed Prefect Jean-Baptiste Habyalimana of Butare who had been successfully opposing the killings. The radio had prepared public opinion for Habyalimana's removal by announcing earlier in the week that he had not attended the April 11 meeting of prefects, an unusual item to broadcast as part of the news and one which implied negligence on his part. Unlike Gatsinzi who lost his post but escaped with his life, the prefect of Butare was arrested and later summarily executed by soldiers or National Police.His family was slaughtered after his execution. Prefect Godefroid Ruzindana was also fired. He had tried to prevent slaughter in his prefecture of Kibungo, but had done so less successfully than Habyalimana, perhaps because important leaders like Colonel Rwagafilita had struck swiftly and ruthlessly after April 6. Ruzindana and his family were massacred while trying to flee.5

In naming candidates to replace these prefects and to fill vacant posts in the three northern prefectures, the government chose men whom they expected would support the genocidal program. François Karera, previously a sub-prefect, who was named to head the prefecture of Kigali, had no hesitation later in justifying the massacres to a New York Times reporter by saying that Tutsi were "originally bad." Another new prefect was Elie Nyirimbibi, the first member of the CDR ever to be given such a post.6

The interim government anounced Gatsinzi's removal on April 16 and the administrative changes on Sunday evening, the 17th. The dismissal of Habyalimana, the outstanding opponent of slaughter, was announced just after a presidential address to the nation about "pacification."

After having replaced Prefect Habyalimana, the interim government in May and June dismissed several dozen other administrators – prefects, sub-prefects, and burgomasters – and they permitted or encouraged local authorities to replace councilors and cell heads during these same months. By substituting apparently committed supporters of the genocide for those who did not back the program, they also warned others about the loss of post – and possibly life – that might result from continued opposition to the new power-holders.

At the same time the authorities showed their willingness to pay for collaboration, scarce though public funds were. At the end of April the interim government agreed to begin paying salaries to cell heads, local officials who had not previously been remunerated by the state and whose cooperation was important to the success of the killing campaign. In July, as the interim government was preparing to decamp to Zaire, the prefect of Kibuye sought to arrange for paymentsto communal youth organizers, who had apparently been actively supporting the genocidal program in the preceding months.7

Continued Conflicts Among the Military

With the beginning of the genocide, even Tutsi in the armed forces were accused of being ibyitso.Virtually no Tutsi had risen to command positions in the army, but a small number had become officers in the National Police. They, as well as Tutsi in the ranks, were targeted by fellow military and by militia. At barriers on the outskirts of Kigali, National Police were disarmed and killed by soldiers and militia because they were Tutsi – or thought to be Tutsi.8 Maj. François Kambanda, initially saved by Ndindiliyimana, was later killed by militia at Nyanza. Lieutenant Mpakaniye was shot on the parade ground in the military camp at Cyangugu, reportedly by Lt. Samuel Imanishimwe. Adjutant Karwanira was killed by a corporal from Gisenyi in the cafeteria of the National Police camp. The murderer then fled to the camp of the Presidential Guard, where soldiers at first protected him but eventually allowed the National Police to arrest him.9

Some military men, especially those from the south, had wives or other relatives who were Tutsi and they feared for the lives of these family members. Military men were supposedly not allowed to marry Tutsi women, but in fact some did so. Once the genocide began, National Policemen at Kacyiru camp in Kigali and soldiers at the Bigogwe camp in Gisenyi had to protect their Tutsi wives from local assailants. Soldiers and National Policemen moved Tutsi relatives and friends to military camps or National Police brigades in hopes they would be safe there.10 As the slaughter continued, many learned that relatives and friends had in fact been killed – not just those who were Tutsi, but also others who were mistaken for Tutsi or had tried to help Tutsi. Lieutenant Colonel Nzungize, commander of theBigogwe camp, had a grandson – Hutu like himself – slain in Gikongoro because he looked Tutsi. He also lost a sister, Felicitas Niyitegeka, who was killed, as described above, because she was rescuing Tutsi.11

Some soldiers and National Policemen showed their opposition to the genocide by trying to save lives. On April 7, Lieutenant Colonel Nzungize cooperated with Belgian soldiers, still present as part of a military assistance program, to bring to safety some 350 to 400 people. Other officers whose names are not known saved lives in the early days, including National Police lieutenants at Busogo and Nyamirambo, an army lieutenant at Nyundo, and an army major who protected people at the Institut Africain et Mauricien des Statistiques et d'Economie Appliquée outside Kigali. National Police Majors Jean-Baptiste Jabo at Kibuye and Cyriaque Habyarabatuma at Butare sought to prevent slaughter in areas under their jurisdiction. Lieutenant Colonel Bavugamenshi later protected thousands of Tutsi at a displaced persons camp in Cyangugu, as mentioned above. Major Jean-Baptiste Nsanzimfura was one of the gendarmes who protected Tutsi at churches and the Hotel Mille Collines in Kigali; he also rescued Tutsi who had hidden for weeks at the churches of Ruli and Rwankuba.12

Bagosora and his supporters tried to suppress dissent against himself and the program of slaughter. Lieutenant Colonel Bavugamenshi was attacked with a grenade and Major Augustin Cyiza was arrested and returned to Kigali in handcuffs when he tried to escort his family to safety elsewhere. Like Rusatira, they went into hiding for a week or more in the early days of the genocide. Major Habyarabatuma of the National Police in Butare was warned that Capt. Ildephonse Nizeyimana of the local military camp, was planning to kill him. As Bagosora's power increased, his supporters occasionally openly disobeyed and even insulted their superiors who were known to be opposed to the new authorities.13 When Rusatira summonedMajor Mpiranya, head of the Presidential Guard, in early April, he refused to come. Ndindiliyimana had an armored personnel carrier under his authority appropriated by a junior officer of the reconnaissance battalion. He protested to the chief of staff, but was unable to get the vehicle restored to his command.14

Throughout this period, the interim government frequently transferred troops, both units and individual officers, supposedly in response to the demands of the war. In some cases, these changes served to prevent the development of resistance to the new authorities and to advance the genocide. With thousands of combat troops at its disposal, the general staff transferred National Police under Majors Jean-Baptiste Jabo and Habyarabatuma to the battlefront, removing them from posts where they could have protected Tutsi from attack. In Gikongoro, the National Police commander, Maj. Christophe Bizimungu, who tried to restrain a subordinate who favored attacks against Tutsi, was replaced by an officer who made no effort to stop the killings.15

Although their position was clearly out of favor, some high-ranking officers persisted in trying to get an end to attacks on civilians. On April 16, Rusatira sought out interim Prime Minister Kambanda and Minister of Defense Bizimana at Murambi, in Gitarama prefecture, to tell them that the departure of the government from Kigali had spurred further violence, both in the capital and in Gitarama. He urged them to stop the killings.16 Six days later, on April 22, Rusatira came back again, this time accompanied by Ndindiliyimana, to try to convince officials of the interim government and political party leaders that the genocide was destroying the morale of the troops and could discredit Rwanda with foreign governments whose support was essential. In a meeting that reportedly included Kambanda and political leaders like Murego, Mugenzi, Karemera, and Shingiro, the officers argued that the slaughter was "a prelude to defeat." The politicians refused to heed their warnings. They insisted that the killings were "self-defense"and must continue. They reportedly declared that if soldiers refused to collaborate in the killing campaign, they had another way to carry it out.17

In mid-April, General Ndindiliyimana and Colonels Gatsinzi and Rusatira summoned Gaspard Gahigi of RTLM and Jean-François Nsengiyumva of Radio Rwanda to the military school in Kigali. The officers supposedly told them that the radios must stop calling for violence against Tutsi and discrediting military officers opposed to the genocide. Announcer George Ruggiu had questioned Rusatira's intentions in making frequent contacts with General Dallaire and another RTLM announcer incited militia to attack Ndindiliyimana by reporting that he was transporting RPF soldiers in his vehicle – for which the license plate number was given – when he was trying to help Tutsi escape. Major Habyarabatuma was also threatened on RTLM.18

Either the message was not clearly enough delivered or the propagandists of hate knew they were supported by other more powerful soldiers. Instead of tempering their calls for violence against Tutsi, the radios at about this time began broadcasting spurious reports that RPF brigades were threatening civilians in different parts of the country.19 Nor did they soften their stance on dissident military. Throughout the rest of the war RTLM continued to issue general warnings about military opposed to the interim government who were responsible, they said, for each loss by the government forces to the RPF.20

On April 29, the general staff of the army wrote to the minister of defense complaining that the National Police, which had been used in combat in Mutara and Kibungo, had been responsible for the defeats by the RPF in those regions. Officers of the National Police learned of the letter and suspected that some army officers intended to simply dissolve their force. Although no such step was taken,the incident contributed to hostile feelings between officers of the two services. RTLM exacerbated the ill-feeling by making derogatory comments about the National Police, who were thought too tolerant of Tutsi and southerners.21

Destroying Opposition in Gitarama

Among the opponents of genocide left in place after April 16 were the prefect, Fidele Uwizeye, and most of the burgomasters of Gitarama prefecture. The government may have retained these men because they feared alienating their party, the MDR, which was the predominant political organization in Gitarama, or because they expected to be able to oblige them to change their position. Over a period of several weeks officials, political leaders, the military, the militia, and the media worked together to force such a change.

As elsewhere in Rwanda, the MDR in Gitarama was divided between moderates and advocates of Hutu Power. In the first days of the genocide, not just the moderates, but even some of the MDR Power politicians refused to join the killing, believing that the MRND and the CDR had launched the violence simply to capture power for themselves.

When the people of Gitarama refused to attack Tutsi, MRND and CDR militia raided across the prefectural boundary, striking first and most vigorously from the city of Kigali and its periphery. Setiba, the Interahamwe leader whom UNAMIR police had been afraid to arrest and disarm the previous December, now put his weapons to good use. Supported by a few soldiers, he led his militia in attacks against the communes of Runda and Taba. The prefect complained about the raids to officials, including presumably Kalimanzira, who was acting for the minister of the interior, and to MRND leaders, but without result. Militia from communes of Kibuye, Gisenyi, and Ruhengeri prefectures also began crossing boundaries to raid and burn in Gitarama. These incursions were intended both to kill Tutsi and to force hitherto inactive Hutu to join in the attacks.22

Uwizeye organized his burgomasters to defend the prefecture. Under the direction of local officials, Hutu and Tutsi fought together to drive off the assailants and killed a number of them. In communes further from prefectural boundaries, like Nyamabuye, where attacks from outside the prefecture were less of a problem, burgomasters successfully opposed the efforts of local troublemakers to begin the killing campaign. Uwizeye and several of his burgomasters also prohibitedestablishing barriers, although RTLM was encouraging people to do so. Some burgomasters, like the one of Nyamabuye, discouraged people from even listening to RTLM.23

When the interim government moved its headquarters to a training school in Murambi on April 12, it brought the political, military, and administrative leaders of the genocide into the heart of Gitarama prefecture, just a few miles from the prefectural offices. In later testimony before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the man who had been burgomaster of Nyamabuye was asked if it would have been possible to prevent killings in his commune if the national government had not relocated to Gitarama. He responded:

    Yes, it is possible if other people – if other forces did not come from outside to come back – to fight against what the burgomaster was doing in his commune. I believe that if the government had not come into Gitarama prefecture with many soldiers and Interahamwe, it would have been possible.24

Elsewhere in his testimony, the former burgomaster remarked:

    The Presidential Guard and the Interahamwe who were present in Gitarama were moving within the country, talking to the population, teaching the ideology of killing, of massacres. They incited the population to hate the local authority by saying that those who did not kill the Tutsi were accomplices of the Inkotanyi.25

The same day that the government moved to Gitarama, MDR-Power leader Karamira had exhorted MDR supporters to collaborate with the MRND and the CDR in fighting the common enemy. The MRND minister of youth and cooperatives, Callixte Nzabonimana, himself from Gitarama, brought the message home even more dramatically. He freed men arrested by the burgomaster of Rutobwe for having slaughtered Tutsi cattle and publicly slapped the burgomaster for refusing to join the killing campaign. Nzabonimana also addressed a largepublic meeting near the church of Kivumu, where "he asked the local population why they had not done their 'work'" and suggested that the Tutsi cattle were just waiting to be eaten.26

Hundreds of militia – perhaps somewhat more than a thousand – followed the interim government from Kigali to Gitarama, where they took up residence in schools in Runda and Taba. Now inside the prefecture, they were better placed to reinforce directives from the national leaders. They forced the burgomasters of Kayenzi, Mugina, Musambira, and Taba to flee their communes briefly. One of the Interahamwe shot at the burgomaster of Taba and killed the communal policeman who was accompanying him. Later, another man stabbed a communal policeman in Taba and then joined the Interahamwe for protection. The burgomaster of Nyamabuye also recalled having been threatened by the Interahamwe.27 At a session of the International Tribunal he declared:

    I received messages saying that if I continued to protect people I would be killed. They also asked soldiers to shoot at me. They did in fact shoot at me but I was not struck by a bullet. They prevented me from driving about in the commune, and if I did, they would stop me at the roadblock....28

Prefect Uwizeye pleaded for reinforcements from the National Police, but was told that all were occupied at the front. The burgomaster of Nyamabuye later remarked that even had National Police been available, most of those stationed in Gitarama supported the slaughter and would not have tried to restore order. Uwizeye found few persons of stature ready to support his struggle to halt the genocide. One was Abbé André Sibomana, the highly respected editor of the widely-read journal Kinyamateka who managed to flee to Gitarama from Kigali,where militia had been looking for him. Sibomana met with the prefect and encouraged his opposition to the killing.29

Early on Monday, April 18, the morning after Butare Prefect Habyalimana's replacement had been announced, Prefect Uwizeye called together the burgomasters and local party leaders and clergy to discuss the growing political and military pressure for genocide. When the interim prime minister heard of the planned meeting, he ordered the session moved from the prefectural center to Murambi. Uwizeye and his subordinates arrived there to find a group that reportedly included interim Prime Minister Kambanda, interim ministers Callixte Nzabonimana, André Rwamakuba, Dr. Straton Nsabumukunzi, Eliézer Niyitegeka, Jean de Dieu Habineza, and Justin Mugenzi as well as MDR-Power leaders Murego and Shingiro and MRND leader Edouard Karemera.30

The Gitarama prefect and his burgomasters asked the national authorities to begin restoring order by stopping the distribution of arms and by terminating incitements to slaughter by RTLM. They also asked members of the Presidential Guard to help end the violence. The interim prime minister failed to address the problem directly and replied instead with a cliché-ridden speech about national unity and the need to support the new government. When the prefect asked once more for concrete measures to help himself and his subordinates, the interim prime minister stepped aside to allow Hutu Power political leaders to deliver a more explicit response. They railed at the Gitarama officials for failing to support the militia who were protecting Rwanda against the enemy. According to the burgomaster of Nyamabuye, one of the MRND ministers denounced their opposition to genocide by saying

    that he knew very well that some of the commune leaders in Gitarama were Inkotanyi accomplices, and furthermore if these people continued to work in this manner, that there will be very serious consequences for them.31

Two of the burgomasters who attended the meeting subsequently told the International Tribunal that official authorities never directed them specifically to kill Tutsi. Rather they offered no assistance in putting down violence by militia and soldiers and they indicated that continuing to resist violence would have many costs and no rewards. Pressed on the question of whether they were given any directions about exterminating Tutsi, the burgomaster of Nyamabuye replied, "When you are threatened and somebody tells you that you are an Inkotanyi accomplice, it is the same as saying go on and do that."32 He related that the meeting ended inconclusively and that the participants, all frightened, returned home without discussing the session. Asked by one of the judges if such behavior after a meeting were normal, the burgomaster replied, "We were in an abnormal situation."33

The Gitarama officials understood the message and some responded to it promptly. According to the prosecutor and many witnesses at the International Tribunal, Jean-Paul Akayesu, the burgomaster of Taba, was one of those who changed from a protector to a killer of Tutsi immediately after the meeting of April 18.34 At about the same time that the interim government and national political leaders were applying pressure from above, Akayesu also had to contend with a challenge from newly-strengthened Interahamwe inside the commune. Silas Kubwimana, an honorary vice-president of the Interahamwe at the national level and a political rival of Akayesu, had left the commune some months before when Akayesu was powerful. Now he returned with the backing of the national Interahamwe leadership and with guns, grenades, and military uniforms to distribute to his followers. A former communal policeman testified at the International Tribunal that there were nine communal policemen armed with seven firearms in Taba at this time to face the far more numerous and well-armed militia.35 Akayesu maintains that Kubwimana effectively took over running the commune, directing killings, harassing opponents, and even appropriating a vehiclefrom the burgomaster. While not disputing that the Interahamwe leader played a role, the prosecutor and many witnesses conclude that Akayesu was not the frightened tool of Kubwimana, but his active partner.

According to Akayesu, he was also threatened by charges, made by RTLM and others, that he himself was Tutsi. The radio talked about his height and light, brown skin and warned listeners that he intended to "exterminate the Interahamwe." In addition, the burgomaster had to deal with large numbers of displaced persons, including many originally from Byumba, who were pushed south by the fighting in and around Kigali. Embittered by their long months of misery, they swelled the numbers of persons ready to kill Tutsi. Akayesu told the International Tribunal of one case where he had supposedly attempted to save a Tutsi woman from a crowd of displaced persons. The sub-prefect of Byumba who was with the crowd told him it was no use even to try to defend her. As if to prove his colleague's good intentions, Akayesu reported that the sub-prefect had bought her a soda even if he did not save her from the assailants who presumably finally killed her.36

In other communes as well, RTLM hammered home the risks of continued dissent while militia multiplied their attacks. RTLM encouraged militia to strike in the commune of Mukingi, broadcasting: "All the enemies have gone to hide at Mukingi."37 The burgomaster who had at first saved Tutsi by transporting them to the church center at Kabgayi lost heart under such attacks, particularly after he tried to get help from the National Police and was refused. In addition, a person of national importance mobilized killers inside the commune, playing a role much like that of Kubwimana in Taba. Lt. Col. Aloys Simba, a well known military and political figure, organized young men from the Byimana commercial center to attack the Tutsi who had taken shelter in the schools and communal office of Mukingi. He distributed large quantities of beer as a reward. Under these pressures, the burgomaster reportedly gave up trying to quell the attacks.38

Before April 18, Justin Nyandwi, burgomaster of Musambira, also opposed Hutu Power and the violence it espoused. On a trip into the city of Kigali, he encountered Rose Karushara, councilor of Kimisigara and a supporter of the killing campaign. She reportedly directed her Interahamwe to attack him and the three communal police who accompanied him, but they were saved by the intervention of Major Nyamuhimba of the National Police. On April 14, RTLM increased thepressure on Nyandwi by naming him as an opponent of the massacres. On April 20, a group of Interahamwe came in a pickup truck to attack him at home, but he escaped death and temporarily fled the commune. A survivor from his commune described him as a good man who was finally overwhelmed by the forces against him. Although he gave up his opposition to the genocide, he still failed to satisfy the interim government, which replaced him with MRND leader Abdelrahman Iyakaremye, who was committed to carrying out the genocide promptly and thoroughly.39

The burgomaster of Nyamabuye, although subjected to the same pressures as the others, says that he continued to protect Tutsi, by taking them to safety at Kabgayi, by dissuading local people from attacking the camps where they had sought refuge, and by providing them with needed documents. Instead of carrying out these activities openly as he had before April 18, however, he worked at night to avoid being seen by Presidential Guards. He continued going around the commune out in the countryside, but he avoided the town where soldiers were more likely to be found and, he said, "I tried to not go where the Interahamwe were."40 He was supported by some – although not all – of the communal police and with their backing he could rescue people from barriers provided the guards were not soldiers and were not armed. But if he encountered soldiers or armed militia, neither his authority nor the guns of the local police were enough to obtain the release of the persons being held. Instead, he told the court,

    ...we had recourse to all the means. Sometimes we would give them money to buy beer, or we would tell them that we are going to take these people to the highest authority. We used all other means like that.41

The burgomaster of Mugina commune, Callixte Ndagijimana persisted in trying to protect Tutsi even at the cost of his own life. After the April 18 meeting, the six National Police who had been assigned to help him in the commune were recalled. For two days more he kept on opposing the killings and organizing transport for Tutsi to Kabgayi. On April 20, the same day that the burgomaster of neighboring Musambira was attacked, Interahamwe from Kigali invaded Muginaand murdered Ndagijimana. With the chief resister against the genocide removed, a local judge came to the market the next day to get the killing started. The soldiers accompanying him fired their guns in the air and then told the crowd, "We want you to destroy Tutsi houses and kill Tutsi."42 In the next days, local people, who had earlier refused to kill, began to join the slaughter. Led by Burundian refugees from a nearby camp, they massacred an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 people in their homes and in the parish church. The prefect managed to save 176 wounded survivors whom he had brought to the church center at Kabgayi.43

The prefect meanwhile sought to limit the violence by such measures as suspending the prefectural security committee, a step he took because he believed some members would use the committee to increase the slaughter. But he could not count on support from the National Police, not trusting them even to provide the guard for his own family. Instead he called on communal police from Nyamabuye for that duty. Nor did his own subordinates back his efforts to prevent the slaughter. In his estimation, five of six sub-prefects actively encouraged the killing. When confronted by determined killers like one lieutenant who reportedly slaughtered thirty-one people in the commune of Nyakabanda, the prefect could do little but complain to higher authorities. Finally convinced of the futility of continued opposition, Uwizeye fled west to Kibuye at the end of May. The interim government removed him from office and named Major Jean-Damascene Ukurukiyezu prefect of Gitarama.44

The combined pressure by political and military authorities, militia, and the radio succeeded in destroying open opposition to the interim government and its genocidal program in Gitarama. But the killing campaign failed to exterminate all the Tutsi of the region, in part because Hutu officials and ordinary people continued to aid Tutsi, even if only furtively, and in part because the rapid assemblage of thousands of Tutsi at Kabgayi created an agglomeration protected by its sheer size. From the start many Tutsi had fled spontaneously to the extensive grounds of the Catholic diocese at Kabgayi. Governmental authorities also encouraged and helped Tutsi to assemble there, some of them believing that peopleat risk were safer at Kabgayi than in their home communes, others because they understood that gathering Tutsi together was part of the genocidal plan. Military and militia never launched an open assault on the extensive camps, but were preparing to do so when the RPF took Kabgayi in early June.45

The extension of the genocide in Gitarama was part of a larger campaign to spread the slaughter throughout the country. After having delivered the message to Prefect Uwizeye and his burgomasters, the interim authorities moved south to ensure that the killing campaign would be implemented in Butare and Gikongoro. Everywhere they went, their "pacification" visits sparked or increased the slaughter.

"The Population Is Trying to Defend Itself"

As political leaders extended the genocide by force into the center and south of the country, they also moved to tighten control over the whole killing campaign by establishing a formal structure for the "civilian self-defense" force. Proposed by AMASASU, sketched in Bagosora's appointment book, discussed by a committee of the Rwandan army on October 30, 1993 and again on March 30, 1994, the force had not been completely organized by early April. The basic plan of mobilizing civilians by administrative division and putting them under the command of retired soldiers or other military men had nonetheless been put quickly into effect, particularly during the early weeks of large-scale massacres. It was no doubt this force – which RTLM called "the real shield, the true army"46 – that politicians had been referring to when they told dissident military leaders that they had another way to execute the genocide if the regular soldiers refused to participate.47

The force was vigorous but needed greater discipline and organization. Having delivered a license to kill the "enemy," authorities found that some civilian executioners were deciding for themselves – on partisan or personal grounds – who was the "enemy." In some cases, the killers ignored the message that "there is one enemy and he is the Tutsi" and slaughtered other Hutu. On April 21, Kalimanzira of the Ministry of Interior directed prefects to ensure that people not kill others forreasons of "jealousy, hostility, or spirit of vengeance."48 National leaders worried not just that some Hutu were being killed, but also that some Tutsi were escaping death as local authorities and ordinary executioners yielded to entreaty or bribe. On RTLM Kantano Habimana railed against those who would allow Tutsi to buy back their lives, saying "If you are an inyenzi, well, then, you are an inyenzi; let them kill you, there is no way that you can buy yourself out of it."49

In communes where militia were already operating, the "civilian self-defense" program offered a way to expand them, to make them more legitimate, and, at the same time, to subject them to tighter control. As militia leaders told the press, their groups provided the elite striking force (fer de lance) of "civilian self-defense." They had been carrying out the same duties that were now assigned to the "civilian self-defense" groups: to assist regular troops in protecting the population and public property, to "obtain information on the enemy presence" in their communities, and to "denounce infiltrators and accomplices of the enemy."50 The training of the militia became the model for the "self-defense" groups, a brief program carried out by retired soldiers or others with military training. Once trained, "self-defense" recruits joined the militia at the barriers and on patrol. They sometimes went into actual combat together, as they did at Nyanza under Lieutenant Colonel Simba. Officials and administrators, Bagosora among them, recognized that militia and self-defense groups were essentially the same when they used one term for the other.51 In the order concerning the "self-defense fund" mentioned above, the minister of the interior specified "refreshments for the militia" and expenses for their transport to operations as legitimate uses for the money.52

Within a week of the plane crash and nearly two weeks before the formal announcement of "civilian self-defense," soldiers were teaching military skills to young men on the streets of Kigali.53 Soon after, authorities began recruiting new forces throughout the rest of the country. On April 21, for example, the army commander for Butare-Gikongoro asked local burgomasters to furnish recruits for the program.54

The authorities announced the new program on Radio Rwanda on April 26, explaining that it was necessary because "the war was being fought all over the country," but it was another month before the interim prime minister revealed the formal organizational plan. The structure was almost a parody of the Rwandan penchant for administrative complexity. It included supervisory committees at the national, prefectural, and communal and sectoral levels to facilitate collaboration between administrative, military, and political party authorities. In urban communes, the organization was carried down to the level of the cell. The duties of the committee members at each level echoed the division of tasks at the army general staff: a member in charge of personnel (G1 of the army), another in charge of intelligence and communication (G2), another responsible for operations (G3), and a fourth in charge of logistics and finance (G4). At the national level, the committee included eight designated members, chaired by the minister of the interior and including also the minister of defense and the army commander in chief. The officer in charge of operations was supposed to be a major and the one in charge of logistics and finance was required to have at least a bachelor's degree in economics or accounting. An "experienced" person was to be responsible for intelligence. At the prefectoral, communal, and sectoral level, elected councils were to oversee the corresponding supervisory committee. At the prefectoral level, retired soldiers, political party leaders, and the local military commander were also to monitor the work. Communal policemen and former soldiers were to train both the young recruits and the population in general about how to dig trenches, how to gather intelligence, and how to obtain necessary supplies. Although the programhad been publically announced, participants were to keep the details of its operation as secret as possible.55

In creating this system, the interim government added a fourth chain of command to the military, political, and administrative hierarchies that had henceforth executed the genocide. The new channel was to allow for more direct, efficient control over civilian assailants. The officers named to staff the program were a remarkably homogenous group, very like each other and very like Bagosora in age, background and, apparently, in political ideas. More likely to follow Bagosora's lead than the broader group of officers who had refused to allow him to take power on April 7 and 8, they were the ideal candidates to direct a paramilitary force that would implement his orders without question. The direction of the "civilian self defense" program was lodged in Bagosora's office at the Ministry of Defense.56

The commander at the national level was Colonel Gasake, who had temporarily replaced Nsabimana as chief of staff the year before. In 1993, Bagosora had already noted the possibility of using Gasake to head a propaganda campaign. The two men were apparently personal friends as well as colleagues. Among the regional commanders were Lieutenant Colonel Simba for Butare and Gikongoro, Colonel Rwagafilita for Kibungo, Maj. Protais Bivambagara for Kigali, Maj. Jean-Damascene Ukurukiyezu for Gitarama, and Lt.-Col. Bonaventure Ntibitura for Ruhengeri. Col. Laurent Serubuga was reportedly named to the post for Gisenyi but refused it. Several of the group, like Simba and Rwagafilita, had already been involved in genocidal killings before their appointment. They were all retired officers and they were ordered to designate other soldiers no longer in active service as their seconds in command.57

Three of these officers, Ukuruliyezu, Ntibitura, and Simba, had been deputies in parliament, all of them representing the MRND. A fourth, Rwagafilita, was dueto take his seat as deputy for the MRND as soon as the transitional government was installed. Both Serubuga and Rwagafilita were part of the akazu.58

Of these officers, at least one shared Bagosora's contempt for soldiers opposed to the genocide. In May, Simba sought to discredit Rusatira, who had been posted to Gikongoro, and incited militia to attack the general and his staff, whom he labeled Inkotanyi. Although none of Simba's supporters dared openly assault the officers, Rusatira was unable to stop the accusations.59

In a lengthy order on May 25, the minister of interior directed administrators to assist the "civilian self-defense" effort by recruiting staff, such as retired soldiers, preparing inventories of firearms available, helping people to obtain traditional weapons, locating appropriate means of communication within and between groups, monitoring the work of barriers and patrols, and – as usual – keeping the population ready to "defend" itself whenever necessary. One task not listed but already current practice was supervising the distribution of the firearms being made available under the program.60

The new program offered an opportunity to force changes in the attitudes of administrators who opposed the genocide or to remove them altogether. The minister of interior ordered the prefects to identify local authorities "who could potentially hinder the execution of the strategy of self defense" and he warned against the danger of "infiltration by elements working for the enemy cause."61 When the interim authorities removed the prefect of Gitarama in late May, they replaced him with the local "civilian self-defense" councilor, Major Ukurukiyezu, a further indication of how the new structure could be used to shape the administrative system already in place.

Because the organizers of the "civilian self defense" program made no distinction between the civilian Tutsi population and RPF soldiers, they expected recruits to go to battle against the advancing RPF troops as well as to assist in the genocide of the Tutsi. The young men were badly trained and most of them were armed only with bows and arrows, spears and machetes. The authorities exhorted them to take the Vietnamese as an example of what a courageous people could do,even without modern weapons. In combat against the RPF in Nyanza, Mugusa, and Muyaga in early June, the "civilian self-defense" forces suffered heavy casualties.62

Tightening Control

The change in structure represented by "civilian self defense" was paralleled by a change in tactics, a shift from the open and often large-scale killing that had characterized the first weeks of the genocide to a less public, smaller-scale approach to eliminating Tutsi. Instead of attacking sizable concentrations of Tutsi, such as those at churches in Kigali, assailants came in squads, night after night, to take away small numbers to be executed elsewhere. In May and June, authorities transported some groups of Tutsi to less accessible sites. They sent people from the Cyangugu stadium, for example, to the remote Nyarushishi camp and moved other groups back to their home communes, presumably with the intention of slaughtering them with less attention. The cut off in massive slaughter was neither immediate nor total: massacres, begun later in Butare, were continuing even as the new policy was being broadcast and horrible, if less frequent, attacks were launched elsewhere in May and June. But, in general, the worst massacres had finished by the end of April.

The new policy of more disciplined killing was called "pacification," borrowing the term the interim government was already using to disguise its efforts to increase killing in the south and center of the country. "Pacification" meaning "more killing" merged into "pacification" meaning "more discreet killing." It enlarged to a national scale the small deceptions that were already taking place in communities where killers had announced an end to the slaughter in order to lure victims from hiding or in order to give them a false sense of reassurance before launching a new attack.

The authorities began "pacification" after they had exterminated a substantial part – perhaps half – of the Tutsi population of Rwanda and after they had begun to hear faint sounds of indignation from the international community.

Restoring to Rwanda "Its Good Name"

From the early days of the genocide, the interim government demonstrated its concern with international opinion. Interim President Sindikubwabo talked about the need for Rwanda to restore "its good name, so that friendly countries will trust us once again."63 Near bankruptcy, the interim government depended on foreignfunds to function; at war with the RPF and engaged in a genocide in which firearms were used, it needed foreign deliveries of arms and ammunition; burdened with hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, it required international humanitarian assistance to keep people alive. Not just national authorities and the urban-dwelling intellectuals but even most ordinary people knew the importance of foreign assistance which had brought the benefits of development projects to their own or adjacent communes.

The interim government was increasingly discredited as human rights and humanitarian organizations stressed the genocidal nature of the killings. On April 19, Human Rights Watch called the slaughter genocide and demanded that the U.N. and its member states meet their legal obligation to intervene. Respected and articulate human rights activists who had fled Rwanda, like Monique Mujyawamariya and Alphonse-Marie Nkubito, arrived in Europe and North America where their accounts were attracting the attention of officials and journalists. On April 22 Anthony Lake, National Security Adviser to U.S. President Bill Clinton, received Mujyawamariya and a representative of Human Rights Watch, who described the extent of the genocide and the importance of the military in its execution. Later that day Lake issued a statement from the White House, calling on Bagosora, Bizimungu, and other military officers by name to halt the killings.The statement was the first by a major international actor to publicly assign responsibility for the ongoing killing to specific individuals, but it stopped short of calling the slaughter genocide.

That same day – although too early to have been in reaction to the Lake statement – the chief of staff, General Bizimungu, called for "the people to stop fighting each other and forget about ethnic differences. They have to stand side by side and help the government forces fight the enemy, the RPF." Radio RTLM broadcast Bizimungu's statement as well as another in a similar vein by Ndindiliyimana.64

Also on April 22, the interim government announced the departure abroad of delegations "to explain the government position on the Rwandan crisis."65 Minister of Commerce Justin Mugenzi and MRND president Mathieu Ngirumpatse went to Kenya and other African states. Foreign Minister Jérôme Bicamumpaka and CDR head Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza traveled to Europe and the U.N. where they sought to convince officials and the press that the Hutu had risen up in justifiable rage afterthe death of their president. "Inter-ethnic fighting" had followed in which, according to Bicamumpaka, "the Tutsi and Hutus have massacred each other to an equal extent."66 The Rwandan spokesmen did their best to minimize the number of fatalities. Bicamumpaka described the estimates recently given by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) of 100,000 dead as "grossly exaggerated" and suggested that 10,000 might be more accurate. He concluded that no one could know because "There are no witnesses to give evidence." He asserted that, in any case, "There is no more killing."67 The Rwandan ambassador in Brussels did his part by sending around an open letter explaining how Kambanda and other national authorities had undertaken "pacification actions" throughout Rwanda.68

Meanwhile, in a Nairobi press conference, Mugenzi and Ngirumpatse told the press that the government was simply overwhelmed because all of its soldiers were occupied at the front. When journalists protested that they had seen soldiers killing civilians in Kigali, Ngirumpatse said that some soldiers were on leave and that all armies had some ill-disciplined elements. Taking up the argument presented by the "intellectuals of Butare" on April 18, he asserted that a cease-fire would end the killing of Tutsi civilians. He commented, "The best way of stopping those mass killings is to stop the shooting from the RPF and tell people: 'You are secure and have no reason to hunt down people from the RPF.'"69

On April 27, Bicamumpaka and Barayagwiza met with French President Mitterrand, Minister of Foreign Affairs Alain Juppé, and other highly placed officials. They apparently heard from these usually understanding supporters that the killings were undermining Rwandan standing in the international community.70

On April 30, the U.N. Security Council issued a sterner warning by reminding Rwandan leaders that they would bear personal responsibility for violations of international law. Without using the word genocide, the statement spoke in thelanguage of the genocide convention about the attempt to destroy an ethnic group. In addition the council called on all nations to provide no further arms or military aid to the parties to the conflict and declared itself in principle ready to impose an embargo on arms deliveries to Rwanda. The interim government attributed this initiative to the Belgians and Radio Rwanda reported it as their work. The U.S. also took a strong stand in favor of an embargo, as the interim government knew.71

The next day, the U.S. reinforced the Security Council message through a telephone call by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Prudence Bushnell, to the chief of staff. She had asked to speak to Bagosora, but, as always happened, he declined to come to the phone so Bushnell delivered the message to Bizimungu instead. She reiterated Lake's message that the United States authorities at the highest levels would hold these officers responsible if they failed to stop the massacres. Bizimungu replied in a flip manner, "How nice of them to think of me," but he was concerned enough to write to the Ministry of Defense the next day saying that it was "urgent...to stop the massacres everywhere in the country."72

On May 3, the pope issued a strong condemnation of the genocidal slaughter and the next day Secretary-General Boutros Ghali stated that there was "a real genocide" in Rwanda.73

Rwandan authorities judged the international outcry in the light of the Security Council decision to withdraw most of the peacekeepers made just days before. With this in mind, they found the protests important enough to stop the major massacres, but not important enough to stop all killing and prevent its recurrence.

"Violence...Should Stop"

On April 24, administrative, military and militia leaders met to discuss measures to make the slaughter more circumspect. Prefect Renzaho, General Bizimungu for the army, and Col. Laurent Rutayisire for the National Police and the heads of the militia agreed that the bands of killers would end slaughter at the barriers and on the roads; they would instead take "suspects" to the appropriate authorities to have their cases investigated and decided. The militia would continueto search out "infiltrated RPF elements," but would do so in a more orderly fashion than previously through "crisis committees," a name echoing that of the military committee established at Bagosora's direction on April 7. The authorities asked all who were armed "to rationalize the use of these weapons." They also directed militia to allow staff and vehicles of the ICRC to pass without hindrance. There had been several incidents in which militia had taken wounded persons from their ambulances and executed them. The international protest that greeted such incidents illustrated just the kind of censure that Rwandan authorities wanted to avoid.74

The president of the Interahamwe, Robert Kajuga, went on the radio twice to instruct his men in the new approach. Two days later, Kajuga and his vice president, George Rutaganda, delivered a signed statement to the ICRC, expressing the laudable but vague desire to "see the massacres end as soon as possible," and, in any case, committing the militia to observing the new policy.75 Prefect Renzaho reinforced the orders to militia and others by a long radio message on April 27, condemning the murder of innocent people and pillaging.76

On April 27 also, the interim prime minister declared that "violence, pillage, and other acts of cruelty should stop." He directed that barriers should be established by local authorities in conjunction with military officers and that guards and members of patrols "should avoid committing acts of violence against the innocent." He clarified the new approach by stating that the population should continue seeking out the enemy but should deliver him to the authorities, rather than dealing with him on the spot. If necessary, the people could call the armed forces for help in doing so. To show that this was not really a message to leave Tutsi in peace, he repeated the usual directive that the authorities, civilian and military, should be ready to help the population "defend itself when it is attacked." He reminded prefects of the means at their disposal to implement the more discreet elimination of the Tutsi: they and their subordinates were to enforce rigorously therequirement that people traveling between communes and between prefectures must have written authorisations from the appropriate authorities.77

To show the population that the period of large-scale murder and pillage had ended, the interim prime minister ordered the prefects to restore "normality" to daily life "as soon as security is restored in your prefecture[s]." They were to make sure that offices were functioning, that markets were held, and that factories were back on schedule. Farmers should return to their fields.78

As part of the "pacification," the interim prime minister announced that the enemy was the RPF and advised people to avoid ethnic, regional, or partisan divisions which would weaken resistance against them.79 Even RTLM announcer Gaspard Gahigi adopted this position for a brief time, explaining in a broadcast that "nobody should be killed because of his ethnic group" and that Tutsi, "even those with an aquiline nose," who love their country should not be attacked.80 This effort to depict the slaughter as politically rather than ethnically motivated coincided with the change from large-scale massacres – where a whole group was slaughtered on what could only be ethnic grounds – to more selective executions of smaller groups and individuals, for whom there could be a pretense of establishing that they were actually linked with the RPF.

"No More Cadavers...On the Road"

Prefects received the "pacification" message from the interim prime minister and passed it on to their subordinates who called the population to meetings to hear about the new policy. At the same time that administrators explained "pacification," they announced the official establishment of barriers and patrols as part of the "civilian self-defense" effort. Many of the barriers and patrols already functioning had been set up by militia or local political leaders on their own initiative. Now burgomasters ordered all men to participate in these "self-defense" measures, making government authority rather than informal community pressure the force that assured participation. The radio repeated the same message, ensuringthat even those who had not come to the meetings would know what they were expected to do. Measures which had been used to catch and kill Tutsi became part of the program of "self-defense" and known killers were named to direct the "pacification" effort. In Taba and adjacent communes, Silas Kubwimana, the honorary vice-president of the Interahamwe and leader of the genocide in Taba, for example, was assigned responsibility for "pacification."81

Given the double message of "pacification," some militia felt free to continue killing. Georges Rutaganda, vice-president of the Interahamwe, himself led an attack on the Cyahafi neighborhood of Kigali just four days after the militia leaders called for an end to open violence.82 Militia continued to kill at some barriers outside Kigali and they attacked the cathedral at Nyundo on May 1, where they slaughtered 218 survivors of previous assaults. The same day they killed more than thirty orphans and Rwandan Red Cross workers in Butare and several days later they attacked Marie Merci School at Kibeho where they massacred some ninety students.83

RTLM announcers showed their understanding of "pacification" by declaring a general "clean-up" of Tutsi left in Kigali. They asked listeners to finish killing all the Tutsi in the capital by May 5, the date when Habyarimana's funeral was supposed to take place.84

On May 3, soldiers of the paracommando battalion ignored a safe-conduct signed by Chief of Staff Bizimungu and halted a convoy of Tutsi and others en route from the Hotel Mille Collines to the airport for evacuation. UNAMIR peacekeepers escorting the convoy stood aside and permitted the paracommandos to force the persons under their protection out of two of the four trucks. The soldiers had begun beating the civilians when militia, apparently alerted by RTLM, arrived and joined in the attack. One of the militia fired, attempting to kill Kigali prosecutor Francois-Xavier Nsanzuwera who was among the evacuees, but instead he wounded a soldier. In the ensuing confusion, a lieutenant of the paracommandosordered people back into the trucks. Prefect Renzaho and Rutaganda then intervened and directed the convoy to return to the Hotel Mille Collines.85

On May 9, the Interahamwe leaders reaffirmed the earlier directives to their members and declared support for the "pacification" visits of authorities throughout the country. They repeated that the neutrality of the Red Cross must be respected and added that the same kind of treatment should be accorded to UNAMIR and other U.N. personnel. This may have been both a response to the May 3 attack on the convoy and also a warning concerning the expected visit of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights José Ayala Lasso, which was scheduled for the next week.86

Rwandans directly in touch with international opinion may have felt more pressure to end the slaughter – or at least to appear to have ended it – than others in the interim government. Bizimungu and others responsible for fighting the RPF, for example, took seriously the threat of an arms embargo and understood that continued killing of Tutsi might well result in such a measure. In addition to the radio message of April 22 and his May 1 letter about stopping the massacres, Bizimungu reacted to the killing of the orphans in Butare – and the international censure of the incident – by directing his subordinates in that town "to do everything [necessary] to stop these barbarities."87 After having approved the evacuation of Tutsi and others from the Hotel Mille Collines, he reportedly intervened twice more to protect the highly visible hostages whose safety was closely monitored by foreigners.

It was not just the fear of international censure but also the hope of concrete support that pushed Rwandan authorities to change their way of killing. Ten days after the Rwandan apologists of genocide were well received by French officials, the interim government sent Lt.-Col. Ephrem Rwabalinda to French military cooperation headquarters in Paris with a list of the arms, ammunition, andequipment most needed by the Rwandan army. Rwabalinda was told that French assistance would depend on improving the Rwandan image abroad.88

The day Rwabalinda finished his four day mission, Kantano Habimana of RTLM began a series of announcements calling for violence to end. On May 13, he berated those who kept on killing, saying "the president of the Interahamwe, the prime minister, the president of the republic, everyone, each of them says, 'Please, the killings are finished, those who are dead are dead.'"89 Two days later, he explained the need for controlling the killings. "Since we have begun to restrain ourselves, the international community will certainly not fail to notice and will say, 'Those Hutu are really disciplined, we should understand them and help them, hum!'" Three days later, he was more explicit still, announcing cheerfully that France had promised to begin aiding Rwanda again, "with considerable aid, with promises to increase it. Only, for this good news to continue coming, they ask that there be no more cadavers visible on the roads and also that no one kill another person while others stand around and laugh, instead of delivering the person to the authorities."90

"Pacification" as Deception

A remarkable series of minutes from meetings of the security committee in the commune of Bwakira, in the hills of western Rwanda, show how quickly and efficiently the administration transmitted orders from the center to the communes, how the concerns of the military influenced policy – or at least were used to justify that policy – and how well the double meaning of "pacification" was disseminated at local level.

On April 29, the burgomaster described the major issue of the day for the committee: all the ammunition used against the RPF is imported; the governments that provided that ammunition "are reluctant to arm us while we are killing one another"; and the interim government has expressed its "wish for the war [ i.e., killing Tutsi] to end so that we can straighten out our relations with theinternational community." So, the burgomaster concluded, "People should obey government orders and stop carrying their weapons around with them. This is serious business, not a joke."91 The next week, the burgomaster explained that the Belgian government wanted to impose an embargo on Rwanda. To avoid this happening, he recommended that people go back to work, as the government asked, and stop thinking that every Tutsi was Inkotanyi. At the meeting of May 20, the burgomaster relayed the demands of the U.S., apparently those specified in Bizimungu's May 1 conversation with Bushnell. They were:

    The Rwandan Government must end all killings before it will be recognized by the international community. It must arrest and bring to trial all soldiers and youth [i.e., militia] who committed crimes. It must release all detainees [i.e., Tutsi still held hostage in the Hotel Mille Collines and elsewhere] and let them seek refuge in countries of their choice.92

At a meeting four days later, the burgomaster repeated the message and added,

    You must enforce security. Some people imagine that what happens on their hills is not known because they do not know that there are satellites in the sky which take pictures. Killings must stop for good. The councilors must transmit these orders in meetings with the population.93

Local authorities elsewhere delivered the same "pacification" messages, complete with cautions about the likelihood of satellite surveillance, to the people in their jurisdictions.

The burgomaster of Bwakira followed up his announcements of "pacification" by drafting a model of a reprimand for councilors to use in writing to persons who continued to assault others.

But, in Bwakira, as elsewhere in Rwanda, "pacification" was not what it seemed. On May 5, immediately after telling people to stop killing, the burgomaster related that an RPF soldier had been caught in sector Nyabiranga of the neighboring commune of Gitesi. He was searched and found to be carrying an unidentified white power. When he was forced to eat it, he died immediately. Thissupposed incident replicated the features of the scare tactics used since October 1990: a soldier is purportedly found in the vicinity – near enough to be threatening but not so near as to permit easy verification of the story – in possession of the means to kill people and apparently on a mission to do so. The burgomaster in the next breath said that people must do patrols conscientiously at night to catch such infiltrators.94

At the council meeting of May 24, one member dared to raise the difference between rhetoric and reality. Remarking that most of the Tutsi had already been killed or driven from the commune, he declared:

    It is a shame that only people of the same ethnic group are left. Authorities do not deal with problems consistently. Some say one thing, but act differently. It is not the ordinary people who kill, but the authorities who fail to carry out the laws that they know well.95

Others pointed out that violence continued because the authorities did nothing to enforce orders against the killing. One citizen commented that at Shyembe, "people kill any Tutsi they see, despite the fact that in the last meeting held there, people were elected to a security committee." Another person responded that the security committee must enforce the law. He remarked that the violence against Tutsi in 1959 ended only after some people had been arrested and put in jail.96

As directed by their superiors, administrators disseminated the message of "pacification" and called on Tutsi to come out of hiding. In some communities, they used a sound-truck to deliver the news up and down the streets of the town. Out on the hills, they beat a drum to attract attention to the message that killings had ended. Those Hutu who were hiding Tutsi carried the word to them.

Some Tutsi understood the deception. Pastor Kumubuga who was in touch with the Tutsi hidden around Bwakira told others at the committee meeting, "The people say that the advice to leave the bushes will lead to their death....they say that it is a political game."97 Tens of thousands understood that and stayed hidden. But others, perhaps thousands of others, still had faith in the integrity of theirauthorities. They came out and were slain. The policy of "pacification," meant to tighten control over the killing and to impress the foreigners, also in the end served the additional purpose of enticing more Tutsi to their deaths.

"Justice" During the Genocide

The interim prime minister's message of April 27 spoke about reopening courts that had been closed and using the judicial system to punish killings and deter further violence. But by that time, "justice," like "security," was meant only for the Hutu.

That had not been the case in the first days of the genocide when officials opposed to the slaughter had actually tried to use the judicial system to protect Tutsi. They arrested assailants and pillagers and began preparing cases against them. But as soon as the national leaders of genocide exerted their influence in the communes, the burgomasters released the detainees. The liberation of persons who had been seen burning and pillaging property and killing Tutsi signaled the community that the local authority had decided to tolerate, if not to support, violence against Tutsi.

Few prosecutors heeded the interim prime minister's call to resume work at the end of April. Where they did and began investigating cases, the nature of the charges varied from murder to the theft of mud-guards from a bicycle. The cases had a common element: the victim was Hutu.

No longer the beneficiary of official judicial protection, Tutsi became the accused in an unofficial parody of justice. In communal offices, at barriers, or in bars, they were "tried" on charges of being the "enemy." Since the start of the genocide, some Tutsi had been brought to the burgomaster in a continuation of the earlier practice of handing over any suspected criminal to the local authorities. With the "pacification" campaign, the number delivered apparently increased, with Tutsi being brought to the burgomaster, the councilor, a security committee, or to the head of a barrier or a patrol. There they would be interrogated about the pretexts that supposedly proved their guilt, such as possessing arms or lists of people to kill. If the accused were women, they might be distributed to male militia members for sexual service instead of being killed.98

Spurious as the process was, it formed a logical sequel to the denunciations against individuals. By carrying it through, the authorities added credibility to the whole deception and may have convinced some doubters that the person charged had actually worked for the RPF. Most of those captured were slain after perfunctory questioning. In some cases, the Tutsi were released, but just ascondemnations usually had nothing to do with guilt having been established, so the reprieves rarely had to do with innocence having been proved. They resulted rather from bribes, personal connections, or some inexplicable stroke of good fortune.

Many killers treated the directive to take Tutsi to the authorities as just one more pretense. In mock compliance, the killers in Gisenyi labeled the cemetery, a usual place of execution, "the commune." Elsewhere assailants announced that they were taking the Tutsi "to the burgomaster" when they led them into a banana grove or off into the bush to be killed.99

Mid-May Slaughter: Women and Children as Victims

Through the last days of April, the RPF made dramatic advances. They took Byumba in the northeast on April 21, Rwamagana in the east on April 27, and Rusumo in the southeast on April 29-30. In a major blow to the Rwandan army, they swung west and in mid-May cut the main road linking Kigali to Gitarama. At this time, authorities ordered a new wave of killings. Militia and military launched new large-scale attacks on Tutsi at Bisesero and a raid was planned on the Hotel Mille Collines, although it was never carried out. RTLM, too, returned to frankly genocidal calls for slaughter. Kantano Habimana insisted:

    Let 100,000 young men be rapidly recruited, so that they all rise up and then we will kill the Inkotanyi, we will exterminate them all the more easily since...the proof that we will exterminate them is that they are a single ethnic group. So look at a person and see his height and how he looks, just look at his pretty little nose and then break it.100

In many communities, women and children who had survived the first weeks of the genocide were slain in mid-May.101 In the past Rwandans had not usually killed women in conflicts and at the beginning of the genocide assailants often spared them. When militia had wanted to kill women during an attack in Kigali in late April, for example, Renzaho had intervened to stop it.102 Killers in Gikongorotold a woman that she was safe because "Sex has no ethnic group."103 The number of attacks against women, all at about the same time, indicates that a decision to kill women had been made at the national level and was being implemented in local communities. Women who had been living on their own as well as those who had been kept alive to serve the sexual demands of their captors were slaughtered. In the note quoted above, the head of the barrier is directed to deliver "the three girls of Gapfizi" early the next morning so that the measures which the security council has decided can be carried out. This document, almost certainly the death warrant for the three young women, dates to mid-May.104

Some killers urged eliminating Tutsi women because, they said, they would produce only Tutsi children, regardless of the ethnic group of their husbands. This argument, which reversed the usual custom of assigning children to the group of their fathers, paved the way to demanding death also for Tutsi wives of Hutu husbands. Many were killed at this time, some by their own husbands. In some communities, however, local authorities worked to keep these women alive, particularly if their husbands were men of some importance. Depriving a man of the productive and reproductive capacities of his wife harmed his interests and a man injured in this way might demand punishment for the murderers or some other form of satisfaction. Because these cases involved the interests of a Hutu as much as the life of a Tutsi, a husband thus injured could expect support at least from his immediate kin and friends. Burgomasters and communal security committees spent a substantial amount of time trying to balance the interests of the husbands, generally acknowledged as valid, against the demands for action by hard-liners within the community. Often the support of authorities was not enough and husbands had to pay assailants to leave their wives unharmed; others fought, sometimes successfully, to save their wives.

Infants and young children who had survived or been saved in the first weeks were also slain in mid-May. Killers sought to justify their slaughter by repeating a phrase about Kagame or Rwigema, the RPF commander who had led the 1990 invasion, having once been a baby too. This explanation, voiced uniformly throughout the country, carried the idea of "self-defense" to its logically absurd and genocidal end. Hutu who tried to buy the lives of children or save them in other ways had little success and sometimes had to pay fines for having protected them.

"Opening a Breach to the Enemy": Conflicts Among Hutu

In the later part of May and in June, administrators found ordinary people were deserting the barriers and refusing to do the patrols. With the great majority of Tutsi dead, gone, or in hiding, people wanted to return to that "normality" preached by the authorities themselves. In permitting or directing the slaughter of the weak, the elderly, women, and infants, who posed no threat to anyone, authorities discredited the justification that killing was an act of self-defense. Prefects pressed burgomasters who pressed councilors who pressed the citizens to carry out their assigned duties, but with shrinking success.

As the more stable and established citizens withdrew, the militia and young men from the "civilian self-defense" program increasingly dominated the barriers and the patrols. They sometimes were armed with guns or grenades and had received enough training in military skills to intimidate others. With far fewer Tutsi to be caught, they spent more time harassing, robbing, and killing Hutu passersby. The minister of interior asked that those at the barriers and on patrols "use better judgment and not confuse the guilty with the innocent."105 Several days later, the prefect of Kibuye reported to him that young people at a barrier tried to help themselves to the beer and tobacco from passing trucks that belonged to an important government official. The prefect had intervened to protect the goods, but, he commented, the incident showed "that there are people who still do not understand the role of the barriers."106 Burgomasters and members of the councils of several communes expressed their anger at the abusive young men who controlled the roads and paths of their communities. One critic remarked later, "It is a good thing that the RPF arrived when it did. The thugs were beginning to take over."107

Political Struggles

With the genocide, the accepted criteria for success in the political and administrative domains had been supplanted by new measures of worth: hostility to Tutsi and efficiency in getting them killed. This led to struggles for power as people in each community nurtured new enmities and built new alliances to dealwith the changes in standards and leaders. People from one sector attacked those in the adjacent sector and residents of one commune raided those of another.

The disputes sometimes involved cattle or land or revenge for previous killings, but questions of political party loyalty often underlay the other considerations. Burgomasters, party leaders, and other locally important persons generally had the services of armed guards, sometimes communal policemen or, if they could be obtained, National Police or soldiers. They sent these guards to intimidate or assault other officials or party leaders. A number of these cases resulted in deaths, such as a conflict between authorities of Gishyita and Gisovu that ended with seven persons dead, two of them National Policemen. In early June, the burgomaster of Rutsiro feared an attack by people from the adjacent commune of Murunda because of "unexplained mortality among certain people of the MDR in the region of Murunda."108

National authorities intended "pacification" to limit conflict among Hutu, but some local authorities used the policy as a pretext for harassing their political adversaries. Just as some burgomasters had once charged opponents with refusing to participate in killings of Tutsi, so some now accused adversaries of continuing such attacks.

Disputes Over Property

Many Hutu fought over the property left by Tutsi. At the start of the genocide, authorities froze Tutsi bank accounts, presumably intending to appropriate these funds for the national government. In at least one commune, that of Gisovu, the burgomaster supposedly got there first and embezzled 726,000 Rwandan francs (some U.S.$4,800) from "missing clients." Minister of Information Eliézer Niyitegeka, who was from the region, used this allegation and other charges to demand that the burgomaster be replaced by a candidate he favored. To cap a number of allegations of corruption and mismanagement, Niyitegeka added what he apparently supposed would be the ultimate charge, that the burgomaster lacked enthusiasm for "civilian self-defense."109 In Bwakira commune, thieves who were caught trying to rob a bank protested that they were just separating money belonging to Tutsi from money belonging to Hutu.110

Most people fought not over money but over land, cattle, or crops. Some disputed the boundaries of fields they had been allocated and others tried to harvest crops that had been assigned to someone else. In Gisovu, the burgomaster and the councilor fought so bitterly over pillaged cattle that "the matter created an open hatred" between them.111 Communal councilors in Bwakira had to deal with assailants who wanted the cattle of Tutsi eaten immediately – to the enjoyment of many – rather than kept alive – for the profit of a few.112 Looters fought over the distribution of the goods taken from development projects, schools, and hospitals as well as over Tutsi belongings.

Authorities directed burgomasters to deal with the disposition of Tutsi goods and land promptly to avoid trouble. As early as mid-April in some places, burgomasters ordered their subordinates to prepare inventories of the property of Tutsi who had been killed or driven away. One reason for the lists of people killed, initiated also at this time, was to identify which households were completely eliminated, meaning that their property was available for redistribution, and which had some survivors, meaning the land would be available only after further killing. Rural burgomasters were most preoccupied with distributing fields for cultivation; authorities in the towns like Butare also allocated houses and even market stalls during the months of May and June.

Communal councils spent more time discussing property than any other issue except "security" measures themselves. Most communities divided the property into three categories, so similar from one commune to the next as to indicate they were determined at the national level. Pillaged goods belonged to the one who took them, except for particularly valuable items that were supposed to go to the authorities to be sold; land reverted to the commune, as was customary, for short-term rental or permanent allocation; and crops already standing were to be protected and harvested by individuals for their own benefit or by the authorities for the public good. In some cases, authorities directed that grain of the dead Tutsi be brewed into beer to reward the militia or to be sold to help pay the costs of war.113

In documents where recipients of vacated lands are identified, it appears that one or a small number of persons sometimes benefited more than others in the community. In some cases, the rewards may have corresponded to the extent ofparticipation in the genocide. The prompt parceling out of the victims' land demonstrated the solid advantage to be gained by joining in attacks and no doubt tempted some to kill who would not otherwise have been done so.

"Where Will It End?"

Soldiers and National Police, both those posted in a region and those who had returned home after deserting the battlefront, exacerbated conflicts by pillaging and commiting exactions against the local population. Administrators or politicians, emboldened by having soldiers or police as armed guards, also committed abuses against people in their jursidictions.

The number of firearms and grenades available meant that conflicts often had serious consequences. From the first days of the genocide, officials opposed to the killings had tried without success to locate and, if possible, confiscate the weapons that had already been distributed in preparation for the killing. Beginning in late April, those who approved the genocide also saw the need to control the use of firearms. The minister of interior insisted that the "tools" which have been "put at the disposition of people" were to be "used only for the purpose for which they have received them and not for anything else."114

In various communes, council members deplored the vandalism and banditry of armed young men. In Bwakira, council member Dr. Kamanzi raised the issue of "young men who possess grenades and guns while we do not have any. We do not even know where those guns came from. I wish they could be taken away from them."115 The burgomaster was ready to disarm some, but not all who had such weapons. He declared:

    Each person's particular conduct must be taken into consideration, however, since some of those people have good behavior and own grenades only to protect themselves in case they are assaulted.116

In late May, the minister of the interior ordered burgomasters to prepare inventories of all the firearms in their communes, suggesting that they might be confiscated and redistributed. The order occasioned a flood of letters from persons who had firearms and wanted to obtain official authorisation for them, as the lawrequired. When authorities distributed thousands of firearms beginning in mid-May, many competed to obtain a weapon.

As the scramble to obtain firearms demonstrated, many Hutu felt more rather than less afraid after the majority of Tutsi – the supposed enemy – had been eliminated. The RPF was, of course, increasingly a threat, but, in addition, Hutu feared other Hutu.

After some weeks of slaughter, people were beginning to understand that a system dedicated to the destruction of Tutsi provided no security for Hutu either. One witness described the astonishment and indignation of his Hutu neighbors when one of their number was seized by a soldier. "We defended him, saying he is Hutu. You are supposed to be killing Tutsi, so why take him? If you start taking Hutu, where will it end?"117

RPF Victory

In late May, the RPF took both the airport and the major military camp at Kanombe in Kigali and, on May 27, the militia leaders and many of their followers fled although Rwandan army troops continued to hold on to part of the capital. On May 29, they took Nyabisindu and on June 2, Kabgayi, only a few miles from Gitarama. The Rwandan army counterattacked, backed by militia and "civilian self-defense" forces, but the RPF routed them and rolled on to take Gitarama on June 13. Leaders of the interim government fled west to Kibuye and then north to Gisenyi. There they created a new national assembly in a last vain effort to establish legitimacy.

As the RPF advanced into each region, authorities managed to galvanize killers to hunt for the last remaining Tutsi. They launched these final attacks in June and early July, on dates that varied according to the moment of the RPF arrival nearby. In early June, assailants had surrounded at least one of the three large camps of Tutsi at Kabgayi, but were overwhelmed by a rapid RPF advance before they could carry out the planned attack. In late June, militia and military tried to complete the annihilation at Bisesero, as is described above. Others poised to launch a major attack on the some ten thousand Tutsi at Nyarushishi camp in Cyangugu failed to move because of the presence of National Police under Lieutenant Colonel Bavugamenshi.

In June Bemerki pushed killers to complete the elimination of Tutsi, "their total extermination, putting them all to death, their total extinction."118 On July 2Kantano Habimana exultantly invited his listeners to join him in a song of celebration.

    Let's rejoice, friends! The Inkotanyi have been exterminated! Let's rejoice, friend. God can never be unjust!...these criminals...these suicide commandos...without doubt they will have been exterminated...Let us go on. Let us tighten our belts and exterminate them...so that our children and our grandchildren and the children of our grandchildren never again hear of what is called Inkotanyi.119

Two days later the RPF took Kigali and two weeks after that the authorities responsible for the genocide fled Rwanda.


In the early days of the genocide, Tutsi saw the prefecture of Butare in southern Rwanda as the ultimate haven. For nearly two weeks, it held out the hope of safety, largely because the prefect, backed by the local police commander, insisted on protecting Tutsi. Following his model and covered by his authority, most of his subordinates offered protection too. The burgomaster of Nyakizu was one who did not: he launched the first killing campaign in Butare directly in opposition to the prefect's efforts to keep order. Already experienced in using force to build his political base, he imitated leaders at the national level in exploiting ethnic bonds to tighten his hold on power. With the assistance of supporters loyal to him personally and to MDR-Power, he murdered opponents of the genocide and intimidated other dissenters into silence. He led National Police, soldiers, and the people of Nyakizu and adjacent communes in massacring Tutsi at the Cyahinda church, on hilltops where they had taken refuge, and along the paths as they tried to flee.

Butare: The Prefect and the Prefecture

Hutu from the northern part of Rwanda sometimes used to say there are no Hutu in Butare, meaning that the Hutu population there was so fully integrated with the Tutsi that it had lost any distinctively Hutu characteristics. With a population more than 17 percent Tutsi, Butare was the prefecture with the highest concentration of Tutsi and it was reputedly the part of Rwanda where Hutu and Tutsi had intermarried most often. The old royal capital of Nyanza, in the northwestern corner of the prefecture, had been renamed Nyabisindu to purge it of its association with the past, but it remained nonetheless a historical symbol unifying Hutu and Tutsi of the region. The town of Butare, long second only to Kigali in size and importance, had been eclipsed in the 1980s by the northwestern town of Ruhengeri, but it remained very much the focus of interest and activity for Butare prefecture. It was above all a university town, home to the National University of Rwanda which was established after independence, and to a number of other institutions of higher education, including the Groupe Scolaire, the first high school in Rwanda. As intellectual center of the nation and focus of a region where Hutu and Tutsi long lived together, Butare had a reputation for tolerance and moderation. In the Habyarimana years, a branch of the university had been opened in Ruhengeri and an important number of northerners had been awarded posts in faculty and administration on the Butare campus. With its predominance challenged by the Ruhengeri campus and the character of its faculty changed, theButare campus was no longer the model of moderation it had once been, but the ideal of respect for the individual once associated with it continued to figure in the image of the prefecture as a whole.

The prefect, Jean-Baptiste Habyalimana, was the exemplar of the openness and rationality for which Butare was known. The only Tutsi prefect in the country, he was also the only member of the relatively small Liberal Party to direct a prefecture. He was exceptional, too, in having been able to pursue higher studies abroad and he had received a PhD in engineering from an American university. A slender, bespectacled figure, he looked very much like the intellectual that he was. While he was in the U.S., several friends had counseled him to claim political asylum rather than return to Rwanda where Tutsi suffered such discrimination. But he had great faith in his fellow Rwandans and a strong sense of the need to bring home the skills that he had acquired abroad. He returned in 1990 to teach at the university and was almost immediately swept up in the October arrests. Later released, he returned to teaching, which he reluctantly gave up in July 1992 when he agreed to accept the post of prefect. Soon after, he told a Human Rights Watch researcher that the nomination proved the correctness of his decision to return home: now he had the opportunity to play a leading role in enhancing democracy and respect for human rights.1

Nyakizu Commune

In many respects, Nyakizu was much like other communes in Butare, desperately poor and densely populated. It was located in the southwestern corner of the prefecture, on the border with Burundi. According to the March 1994 figures, the population was 61,366 with a density of 451 persons per square kilometer, far more than the land could productively support within the constraints of the technology available.2 Because farmers were forced to keep their fields in almost constant cultivation, the fertility of the soil was declining. In the western part of the commune, where the hills were higher and the slopes sharper, erosion was a serious problem. More people lived in the eastern part of the commune where the hills were lower and broader, both easier to cultivate and less eroded. In addition to food staples like beans or sorghum, some farmers raised a small amountof coffee to sell for cash to buy such necessities as soap or, if they were wealthy enough, to pay the costs of sending children to school.

The commune itself was the main source of salaried work, with some sixty employees, followed by the Catholic and Baptist churches with their associated schools and health centers. A small number of traders, profiting largely from commerce across the frontier to Burundi, rose far enough above the usual level of poverty to own vehicles and solid homes.3 Although those with paid employment earned usually less than a hundred dollars a month, the approximate salary of the burgomaster, they lived a far more comfortable life than did ordinary farmers.4 In addition, they often had cash available to acquire land when their poorer neighbors were in need and forced to sell or rent their fields. The salaried elite thus built up larger holdings of land which the land-poor or landless then cultivated in order to earn a living. The elite were also able to pay for at least some of their children to leave the commune to attend secondary school, making it far more likely that they would have well-paying jobs in the future.

More than 18 percent of the population of Nyakizu was Tutsi in early 1994, just above the percentage for the prefecture as whole and considerably above the national level, which official statistics placed at some 8 percent.5 Extremists would argue that the large number of Tutsi in the commune increased the likelihood of RPF infiltration and even of actual attack across the nearby border from Burundi. The RPF's Radio Muhabura also reportedly talked of strong RPF support in the commune which added weight to these charges.

Burgomaster Ntaganzwa: Victory Through Kubohoza

Like the prefect of Butare, the burgomaster of Nyakizu, Ladislas Ntaganzwa, was relatively new to politics. Trained as a medical assistant, he was working at the Cyahinda health center in Nyakizu, his home commune, when multiple political parties were authorized in 1991. He was strong and athletic, proud of the karate thathe had mastered at secondary school. Respected for his competence in medicine and generally liked by people of the commune, he had become head of the local branch of the MDR. He organized a vigorous youth wing, the Jeunesse Démocrate Républiciane (JDR), and with its help used kubohoza to destroy the MRND. A communal councilor related:

    In kubohoza, what they were doing was forcing people out of the MRND and into MDR. To give you examples of people who were treated this way, there was Ndekezi Thadée who was a victim of kubohoza. He was beaten, but afterward, he agreed to join the other party....And there was Mutagano Innocent who did not agree to change parties and was injured.6

Another person who lived through the experience described it this way:

    The MDR came to knock on the door. You had to come out. "Go to your room and bring out your MRND card." And then they could beat you or force their way into your house. You would bring your card, and...there were these poles on which they placed the card after stabbing a hole in it. They did the same thing to your MRND hat, impaled it and displayed it on a pole. The card represented the person who was the target of kubohoza. After being the target of kubohoza, the person was now visibly MDR.

    They also beat up people, although they did not do this to women. But they beat up respected older men, including my father. They brought you with the group and herded you to a public place like the market, as if you were a goat. They herded you with the others who were also being targeted by kubohoza, the people who were called abahoza. The JDR chanted and sang, "We've done well! Our party has won!" They did this openly during the day. They passed from house to house, gathering the group of people to be targeted. They herded everyone together, with the JDR singing and they beat those who resisted.7

The enforcers of kubohoza even made written reports of their campaigns, in which they noted the names and places of residence of the persons "liberated" along with remarks about whether cards or hats were taken at the time of the"visit." They extorted payments from the victims in order to guarantee that the party president, Ntaganzwa, look favorably on the requests for admission to the MDR. Should Ntaganzwa not accept the requests, the unfortunates would continue to be harassed until their next opportunity to "apply" for admission.8

By the middle of 1992, Ntaganzwa was feeling strong enough to turn kubohoza against the burgomaster himself, Jean-Baptiste Gasana, a member of the MRND. According to people in the commune, supporters of Ntaganzwa came to Gasana's home with trucks full of machetes and other weapons, suggesting that they would be used against him. Some informants claim that he was beaten. Gasana fled his home and then left the commune with his family.9

The PSD had helped Ntaganzwa and the MDR break the power of the MRND. In November 1992, after Gasana left, the PSD leader and Assistant Burgomaster Jean-Marie Gasingwa was named interim burgomaster, sparking a new political struggle in the commune. Ntaganzwa now tackled Gasingwa, who was only twenty-four years old and recently named as assistant burgomaster. The contest in Nyakizu had reverberations at the national level. With Ntaganzwa's forceful tactics, the MDR stood a chance of taking Nyakizu, thus establishing a first foothold in a region where the MDR had never before been strong. Athanase Sebucocyero, an important official in the ministry of transportation, was from Nyakizu and, according to witnesses in the commune, served as Ntaganzwa's chief supporter in the national level of MDR. At the same time, the PSD was in the process of establishing itself as the leading party in the prefecture and it was anxious to support Gasingwa who might be able to resist the MDR and to keep Nyakizu within the PSD camp.

During the time when the MDR was fighting to establish its predominance, crime was increasing in Nyakizu, as elsewhere in Rwanda. Local authorities repeatedly expressed concern over the mounting number of robberies, arsons, and violent attacks on persons, including five murders in the course of 1992. Often the line between common crime and politically motivated attacks was blurred. Political activists engaged in kubohoza might rob as well as beat political opponents while criminals might cover their wrongdoing by claiming to be acting for political ends.10

In behavior that presaged the comportment of many authorities during the genocide, officials did little to halt this violence. The local judicial official declared he was unable to carry out his responsibilities. The interim burgomaster asked to be relieved of his functions. Other officials avoided going to work if they believed a conflict was in the offing.11

As partisan struggles grew, authorities ordered an election for burgomaster with a limited number of voters, as was done in other communes at the time. On March 23, 1993, Ntaganzwa ran as a candidate for burgomaster against Gasingwa of the PSD and Etienne Muragizi of the PL. Ntaganzwa and Gasingwa each received seventeen votes, while Muragizi received two.12 The several dozen electors, apparently fearing reprisals if Ntaganzwa were not chosen, at first asked authorities simply to designate the new burgomaster. When officials insisted that another election be held, members of the MDR threatened that if the PSD candidate won, the party would be forced to "leave the commune."13 A second poll was taken in May and Ntaganzwa was unanimously elected. According to one of the participants in the election, "We elected MDR to save our lives. I needed to save my life and my family. I was afraid....The threat was real."14

Consolidating Control

Once elected, Ntaganzwa used his authority as burgomaster to consolidate his own power and that of his party.15 First he removed opponents – personal and political – from the communal payroll. When he took office, the financial situation of Nyakizu was desperate. The debt of some U.S.$30,000 that had burdened the commune in 1990 and 1991 had nearly doubled to more than U.S.$50,000 by theend of 1992. Ordered by his superiors to cut costs, Ntaganzwa began by eliminating the posts of employees who were long-serving and apparently competent but who had not given him their unqualified support. This effort brought Ntaganzwa immediately into conflict with the prefect, who sought to ensure that fiscal considerations not be used to cover a form of administrative kubohoza. The powers of the prefect to intervene were limited, however, so long as Ntaganzwa had the support of the communal council for the decisions. After extensive correspondence, Ntaganzwa emerged the victor on most of these questions.16

But Ntaganzwa could not bring the entire administrative system into line right away. Gasingwa, for example, his chief rival and the PSD candidate for burgomaster, could not be simply removed from his post as assistant burgomaster because he was named by the Ministry of Interior. As long as Gasingwa was in place, other communal employees and councilors also retained their membership in the PSD or its ally, the PL.

The burgomaster continued to rely on the young people who had helped bring him to power. To increase their effectiveness, he organized them by sector, each of which had its "youth president." In November 1993, on the same day when the commune dismissed several employees for lack of funds, Ntaganzwa rehired a "youth organizer" whose job had been ended in 1989. The national government, though facing a severe shortage of funds, was to pay part of the youth organizer's salary in Nyakizu and in other communes. The hard-strapped local and national authorities found money for these posts just as preparations for the genocide were intensifying. Some months before, Bagosora had noted in his appointment book that young people formed an important pool of recruits for the "self-defense" program.17

Ntaganzwa also developed links with many intellectual, religious, and business leaders in Nyakizu. One of the most influential of this circle was FrançoisBazaramba, a Hutu refugee from the 1972 massacres in Burundi who was the youth director of the Baptist church at Maraba. The Baptists, important first in Burundi, established themselves in Rwanda in the 1950s and were usually identified far more with Hutu than with Tutsi interests. In addition to helping to direct one of the two Baptist churches in Nyakizu, Bazaramba was connected through marriage with other persons in the Baptist system. A man of some means, he ran a prosperous bar along with his other activities. Among others in the group were Geoffrey Dusabe, the school inspector who had considerable influence because he supervised teachers throughout the commune and distributed their salaries; Sampson Marembo, from the sector of Rutobwe; Festus Nyamukara, director of the primary school at Nyantanga; and Celestin Batakanwa, the director of the Center of Integrated Rural Artisanal Education (CERAI), a vocational secondary school at Muhambara.

Those communal councilors who were MDR and loyal to Ntaganzwa also formed part of his circle, but those whose party ties or views on Tutsi differed from those of Ntaganzwa were informally and unofficially replaced by men from Ntaganzwa's own network.18 As one observer commented,

    In sectors where the councilor was not MDR, he would be eclipsed by one of two other persons, either the representative of MDR or the JDR representative. In Rutobwe, for example, the councilor had been MRND before. Under pressure he had switched to MDR. But he had a wife who was Tutsi, so no one listened to him. The representative of the MDR was Sampson Marembo. He replaced the councilor at the end of April 1994. Even before that, he was the "real" head of the sector. In Rutobwe sector, the JDR members were called to meetings but the councilor was not.19

Faced with Ntaganzwa's official authority as burgomaster, his informal network of support, and the ever-present threat of violence by the JDR, the vast majority of the population came to accept Ntaganzwa's control. Asked to define the basis of his power, people said repeatedly and simply: fear.

Hutu Power

When Ntaganzwa became burgomaster, the MDR was still a single party, but several months later it divided into MDR and MDR-Power. Forced to chose hiscamp, Ntaganzwa opted for MDR-Power and thus acquired a new weapon to forge support, the ideology of ethnic loyalty. Like Hutu Power politicians at the national level, Ntaganzwa saw that he and his party could benefit from identification with the Hutu cause.

By the time the MDR divided, Ntaganzwa was strong enough to prevent any challenge by supporters of the other branch. He was even able to block a visit from the prime minister – a leader of the MDR – to the commune in late 1993, so denying her the opportunity to contest him on his own territory.20 Most of the MDR-Power leaders at the national level, such as Donat Murego or Froduald Karamira, were from other regions of Rwanda, but the future interim Prime Minister Kambanda was from Gishamvu, the commune adjacent to Nyakizu. He appears to have had a special relationship with Ntaganzwa and came to see and reward him during the genocide. (See below.)

With the arrival of Hutu Power, kubohoza was used to enforce not just political loyalty but also ethnic solidarity. A politically active businessman declared, "When Hutu Power was installed here, everything changed. Anyone who was Tutsi or who did not speak the language of Hutu Power was the enemy."21 By early 1994, MDR-Power claimed to be the only channel for Hutu to oppose the RPF, Ntaganzwa was its unquestioned local leader, and force was the "normal" way of separating supporters from the "enemy."

The Border and the Burundians

Rwandans who lived near the frontier traded easily across the border at a number of points where there were no government agents and they crossed the river between the countries easily and often. Many had friends or relations in Burundi whom they trusted to keep them informed of events there. Their own observations and information from their contacts in Burundi made them think there was no danger of RPF attack from Burundi.22 But, as in Gikongoro, civilian and military authorities further removed from the frontier saw the situation from a larger perspective and many of them supposed that the RPF could suddenly mount an attack from the south just as they had once launched an invasion from the north.Although they took no concrete measures to defend the frontier, they talked enough about the possible danger to plant fear among community leaders in Nyakizu.23

On April 23, 1993, the communal council first took note of a recent warning from the Ministry of Interior about the possibility the RPF could be transporting arms in fake funeral possessions, then it went on to look at the specific threat to Nyakizu. The minutes from that meeting read:

    As Nyakizu commune is located on the frontier, it is possible for the Inkotanyi to infiltrate easily here. The chair asked the councilors to give their opinions and proposed solutions for preventing the Inkotanyi from infiltrating and bringing in arms. Each participant spoke and everyone recognized that it is not easy to stop the Inkotanyi because they may have valid identity cards delivered by Rwandan authorities. They suggested restoring the old system of laissez-passer. Since it seems difficult to do this surveillance and since the councilors themselves cannot do it, they asked the representatives of the parties to get their supporters to help the councilors keep track of who was entering the commune by patrolling at night. The interim burgomaster agreed to put the decision into effect immediately.24

Turning to the political parties to help organize patrols was an important precedent for the genocide, establishing that security was as much the concern of the party and the individual citizen as of the government. The reliance on citizens to deal with problems of insecurity in Nyakizu paralleled efforts in other communes to recruit citizens for patrols to counter growing crime.25

After the assassination of President Ndadaye, approximately 15,000 primarily Hutu Burundians flooded into Nyakizu, a number that equaled one quarter of the total population of the commune. Some 13,000 of these refugees were installed in a large camp at Uwimfizi in Nyagisozi sector, not far from the communal officeand Cyahinda church, while the rest found shelter with Rwandan families in the commune.26

Having been driven from their homes by the largely Tutsi army in Burundi, many of the refugees feared and hated Tutsi and encouraged similar feelings among the Hutu of Nyakizu. As the refugees began arriving, some Tutsi in the commune were frightened by rumors that Hutu would attack them. A Tutsi woman from Nyagisozi explains, "When the Burundians arrived here in Nyakizu, some Tutsi families fled to the church. They sensed even then that something was wrong." Assured by the burgomaster that they were not in danger, they returned to their homes.27 During the month of November, unidentified assailants destroyed several bars owned by Tutsi in Rusenge sector, people from Yaramba sector accused others of supporting Inkotanyi, and people from Maraba speculated that some from their sector had gone to Burundi to join the RPF and wondered "what kind of welcome people would give them the day that they came back." The councilor from Maraba commented that "all conflict between two individuals has begun to have an ethnic coloration."28

According to regulations, the refugees were not supposed to cultivate or engage in trade, but many were soon participating in local economic life, making use of contacts established when they were still in Burundi. Many sent their children to the local school and formed drinking friendships with local people.29 More important for the history of the genocide, the Burundians also became part of the political life of the commune. François Bazaramba, the Baptist youth director, was named chief of the camp, an official post that allowed him to serve as liaison between the refugees and the government and other outside agencies. With his church connections and his own origin as a refugee from Burundi, he was well suited for the job. As one of Ntaganzwa's closest associates, he drew therefugees into the group supporting the burgomaster.30 The communal administrator – the equivalent of a burgomaster – of the Burundi commune of Kabarore was among the refugees. He was reportedly lodged at a house belonging to another one of Ntaganzwa's inner circle.31 One witness described the changes that followed the arrival of the refugees:

    It became more tense when the Burundians came. They wanted to continue the killing that they had started over in Burundi. [A]fter the arrival of the Burundians, there was only one party here [MDR-Power]....The Burundians were favored. They were given the right to speak in meetings. They even had their own "burgomaster of the Burundians," who fled together with the Rwandans to Zaire.32

Burundian refugees had engaged in military training at camps elsewhere in Rwanda for some time and those newly arrived in Nyakizu soon began similar activities. In November, 1993 the office of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Kigali protested this training which violated international convention and U.N. regulations and asked the Rwandan authorities to halt it.33 Ntaganzwa did not intervene although he must have known that some fifty refugees were being trained not far from the communal office.34 According to one witness, Ntaganzwa had been selling arms to militants even while they were in Burundi. He had acquired the weapons from Rwandan authorities, claiming he needed them to defend the frontier and then had sold them at a profit to Burundians.

A leading Hutu businessman and former parliamentary deputy, Ange Nshimiryayo, wrote to warn the prime minister about the growing probems inNyakizu.35 At the end of November 1993, Prime Minister Uwilingiyimana visited the commune to try to ease tensions between Hutu and Tutsi and, specifically, to warn the refugees that they must halt their military training.36

Training and Arms

Witnesses from Nyakizu state that some young men from the commune began their own military training sessions as early as September or October 1993, with local military reservists as instructors.37 Most of the Rwandans trained appear to have been from the JDR, but young men from other parties also were included, so long as they were Hutu.38 Several witnesses report having seen young men picked up in the communal truck from throughout Nyakizu and taken to a training site. Another reported that young men were taken out of the commune for training.39

Once the Burundians arrived, Rwandan militia trained together with them, sometimes under the supervision of Bazaramba.40 Another who reported that the "intellectuals" had learned how to shoot from the Burundians added:

    Before the genocide, there was military training going on here. It was former soldiers who trained people. I never saw them directly, but they did training at night and exercises. At four in the morning, they would run and do exercises. They didn't sing [as soldiers in training in Rwanda commonly do],but you could hear their feet....Burundians helped in the military training, including these 4 a.m. exercises.41

Nyakizu received three new "commando rifles" in an official distribution in January 1994 and apparently other arms were delivered through informal channels as well.42 Once the genocide began several dozen men, former soldiers and members of Ntaganzwa's circle, brought out firearms and grenades. Ntaganzwa and his supporters stockpiled traditional arms as well as firearms and distributed them when the killing began. Assailants obtained spears from the neighboring commune of Gishamvu where they were made by specialists, but they made their own cruder weapons, such as nail-studded clubs.43

In February, 1994, the popular PSD leader Gatabazi was assassinated in Kigali and the CDR president Bucyana was lynched in retaliation the day after, near Butare. As people on all sides became more frightened, Ntaganzwa launched a new campaign of kubohoza in which political and ethnic loyalties were now completely intertwined. One witness declared:

    Many people were imprisoned in February 1994. It was a time of great kubohoza. They were saying "Inkotanyi are attacking." They traumatized a lot of people looking for accomplices of the Inkotanyi. They had many meetings, particularly in February.44

One older man reported:

    Kubohoza was very strong here. I myself was a victim. My wife was Tutsi, and in February 1994, they brought me to my knees and made me give money [for party membership dues]. I was PL, but they made me give 2,000 francs[about U.S.$10] and become MDR-Power. They also put me in prison, beat me, and threatened my wife.45

Beginning in February 1994, the communal administration insisted that the security patrols begun the previous April be done more regularly. As one witness remembers:

    There had been organization before and people guarding and such, but in February there was a whole new level of organization. Before there had been patrols, but in February...they were each night. The councilor or cell leader was involved in organizing them....People who were not in the burgomaster's party and also the Tutsi were obliged to join the patrols, but they did not work at the barriers.46

In addition, during this period, a contingent of gendarmes was sent from Butare to help maintain order in the commune.

In March 1994, a newly arrived group of Hutu refugees got into a dispute with the political leader and businessman Ange Nshimiryayo and on March 23 tried to shoot him.47

As these signals of danger to Tutsi and moderates multiplied, an unidentified person circulated a handwritten list of "Extremists in the Commune of Nyakizu," naming "the burgomaster and his group at the head," many Burundian refugees, the youth organizer, several policemen, teachers, and the inspector of schools, Geoffrey Dusabe, "and his friends." The list was sent to the prefect who wrote to ask Ntaganzwa about it. The burgomaster replied by denying that there were any problems in Nyakizu except for sickness and hunger.48

Shortly before the genocide began, leaders of MDR-Power from Nyakizu met several times with their counterparts from communes in Gikongoro. During thisperiod, Ntaganzwa himself was reportedly seeing the sub-prefect Biniga.49 The burgomaster went to Kigali for a meeting on March 31 or April 1, just after the March 30 meeting on civilian self-defense at the army headquarters (see above). According to one witness, neither his wife nor his driver knew – or would admit to knowing – exactly where he had gone or for what purpose.50

Beginning the Genocide

The use of violence against political opponents, the identification of all Tutsi with the RPF, the ideology of Hutu power, growth of insecurity, the pressure from the Burundian refugees, the training of the militia, and the demand for loyalty to the burgomaster all worked together to prepare for genocide in Nyakizu. As elsewhere, the catalyst would be the killing of Habyarimana, but as one informant asserted, "If the president had not died, still something would have happened."51

As in other parts of Rwanda, most residents of Nyakizu heard about the death of President Habyarimana from the radio. That same afternoon, witnesses saw smoke from the first houses burning far away in the Gikongoro commune of Rwamiko and, soon after, people fleeing from Gikongoro began arriving in Nyakizu.52 At first, people were unsure what was happening. The restrictions on movement and the cancelling of the Friday market meant they could not gather news from others as they usually did. But as people began arriving from Gikongoro, Hutu as well as Tutsi were afraid and some fled their homes.53 A Hutu informant from the northern-most sector of Gihango recalled:

    The first people who fled Gikongoro arrived in our sector on Thursday and...said that the Interahamwe had attacked them. Their houses were being burned in Gikongoro all the time from Thursday through Saturday. When we saw the people whom we knew, I thought to myself: this is the war....I fled with my family on Tuesday of the next week, after I saw houses burningnearby. I was really afraid....I fled with Gikongoro people toward Rusenge...where I got information about the war: it was a war for killing Tutsi. At the beginning, I didn't know who was attacking whom. It was just houses burning. Gikongoro people said that...it was first of all for killing Tutsi and...so we returned home.54

In Rutobwe sector, removed by the entire length of the commune from Gihango, people also learned on Tuesday, April 12, that it was Tutsi who were being targeted. The prosperous trader Charles Rwahama gathered the information from Tutsi at the church of Cyahinda and brought the news to Rutobwe. As one witness recalls:

    We saw smoke, but we didn't know who in particular was in danger. But Charles Rwahama came to tell us that it was Tutsi especially who were seeking refuge in the parish. He decided to go to Burundi...He went together with his younger brother who was a student. He left his family behind. He didn't know anything about the seriousness of the situation, or he would have taken them....And when he came back, his family was dead.55

A survivor from Bunge described how hostility grew against the Tutsi:

    When we heard that the president was dead, we also heard that Kigali was having problems. And here, when you spoke to Hutu, you got no response. Except they said threateningly, "Things are going to happen." Hutu stopped speaking to us completely when they saw people coming here from Gikongoro. We knew that now it would be our turn. We knew we would have to seek refuge. Then one week after the president's death, houses began burning here.56

Gathering the Tutsi, Mobilizing the Hutu

As was so often the case during the genocide, public reassurances masked the secret organization of the killings. A Hutu witness who lived near the communal office reported:

    We saw the burgomaster at the center and asked what we could do so that it [the violence] would not happen here. "It is the Interahamwe of Damien Biniga who are doing it," that's what the burgomaster said. "The Tutsi here don't have to worry because there are no Interahamwe here. We are all MDR and PSD." After reassuring us, he held another meeting with his inner circle at the communal office to tell them what was really going to happen. I saw him summoning them to this meeting by name. I was not invited because he did not trust me.57

Ntaganzwa used his inner circle of party and personal supporters to carry out the genocide, backing up the cooperative members of the official hierarchy and supplanting those opposed to the slaughter. He sent them first to organize patrols in each sector and particularly to monitor the area to the west and north where people were arriving from Gikongoro. Some were hoping to flee to Burundi, but others expected to find safety at Nyakizu. The burgomaster insisted that the Tutsi go to Cyahinda church rather than seeking shelter with families. Ntaganzwa's supporters, JDR and MDR leaders, communal councilors, cell leaders, and police, both communal and national, all helped direct the new arrivals to the church. According to one witness from Gikongoro:

    I was in Mubuga....The assailants from Gikongoro were behind us together with the sub-prefect of Munini [Biniga]. In front of us was Nyakizu, and the burgomaster of Nyakizu was at the border...reassuring us: "If you come to my commune, you'll be safe." He was together with the community leaders and with some ordinary people. They did patrols in the night to reassure the people that Nyakizu was safe.58

According to a Nyakizu resident:

    As the Gikongoro people came fleeing in this direction, they were saying: "There are cadavers!" But the burgomaster said "That is not going to happen here. I am protecting you."59

Another elderly survivor recalled:

    The burgomaster welcomed people who were being pursued, saying, "Go to Cyahinda." And the intellectuals and other authorities assisted people to come to Cyahinda. That is how I came with my family to Cyahinda.60

Ntaganzwa directed a communal employee to organize the Tutsi at the church by their sector of origin and to appoint a leader for each group, thus reinforcing the impression that he did intend to take responsibility for their welfare.61

In addition to controlling the flow of people, the patrols were supposed to prevent troublemakers from Gikongoro from raiding Nyakizu or, alternatively, to prevent infiltration by the RPF who might hide among the crowds. Initially Tutsi took part in the patrols.62 As a Tutsi from Yaramba recounts:

    I participated in the patrols from April 7 through April 11. They said, "The president is dead and Inyenzi are going to invade." We all did turns during the nights....If we encountered a person whom we did not know, we put the person somewhere, and in the morning we called the chief of the hill [chef de colline] who would ask, "Who are you?" to see if the person was Inyenzi or not.63

One patrol in the Cyahinda sector captured a man who had come to pillage. They turned him over to the burgomaster, who put him in the communal lockup but then freed him the next day. After this incident, the burgomaster directed people, "Keep your eyes open. Stay together. Do not let anyone be alone."64 Tutsi then began to realize that the patrols were not so much for general security as to keep track of their movements and they stopped participating in them.

Even while the authorities were taking measures supposed to promote security, Ntaganzwa's men were promoting fear of the Tutsi. A witness from Rutobwe linked the anti-Tutsi propaganda directly to Ntaganzwa's meetings with his circle:

    At these meetings, every sector was represented by one or more people, friends of the burgomaster, who kept his secrets. They were the abanyamabanga.65 From Rutobwe, the person was Celestin Batakanwa of the CERAI. Those people trusted by the burgomaster came out of the meetings and they spoke to others. They went to the leaders of the party, saying: "Be careful, those Tutsi are going to kill us. There are RPF all over. They have hidden arms."

In this way, by spreading these rumors, they made a large part of the population afraid of the RPF. I remember once I was speaking with one of my students, and I told him: "You're crazy to say that all Tutsi are armed RPF." Even though he said these things, I really didn't believe that he was serious. "Did you ever see an RPF soldier?" I asked him. But he was serious. They cultivated fear.66

The message reached even ordinary people on the outskirts of the commune. One said that he had heard rumors "that the Inkotanyi would take power. It was said that the Tutsi had to be killed, or they would kill the Hutu."67 Many people prepared for the worst. One Hutu married to a Tutsi woman said they had discussed the situation and decided simply to remain in their home and to die together.68

The First Killings

On April 13, RTLM warned that Inyenzi were hiding themselves among crowds of people fleeing into the prefectures of Gitarama and Butare. The shrill Valérie Bemeriki broadcast: "I have told you repeatedly...that the Inkotanyi say that they will make their breakthrough especially in the prefecture of Butare and thatthey will find an opening there and we are not unaware that they have 'accomplices' everywhere there...."69 That night assailants killed the first Tutsi, quietly, along the banks of the Akanyaru River, in the sector of Nkakwa.

A Tutsi survivor who lived in a house from which he could see across the river into Burundi, reports having seen groups of armed Hutu patrolling along the banks of the river on the Burundi side for several days. On April 13, they stopped a group of Tutsi, apparently from Gikongoro, who had forded the river and they brought them back across to Rwanda, where armed civilians were waiting. The Rwandans and Burundians together used machetes and other traditional weapons to kill the Tutsi, then threw their bodies into the river. Because both the burgomaster and the ordinary people of Nyakizu had frequent contacts with people on the other side of the frontier, this kind of cooperation was easily arranged. One witness who lived near the river stated, "Rwandans promised Burundians cows if they would help. I heard neighbors say this and, after the massacres, the cows were given."70

Also on April 13, in the sector of Maraba in the center of the commune, a young Tutsi night watchman saw the local patrol pass through a cluster of shops and houses and begin to mount the hill towards the bar owned by François Bazaramba. Sector president of MDR-Power, head of the Burundian refugee camp and supporter of Ntaganzwa, Bazaramba reportedly had organized the local patrol and was in the group that night along with a former communal policeman and a former councilor. The watchman saw the patrol intersect a group of twenty-one people who were hurrying through the night, including the elderly, women and children. Presumably they were coming from Gikongoro and headed for the border. The patrol forced them to go up the hill and to sit down next to Bazaramba's bar. The watchman followed a short distance behind, afraid of being seen in the bright moonlight. He saw them kill four men, apparently the strongest of the group, bludgeoning them with hammers and clubs. Then the former councilor intervened to stop the killing, saying that the patrol should take the people to the authorities in the morning. The patrol stopped, threw the bodies of the four they had killed into a latrine and in the morning took the others to the communal office.71

Thursday morning, the school inspector Geoffrey Dusabe led a public meeting in the market square at Birambo in Yaramba sector, apparently to rally people to participate in patrols. Among the other party activists who attended was a youngman named Kabano, the head of the JDR for the sector. A Tutsi teacher from Yaramba who was present at the market found the atmosphere so hostile by midday that he decided to leave. Later in the afternoon he heard that Tutsi were fleeing on a nearby hill and he and his brother went to ask them for information. On their way home, they were intercepted by a patrol of some twenty young men led by Kabano. The patrol forced them to sit down and began interrogating them about why they were not participating in efforts to ensure the security of the commune. The teacher said he had to return home for something to eat and to get his arms before beginning. They were allowed to leave, but that night their house was surrounded, apparently by the same patrol. In the morning, the women of the household succeeded in leaving, with the family cattle, and the teacher slipped out to hide in a banana grove. From there, he saw the patrol loot the house and then drag out his father, who had been unable to flee with the others because he was sick. The JDR assailants piled dried banana leaves around him and set him on fire. When the teacher left his hiding place that night to flee Nyakizu, his father still had not died. The women of the family were killed later in the commune of Kigembe where they had sought shelter.72

While Dusabe was conducting the meeting for the eastern part of the commune at Birambo, the burgomaster was mobilizing the rest of Nyakizu through a meeting at Cyahinda. He warned that people must carry out the patrols just as he had directed. He also ordered local people to stay away from the church, thus beginning the isolation of the Tutsi that would end in their elimination, a pattern found also at Kibeho, Kaduha and elsewhere.73

Shortly after the meetings to mobilize the population, Ntaganzwa directed his subordinates to collect all the weapons held by the Tutsi at the church, a measure just like that taken at other massacre sites. But a university intern working temporarily at the commune refused the order, apparently with the support of the assistant burgomaster Gasingwa. The student states:

    On Thursday, April 14, at around 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon, the burgomaster told us to go take from the Tutsi anything they might use to defend themselves, such as spears, arms, any kind of weapon. They had these arms for protection, because they had come with their cows and their houseshad been burned. Now, the burgomaster instructed us to confiscate these arms. We refused. We said that these people had come with their herds and they were afraid. They wanted to protect themselves. To take away their arms would be too difficult....We said, let the people guard their herds, because right now they are really upset.74

Ntaganzwa was angered at this insubordination but did not force the issue. Instead he met with his inner circle at the communal office and then left to continue his work elsewhere in the commune.75


Despite efforts to direct all those in flight to Cyahinda, large numbers continued to head for the frontier. On Thursday, there were so many that they formed a line stretching from Nyarubuye to the hill of Kwishorezo, just overlooking the river, a distance of more than three kilometers. Three barriers had been set up in Nkakwa, the sector at the border, but the guards had not halted the flood of people, supposedly because they were overwhelmed by the number. The apparent reluctance of the sector councilor, Albert Nzimbirinda, to participate in the killing (see below) may help explain this failure. Once in sight of the river, the Tutsi hesitated before attempting the crossing, intimidated by armed patrols on one side or the other. Hundreds gathered in an open area at a small commercial district on top of one of the hills bordering the river.76

According to several witnesses, Ntaganzwa arrived at Nkakwa at about 6 p.m. in a red pickup truck. He was apparently accompanied by two or three teachers and the head of the communal police. Using a hand-held loudspeaker, Ntaganzwa supposedly exhorted people to protect the commune by keeping the rebels – meaning the Tutsi – from fleeing to Burundi. He declared that the men intended only to take their wives and children to safety and then to return to attack Rwanda. Since Nkakwa was close to Burundi, the people there would be particularly vulnerable to attack.77 After speaking at Nkakwa, the burgomaster wenton to another border sector, Rutobwe, where he is said to have delivered the same message.78

Approximately an hour after Ntaganzwa's departure, the killers, under the direction of two leaders from the JDR and another from MDR-Power, attacked the Tutsi using machetes and other traditional weapons. One witness reports, "Rutobwe did not have many Tutsi, so people came from there to help at Nkakwa."79 Some Burundians also crossed the river to assist. Witnesses from Nkakwa say Ntaganzwa returned twice during the night to supervise the killing.80

As dawn approached, Ntaganzwa was busy going around the commune collecting carefully chosen supporters, those who were "sure," to finish the "work" at Nkakwa. One witness reports:

    Those who participated [in the] killing at Nkakwa....had been chosen by the burgomaster and his friends. The people selected for this – the burgomaster knew what he was doing. He had sorted people out and had chosen those who were active in the MDR. These people meant to kill, and they also pillaged.81

To ensure that local Tutsi residents not take flight, Ntaganzwa used the loudspeaker to make an announcement as he went by in the vehicle:

    Stay at home. There is no problem. We're taking care of the people who attack us. I believe that this message was directed particularly at Tutsi who were in their homes – which was nearly all of them. They didn't know that people were being massacred at Nkakwa all throughout the night. We didn't hear anything. The killing was just by machete.82

At first light, Ntaganzwa returned to the border accompanied by several vehicles full of assailants whom he had picked up in various parts of the commune. Awitness returning from his work as a nightwatchman that night says he heard the burgomaster give orders as he dropped off the killers, "Get to work. Leave no one alive."83 The leaders brought by Ntaganzwa organized the local assailants into groups and used drums and whistles to communicate with each other and to frighten the victims. After killing most of the Tutsi on top of the hill known as Mu Gisoro, they pushed the others back towards the river. Burundian killers waited on the opposite bank determined not to let the Tutsi cross. They shouted that the Tutsi must not be allowed to enter Burundi and become official refugees and obtain protection. Caught between the two groups of killers, hundreds of Tutsi were slaughtered. Very few escaped, scattering to hide in the bush. Of these survivors, many were caught later that day or in the following days by patrols. Ntaganzwa sent National Police to the border later on Friday to help with searches and witnesses report that they then heard gunfire from that direction.84 The bodies of those killed near the river were simply thrown in the water. The others would be buried in a number of mass graves on the hills Kwishorezo and Mu Gisoro.85

After finishing at the river's edge, the killers set out to hunt down local Tutsi in their homes, both in Nkakwa and in Rutobwe. One witness awoke to hear others in his household giving the alarm because a neighbor's house had just been attacked. He remembers them saying, "Over at Rwamgampuhwe's house, they have just set fire. He was at home! He has been killed with his children!"86 A Baptist pastor and the director of the Baptist school are said to have participated in these killings.87 According to one Tutsi farmer from Nkakwa:

    The killing had gone on all night. They came to attack my home at 4 a.m. It was a group of five neighbors. I saw them coming. My wife and children had gone to hide with Hutu families, and I stayed at the house to guard the cows. When I saw them coming, I went to hide behind a latrine. They broke downthe doors of the house and took everything inside. They took all of the animals – four cows, two pigs, seven chickens. They began to burn the house, so I fled into the bush. My wife and children were found and killed. And my mother. They were all killed by the people of Nkakwa.88

As this testimony and many others make clear, some Hutu tried to protect their Tutsi neighbors, particularly those to whom they were bound by the ties of marriage, clientage, or long-standing friendships. Other Hutu opposed the killings on the grounds of principle. Such seems to have been the case with the communal councilor, Albert Nzimbirinda, who apparently refused to kill and even tried to stop others from killing, an effort which led to his removal several weeks later.89 Perhaps anticipating that Nzimbirinda would refuse to participate, Ntaganzwa had made sure that JDR and MDR-Power leaders were on the spot to replace him in directing the slaughter.

The killers pillaged the goods of their victims, whether Tutsi in flight or local residents. One witness recounts seeing "people returning from Nkakwa with bags of beans, clothing, mats." As the news spread that "the family of so and so has fled and they have left behind their belongings," other people not involved in the killings went off to loot, some of them apparently unaware that a massacre had taken place. During the morning many people returned from Nkakwa and "everyone brought back something on his head." The witness continued:

    One man came by with cushions for a couch. He had six of them. He wanted to sell them in order to buy beer. "Where did you get this?" I asked. "At Charles' [Rwahama]90 place!" he told me.

    The National Police took the beer and the beer-crates from the stock at Charles' place. They took everything until it was empty....Ordinary people had nothing to fear. They were encouraged by the example of the National Police.People were returning with things which they had found free. There was no punishment. It was like a festival. And they were selling these things for next to nothing. For example, a radio normally costing 20,000 francs now cost 2,000 francs. As usual, they bought beer with the money.91

After men pillaged larger, heavier, and more valuable items, women helped themselves to what was left.


The Catholic church at Cyahinda, a weathered fifty-year-old brick building, sat atop a hill within view of the communal office. A major social center for the commune, it offered a place not just for religious services, but also for meetings of women's associations, youth groups, scouts, and various other organizations throughout the week. To the left of the long church building were large, flat grounds and to the right, the land fell off steeply. In addition to its religious programs, the church ran a primary school, a vocational high school and a health center at Cyahinda. A large complex of school buildings extended behind the church, enclosing several sizable courtyards. Just down from the church complex, on the road to the communal office, there was a commercial and residential center where many of the employees of the church lived. The main intellectual center of the commune, Cyahinda was viewed as a "Tutsi community," in part because the priest and several other church employees were Tutsi.

When a researcher from Human Rights Watch first visited the church in November 1994, the main doors, marked by bullet holes, stood open. A burn mark on the inside wall just above the door showed that at least one grenade had been thrown in through that entrance. Bullets shot into the church had left holes on several walls and had broken some of the stained glass windows. There were blood stains on the floors and walls. Bleached bits of human bone were mixed with the dirt on the ground around the church. Just next to the church was the grave of the priest. Three mass graves lay behind and below the church and a long line of graves ran next to the church on the right side. Behind the church, on the left side, was a long row of latrines that had been stuffed full of bodies.

The Tutsi who arrived at Cyahinda beginning on April 8 hoped to find sanctuary there as many had in previous such disasters, a hope that Ntaganzwa encouraged. Others who had planned instead to escape to Burundi were alarmed by news of the massacre at Nkakwa and Rutobwe and so they too sought shelter atthe church. With violence behind them and violence ahead of them, they had little choice.

On Friday morning, April 15, assailants leaving the killing at Nkakwa and Rutobwe began attacking Tutsi elsewhere in Nyakizu while fresh recruits joined in the "work" as well. They killed some Tutsi that morning and drove many others from their homes, which they then burned so that they could not return.92 Even those Tutsi who had not yet been attacked had good reason to fear and many fled to the church. As one witness states, "When we heard gunfire [at Nkakwa], we knew we could not escape south to Burundi, so we went to take refuge at Cyahinda."93

The burgomaster went to see Tutsi who remained at home and told them to go to the church.94 According to one elderly Tutsi from Cyahinda sector:

    The burgomaster arrived at my home together with communal police, the National Police, and militia. They instructed me to go to the church. The burgomaster reassured people that even though they could see people fleeing from other places, there would be no violence in his commune.95

The witness did not really believe this promise. He states, "I saw guns and machine guns. I thought it was for killing, but the burgomaster said that it was for protecting us. We had doubts, but we were not sure." He felt he had no choice but to go. Within twenty minutes, this man and his family gathered a few belongings and hurried to Cyahinda. When he arrived at the church, he turned and saw his own home burning on the hill behind him.96

The local Tutsi who arrived on Friday found the church, the buildings of the school, and the yards surrounding them overflowing with people and their animalsand other possessions. One survivor estimated that Tutsi from six communes were there. "The church was full" she said. "It was really full."97

As the gangs of assailants went about burning and pillaging, an employee of the commune and sector head of MRND raised the alarm, saying the commune was being attacked from Gikongoro. Once he had gotten a crowd together and excited at the Maraba health center, Ntaganzwa arrived to take over, announcing that it was Tutsi who were the real threat to security. He reportedly asked why nothing had yet been done in his commune, when the killing was already finished elsewhere. According to several informants, Tutsi in the vicinity were taken and killed on the spot as soon as Ntaganzwa had finished speaking. Other Tutsi in Maraba fled when they heard of the killings.98

The "Battle"

On Friday, April 15 assailants launched a preliminary attack against the Tutsi at Cyahinda at about 10 a.m., just as the killing at Nkakwa was winding down. A witness who was hiding in the bush at Nkakwa that morning states, "I heard people saying that they should go over to Cyahinda, where there were many Tutsi, and help in the killing there."99 Some of the attackers were armed with guns and fired into the crowd around the church. The Tutsi scattered and started throwing stones to defend themselves. They had the advantage of a superior location and drove back the assailants, who were trying to fight their way uphill. After about an hour, the attackers drew back, some of them carrying off the animals or goods they had plundered. Others began searching for individuals and small groups hiding around the edges of the church complex, while Tutsi tried to find safety in the church itself or in its adjacent buildings. Some of the Tutsi gathered the injured and moved them to a protected area where they could receive care. Profiting from a lull in the shooting, others fled the church to take refuge at nearby Nyakizu hill or headed out of the commune altogether. At the same time, other Tutsi arrived, believing the church still offered the best hope of sanctuary. The parish priest, Abbé CharlesNcogoza, advised the people at the church to defend themselves as best they could.100

At about 2 p.m., the burgomaster arrived in the communal pickup truck, accompanied by National Policemen, communal policemen, and a former soldier named Kambanda.101 Witnesses report that some of the "intellectuals" who joined Ntaganzwa were armed, including Geoffrey Dusabe, François Bazaramba, a university student, and the director of a vocational high school.102 They were backed by approximately two hundred Burundian refugees, some of whom were also armed, by the MDR-Power activists and by one to two thousand others.

Several witnesses, including one from Gikongoro, stated that Damien Biniga, sub-prefect of Munini, participated in the attack along with his Interahamwe. They said that some of the attackers from Gikongoro wore banana leaves across their chests or tied in clumps on their arms so that assailants could be easily distinguished from victims. They also used the greeting "Power" and they saluted each other, "Turatsembatsemba abatutsi" or "We will exterminate the Tutsi."103

Using a loudspeaker to address the crowd, the burgomaster demanded that they put down their weapons. Some did so. One of the National Policemen began threatening those who refused. The burgomaster then insisted that the people fromGikongoro leave the church, perhaps wanting to divide the crowd so that it would be easier to attack.104

He said, "Everyone [from Gikongoro] must leave, or you will see what happens." And he counted to three, "One, two, three." And just after that, they began to fire. It was chaos. Everyone ran. Many people fled from the church, but many others of us stayed there and hid. I hid behind some houses of the convent. There were some militaires [National Policemen] who found me there. One of them wanted to kill me, but the others said to leave me alone. They knew my husband [a Hutu] and said that he was a good man.105

Since early on April 15, Burundian refugees – particularly women and children – had left their camp and headed towards the border. Men capable of fighting stayed in Nyakizu, probably about one thousand of them, and many of them killed ferociously. One witness, who identified the Burundians by hearing them shout in Kirundi, declared:

    The Burundians were killing anyone they saw. At the church, the shooting continued. People were scattering, coming out of the church. And the Burundians were hunting them down.106

When the afternoon attack began, the Tutsi took a stand on the large soccer field behind the church and school. There, near the summit of the hill and protected by school buildings on either side, they again hurled rocks to defend themselves. In July 1995, a survivor from Gikongoro walked over the site with Human Rights Watch and FIDH researchers, recalling the massacre:

    When the attack started, we scattered, running down to the soccer field to fight....Most of my family died on the soccer field. Three children died here. My wife died here....I myself got shot. This was on the 15th of April. We were destroyed together. I lay down with my dead family as the killers attacked....The attackers included military men and civilians, one person in uniform with lots of civilians. Since they did not have many bullets, they shot only the strong people and attacked the weak ones with machetes. And I was shot in the leg. I couldn't run, so I lay down among the cadavers. The attackers whom I saw were not drunk. They wore banana leaves. The ones in Gikongoro had also worn banana leaves. And they wore chalk on their faces so that you couldn't recognize them. They wore that both in Gikongoro and here.

When the first line of civilians with traditional arms was failing, they moved back and the second line of attackers which had been behind them came forward. They had guns and they shot, which caused us on the soccer field to scatter. Then, the first attackers came forward again and they chased us, moving onto the field with machetes to attack us.107

During the afternoon a large group of Tutsi fled from the parish. One of the group recalls:

    We left with many women and children. I carried children, and my wives carried children. We left everything else behind, including the pigs. We left in a big line – so that nobody else could get in between us. At that time, the attackers had turned their attention in another direction. They were engaged in shooting and didn't pursue us. They had not yet formed a human enclosure around the church. On the path to Gasasa, we did not encounter attackers. We could see that elsewhere people living around there were watching and even assisting in the attack. The neighbors who did see us were afraid to attack us, because we had strong men in the line, and they knew that one of the National Policemen had already been killed. Local people avoided us, except for saying "Kagame has deceived you."108

During the attack, the Tutsi managed to kill two National Policemen. As the police moved forward firing across the field, some Tutsi came out of buildingsbehind them and ran to overpower them. They killed one policeman by machete, but apparently shot the second with the gun taken from the first.109 The national radio would later report the incident, saying that National Police who were trying to reach the church to protect the Tutsi had been attacked by salvos of bullets from automatic weapons.110

In another incident that afternoon, a Tutsi charged the burgomaster with a machete in an attempt to kill him. According to one survivor:

    Just after he [the burgomaster] spoke, one man ran up to try to kill him. He said, "I am going to die, but I will save a lot of people." He was stopped, of course, but this frightened the burgomaster, so he left right after that. He took his family to safety in Butare and went to get more military men.111

Another informant who saw the event confirms this version. She reports that the assailant, who was her uncle, was stopped before he even reached the burgomaster and that the burgomaster was not injured in the attack.112

Ntaganzwa and his supporters made full use of these incidents to heighten fear of the Tutsi exactly as the disciple of the propaganda expert Mucchielli had directed. The burgomaster traveled throughout the commune with his head bandaged warning the population that RPF soldiers were in the church, hiding in the midst of the Tutsi civilians. He insisted that everyone must help defend the commune. A Hutu witness from Rutobwe recounts:

    The burgomaster went around doing propaganda meetings, during which he said that the people of Cyahinda had thrown a grenade at him and that he had escaped by a miracle. There were witnesses who said that it was only a stone, but the burgomaster said that it was a grenade. He got in his pickup truck with his head bandaged and went around telling the population: "They tried to kill me!" People saw that his head was bandaged and they believed. I believed itmyself when I saw his bandage. Only later did I find out that he had taken advantage of the stone to arouse anger in the commune: a stone had become a grenade. And the truth? Well, people saw the bandage and believed it was the truth.113

Eager to multiply pretexts for the massacre, Ntaganzwa and his circle also claimed to have found a list of names of people who had given money to the RPF, a claim just like that heard in so many other places in Rwanda. The witness who reported this remarked:

    I did not know if this was true, but it generated a lot of anger among the people. And who could verify these claims? Those who knew the truth were afraid, and people were not supposed to be going out.114

Improving Participation

Although many Tutsi had been killed or wounded, they had successfully withstood the attacks on Friday. By that evening, Ntaganzwa saw the need to reinforce the attackers, especially because the Burundians who had played such an important part in the assault declared that they would not continue their "work" the next day unless they could be assured of more support from the Rwandans. The burgomaster apparently called for reinforcements from Butare and from communes in Gikongoro. He also decided to take measures to improve participation among the people of his own commune.115

Large numbers of people had turned out to pillage, which was not surprising given the overwhelming poverty and actual hunger in Nyakizu. Even if the person targeted were just as poor as the pillager, the criminal still went home richer than he had begun. And if the target was in fact more prosperous – in the case of some traders and members of the elite, considerably more prosperous – the pillagers were indeed happy to share in such a "festival." At Cyahinda, some of the assailants also pillaged the schools and health center, disappearing down the paths laden withmattresses from the dormitories, computers from the offices, and microscopes from the health center.116

If many wanted to steal, fewer were ready to destroy or to kill. Out on the hills, a JDR leader had to insist that assailants burn and destroy houses instead of just pillaging and moving on to the next target. The National Police reportedly had to press people to attack persons because they were too focused simply on looting and leaving.117 One woman fleeing with her children to Cyahinda thought they would be killed when they stumbled on a group of assailants on a back path through the sorghum fields. But, as she reported, "They were busy killing cattle and cutting them up. They were too busy with that to bother with us. So we were able to get to Cyahinda."118

To turn pillagers into killers and resisters into participants, Ntaganzwa decided to eliminate several moderate Hutu leaders who were providing a model and a cover for others who would not kill. The most important was Jean-Marie Vianney Gasingwa, the PSD leader in the commune and Ntaganzwa's rival for political control since more than a year before. As assistant burgomaster, Gasingwa spoke with authority as well as reason. He asked people, "Why kill? What will it get you? Why do it?"119 He had refused to disarm the Tutsi the day before the massacre, thus encouraging a similar refusal from a university student who worked as an intern at the communal office, and perhaps from others.120 The student recalls that after the Friday massacre, Gasingwa and several other moderates had decided to spend the night at the communal office:

    We were at the commune, and the burgomaster sent a message calling us to Nyagisozi: Come to my place for a drink. They went, but I didn't go because I was guarding my home....On their return, they had walked about 100 meters,and [they were killed] ... [by] a group of Burundians accompanied by friends of the burgomaster. [The killers] were armed with machetes....Saturday morning, I was at my place and I got the news that my friends had been murdered. "And you are also in danger," I was told by the person who brought me the news. I decided to flee.121

Three other communal employees, Jean-Damascene Nkurikiyeyezu, the cashier, Jean-Marie-Vianney Ntawukuliyayo, the accountant, and Cansius Kalisa, the agronomist were killed with Gasingwa. A fifth government employee, the director of the Centre de Formation de la Population, was slain later while passing the communal office on his motorcycle, which was then appropriated by National Policemen.122

The national radio reported these murders, but in one of the cynical deceptions common during the genocide, it said the moderates had been slain by Tutsi from Cyahinda church. Thus those committed to the genocide not only rid themselves of dissidents but used their deaths to heighten fear and hatred of the "enemy."123

According to a witness from the commune, "Killing these officials was very important in shaping popular thinking (sensibilisation)."124 Several other persons corroborated this judgment, one of them saying, "When the party leaders got killed, that scared the lesser PSD people."125 As in so many other places in Rwanda, people who had begun just by fearing the RPF now had reason to fear their own officials and political leaders. Because Ntaganzwa had already demonstrated his ruthlessness before April 6, people could easily believe that he would use force against any who opposed the genocide.

Beginning the next morning, April 16, the National Police added their direct pressure to the threat implied in the Friday night murders. One witness declared:

    The National Police appropriated the pickup trucks at the commercial center and beginning on Saturday, they took everybody along the road. "Let's gofight the RPF!" As if there were RPF in each Tutsi family and in the buildings at the church and the CERAI. They believed that there were lots of soldiers at the church. But, in fact, there were no soldiers of the RPF at the parish. There were ordinary people. Cyahinda was full of children, women, and men, not soldiers.126

During the night, most Tutsi had stayed put at Cyahinda, in part for lack of any clear idea where else to go, in part because guards were present to keep them from leaving. Some witnesses report that on Saturday morning fresh troops arrived from Butare, probably more National Policemen. Ntaganzwa and his assistants organized local assailants more tightly than before in groups of about fifty men. In some cases, the leaders presented themselves with their groups already assembled, in others, the burgomaster named the heads. Most of the groups included one or two policemen, former soldiers or others with guns, to strengthen a force otherwise armed with traditional weapons.

A survivor of the massacre recounts what happened in a brief time of quiet just after dawn:

    People began to assemble in groups, looking for members of their families. It was just after daybreak....I went up to some buildings in the church complex to look for my three children. I was in a kitchen there, just behind the door, when the firing started again. This was around seven or eight in the morning. If I had not been behind the door, I would have been killed. The bullets hit the door, and people came falling into the room shot dead.127

Groups of attackers came rushing up the hill from several directions at once, trying to surround the Tutsi and to push them into a smaller space where they could be more easily slaughtered.

The killing went on all day, but still the Tutsi were so many that the assailants could not get to the church building. The killers went home in the late afternoon, establishing a schedule that they would follow for the next few days. As one witness reported, "They came exactly at 7 a.m. each morning, just like government employees. They worked until 5 p.m. and then came back the next morning at 7again." In the evening, they went home singing Hutu Power songs to feast on the cattle they had pillaged.128

On Saturday evening, a large group of Tutsi arrived from Kivu commune in Gikongoro, driving their cattle before them. Many may have been survivors of the killings at Muganza church who had fled from there Friday night. They were such a large crowd that people along the way were apparently intimidated by them and let them pass. Tutsi at the church were at first suspicious, afraid that some Interahamwe might have infiltrated the group, and tried to drive them away. But then the Cyahinda crowd accepted the others, who thus swelled the mass to confront the assailants the next morning.129

Promises of Help, Threats of Reprisals

On Sunday, April 17, the killing started again in the morning, but stopped for a time in the early afternoon with the arrival of Prefect Habyalimana, Major Habyarabatuma, and other officials. Habyalimana and Habyarabatuma were struggling to keep control in the prefecture in the face of multiple challenges to their authority, of which the killing at Nyakizu was the most serious. In the face of the growing hopelessness of the situation, the prefect sought to reassure the Tutsi. According to a woman who was at the church:

    He came and spoke to the crowd. He announced that he would bring troops to defend the Tutsi and that he would bring food....The killing died down for a little while just after his visit. But very soon after, it started again.130

That evening, as the prefect was returning to Butare, the national radio announced that he had been removed from his post. He was never able to keep his promise to help the people at Cyahinda.

Sunday afternoon, Ntaganzwa and his supporters continued their intimidation of those who were not participating in the killing. They wanted to ensure that no new leaders stepped forward to replace Gasingwa and the others killed for opposing the genocide. The burgomaster, the director of the vocational high school, four National Policemen and about thirty others from the neighborhood called on a teacher who had considerable standing, both because of his education andbecause he came from a large family. They searched his house, looking for Tutsi. Although they found none, they warned the teacher, "If you do not come with the others [to kill], you are an accomplice of the Inkotanyi." He was so frightened by the threat that he did not dare go out to the road after the incident. He reports, "I said to myself, 'If they see me, they can send someone to kill me.'"131

The same day that this visit took place at the southern most limit of Rwanda, Froduald Karamira, Vice-President of MDR-Power, approved such searches in a statement on Radio Rwanda. He said:

    The people...are now systematically searching all homes, looking for any person hidden there, any person who has not done patrols with others, who has not been seen with others, because such a person is suspected of hiding guns, since there are armed people who are not in military uniform who have hidden among the people....132

Whether or not Ntaganzwa and his group heard this particular statement before visiting the teacher, they were in fact carrying out the policy of the national leaders like Karamira whose words they virtually echoed in threatening the teacher.

Other dissidents, too, would have heard Karamira's speech or similar pronouncements and they would have understood the meaning of Habyalimana's removal. They would have understood that Ntaganzwa's killings and threats had the backing of those above him both in the administrative hierarchy and in the party system. With no likelihood of support from higher authority outside the commune and with the local leaders of the opposition dead, those who might have opposed the genocide in Nyakizu gave up. Some fled, like the student intern. Those who stayed formed a disapproving, but silent block who went into hiding, refused to participate or participated as little as possible. Many continued to take risks privately to protect Tutsi with whom they had ties, but they did not dare oppose the genocide publicly.133

On Monday morning, police, national and communal, former soldiers and armed civilians joined in launching a more vigorous attack on the parish. By this time, the civilian attackers had grown to such numbers that they could completelyenclose the complex to cut off any escape. Witnesses watching from a distance described it as a "fence of people," with various groups assigned to guard each area. These witnesses say that they could see sub-prefect Biniga organizing these groups to form the cordon of killers.134 The armed attackers moved methodically from one building or enclosure to the next. A survivor of the massacre described a courtyard in the church complex this way:

    Here it was completely full of people, and they shot into this dense crowd with machine guns. A lot of people died here. There are no bullet holes on the walls, because the crowd was so dense that the bullets went into their bodies. Even if the bullets passed through one person's body, they went into the body of another person.135

The assailants with guns then forced their way into the church through the main doors and the doors on the right side. Others, armed with machetes, clubs, and spears, followed closely behind.

The violence was so extraordinary in scale and ruthessness that a witness, hiding in her home and watching from the window, rubbed her eyes in disbelief and asked the person with her, "Do you see what I see?"136

That day a second important outsider came to offer help at Nyakizu, but to the killers rather than to their intended victims. Interim President Sindikubwabo stopped briefly at the communal office in the course of his tour to mobilize the people of southern Rwanda. His audience was small because most of the people of the commune, including the burgomaster, were busy attacking the church. A witness who was among the 200 or so persons who heard him speak reported that he said:

    People of Nyakizu, this is the first time you have had a visit from the president of Rwanda. I have come to encourage you and to thank you for what you have done so far. I am going back now to get some people to help you with this work and to see about a reward for you.137

Another witness saw the visit as a turning point. He recalls:

    In the evening, the information about this visit spread in the sectors. On the radio they said that the president had passed at Nyakizu and had told people, "We have to do as in 1959!" In Kinyarwanda, "Mukore nko 1959!" This referred to the revolution....The president just passed through. He gave permission. The participants said to themselves, "We are following the true path. We have been blessed by the president. The others are Inkotanyi."138

According to another informant, Sindikubwabo told people, "Even if you have to demolish the church to get rid of the Tutsi, do it. I will take responsibility."139

Unlike the prefect, Sindikubwabo was in a position to keep his promise. The next day twelve soldiers arrived in army jeeps, under the command of a young lieutenant, most likely Lt. Ildephonse Hategekimana from the Ngoma camp in Butare. The soldiers brought some heavy weapons which they used to fire a few rounds at the church from the communal office across the valley. They joined the other assailants in slaughtering those left at Cyahinda. They pursued people throughout the church, into the vestry, the sacristy, and onto the altar, leaving walls splattered with blood and brains. After nearly two years and countless washings, the stains remained as a testimony to the massacre. By Tuesday night, April 19, the killing at Cyahinda was complete, and the church and surrounding buildings and grounds were strewn with corpses.

That weekend in mid-April, the church at Cyahinda, some 1,050 square meters in area, probably sheltered between 3,000 and 3,500 people. The schools and outbuildings in the complex may have held 4,000 to 5,000 more. It is more difficult to judge the number who might have been on the grounds. The land falls away rapidly on the right side of the church, so it is unlikely that more than a few hundred people would have been there, but in front, behind and to the left of the church, there was space for several thousand to gather.

The total Tutsi population of Nyakizu just before the genocide was about 11,300,140 of whom perhaps 7,000 to 8,000 went to Cyahinda. There were also thousands of Tutsi from outside Nyakizu who took shelter in the church complex. On April 15, prefectural authorities estimated that 20,000 people were at Cyahinda,many of whom would have been women, children, and the elderly.141 Adolescent or adult males actively defending the church probably numbered fewer than 4,000 to 5,000.

The maximum number of persons with firearms in Nyakizu in early April was apparently between sixty and seventy, including some thirty National Police, twelve regular soldiers, five or six communal policemen, and another two dozen civilians – former soldiers, Hutu power leaders, and militia – who had been given guns and grenades. At the height of the attack on Cyahinda, when the soldiers were present, there many have been as many as thirty assailants armed with guns. In terms of other attackers, one witness estimated that "half the commune" or as many as 10,000 assailants participated. A report filed in March 1994 records a population in Nyakizu of some 24,700 Hutu males, about half of whom would have been under the age of fifteen or sixteen.142 Of the some 12,350 adult Hutu males, perhaps 10 to 15 percent would have been too old or unable to participate in the attack for some other physical reason. This leaves a group of potential adult male assailants of some 10,000, some of whom refused to participate and others of whom were occupied elsewhere in the commune at the time. It is possible that some women or adolescents, say between the ages of thirteen to fifteen, also participated, but no witness has ever indicated sizable numbers of either group among those who besieged the church. In addition, there were assailants from neighboring communes, probably at least several hundred, and an equal or larger number of Burundian refugees. The attackers were not strong enough to storm the church for the first three days, even with the help of a certain number of guns. Once they entered the building, they needed two days to finish the killing. This suggests that there were fewer assailants than victims, perhaps between 6,000 and 8,000.

Just after the massacre, clergy in Butare who knew the church well estimated that 5,500 Tutsi died in the Cyahinda massacre.143 The number may have been considerably higher, perhaps between 10,000 and 15,000, men and women, old people and young, all condemned for the simple fact of being Tutsi. Apparently the last to die from the attack on the church was a schoolgirl who was thrown alive ina deep hole, probably filled with cadavers. Other children came to give her water to drink. When the burgomaster learned of this, he ordered the hole covered.144

The Hilltops

The hill from which Nyakizu commune draws its name rises steep-sloped in the center of the commune. More than 2,000 meters high, it provides a clear view of surrounding sectors. Sparsely populated, much of it is planted in trees that provided some protection to those in hiding. Some people came directly to Nyakizu hill, assuming it would afford more safety than other locations. One woman recounted:

    We were fleeing and arrived at Nyakizu and...decided to hide near the forest. There was a Hutu living nearby who agreed to hide us. He invited me to go inside, but I was afraid. I had the three-year-old on my back. I went to hide outside in the sorghum. The child began crying, and the attackers heard the cries. They came. I tried to put the child on my back, but I was shaking so badly that I could not tie the knot in the cloth.145 I started to run. Behind me, the attackers were chasing me. The child fell. The attackers hit the child on the head with a stick, and the child died.

    I kept running. Ahead, I encountered another attacker. I gave him 9,000 francs [about U.S.$50] to save me....He had banana leaves on his hips and along his neck and shoulders. He had a machete. He was like a madman. He grabbed me by my clothing at the neck and dragged me. I made signs that I had money, and he let me go. By this time it was night, and I decided to return to Nyakizu hill.146

Others who were on their way to Cyahinda stopped at Nyakizu when they saw that the church was under attack while still others who were first at the church fled to the hill during the days of the siege.

As was often the case elsewhere, the first attack at Nyakizu hill was a preliminary skirmish. On Saturday, April 16, a group of people, mostly from theeastern sectors of the commune, attacked armed with traditional weapons. A former soldier and employee of Bazaramba at the Baptist Church led the charge. The night before Bazaramba had reportedly given guns to him and a nightwatchman at his bar. As at Cyahinda, the Tutsi at Nyakizu defended themselves by throwing stones, benefiting from their position higher on the hill. According to one participant, there was no plan to the defense except "not to be killed like sheep" and all, men and women, children and the elderly, joined in. The Tutsi fended off the attack without fatalities, but some felt that their position was too vulnerable and they fled to the church even as some people were leaving Cyahinda for the hill.147

On Sunday, a larger crowd of assailants attacked the hill, armed with four guns. Witnesses report that Bazaramba himself led the charge. According to a survivor, "The attackers were numerous enough to fill the whole market place....They were stronger than we were, because they had guns."148 Another witness remarked, "They killed like people go to the fields, going home when they get tired,"149 leaving the remainder of the work to be finished the next day.

On Monday, April 18, the people at Nyakizu hill could see that Cyahinda was encircled. Hearing the gunfire and the explosions of the grenades, they knew that the "work" there would soon be completed and that the crowds of killers would be able to focus on Nyakizu. Several groups of Tutsi who managed to break out of the encirclement and to make their way to the hilltop confirmed that the massacre at Cyahinda would soon be over. Many Tutsi decided to flee Nyakizu hill before Tuesday morning.

Some trekked on to another peak of the Nyakizu ridge known as Gasasa. There they found Tutsi from the sector Gasasa who had fled to the hill together on April 15 after a meeting with their cell leader and councilor. Other Tutsi had come from Cyahinda, swelling the group to many thousands. On April 18, they had discussed the grim choices they faced but did not reach a common decision on what to do. The next day, most left, in three groups heading in different directions. A fourth group, those who would have trouble fleeing, stayed at Gasasa. The one point that all accepted was that those who fled should leave their cattle behind on the hilltop. They hoped that this rich booty would distract the killers and give them more time to escape.150

The killers attacked at Gasasa on April 20 and 21, after the assault on Nyakizu hill. A survivor described what he saw:

    The attackers came from all the sectors of Nyakizu and with them were Burundians. The first attackers came from...Cyahinda. The others came from the left side. They surrounded the hill, taunting us, watching us. They formed a circle around the hill, then they sat down. They were not in a line exactly, but in groups that formed a kind of circle around the hill....There were different groups of attackers who were off burning houses, and there were others who were sitting surrounding the hill.

    Then a person blew a whistle, and they all came together and they began climbing the hill toward us. I saw them climbing. I saw them coming and I heard three guns behind me. There were also shots coming from the right side. And I saw the burgomaster's truck in front, but the burgomaster was behind us, up on top of the hill with a hand-held loudspeaker.151

When the attack began, the burgomaster immediately recognized the risk that the attackers might focus more on securing their share of the loot than on the killing. From his commanding position on top of the hill, he announced over his loudspeaker that the attackers should leave the cows alone, that they would be compensated later for not touching them at the time.152 One man who survived came a short distance down the hill and hid behind a tree. He recounted:

    My wife and my children were killed by machetes here on this hill. You know, they didn't kill the children who were younger than two years old, and down the hill...a woman was killed. I saw her child trying to nurse at her breast and the killers said, "Don't worry, we'll give you something to drink!"

They finished killing by 2 p.m. and then they shouted out that those who were hiding should show themselves. By 4 p.m. I was still here hiding, and I saw the red truck with the burgomaster and some councilors inside. They [got out and] looked to see if any of the people were still alive by kicking the bodies. They shouted, "I see the body of so-and-so," as they went examining the bodies. And they shouted, "Have you seen the body of the Gasasa counselor?" "No.""You've done nothing unless we find this body! Find him!" They also wanted the body of the leader of Kinyaga cellule, which is in Cyahinda sector, but he was killed at Nshili. The burgomaster wanted to see the bodies of the local authorities.153

When Human Rights Watch and FIDH researchers visited Gasasa in July 1995, they followed the path that wound in a spiral around the hill. Alongside it were a number of mass graves. They passed through fields of coffee plants, where bones, clothes and household goods were scattered. They examined a skull, half covered with earth, its mouth open in a perpetual scream. They stopped to investigate a child's red sweater and found the little rib cage intact inside it. Past the last destroyed house, on the flat hilltop, there was only tall grass littered with the remains of the people who had sought safety there: a broken rosary, a school notebook with an agriculture lesson in fine penmanship, women's underwear, wooden vessels for holding milk. There were large mass graves on top of the hill but they did not contain all the bones. Scattered about were ribs, vertebrae, shoulder blades.


On April 19, the people from Gasasa hill set off in three groups, one towards the west, through Nshili to Burundi, another to the east towards Gishamvu and then to Burundi, and a third to the northeast to Muyogoro in Butare. Those who fled from Nyakizu hill also took different paths, some heading northeast for the hill Bitare, on the border of Nyakizu and Gishamvu, others striking out more directly east to the main paved highway that led south to Burundi, others heading west to Nshili, hoping to pass through that commune to get to Burundi. All were attacked, no matter which way they headed. One person in the group to leave Nyakizu hill for Nshli reported:

    After we arrived in Nyarure [in Kamana sector, Mubuga commune], we were attacked by the local people who killed many among us. A military man from Gisororo named Senkindi – I knew him, because my father had land and a wife at Gisororo, so I knew people there – told everybody to sit down. Then they attacked. They shot and killed the three strong men who had been protecting the group and then the civilians attacked the group with machetes. I was already injured and I fell. I was with three children. They cut off the head of one of the children. My sister-in-law was killed with her whole family. Oneof the children fell down and dead bodies fell on top of the child. The child survived underneath the dead bodies. The burgomaster and a soldier led the attackers.154

Of four groups that left in one night along the same route to the southwest, the one that left last had the most survivors because by the time they arrived the attackers had run out of ammunition and were too tired to kill as thoroughly. A survivor who made the trek in the last group relates:

    We arrived at Gisenyi [Gisororo sector, Nshili commune]. The burgomaster and the soldiers attacked until there were no more bullets. So the burgomaster said, "Leave them. They'll be killed by FRODEBU." When we got to Burundi, we encountered FRODEBU [members] who killed some of the people. But the Burundi government sent its soldiers to welcome refugees.155

Another large group that headed to the east found the same kinds of civilian and military killers, wearing the same leaves used by assailants elsewhere, and motivated by the same goal. According to an elderly Tutsi man who was part of this group:

    We left with about 1,600 all grouped together in a line. At Agatobwe, they shot at us, at our line. We fled out on the highway. There was no other way to escape, because on the small paths people with traditional arms were waiting for us. But on the open road, we were in a better position to defend ourselves. We had machetes and small sticks.156

    At 6 a.m., we met soldiers....They asked us, "Why are you fleeing?" They ordered us: "Go back and sit down at Nkomero" [the commercial center near the border]. We saw people coming wearing leaves and carrying machetes. The soldiers disarmed those who tried to escape, while the local people threw rocks at them and hit them with machetes. The local people were approaching from one side, and the soldiers were approaching from the other. Then the soldiers started shooting. People hid in sorghum fields and others swam theriver to Burundi. Many of the large group stayed together and were killed together. It was not easy for them to scatter and flee, because the attackers would follow after them and cut them down with machetes.

    The attackers wore leaves. The women wore the leaves on their hips. The men wore them crossed like an "X" across the chest, in the style of intore. They had chalk around the eyes, as if for kubandwa, and they shouted "tuzabatsembatsemba!" [We have come to exterminate!]157

Ntaganzwa, Bazaramba, Dusabe and others chased those who fled to Bitare, on the Gishamvu border. A woman from Nyakizu declared:

    At Bitare, the attackers included neighbors [from Nyakizu], some government people, including former soldiers and communal police and our burgomaster. I saw that the attackers had vehicles. There was an attack by the burgomaster of Nyakizu, Ntaganzwa Ladislas, who said "Come ahead, but you will not get away."158

By April 22 the killers had finished at the church and on the hilltops, having done their best to execute the threat shouted by one killer during an attack, "You are snakes. Your god does not exist. We will exterminate you."159


During the ten days of massacres, the burgomaster Ntaganzwa and his men worked methodically, directing incoming Tutsi to Cyahinda while cutting the escape route to Burundi, enticing or coercing local Tutsi to gather in the church before slaughtering them, day after day, from 7 am to 5 pm. With that "work" completed, they moved on to destroy those clustered on the hilltops, all the while using patrols and barriers to intercept those who tried to escape. Ntaganzwa's network functioned efficiently, collaborating with or eclipsing members of the regular administration depending on the extent of their acceptance of the genocide. He received important support from the outside: the National Police and later regular soldiers provided essential tactical knowledge and firepower; the interim president and the interim prime minister offered praise and encouragement; assailants from adjacent regions, some of them directed by their local officials, supplemented the attackers from Nyakizu itself and intercepted Tutsi who tried to leave Nyakizu; and national party leaders gave advice and directives over the radio and perhaps by other means as well.

Ntaganzwa used support from inside and outside Nyakizu to push into action many who doubted the need to kill. In the end, local leaders of the genocide mobilized a significant part of the total Hutu population to violate all the usual moral and legal rules. People who had never before taken a life learned to kill. Men who had coveted Tutsi women from a distance now raped them or forced them into cohabitation. Entire families who had lived in desperate poverty helped themselves to furniture and cooking pots, mattresses and clothes, windows and doors belonging to their neighbors. Those who rarely ate meat came home to feasts of looted cattle and goats.

At the very start of the genocide, Ntaganzwa violated the orders of his administrative superior, the prefect, who hoped to resist the killing. But as the interim government made clear by Habyalimana's removal, it was the prefect and not the burgomaster who was out of step with the program set by the new authorities. Just as the higher authorities removed the prefect, so Ntaganzwa purged dissenters from the communal council. By mid-May, authorities in Nyakizu were speaking with one voice and they were treating the elimination of the Tutsi as one more national goal to be met. They nearly succeeded.

Restoring "Normal" Life

At the end of April, Ntaganzwa began the "normalization" ordered from above: the wholesale disruption of life in which all were called to kill was to giveway to a more tightly administered campaign of extermination. In early May, the burgomaster ordered markets reopened, so signaling that people were once more to rely on production rather than pillage for their needs.1 Not long after, some schools resumed sessions and officials made great efforts to get parents to send their children to classes. At the instruction of national authorities, the burgomaster ordered everyone who had firearms to register them. Local residents responded promptly, requesting the needed authorisation to keep their weapons. One person specified he needed the kalashnikov "for his own protection and that of the population," while another indicated that he wanted to keep his pistol for use during patrols.2

The communal administration functioned, although some services could not be restored due to the death or flight of personnel (including the four Hutu ordered killed by the burgomaster). The burgomaster, councilors, and cell leaders all held meetings with the population to discuss security, each time stressing that they were transmitting orders from the national government. They ordinarily opened these meetings with the same ritualized explanations of the war, beginning with its origins.

The burgomaster was able to call on both National Police and communal police to keep order, but he used them in a very restrictive way. He directed them to arrest Hutu who harassed, pillaged, or killed other Hutu but did not order them to arrest Hutu who killed Tutsi. Rather he had them detain Hutu who protected Tutsi. The local judicial police inspector prepared cases against persons suggested by the burgomaster, particularly his political enemies. He seems to have investigated only one murder during this period, that of a Hutu, and he did not, apparently, investigate any of the killings of Tutsi. The administration continued the effort to keep track of the population, more difficult but even more important during the genocide. As groups of displaced persons arrived from the north in May and June fleeing the RPF advance, councilors prepared lists of the heads of household, the number of dependents for each, and their communes of origin. The burgomaster and his subordinates provided the documents necessary to traveloutside the commune and issued attestations of identity for people from Nyakizu and elsewhere who had lost their identity cards. The forms prepared for such use included the information that the bearer was Hutu; Tutsi apparently were not expected to apply for the papers necessary for their safe passage outside the commune.3

The burgomaster reported to his superiors about the progress of the genocide, but in a discreet way. He informed them of the names of Tutsi captured and when and where they were taken. He did not usually describe their fate, although he sometimes suggested it. In one letter, for example, Ntaganzwa wrote:

    We arrived there very early in the morning. We arrested the whole group and took them to the commune, but the man named Mpakaniye was very difficult to get under control because he was armed with a spear.

Without further details, the burgomaster concluded by saying, "The population is working to help the authorities safeguard security."4

In another letter, the burgomaster reported the arrest on May 17 of some "Inkotanyi" found with grenades in their possession and of two other young men, strangers to Nyakizu, caught walking through the commune at night on May 19. He said nothing about the disposition of their cases except through implication, closing with the reminder that the RPF intends to take Nyakizu by force.5

The Language of War

The massacres at the church and on the hilltops had been conducted like military operations: the large numbers of assailants, the participation of former soldiers, communal police, National Police, and later regular soldiers, the heavy weaponry and grenades, the use of military strategy, all this suggested combat. All that was missing was a real armed enemy. Playing upon these military trappingsand mimicking the language of the national leadership, Ntaganzwa spoke of "the war that raged at Cyahinda" and of the "battle" in which the "refugees" – meaning the Tutsi – had attacked Nyakizu along with the RPF. Ntaganzwa, like officials elsewhere and like authorities in prior years, tried to justify the killings by claiming that Tutsi had hidden arms for the RPF or were in possession of military plans, maps, or lists of Hutu to be killed. When Ntaganzwa and his supporters talked of carrying out a "search for arms," they meant hunting down Tutsi.

Many understood how ridiculous it was to pretend that war had come to Nyakizu. As one citizen remarked, "Where was the war? Who was here but ordinary people? It was just the language: all Tutsi, even those still inside the wombs of mothers, were Inkotanyi." But few dared voice such opinions at the time because, as the same witness explained, "The Tutsi was Inyenzi and any one who did not talk that way was also Inyenzi."6

Occasionally the authorities themselves slipped and revealed the falseness of the pretense. In his famous speech at Butare, discussed below, Sindikubwabo describes the prefecture as a place as yet untouched by war. In a letter at the end of May, Ntaganzwa writes of preparing measures to be implemented "if the Inkotanyi should attack Nyakizu."7 Indeed, the whole effort at returning life to "normal" belied the claim that the region was under attack.

Like national leaders, Ntaganzwa sought to heighten the fear of attack in order to solidify his personal control. Repeatedly he stressed the need to "be always on guard."8 He found the demands of war-time security a useful cover for murdering rival Hutu as well as for massacring Tutsi, as is shown below. Others too adopted the same language and used the accusation of "helping the enemy" to discredit teachers who failed to show up for work, slackards who did their jobs poorly and criminals who robbed their neighbors.9

Ntaganzwa used the pretext of imminent attack also to justify asking his administrative superiors for ever more weapons, which he wanted to arm hissupporters and perhaps also to continue the trade which he had apparently established to Burundi. Carrying on the use of "to work" as a code word for killing, Ntaganzwa in one document referred to guns as "tools," adding in parenthesis "weapons" to be sure his meaning was clear.10 On May 31, Ntaganzwa prepared an order for ammunition for five different kinds of weapons, totaling 7,600 bullets, suggesting that the commune was well-supplied with arms.11 But soon after he complained to the interim prime minister that Nyakizu had only two guns to protect itself; the patently false declaration was meant to spur delivery of more firearms.12 When Robert Kajuga, president of the Interahamwe, arrived in the town of Butare, Ntaganzwa wrote him about "defending the sovereignty of our country." After thanking the militia head for his "spirit of patriotism," Ntaganzwa asked him also to provide weapons as quickly as possible to counter an attack from the Inyenzi.13

Cleaning Up

On April 28, several days after the last of the massacres, the burgomaster summoned the communal councilors, the heads of cells and political party leaders to the communal office "to examine the situation after the battle of Cyahinda."14 He began by reviewing the history of the war – that is, the responsibility of the RPF for having launched the war and hence for all the misery that followed from it. He talked at some length also about the "refugees" who had been in the church – where they had come from and why they had collaborated with the Inkotanyi to attack Nyakizu.15 After this review, everyone agreed – or soNtaganzwa told his superior – that they must follow the orders of the government in order to win the war.

Everyone may, in fact, have accepted this general principle and one of the national directives that Ntaganzwa announced seems to have caused no discussion: the implementation of the "self-defense" program. He informed them that all the communes of Butare and Gikongoro were to select ten "sure and patriotic" young men from each sector to learn the basics of "individual tactics" and how to handle firearms and grenades. The program formalized the arrangements used during the massacres, with local police and former soldiers commanding and training the civilians. The military commander of the zone would supervise the program.16

Explaining the second order – to carry on patrols and searches for the "enemy" and his materiel – Ntaganzwa insisted that the "the enemy is still here, the war goes on," "patrols must be done," and "we must look in the bush to see if the enemy is hiding there." But some community leaders hesitantly opposed this program. One speaker remarked that "people are wondering whom we are looking for? Tutsi?" He or another of the same leanings objected that the National Police had once prohibited barricades while another speaker interjected that people who had begun doing rounds on their own now had stopped doing them. A councilor complained that he could not be everywhere at once, presumably meaning to supervise barriers and patrols, and another speaker reported that it was too difficult to give everyone the papers necessary to get by the barriers. The councilor from Maraba sector, apparently seeking to set himself apart from the others, wanted it known that he had always told the population to do patrols. He suggested that "those who are more intelligent can make those who are less intelligent understand" the need for this work. In the end, Ntaganzwa and his supporters prevailed on this issue. The meeting decided: "Inyenzi: search tomorrow starting at 7 a.m.; discover all the possible hiding places."17

The third order from above – "to avoid conflicts among ourselves" – provoked as much discussion as the second. One of Ntaganzwa's firm supporters, Festus Nyamukaza, reminded the meeting that it was important to know "the truth" about the war "to avoid dividing our forces." As the discussion about searches had showed, not everyone saw "the truth" as Nyamukaza did. But, beyond the larger division over the need to pursue Tutsi lay a host of lesser conflicts over thedisposition of the property of the victims. Some people had appropriated the fields of "those who fled" or had destroyed crops, including coffee, that could have been left to ripen for harvest. To avoid further conflict, the council adopted rules apparently suggested from above: the land left by Tutsi would belong to the state, to be divided at some future time; the standing crops were to belong to the commune and were to be protected by the people of the sector in which they were located; and other goods, including cattle and other animals, could be taken as loot, except for exceptionally valuable items which were to be delivered to the authorities for public sale. In addition, someone suggested adopting the rule that "no one could pillage unless the National Police were there." One of the group asserted that pillaging without adequate supervision produced greed among certain people. He added: "The person who takes something himself [that is, without official authorisation] is a thief." The burgomaster and some others were especially distressed at the pillage of goods from the health center and secondary school, property which belonged to the community rather than to the Tutsi. They demanded that goods taken from such places be returned immediately and warned that authorities would search houses for property that was not returned. They also stated that many items had been transported to other communes or across the border to Burundi. The burgomaster undertook to write his fellow administrators to ask their aid in recovering the stolen property.18

Once the questions of property had been discussed, there was one further pressing issue: disposing of the cadavers. Some bodies had been dumped into the long row of latrines near the church and others, those of persons killed near the frontier, had been tossed into the river. But thousands remained unburied. They smelled and they constituted a threat to public health. Several days after the massacres ended, the burgomaster started to organize burials. One survivor from Cyahinda who watched from the bushes near Nyakizu hill, reported:

    On April 24, I was hiding in a small forest nearby. I could see from there that the burgomaster was making people bury cadavers. They had a Daihatsu truck and four pickup trucks and they gathered up the cadavers and they dug lines of holes.19

At the meeting on April 28, the community leaders decided that "since the refugees who stayed at Cyahinda had left behind a lot of filth" – that is, theircadavers – people would be called to do umuganda to clean up the church.20 When people failed to respond to the call, National Police went around in a pickup truck that belonged to the Red Cross, taking men by force to bury the bodies just as they had taken some by force to do the killing. Men hid to avoid being obliged to do the work. The umuganda continued for six days. The authorities then halted the increasingly unpopular work although many bodies still remained to be buried.21

"Clear the Remaining Brush"

In early May, the Tutsi left alive in Nyakizu included young children – usually those under two years of age were spared – and some women, either wives of Hutu or women who had been forced into temporary cohabitation with Hutu. In addition, there were a few important Tutsi men who had not been found, such as the priest of Cyahinda, Father Charles Ncogoza, who had escaped from the church during the siege. While Ntaganzwa and his agents were directing ordinary people to resume their usual occupations, they established a new and more specialized committee to supervise the genocide of the Tutsi who remained. On May 9, Ntaganzwa called a meeting of the head of the National Police detachment, councilors, heads of cells, leaders of the political parties, and members of the Technical Commission, a group of businessmen and other community leaders that usually advised on economic development. On cue from Ntaganzwa, the meeting recommended that security councils be established for the commune and for the sectors of Nyakizu. The move foreshadowed a directive to come from the national level two weeks later with the formal establishment of the "civilian self-defense" program.22 The declared purposes of the councils were to keep "track of the development of the war and to propose ways to win it" and to resolve conflicts over property taken from the victims. But for Ntaganzwa there was an unspoken objective as well: to replace the existing communal council by a group more committed to him and to the genocide. At a later meeting, one resident asked why security councils had been set up. Ntaganzwa's supporter Francois Bazaramba answered that the new councils "weretruly necessary to serve as intermediary between the population and the authorities," implying that existing organizations were insufficient for this purpose.23

The community leaders elected Ntaganzwa's firmest supporters to the nine seats on the communal security council, including Celestin Batakanwa, Francois Bazaramba, Festus Nyamukaza, and Geoffrey Dusabe. The election recognized the role that these leaders had played since the start of the genocide as part of Ntaganzwa's inner circle. According to one witness, Batakanwa took charge of installing the security councils within the sectors. Following this meeting, Ntaganzwa and his aides reorganized the barriers and patrols, which had been neglected since the end of the massacres. The former soldier Celestin Rucyahana reportedly directed the patrols and did so in such a satisfactory fashion that he was later named to the post of communal policeman.24

As part of the "pacification" effort decreed by the national authorities, prefectural officials on May 20 scheduled a series of meetings to inform the population about the new approach.25 The meeting for Nyakizu was scheduled for the next afternoon at the Viro marketplace. The morning of the next day, the priest who had escaped death at Cyahinda church was discovered. According to a witness:

    The priest had been hidden at the home of one of the workers at the church. Other people realized that someone was at his home when the worker went to buy beer and bread. They saw this and they asked, "How is it that such a poor man is buying bread like that?" And people began talking among themselves. The talk went all the way to the sergeant [of the National Police, presumably Sgt. Corneille Ndindayino] who organized a search of the worker's house. They found the priest. It was at Cyanwa. They brought the priest to the church, and they showed him the destruction. They said it was all his fault, because he had invited the Inkotanyi to the church. He was an accomplice. Then he waskilled by one of the National Police and he was buried there. This was several weeks after the massacre. It made a lot of people angry.26

That the priest was found and murdered on the day important officials were expected to visit the commune may be coincidental, but it seems more likely that his hiding place had been known for some time and that it was the anticipated visit that precipitated his killing. Given that popular opinion seems to have opposed his murder, the burgomaster may have acted on that day in order to benefit from the support of the visitors, if there were a negative reaction, and to have a recent accomplishment to present for their praise.

In addition to relating the news of the priest's death to his visitors that day, the burgomaster also submitted a written report to the sub-prefect several days later. He wrote:

    On the morning of May 21, there was trouble at Cyahinda caused by the discovery of Charles Ncogoza, who was the priest of Cyahinda parish and who had fled and hidden at the home of Alexis, who ordinarily worked at the parish.

    When I arrived at 10 a.m., they had killed him and had arrested the people who had protected him, including the councilor of Cyahinda sector, who was suspected of complicity with those who had hidden him because they found a note addressed to the priest that talked about the councilor being replaced.

    Soon after they searched the houses of all the councilor's neighbors and they found other people who had been hidden at the home of Sherebuka.

    I released all those who had hidden the priest because I thought popular anger against them had cooled down.27

As the testimony of the witness suggests, the popular anger may in fact have been directed more at those who killed the priest than at those who protected him.

In the afternoon of May 21, Lieutenant Colonel Simba, head of the self-defense program of Butare and Gikongoro, Lt. Col. Tharcisse Muvunyi, commander of the military district of Butare and Gikongoro, and at least one other high-ranking prefectural official arrived to show the importance that the authorities attached to altering the execution of the genocide. Witnesses in the communemention the presence of the person "who would become the prefect," Col. Alphonse Nteziryayo, then "assisting" the prefect of Butare but later to replace him. Another witness, who traveled to Nyakizu with the group, states that the prefect at the time, Sylvain Nsabimana, was among the delegation and does not mention Nteziryayo.28 Like similar "pacification" visits by persons of importance to other locations, this one touched off a new round of killings. Only a few days before RTLM had reinforced the message that "pacification" did not mean an end to pursuing Tutsi. Kantano Habimana had declared the need to continue a war that would "exterminate the Tutsi from the globe...make them disappear once and for all...."29

Colonel Simba also recommended identifying all who had failed to participate in the killing thus far and searching their houses for evidence of support for the RPF.30 According to a woman survivor from the sector of Nyagisozi:

    Simba came in May to do the final cleanup. At that time, there were still many people hiding. For example, a family might have been hiding their cousins or their nieces. Now it was time for the final order. Those who had been hidden, now it was time to kill them all. There were single women who had been forced to cohabit with Hutu men and they were still alive. So there was a meeting in the marketplace. Lots of people were there. After that, there were eight children who had been hidden by their grandmother – all eight little grandchildren were killed. And the girls married by force, who had accepted in order to have a hiding place, they were killed that night.31

Another witness confirms this information:

    After the Cyahinda massacre, the next propaganda meeting took place at Viro market when Lt. Col. Muvunyi Tharcisse and Col. Simba Aloyis, and the person who later became the prefect came here from Butare. The situation had calmed down, but this meeting stirred everything up again. Their message was "contre guerrilla."

    One thing they said that I remember well was "Clear the remaining brush," in Kinyarwanda "Mukureho ibihuru byasigaye." Following these orders, they [the assailants] sought out Tutsi who were still hidden in families. Etienne Muragize, who had hidden eleven children at his house, was caught at this time....Etienne tried to pay off those who had come to search his house. He offered them 2,000 francs at first, then he added 3,000 more (about U.S.$27). He added a goat. But the eleven children were killed anyway.32

After the visit, authorities directed a new hunt for Tutsi. They also launched a new round of searches against Hutu who had refused to kill, accusing them of harboring accomplices or of stocking arms or of having documents, such as incriminating lists, in their houses. Often Hutu whose homes were searched had to pay a sum of money, such as 1,000 francs, to get the crowd to leave.33

Speaking With One Voice

During their visit to Nyakizu, Simba and the other prefectural dignitaries strengthened Ntaganzwa by publicly expressing great appreciation for what he had done against the Inkotanyi. This approval encouraged him in efforts he had begun three days before to eliminate any possible opposition to himself and to the genocide from the communal council. The recently-created security committee was his tool and the demands of war-time security his pretext. He began the May 18 meeting of the security committee by asserting that some members of the communal council had failed to pass on his orders or had wrongly reported the content of council meetings. This created the risk of what his loyal supporter Bertin Bagaragaza described as "a conflict of authority."34 Unless the authorities spoke with one voice, the people would be confused and would not know whom to follow.

Then, one after another of Ntaganzwa's followers spoke up to accuse the communal councilors: Etienne Ntampuhwe, sector Mwoya, of living outside his sector and not knowing what was happening there; Albert Ndimbilinda, sector Nkakwa, of being too old for this work; Etienne Rugwizangoga, of having hidden accomplices, of having stopped patrols in some sectors, and of having pillaged goods; Innocent Mutaganda, sector Cyahinda, of having tried to set Hutu against each other; Laurent Ruhigangoga, of having fled the country; Emmanuel Ntakirutimana, of having hidden accomplices; Joseph Semigabo, sector Rusenge, of being very old; Daniel Niyirora, sector Yaramba, of having hidden six accomplices.

Adopting the language favored by Ntaganzwa, his men competed in heaping scorn on the communal councilors. Athanase Lindiro asked how anyone could work with those councilors who hid accomplices. Geoffrey Dusabe insisted that these councilors be removed before they "betrayed us and allowed the enemy to come in and attack us." Continuing the pretense that Tutsi were the aggressors, Festus Nyamukaza denounced a councilor "whose sector was attacked a whole week long in his absence and the people defended themselves, and when it was all over, when he came back, he did not utter a single word of encouragement [for what they had done.]" The minutes of the meeting commented that Nyamukaza was known for recommendations that were "full of good sense" which presumably enhanced the value of his proposal "to remove these people as quickly as possible, tomorrow if possible, because the more we delay, the more the enemy will profit from the situation." He was much applauded for his recommendation.35

After having agreed to remove eight of fourteen communal councilors, the security committee immediately named "competent replacements who could work well with the intelligent people in their sectors," people "whose bravery was appreciated by the people and on whom they could count in this bad period of war." The replacements were Bertin Gategero, Ngendamabago, Francois Ndagije, Misigaro, Mukama, Callixte Sahoguteta, and Tharcisse Mukwiye.36 With this action, Ntaganzwa completed his takeover of communal government, with a security committee composed of his staunchest supporters and a communal council purged of all opposition.

The councilors removed by Ntaganzwa belonged to the PSD and the MRND while those he appointed were all of the MDR. Those ousted from office protested to the prefect that Ntaganzwa had acted simply to favor his own party. They alsorallied support among fellow party members in Butare town and Ntaganzwa was officially reproved for having acted without appropriate authorization from his superiors.37

The affair eventually reached even the interim Prime Minister Kambanda, one of Ntaganzwa's patrons in MDR-Power. In writing to him, Ntaganzwa turned the charge of partisanship back on his critics, once again using the cover of war-time needs. He wrote: "Thus you see that while some are sweating blood to make war, others are instead hung up with the affairs of their parties."38 He condemned the councilors who had been removed, saying it was their fault that the patrols and barriers were not being implemented satisfactorily. For example, he said, the Gihango councilor obstructed orders so much that the people of his sector had had to tie him up in order "to get him to work, but it was wasted effort; the patrols still were not done." Any delay in replacing the slackards would "leave us open to the enemy, since the patrols, the barriers and the meetings take place only at their [i.e., the councilors'] direction."39 Ntaganzwa assured his superiors that the replacements "all distinguished themselves as great leaders in the war that took place at Cyahinda" and were the ones "who directed the attacks when Cyahinda was liberated" (for which he uses the kinyarwanda word "kubohoza").40

Other sources confirm that some of the councilors, like Albert Nzimbirinda and Innocent Mutaganda seem to have actually opposed the genocide. Natganzwa's accusations, however, should not be taken as proof of resistance to the slaughter. He might have falsely charged persons opposed to him personally with opposition to the genocide just to discredit them and to justify removing them from the council. If his assessment were accurate, then an important part of the politicalleadership of Nyakizu in fact disapproved of the killing of Tutsi, although they showed that disapproval with varying amounts of courage and persistence.41

Ntaganzwa sought to ensure that the ordinary people also speak with the same voice as the authorities. He called a series of meetings to inform the population about the changes in communal councilors, which, he reported to his superiors, were greeted with popular satisfaction everywhere. Following the usual model, Ntaganzwa began the meeting in Mwoya sector on May 29 by explaining "the origins of this war, dating back to the events of 1959." He went on to insist that the Hutu could win "if they stayed united, if they put their forces together and avoided anything that could divide them." Perhaps inspired by Ntaganzwa's rhetoric, a local resident asked that an umuganda be called to cut the brush where the Inyenzi might hide and everyone present agreed to participate. In Cyahinda sector the same day, Ntaganzwa was helped by Ambroise Serubibi in explaining the history of the war. Serubibi then publicly blamed the members of his own family for hindering the genocide. He said, "It is really unfortunate and sad to see that you hide Inyenzi." In his report, the burgomaster remarked that the blame was well placed because "many people were found hidden in this family."42

At the direction of the burgomaster, communal councilors and their subordinates held frequent meetings to "galvanise public awareness" during May and June.43 In sector Rutobwe, for example, the councilor Celestin Batakanwa said that he "held many meetings to explain the whole war situation to the people, so that now they were no longer afraid and were ready to fight."44 The meetings were public occasions for reaffirming commitment to the genocide and for accusing others of insufficient zeal. Francois Bazaramba reported that at a sector meeting in Maraba, he had raised "a little problem at Birambo" where some Hutu workers hadprotected Tutsi. The Tutsi "had left," but "there was still a climate of suspicion" surrounding those workers. One of those suspected, a man named Gideon who was not native to Nyakizu, had taken the floor "to accept his error and to ask pardon." The apology was not accepted and Gideon was chased from the commune, an appropriate action said Festus Nyamukaza because Gideon was "a bad type, very sneaky." Approving this, "the meeting decided that such people should not trouble public security and instead should go back to their home communes." Nyamukaza also raised the problem of Hutu men who had Tutsi wives, saying that they too "created a climate of mistrust in the heart of the population." There is no indication of immediate action to deal with this "mistrust," but the discussion indicated that such men might expect to be attacked in the future.45

Approval from Above

In pushing so hard to increase his own power, Ntaganzwa sometimes drew reproaches from above, but for his vigorous pursuit of the genocide, he received only praise. Soon after the security committee removed the communal councilors, Interim Prime Minister Kambanda came to Nyakizu, armed and in military uniform. He was said to have delivered 200,000 francs (about U.S.$1000) to Ntaganzwa to help with local expenses. The money allowed Ntaganzwa to solve the problem of the cadavers left unburied from the April massacres: the burgomaster used 8,000 francs (U.S.$40) to buy beer to pay workers to finish the job.46 But the political capital represented by Kambanda's visit was even more important than the money. According to one witness, "People here saw it as a gesture of encouragement." 47

Throughout the genocide, Assiel Simbalikure, the sub-prefect of Busoro, who was Ntaganzwa's immediate superior, also strongly backed his activity against the Inyenzi. On May 26, he wrote:

    I thank you with all my heart for your determination in protecting and assuring the security of Nyakizu commune...with the help of the population as is shown in your letters no. 106/04/09.01/4 of May 17, 1994 and no. 109/04.09.01/4 of May 20, 1994.

    I encourage you to keep on in the same way and each time that the enemy, that is, the Inyenzi-Inkotanyi, shows his head, capture him so that he can be punished.48

On June 1, Simbalikure wrote to thank the burgomaster for the "good ideas" he had presented to the people of the commune in a series of meetings about the war and for "the careful attention" that he had shown "to finding the enemy Inyenzi-Inkotanyi."49

In another letter, also dated June 1, the sub-prefect sent Ntaganzwa and his fellow burgomasters instructions about the self-defense program, including:

    Search everywhere in the commune for the enemy because he is clever and can sneak in like a snake. The people of the commune should do this [i.e., search] in every cell every day and the barriers should be well guarded.

He concluded:

    I thank you again for the courage that you always show in these difficult times. Do not tire; the enemy is always the same and he is not yet disarmed.50

Two days later, Simbalikure again insisted that "the enemy must be sought everywhere and must be flushed out and neutralized once and for all." And again he thanked Ntaganzwa for having shown him "that the people of Nyakizu havedecided to defeat the enemy."51 Two days after that, he closed a letter wishing the bourgmaster "peace and even greater zeal."52

The Security Committee

Just like innumerable other councils and committees that filled Rwanda's recent administrative past, the security committee met regularly, discussed at length, and recorded its activities in minutes of the meeting. The procedure of the administration was normal; its objective was not. Like the more innocuous committees established earlier in other regions to assure public security, it purported to be protecting the population, but it did so by trying to eliminate that part of the population identified as Tutsi and friends of Tutsi. After mid-May, it carried out its responsibilities largely through the young men trained in the "civilian self-defense" program. According to the minutes of the May 18 meeting, these young men were to protect the sectors from which they came and to train other young men at the level of the cells. 53

In good administrative practice, the council ordinarily began by reviewing action taken since the last meeting. Thus on June 2, Lindiro of Gihango sector reported:

    We searched and we discovered five Inkotanyi originally from Ngoma commune. There were others named Nkundizera and Munyankindi who escaped whom we are still looking for.54

At the same meeting Batakanwa of Rutobwe sector reported an unsuccessful search for an Inkotanyi named Jean Nzirabatinyi who was not found at Rugwiganzoga's house, where he had been said to be hiding.

The participants ennumerated meetings held – apparently always with satisfactory results – and reported on the functioning of barriers and patrols. They identified troublemakers, such as Pascal Burindwi, who was obstructing patrols inthe sector of Yaramba. They examined causes of concern, such as the continued sighting of lights in the forest of Nyakizu hill, which might indicate that the enemy still lurked among the trees despite the massacre of the Tutsi there. They assigned tasks, directing that the "self-defense" recruits should take over barriers and patrols. They specified that men with the most education should be assigned to the barriers during the day when passersby were most numerous because they were most able to scrutinize identity papers for any irregularities. They stated needs: flashlights for night searches, but especially more weapons. And they designated the next targets: on May 18, this was the whole sector of Cyahinda; on June 2, it was certain deserted homes – presumably of Tutsi who had been killed or fled – and the homes of Hutu known to oppose the genocide.55 Ntaganza set the stage early in the June 2 meeting by announcing that an informant had recently revealed that many arms were hidden in the commune. Using the usual pretext to cover looking for Tutsi, he insisted that people must "search with the greatest care in all places where arms might be hidden." The council took its cue. Under the heading "Miscellany," the minutes record:

1). All barriers should be put at places designated by authorities.

2). The barrier next to the communal office needs a policeman.

3). Carry out searches, looking everywhere for arms.

a. Places where we must search for arms:

  • Where Sezikeye used to live
  • Where Gashugi Emmanuel used to live
  • Where Gashugi Celestin used to live
  • Where Charles Rwahama used to live
  • Where Joseph Kabanda used to live

b. People whose homes must be searched:

  • Nshimiryayo Ange
  • Rugwizangoga Etienne
  • Harerimana Jean Baptiste

4). Nyakizu hill must be carefully guarded.56

The Burgomaster: More Feared than Trusted

Even after having secured his control of the communal council, Ntaganzwa continued using the cover of security concerns to attack his personal enemies. Oneof the persons targeted by the Security Committee, Rugwizangoga, was a councilor who had been removed on May 18. Ntaganzwa was particularly anxious to destroy him because he opposed the genocide and because he continued to have standing in the community. The burgomaster had harassed Rugwizangoga for some time and immediately after the June 2 council meeting he had him beaten badly and thrown in the communal lockup.57

Another whose house was targeted by the Security Committee was Nshimiryayo, a prosperous businessman, older than Ntaganzwa and a former deputy in the assembly. Linked to the moderate MDR leader Twagiramungu, he had posed a challenge to Ntaganzwa even before the genocide. On April 15, Nshimiryayo had been warned that his house was about to be attacked and he fled with his family to Cyahinda just before the massacre there began. They survived and later escaped from the commune, his wife and children going in one direction while Nshimiryayo went in another and took shelter in the adjacent commune of Mubuga. In official correspondence throughout May and June, and presumably in informal contacts with people of the commune, Ntaganzwa fired one accusation after another against Nshimiryayo: that he was trying to cause conflicts among Hutu and thus allow the enemy to infiltrate; that he had a Tutsi wife who behaved like a real Inyenzi; that his son was a recruit to the RPF; that his son was in Burundi preparing an attack on Nyakizu, planning to kill the local authorities; that he was among the Inkotanyi who tried to conquer Nyakizu on April 15; that a booklet containing the statutes of the RPF had been found stuck in the fence around his house (a later version was that the booklet was found on Nshimiryayo himself); that he had gone to Mulindi (the RPF base) to meet General Kagame; that he had prepared a grenade attack against Ntaganzwa.58

Just after the June 2 meeting, Ntaganzwa arrested Nshimiryayo but he feared him too much to kill him or even to keep him in prison in Nyakizu, so he sent him to the prefectural capital of Butare and asked the prosecutor to deal with him. Theprosecutor found no grounds for arrest and passed the case to the prefect as an administrative affair. In the meantime Nshimiryayo was able to enlist the help of two sub-prefects, one of whom was a relative by marriage, the other of whom was from Nyakizu, and he was released from jail. In the meantime, assailants had pillaged and destroyed the several buildings of his prosperous residence.59

Ntaganzwa's attempt to destroy Nshimiryayo led the burgomaster into conflict with authorities in neighboring Mubuga, where Nshimiryayo had fled for protection. He traded accusations with the burgomaster of Mubuga and even arrested him in mid-May, accusing him of having come to Nyakizu to kill him. It was in fact the burgomaster of Mubuga who was then murdered, killed by a crowd in his own commune, whether with the involvement of Ntaganzwa is not known.60 Disputes between people from Nyakizu and people from Mubuga continued into the weeks after.

When the prefect learned of the Nshimiryayo case, the difficulties between the communes, and perhaps also the beating of Rugwizangoga, which had been brought to the attention of the sub-prefect, he reproached Ntaganzwa for having gone too far. He ordered Ntaganzwa to moderate his behavior several times, once instructing him:

    Avoid everything that could encourage quarrels, disputes, and hatreds in the commune; we understand that there are many false accusations, lies, and unexplained murders and that many residents have more fear than trust for their authorities, to such an extent that some have preferred leaving their commune.61

From the context, it is clear that the "unexplained murders" referred only to Hutu victims, not to Tutsi. Ntaganzwa made his reply in the same terms. With apparently no sense of the outrageousness of his words, he wrote the prefect thathis political enemies had defamed him "by spreading unfounded rumors that there had been many killings in Nyakizu."62

Allies into Enemies

Ntaganzwa exercised increasingly harsh control over Nyakizu during May and June. The communal councilors who had been removed in May wrote the prefect in June asking for protection for themselves and their families against the burgomaster.63 The assistant burgomaster, Augustin Namahungu, who had been involved in a dispute with the burgomaster some time before, was attacked by "bandits" who completely destroyed his house, taking even its doors. He was left with nothing but the clothes on his back and by early June was forced to beg help from the burgomaster to get reestablished in his own home.64

Even those Hutu who had loyally supported Ntaganzwa suffered if they seemed to hinder his drive to increase his wealth and power. One such person, who had helped Ntaganzwa against political rivals during the months before the genocide, complained to the burgomaster that he was so harassed that he was afraid to report for work:

    Since you know what I did during the time of multipartyism and how I have behaved in this war...what advice would you give me since I have had to give up working in order not to be killed by those who are after me, especially now that a tract is going around saying that we are Inyenzi and that we are against the Government of National Salvation [guvernoma y'abatabazi] when you know how much I like that government and am working for it!

After reminding the burgomaster of his previous services, he asks plaintively, "And now have I really become an Inyenzi?"65

One of the "unexplained murders" referred to by the prefect was that of François Nzaramba, once Ntaganzwa's loyal supporter. The burgomaster accused Nzaramba of having allied with the Mubuga burgomaster against him. Soon after Nzaramba was found dead and local people were convinced that Ntaganzwa had had him killed.66

"A Thirst for Possessions"

In many cases, Ntaganzwa fell out with former supporters, including the head of the JDR, over the division of the spoils, whether from Tutsi who had been killed, from public property that had been pillaged, or from loot taken at the barriers. According to one witness, "Ntaganzwa had a thirst for possessions."67 In addition to automobiles, he claimed other major items that had been stolen, including computers, medicines and medical equipment, solar panels, and sewing machines. He demanded that ordinary people who had taken such items hand them over and he even beat those who did not comply promptly. Many of these items he funneled south of the border to his colleague, head of the adjacent commune in Burundi, even as he wrote him – at the request of the communal council – asking his help in getting such stolen goods returned.68

As in his drive for power, so too in his search for possessions, Ntaganzwa was ready to murder even Hutu who shared his commitment to the genocide. In the most dramatic case of this kind, Ntaganzwa was apparently responsible for killing three Interahamwe from Mubuga commune in order to get their Suzuki jeep. In recounting the incident, the burgomaster described coming upon the three stopped by barrier guards:

    We realized that these people were Inkotanyi because they were carrying maps of the city of Kigali (neighborhoods of Kicukiro and Kacyiru) on which were written the names of people like Colonel Bagosora. They also had two grenades. These people also had other pieces of paper, including one with the numbers of firearms and a list which summarized donations given to the Inyenzi.69

As with similar correspondence about Tutsi who had been killed, the letter said nothing more about the fate of those taken, but closed simply with the request for more arms.

Perhaps to forestall any questions, Ntaganzwa himself raised the incident at the next security committee meeting. He began with the usual reminder that ever since the time "when the war was raging at Cyahinda," the Inkotanyi had made clear their intention of capturing Nyakizu. He then pointed out that the three taken at the barrier had all been Hutu and he assured the council "that it would be fatal to continue the mistake of thinking that it was Tutsi [alone] who were the Inkotanyi." It is remarkable that Ntaganzwa felt sufficiently secure to risk killing people who were well-known as Interahamwe.70 It is even more remarkable that he covered his crime by the brazen lie that they were Inkotanyi, which he "proved" by the same supposed proof that he used against Tutsi: the presence in their possession of arms, lists, and material for attacks. It is also worth noting that Bagosora was the figure whom Ntaganzwa cited to exemplify the national leaders who were supposedly going to be killed.

In a number of subsequent incidents, passing Hutu were stopped at barriers in Nyakizu and were arrested, supposedly because their papers were not in order or for some other reason. The letters reporting these incidents do not indicate whether they were simply robbed and then released or whether they suffered some worse fate. In reporting one case, Ntaganzwa again argued that it was justifiable to arrest Hutu on charges of being Inkotanyi. He wrote that people coming to Nyakizuwithout appropriate documents should expect to be detained and should not "count on their Hutuness" as a protection.71

With the greed of the burgomaster as model, others in the commune raided fellow Hutu to get goods originally pillaged from Tutsi. Joseph Musayidire and his group, for example, attacked Daniel Munyambibi to steal four sewing machines, saying that they had been looted from Tutsi. Ntaganzwa seems to have been particularly annoyed over this case because Musayidire, a communal policeman whom he had fired a few months before, claimed to be confiscating the goods in the name of the authorities. Ntaganzwa had the gang arrested and put in the communal jail.72

Like the burgomaster, the young people at the barriers "attacked anyone if he looked like he had money." The young people took identity cards from those whom they assaulted, tore them up and then killed the victims.73 Older members of the community complained that young men who had been trained in the use of arms were "so undisciplined that they have become completely ungovernable." Even when not working at the barriers or on patrol, they hung about on the roads, playing cards and looking for someone to victimize. At a meeting of the security committee in early June, participants complained that at Nyagisozi these men "profit from the situation to create disorder, above all by stopping passersby and taking from them whatever they have on them." At the same meeting, one participant said a communal policeman had to be put at the barriers in Rusenge to stop the misbehavior of the guards.74 The young men also pillaged crops in the fields left by the Tutsi and sometimes vandalized crops that were not yet ripe.

While the young engaged in theft and pillage, their elders were busy appropriating fields left by the Tutsi or cutting the trees in their afforestation plots. Men apparently seized the property of Hutu widows of Tutsi husbands. People from sectors where there had been few Tutsi raided crops in areas where there hadbeen more and tried to take over vacant land, efforts which caused conflicts between the different sectors.75

The "Enemy" Arrives at Nyakizu

In late May and early June, people from communes to the north and the northeast began to stream through Nyakizu. Some were Hutu fleeing the advance of RPF troops. Others were the last of the Tutsi fleeing the genocide. Ntaganzwa wrote the sub-prefect that he feared that infiltrators, carrying suspect identity papers, were hidden among the displaced persons. He reported that an Inyenzi captured and killed in Kibangu sector supposedly revealed before he died that thirty others had infiltrated the region. Ntaganzwa resolved to "hunt them down in all the sectors of Nyakizu commune to abort their plans," for which he of course needed an immediate delivery of more weapons.76 The prefectural security committee had decided to assemble all the displaced persons in the commune of Gishamvu and so, the sub-prefect said, Ntaganzwa had the right to bar them from his commune. He advised Ntaganzwa: "Search among the local residents, search throughout the commune, ferret out the enemy, show him that the commune of Nyakizu is inviolable."77 The burgomaster then organized a new wave of killings, targeting Tutsi among the displaced persons.

In early June Ntaganzwa heard that Burundian soldiers were moving into position to invade Rwanda and passed on the rumor to his superiors.78 This news turned out to be false – there is no indication that the largely Tutsi army of Burundi ever planned to attack – but the push of the RPF towards Butare and Gitarama was real. As the RPF troops marched nearer, the local administration stepped up the preparations for self-defense. The sub-prefect of Busoro ordered that the communal police and the young men trained in the "civilian self-defense" program teach the population how to dig trenches and how to encircle the enemy. He directed that they should increase their vigilance and search for Inyenzi every day throughout the commune. In contrast to the position taken by the government later, the sub-prefect insisted that the people should not flee. Instead they were to hide in trenches until the shooting stopped and then "rise up all together to attack the enemy, flatten him and kill him."79

As the "enemy" that had been so long the focus of Ntaganzwa's efforts came ever closer to Nyakizu, the burgomaster seemed to pay less attention to them than to local political challengers. During the month of June, he lost favor with his superiors and the people of the commune turned away from him, two developments that were certainly related. The men whom Ntaganzwa had tried to destroy, Nshimiryayo, Rugwizanzoga, and others, called important outsiders to their defense. The prefect criticized Ntaganzwa harshly, both in meetings and through correspondence, and then disciplined him by ordering him to hand over two of the vehicles that were part of his booty, including the one taken from the three Interahamwe from Mubuga.80

In addition, Ntaganzwa continued to have disputes with authorities in the adjacent commune of Mubuga and in the prefecture of Gikongoro, where the sub-prefect Biniga had become hostile to him. Ill-feeling between the authorities was mirrored by squabbles between people of the two communes.81 These divisions among Hutu who otherwise agreed on the genocide were just the kind of splits that national authorities had feared and tried to avoid.

Ntaganzwa tried to defend himself by appealing to Robert Kajuga, the president of the Interahamwe, with whom he solicited an interview so that he could "explain clearly what is happening here and explain some things that you seem not to understand very well."82 Ntaganzwa also wrote a long appeal to the interim prime minister and even organized a meeting on June 18 in Butare town of peopleoriginally from Nyakizu, presumably to discuss security concerns, but probably also to deal with his own political problems.83

As the people of Nyakizu became aware that Ntaganzwa no longer enjoyed unqualified support from his superiors, they felt freer to question his authority. Those long disgusted by the genocide as well as others more narrowly concerned with attacks on local Hutu leaders joined in a "mass rising" against him. As one witness put it, "People rose up saying, he is killing everyone, even the priest."84

The realization that the RPF were advancing and that the massive slaughter of Tutsi had done nothing to guarantee security also contributed to popular rejection of Ntaganzwa. From the Hutu fleeing through the commune, people heard that the RPF troops were rolling forward, news that contradicted the optimistic official bulletins being broadcast over the radio. At the same time, they heard that the RPF were killing many civilians, information that reinforced the fears created by radio reports.85 In mid-June, soldiers of the Burundian army fired on Hutu on their side of the border, causing a number of them to flee briefly to Nyakizu. Not of great significance in itself, this incident also added to the insecurity felt by many in the commune.86

Ntaganzwa and his supporters sought to counter the growing fear and discouragement among the people – and their own loss of control – by multiplying meetings and increasing exhortations about the importance of security measures. But people stopped coming to meetings and they no longer showed up to do patrols or man the barriers. By the time of its last meeting on July 3, the security committee was finding it impossible to get men to do this work and was forced to offer to pay men to do it.87

At that meeting, the burgomaster announced that the RPF had taken the town of Butare. He declared that the council must make a common decision on what to do next, whether to stand and fight or to flee. Sergeant Corneille, head of the National Police whose men had "defended" Nyakizu so well against the unarmed Tutsi civilians announced that if the Inkotanyi came in large numbers, then there would be no choice but to flee. In mid-May, when the "enemy" was mostly women and children left from the first massacres, the councilor Festus Nyamukaza had declared that "it is lack of firmness that can lead us to defeat."88 In early July, faced with a real enemy, he showed considerably less resolve. He declared: "If the soldiers were not able to handle the situation at the front, we cannot deceive ourselves or the people by saying that we can do it when we are not even armed. The people cannot succeed where the soldiers have failed."89

With the "enemy" finally in sight, Ntaganzwa and his followers fled westward through Gikongoro and then on to Zaire. They left behind more than 20,000 Tutsi slain by their "work."90


For Tutsi, Butare was the last hope both as a refuge in itself and as a way station en route to Burundi. For leaders of the genocide, it was a troublesome obstacle to completing the national campaign to exterminate the Tutsi. To achieve that goal required eliminating the some 140,000 Tutsi residents of Butare and the tens of thousands of others who had sought refuge there.1 It also necessitated extirpating the very idea that Hutu and Tutsi could live peaceably together.

In trying to resist this catastrophe, Prefect Jean-Baptiste Habyalimana was at first able to count on the local commander of the National Police and on his own subordinates, with the exception of the burgomaster of Nyakizu. But otherwise, the prefect was opposed by powerful forces committed to genocide: military officers, the militia, intellectuals, and Burundian refugees. In addition, assailants from both the west and the northeast invaded Butare, attacking Tutsi who had fled from Gikongoro, Kigali, and Gitarama as well as those resident within the prefecture.

The Setting

The town of Butare, the prefectural center, was located in Ngoma commune, which had a population of about 26,600 people. About one quarter of them were Tutsi, a percentage far higher than the national average and higher also than the 17 percent Tutsi population of the capital.2 A sleepy little town, Butare stretched out along a ridge on either side of the main highway that ran south to the border with Burundi. The central district could be traversed on foot in fifteen or twenty minutes, but several of its neighborhoods jutted out from the main axis along other ridges, separated from one another by largely uninhabited valleys. To travel from the far point of one sector to that of another could take more than an hour walkingby road, but local people cut that time by using foot paths through the valleys.

As befit its status as the intellectual center of the country, the town of Butare was heralded to the north by a handsome new historical museum, which both by its architecture and its contents paid tribute to the old monarchy so disavowed by the new Hutu republics. At the northern entry to town, on either side of the main road, although not visible from it, lay a school for social workers and Catholic and Protestant theological institutes and seminaries. Just beyond the commercial district and off to the left of the main road stood the cathedral, the extensive complex of the Groupe Scolaire secondary school, and a training school for veterinarians. Leaving town to the south, the wooded campuses of the university to the left of the road and of a scientific research institute to the right completed the impressive concentration of institutions devoted to the life of the mind. A large university hospital, a short distance from the main road, abutted the research institute and a smaller hospital was located just beyond the Groupe Scolaire.

Buye, the neighborhood at the northern entry of the town, encompassed the tree-lined avenues of slightly decrepit colonial-era houses and newer residences of university professors, doctors, government employees, and military officers. The sector of Ngoma, originally built by the colonial administration to house its Rwandan employees, lay a respectable distance from the Buye residences, down a dusty and largely uninhabited road, past the airfield. The orderly rows of modest, look-alike brick houses had been expanded in recent years by larger and more varied structures, but Ngoma still looked like a working class neighborhood. At the entry of Ngoma stood a military camp, housing only some fifty soldiers, the rest of its troops having been sent to the front. Back on the main road, a row of shops bracketed by the two oldest and best-known hotels in town, the Ibis and the Faucon, formed the commercial center, which spilled over onto adjacent streets.

Down one of those streets stood an open-air market and beyond it a school for training junior military officers, the Ecole des Sous-Officiers (ESO). The school housed some one hundred soldiers and served as the headquarters for the military command of Butare and Gikongoro prefectures. Its senior officers lived in Buye, not at the camp. Tumba and the two sectors known as the Cyarwas (Cyarwa-Cyimana and Cyarwa-Sumo) lay beyond the university and included some substantial residences of university or medical professionals, as well as more modest homes. The headquarters of the National Police, located in Tumba, commanded some 300 gendarmes, the majority based in the town of Butare and with a second important group at Nyabisindu in the northern part of the prefecture. A week or ten days after the start of the genocide, some 120 of the NationalPolicemen were transferred north to the battlefront.3 The semi-rural sectors of Matyazo in the north of the commune and Nkubi and Sahera in the south represented the transition from the town to countryside beyond. The main street of town was paved as were short sections of intersecting roads, but other roads were dirt or gravel.

The Military

The military camps in Butare were troubled by the same regional and political divisions that existed elsewhere in the armed forces. Gen. Marcel Gatsinzi, the local commander of all forces in Butare and Gikongoro, was from Kigali and Lt. Col. Tharcisse Muvunyi, who replaced him when he was briefly named chief of staff on April 6, was from Byumba. Neither was associated with the Hutu Power advocates from the northwest. Capt. Ildephonse Nizeyimana of the junior officers' school was from the northwest and was reportedly a relative of Bagosora. Nominally subordinate to the other two, he could and did ignore their orders or act counter to them. Symbolic of the power relationships among the officers was the number of their guards. General Gatsinzi had six men while Nizeyimana, only a captain, had twelve, all of them from his home region of Ruhengeri. Acknowledged leader of the hard-line military group in Butare, Nizeyimana was celebrated in local songs for his virulent hatred of Tutsi. The chief of Ngoma camp, Lt. Ildephonse Hategekimana, stood with Nizeyimana although he was not himself from the northwest. A subordinate officer recently posted to Ngoma, Lt. (jg) Niyonteze, backed up Hategekimana.4

Among the National Police, the commander Cyriaque Habyarabatuma had been counted as a fair-minded moderate since 1990 when he had helped Tutsi and members of the political opposition arrested by President Habyarimana. Nizeyimana could not tolerate Habyarabatuma and in the days just after the start of the genocide Habyarabatuma believed that Nizeyimana was preparing to kill him. Habyarabatuma's second in command, Maj. Alfred Rusigariye, originallyfrom Gisenyi, supported the genocidal line of Nizeyimana and Hategekimana rather than the policy of his superior.5

Following the February 1994 troubles, the general staff transferred to Butare several soldiers and police who supported the Hutu Power position. Once combat resumed, Kigali headquarters on occasion rotated fresh troops from Butare to the front and sent men who had been in combat to Butare. The soldiers who had been fighting the RPF, and particularly those who had been wounded in battle – were reportedly more ruthless against Tutsi than others.6

Before the genocide, a small group of Presidential Guards protected the home in Buye of Dr. Séraphin Bararengana, a physician who was President Habyarimana's brother. Once Sindikubwabo was named interim president, a contingent of Presidential Guards established a small post outside his house which was situated just at the entry of Tumba, a short distance from the National Police headquarters. Outside the usual hierarchy, the Presidential Guards were commanded directly from Kigali, but they often frequented the ESO, where they had links with Nizeyimana and other Hutu Power advocates.7

The Intellectuals

Prefect Habyalimana had been a professor at the university and knew that the intellectual community was split between those for and those against Hutu Power. As early as 1990, some professors had provided the intellectual justifications for what would become Hutu Power and had reportedly even participated in drafting the "Ten Commandments of the Bahutu." Since that time, they had supplied propaganda declarations to influence the international community to favor Habyarimana. (See above.) The vice-rector of the university, Jean-Berchmans Nshimyumuremyi, led this group and overshadowed the rector, who was reportedly far more moderate. Increasingly alienated from colleagues who were Tutsi or tolerant of Tutsi, these hard-liners encouraged similar sentiments among students. In 1993 students who backed President Habyarimana insisted on creating a newstudent organization, the Rwandan Student League (Ligue des Etudiants du Rwanda, LIDER) to rival the established General Association of Rwandan National University Students (Association Generale des Etudiants de l'Université Nationale du Rwanda, AGEUNR). In that year, too, Habyarimana's supporters demonstrated outside the university and threatened to close it down. They were led by the wife of the university rector, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, minister of family and women's affairs and their son, Shalom Anselme Ntahobari, a one-time student who had dropped out of the university and who would become the most important local militia leader in Butare town after April 6.8

The Militia and Political Parties

In the period just before the genocide, there was little indication of the problems to be posed by the militia after April 6. The MRND, the CDR, and the MDR had too few adherents to have built up significant groups of trained men in the town or in most of the communes of Butare. As discussed above, militia had begun training in Nyakizu in September and October 1993, and, according to witness testimony, young men from the commune of Maraba had been secretly taught military skills beginning at about the same time. At least three recruits had left Maraba for about a month, transported in the vehicle of the commune to some unknown destination for further training.9 Another member of the Interahamwe, active in Butare during the genocide, reported that he had been trained in Kigali.10 Militia from outside Butare had reportedly arrived after April 6 and lodged quietly in a local motel until April 19 when they moved to other quarters, on orders from the military. Although the presence of this group was not generally noticed, people had remarked that armed strangers, either militia or disguised Presidential Guards, were quartered at the Rwandan Match Company (Société Rwandaise des Allumettes, SORWAL). Questioned about this at a public meeting in the early daysof the genocide, Prefect Habyalimana wrongly declared that there were no unknown armed persons at the match factory.11

While organized anti-Tutsi militia were not widely seen in Butare before early April, young supporters of PSD, the party which dominated politics in town and in a number of communes, caused trouble in February 1994. Enraged by the assassination the previous day of Felicien Gatabazi, the popular PSD leader, a crowd of young men caught and lynched Martin Bucyana, the national head of the CDR who was popularly held responsible for the crime. When members of the PSD were arrested and charged with Bucyana's murder, party leaders organized a demonstration demanding that they be released and used quieter forms of pressure as well to slow the investigation. In the days after Bucyana's murder, PSD members threatened proponents of Hutu Power generally and northerners in particular. The CDR leaders at Tumba, Deputy Laurent Baravuga and Simeon Remera, believed it necessary to take shelter temporarily at the police brigade. At this time, when Tutsi were being killed in Kigali, advocates of Hutu Power made their own threats against Tutsi and friends of Tutsi. At the university, some Tutsi and opponents of the MRND felt so threatened that they moved from their campus dormitories into town.12

The Burundians

Several hundred Burundians lived in town, including some university students, teachers, and other professionals who had been refugees for some years, and unemployed young men who had found their way into town from refugee camps or directly from Burundi. Many of the more than 100,000 refugees in the camps headed back to Burundi after April 6, but some 65,000 were still in Butare prefecture in May, including hundreds who had undergone military training in the camps. Well aware of the attitudes and experience of these young refugees, theprefect from the start insisted that the refugees be provided with adequate food in order to minimize the risk of their turning to violence.13

Early Violence

On the two days after the plane was shot down, Butare people stayed at home as directed by the Ministry of Defense over the radio. Satisfied with the relative calm, the prefect ordered public services resumed and markets opened on April 9. Soldiers from the Ngoma camp, however, notified at midnight April 6 of Habyarimana's death, had already begun killing Tutsi on April 7. A few went out from Ngoma camp and brought back young men tied up in the back of their pickup truck, beating them on the way. The next day soldiers from the camp, including some recently arrived northerners, picked up twelve young men from Matyazo. When notified of the detentions, Major Habyarabatuma secured the release of one or more of the men, but at least one of the others, Jean-Bosco Rugomboka was tortured by being burned with an iron and then killed by stabbing. One rumor that was circulated to justify his murder was that he had been caught in the process of "planning to kill Hutu." Because Rugomboka had been a PSD supporter and because PSD members had repeatedly challenged northerners and Hutu Power supporters after the deaths of Gatabazi and Bucyana, some Hutu took the rumor so seriously that they left Ngoma temporarily for Nyakizu and other places outside of town. Another rumor, apparently lent credence by being repeated by Joseph Kanyabashi, burgomaster of Ngoma, at a public meeting five days later, was that Rugomboka had been found in possession of a RPF tee shirt. On Monday, April 11, Ngoma soldiers arrested eight young men and women who had just returned home to Butare on foot from Kigali. They tortured them as they had Rugomboka, killed them and dumped their bodies near the road leading out of town to the Burundi border, perhaps as a warning to any who were considering fleeing the country.14

The military used not just threats, arrests and violence but also political action to pull the young Hutu of Ngoma to their side. Between April 7 and 21, groups of young men, many of them supporters of the PSD, reportedly spent a few daysbeing indoctrinated at the ESO. They returned to the streets of Ngoma far more hostile towards Tutsi and more supportive of Hutu Power.15

Not many Butare residents knew of the first killings by the soldiers, but many saw the smoke of houses set aflame in neighboring Gikongoro on April 7 and 8. On April 9, Butare people received the first displaced persons from Gikongoro into the western communes of Runyinya, Maraba, and Nyakizu. Major Habyarabatuma sent National Police to the border of Gikongoro to protect the displaced persons and to try to keep out their assailants. Burgomasters of Runyinya and Maraba organized Hutu and Tutsi to defend their communities from invasion by the assailants. Displaced persons began arriving also in northeastern Butare, coming from adjacent communes in Kigali and Gitarama. National Police were sent to the commune of Ntyazo to protect against attacks from those prefectures.16

Preoccupied by evidence of disturbances in neighboring regions, the prefect and others witnessed the passage on April 9 of convoys of foreigners fleeing south to Burundi. They recognized that their hasty departure reduced the chances of any foreign intervention to halt the slaughter. Two of a small U.N. contingent present in Butare during the first week of April appeared at the funeral of the young Tutsi Rugomboka on Sunday, April 10. They inquired about the circumstances of the murder, but they did nothing, neither then nor in the ten days remaining before they left town.17

Trying to Keep Control

The prefect called burgomasters and sub-prefects to report on the situation at an urgent meeting of the prefectural security council on Sunday morning, April 10. The sub-prefect of Nyabisindu began by reporting rumors that Presidential Guards had arrived in town and that soldiers were going around checking on the names of owners of various houses. Some forty-five children had been sent to take refuge in the church or elsewhere. Some people had received threats over the telephone and gunfire had been heard in the middle of the night. The burgomaster of Nyabisindu commune added that his house had been attacked during the night and that many people had chosen to spend the night outside, fearing murder if they slept at home. The burgomaster of Nyaruhengeri reported threats against religious sisters who rana clinic and the burgomaster of Muyira stated that soldiers and civilians armed with traditional weapons had come into his commune from Kigali prefecture and killed one person and pillaged goods. The burgomaster of Runyinya declared that military and civilian authorities in Gikongoro were doing nothing to combat violence in that prefecture and that more than a thousand displaced persons had fled into his commune.18

After listening to the lengthening list of problems, the prefect stressed that "Responsibility belongs to the burgomasters." Recognizing that crises elsewhere could spill over into their areas, he directed them to keep order by combating rumors and providing the necessary supplies to the fast-growing groups of displaced persons. He announced that he would go to Nyabisindu to deal himself with the problem of military men19 who were challenging the civilian authorities. Lieutenant Colonel Muvunyi apparently supported the prefect by urging the authorities to fight anything that could set one ethnic group against the other. He urged that troublemakers be identified and held responsible should anything happen. Speaking from a different point of view, the commander of Ngoma camp, insisted that all those who spread rumors to discredit the army be identified, presumably a reference to the report about military misbehavior in Nyabisindu.20

The prefect, no doubt well aware of problems with soldiers and police in Butare town as well as in Nyabisindu, reacted promptly the next day when he heard that a group of soldiers from the ESO had entered Ngoma church to look for ibyitso, "accomplices" of the RPF. He called the parish priest and insisted that he never again acquiesce in such a search unless it were authorized by a proper warrant.21

On April 11, Habyalimana refused the summons to a meeting of all prefects with the new government in Kigali. Some say that he had been warned of a plot to assassinate him en route, but he might also have been simply trying to decide how far to obey the interim government.22 The next day, April 12, when the DefenseMinistry announcement and Karamira's speech on the radio showed that the interim government was bent on genocide, Habyalimana again refused an order of national authorities. The general staff directed the Butare prefecture to deliver no more authorizations to Rwandans to leave the country. Several hours later, the prefect, backed by the prefectural security council, directed the local head of the immigration service to give the necessary papers to Rwandans trying to flee with foreign religious sisters. The next day, the sisters were stopped by a soldier who appeared to be on drugs at a barrier just south of Butare town. He refused to allow the Rwandans to pass and took them away to police headquarters. One of the sisters appealed to passing U.N. soldiers for help, but they said they could do nothing. She next appealed to a high-ranking military officer, probably Lieutenant Colonel Muvunyi, who arranged for one of his officers to escort the Rwandans beyond the barrier.23

The order prohibiting travel authorizations was one of the last direct telephone communications received by authorities in Butare from the national government. On the night of April 12, long-distance telephone service was cut leaving Habyalimana and others in outlying prefectures isolated. They would continue to receive information delivered over the radio and to communicate with other officials through brief messages transmitted by telegram. But no longer could they engage in substantive dialogues with distant authorities nor could they quickly and easily exchange information or verify official claims with like-minded colleagues in the capital.

At the security meeting on Wednesday morning, April 13, Habyalimana discussed the disintegrating situation. He acknowledged that military officers in Gikongoro were encouraging the troubles, that civilian authorities in Nyabisindu – by which he meant the sub-prefect – were not telling people the truth, and that the ordinary people were beginning to participate in the disorder. He stressed again that the people had no right to make their own laws, that they had no excuse for threatening others, and that they could not set up patrols and barriers that were not officially authorized. Although he directed that government services reopen and that the curfew be lifted to reassure people and to restore some sense of normality to life, he also prepared for a continuing crisis by requisitioning vehicles and fuel, along with stocks of food to provide for the rapidly increasing flow of displaced persons.24

Prefect Habyalimana ordered his subordinates to hold meetings throughout the prefecture to try to calm people and prevent disorder. At one such meeting at the stadium on April 14, he tried to reassure the residents of Ngoma. A university professor, Jean-Marie Vianney Maniraho, stood to ask why there were so many soldiers out of their camp and present in town and a farmer from an outlying area asked in a quavering voice why people were burning houses in nearby Maraba commune. The prefect responded that citizens would be protected as guaranteed by law. Repeating his advice to the priest of Ngoma church, he stressed that citizens should not permit searches of their homes or arrest by any person who did not produce the appropriate warrant.25 Burgomaster Kanyabashi and Major Habyarabatuma delivered similar guarantees of protection to more than 500 displaced persons from Gikongoro who were gathered at a health clinic in Matyazo. In the commune of Ndora, the burgomaster told Tutsi that there was no threat and that they should return to their homes at night instead of sleeping out of doors.26

The reassurances rang hollow as people began arriving in Butare, bearing news of disasters elsewhere, worst of all the massacre of thousands at Kibeho church just across the Gikongoro border on the night of April 14. Early reports by those who had fled the carnage, including the parish priest Abbe Pierre Ngoga, were confirmed by the staff of Doctors Without Borders (Medecins sans Frontiers, MSF) who were turned back a few hundred yards short of the church on the morning of April 15. En route to treat the wounded and carrying a general letter of authorisation signed by Lieutenant Colonel Muvunyi, they were stopped and forced to leave by drunk militia and communal policemen who told them that Muvunyi's authorisation meant nothing to them. As they turned their cars and drove away, they heard heavy gunfire and many screams. They returned to their base in Butare town and informed the authorities.27

At a meeting of the prefectural security council on April 15, the prefect reported on the Kibeho massacre and then summed up the situation in various parts of the prefecture. Most serious was the problem at Nyakizu, where some 20,000people were massed at the church complex and where many Tutsi homes had been burned down. Assailants, some of them armed with guns and grenades, were crossing into Butare at various points along the border with Gikongoro. The numbers of displaced persons in other communes adjacent to Gikongoro continued to mount and some 1,000 people were gathered at the Burundi frontier, stopped by border guards and soldiers from crossing the river. A policeman in Maraba was shooting at innocent people and an assistant burgomaster had been caught in the act of pillaging with the population. In several communes, including Nyakizu, Maraba, and Runyinya, assailants – both local and from outside the prefecture – had killed Tutsi. Despite all this bad news, there had been no major catastrophes as of the morning of April 15 and most of the troubles had been imported into the prefecture from the outside. Officials had organized patrols and barriers, with Hutu and Tutsi working on them together, just as they were standing together against incursions from outside.28

The prefect and security council imposed a total curfew in communes where there had been violence. The next day, April 16, they sent teams of officials to these areas to try to restore calm.29

Responding to Attacks from Gikongoro

While other officials tried to restore order after the fact, the prefect himself tried to address the cause of the problem by meeting with the Gikongoro prefect. At the end of the session, the two prefects issued a communique that seems to have represented a compromise between Habyalimana, who rejected the new authorities and Bucyibaruta, the MRND loyalist, who did not want to challenge them. They did not recite the virtually obligatory historical preamble that blamed the RPF for the crisis, but neither did they acknowledge the official role in the attacks. Instead they attributed the extent of the disturbances to the famine that had disrupted the local economy. They named the communes in Gikongoro where people had been killed, thus making clear exactly which officials were meant by their otherwise general appeal to "prefectural authorities at all levels" to halt the violence. In an effort to end the attacks against Butare, they forbade any travel outside the sector, except for reasons of work, and any gathering of people into groups.

The prefects broke with the official myth that the Tutsi were the aggressors and the Hutu the victims trying only to defend themselves. They ordered local officials to establish barriers and patrols against "troublemakers and wrongdoers."By using these simple words instead of the code terms for Tutsi – "infiltrators," "accomplices," "enemy," "Inyenzi," and "Inkotanyi" – the prefects showed that they wanted action against the real criminals, not against those targeted by the government. Other authorities had been instructing the population to listen to the radio and follow its orders, but the two prefects urged people to avoid being misled by rumors and to "listen with a very critical ear" to everything said on all radios. They asked the authorities to prosecute those who spread false information and they asked people to report to the authorities anyone who possessed unauthorized firearms. They urged the army, the public prosecutors and local officials all to make full use of the law to prevent and punish any and all acts of violence. And, in a final indication of how alone they felt in confronting the catastrophe, they entreated the government to restore long-distance telephone service.30

In their communique, the prefects failed to mention the one obvious cause of the violence. When summarizing the statement for the prefectural security council the next morning, Habyalimana added the element omitted in the published statement: "extremists."31

Dealing with the Displaced

On April 15, assailants attacked the estimated 20,000 displaced persons at Cyahinda church in Nyakizu and on the 16th, they continued killing throughout the day. This tragedy brought to the prefecture the large-scale slaughter experienced elsewhere in Rwanda and underscored the risk that such massacres might be staged wherever significant numbers of Tutsi gathered. The radio insisted over and over that "infiltrators" were hidden among the displaced and that they were planning to attack the Hutu as they moved into their communes.32

On April 16 and 17, prefectural authorities began sending displaced persons to centers some distance from Butare town, attempting also to disarm them whenever possible, even though they were carrying only traditional weapons. In a number of communes, including Ruhashya, Mbazi, and Nyaruhengeri, burgomasters at this time or soon after refused to allow the displaced to congregate at the communal offices, apparently on orders from their superiors. They directed them instead to other locations, such as a stadium or church. Some of those refused refuge at the Ruhashya communal offices went to the Institute of Agricultural Sciences of Rwanda (Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Rwanda, ISAR) at Rubona.33

On April 16, Burgomaster Kanyabashi and Lieutenant Hategekimana directed the more than 1,500 displaced persons at the Matyazo health center to move to Karama church in Runyinya or to Simbi church in Maraba. Abbé Jerome Masinzo of Ngoma church and Catholic lay leader Laurien Ntezimana insisted that the displaced not be moved until the security of the locations had been checked. Ntezimana went first to Runyinya and found the area already burning. The next day, Lieutenant Hategekimana insisted that Abbé Masinzo escort the displaced to Simbi. When the Abbé and Ntezimana set out with the group, they found Simbi also besieged. Only when they brought the displaced back to Ngoma and presented the lieutenant with a fait accompli did he agree to leave them at Matyazo.34 That same day, authorities sent nearly 500 people who arrived in Sahera sector of Ngoma south to Nyumba church in the commune of Gishamvu and directed others at the Nyakibanda seminary to move to Nyumba also. No one checked the security of these locations. The displaced were apparently transferred to both places, the sites of massacres soon after.35

Habyalimana feared that the 3,000 people waiting to cross the boundary into Burundi would be massacred if they did not move away from the frontier. At the time, Radio Rwanda was inciting people of the region to attack them. On the 8 p.m. news on April 16, it had declared that the gathering of displaced persons near the frontier was meant to open a new front in the war. It concluded "The government is appealing to the population to remain vigilant and help restore order andpeace."36 When soldiers moved the displaced back to a small commercial center called Nkomero, a prefectural delegation, apparently including Habyalimana, went to preach calm and to promise them aid.37

The military authorities presumably made the decisions about regrouping the displaced persons at certain sites, about disarming them, and about moving them back from the frontier. But Habyalimana himself and other civilian and church leaders – some of them Tutsi like Habyalimana – persuaded the displaced to cooperate in these measures.38 Perhaps they had no choice. Or perhaps they hoped to undercut the government strategy of presenting the agglomerations as a threat to local Hutu. By having Tutsi surrender their weapons and move away from sensitive locations, like the town and the frontier, Habyarimana and others may have hoped to demonstrate that the Tutsi had no intention of taking the offensive.

Prefect Habyalimana Removed

After meeting with the Gikongoro prefect on Saturday, Habyalimana spent the weekend dealing with one crisis after another. The violence had spread from its first major center along the western frontier in the communes of Maraba, Runyinya and Nyakizu, to adjacent communes further to the east and south in Huye, Gishamvu, Kigembe, Muganza, and Nyaruhengeri. Another center of violence that had been established in the northeast by raids from Kigali and Gitarama was expanding south and west through the commune of Muyira. The attacks were no longer the work of outsiders alone: people from Butare were taking up their machetes to join killers from Gikongoro and the other prefectures.

Attackers from Maraba commune had begun burning the sector of Sovu in Huye commune, driving women and children to the Sovu health center and Rugango church. The men of Huye – still Hutu and Tutsi together – were attempting to fend off the attackers.39

Assailants had driven some 1,000 persons, many from Nyakizu or Gikongoro, to seek refuge at the Kigembe communal office. In Nyaruhengeri, people werebeing conscripted by officials and political leaders to go attack Nyumba church in neighboring Gishamvu where, it was falsely alleged, a soldier had been killed. Others were being sent to attack Tutsi at Gisagara in Ndora commune and at Mugombwa in Muganza. They were told to take banana leaves with them. Some returned hurt and required medical attention while others who came back without injury were then dispatched to other sites.40

In the northeast of the prefecture, displaced persons continued to arrive in the commune of Muyira fleeing soldiers and other assailants from Kigali and Gitarama. Their attackers, too, had worn banana leaves and had covered their faces with chalk and ashes.41

In the early afternoon of April 17, other soldiers were driving the roads of Maraba and Runyinya in a red pickup truck, giving armed men who stood along the road the thumbs up sign. The attackers, who also wore banana leaves around their necks, shouted back with approval, "Power!" The church and adjacent buildings at Simbi in Maraba commune were full of displaced persons. A double row of armed assailants had encircled the buildings and were just waiting for the agreed-upon hour of 7 p.m. to begin the slaughter. A dense network of road blocks was in place to catch any Tutsi who tried to flee. One of the barriers was manned by a proud twelve-year-old, under the watchful eyes of adults nearby. He told a passerby that he had been present at the planning meeting where the hour of attack had been set. Asked why the Tutsi should be killed, he replied with assurance, "Because they are evil."

According to a witness, Jean-Marie Vianney Habineza, the burgomaster of Maraba, was present at the church, wearing a pistol and accompanied by armed communal policemen that Sunday afternoon. When soldiers arrived to deliver an additional group of displaced persons from Ngoma commune, the burgomaster refused to accept them and complained that he had already told the Ngoma burgomaster Kanyabashi that morning to send him no more Tutsi. The displaced persons walked back to Ngoma to the sounds of whistles and the shouts of "Power!" from groups of children and young people along the way.42

Kanyabashi was supposedly astonished to learn that Simbi was besieged and promised to alert Lieutenant Colonel Muvunyi. Informed of the pending attack, theBishop of Butare also promised to call Muvunyi. A message was left too for Major Habyarabatuma, who was not at police headquarters. The National Policeman who took the message stated that Habyarabatuma was angry at the death of two of his men at Cyahinda and would not intervene again "if it was just to have his policemen killed by Tutsi."43

Someone seeking to avert the disaster at Simbi also called Habyalimana, but was told by his wife that he was still at Nyakizu. By that time, Habyalimana could hardly have helped in any case. As the 8 p.m. news on Radio Rwanda announced, he was no longer prefect.44

That night a rotation of the troops took place. Captain Nizeyimana reportedly sent away those soldiers who showed no enthusiasm for killingTutsi civilians. This may also have been the time when about half the Butare contingent of the National Police was sent to the battlefront. It was not replaced in Butare.45

Hutu Power Gains in Butare

With the increasing raids from outside the prefecture, the multiplication of attacks within, and the incitement to violence by the military, Habyalimana and those associated with him were clearly losing ground to the forces of genocide. Other administrators and political leaders, motivated by fear or opportunism, then followed the lead of the Nyakizu burgomaster and began inciting people in their areas to genocide. Many were anxious to profit from or at least not to be excluded by the forces shaping the radically and rapidly changing political situation. François Ndungutse, a native of Shyanda commune and one of the few leaders left at national level in the PSD, reportedly helped push the PSD towards the side of Hutu Power. The one important party to have resisted the efforts to divide it in 1993, the PSD had lost most of its national leaders during the first days of the killings in Kigali and Ndungutse apparently hoped to strengthen it by cooperating more closely with the MRND. Observers in town noticed that the young men of PSD were drinking and strolling the streets with soldiers and before long, those who had worn the hats of the PSD were seen sporting the caps of MRND or even the CDR. One remarked:

    The PSD was strong in Butare, but after April 6, there was no more PSD. There was only two ethnic groups, Tutsi and Hutu: Tutsi to be killed and Hutu to be killed if they didn't want to kill.46

Adherents of the MRND hoped to reassert their hold over at least some parts of Butare prefecture while supporters of MDR, particularly MDR-Power, saw the opportunity to establish a base as Ntaganzwa had done in Nyakizu. These supporters of Hutu Power, including even those of the CDR, moved quickly to exploit the new cooperative spirit that they found among members of the PSD.47

Massacre at Simbi

Burgomaster Habineza of Maraba was one official who changed abruptly from an opponent to a supporter of killings. At first, he had led Hutu and Tutsi from his commune to the border to fight off incursions from neighboring Gikongoro. When assailants penetrated to the vicinity of the church where Tutsi had taken shelter, he went to the nearby playing field of the school to frighten them off by firing his pistol.48

The raiders from Gikongoro, wearing banana leaves and carrying machetes, hoes, and clubs, were backed by men with firearms, either former soldiers or National Police. Some assailants wore a kind of cannister on their backs from which they sprayed gasoline on houses before setting them alight. Vehicles followed behind carrying fuel to refill the cannisters as needed. The assailants' access to fuel and vehicles, already under state controls, was further proof of official sponsorship of the attacks.49

When Habineza was unable to halt the attacks, backed as they were by officials of the neighboring prefecture, he asked support from the prefecture. The prefectural security council on April 15 sent several National Policemen along with the public prosecutor Mathias Bushishi and a sub-prefect named Evariste Bicamumpaka to Maraba. From the point of view of the prefect, the delegation was meant to reinforce Habineza's efforts to keep order; and they did actually arrest an assistant burgomaster who was accused of encouraging the attacks. According to observers in the commune, however, the burgomaster stopped opposing the genocide soon after this visit. Some believe that one of the visitors took the burgomaster aside and persuaded him to give in to the violence.

Whatever changed the mind of the burgomaster, his decision was soon clear. He unexpectedly insisted that the Tutsi leave the church and move to a camp where they would be more exposed to attack. After the parish priests protested, he did allow them to remain in the church but he took away one group, largely of girls and young women. He was supposedly transporting them to a safer location, but they were never heard from again.50 At about that same time, Habineza tolerated, if he did not actually encourage, the murder of the local judicial inspector, a man with whom he had often had conflicts in the past. When a group of young men armed with spears and machetes raided the home of the judicial inspector, he fled to the nearby home of the burgomaster. Habineza refused to let him in. As the judicial inspector turned away, he was struck in the back with a machete. Reportedly, the head of the communal police took him to the brigade to finish him off.51

Many in the commune followed the lead of the burgomaster. As one witness remarked,

    In the first days, the refugees [i.e., the Tutsi] would walk out and around the area, go out of the church to buy sorghum beer and so on. But, after April 15, no one would serve them beer. This was just one sign that things were changing.52

The first group of National Police to come to Maraba had worked to keep order, but after April 17 another team came with the opposite goal. They arrivedin Nyangazi sector of Maraba in a pickup truck and found a group of people pillaging the homes of Tutsi. Seeing that the assailants hesitated to kill, "the police encouraged them." The witness declared:

    Right over there the National Police killed Hategeka because he was pillaging the house of Gasarabwe and they ordered him to kill, not to just pillage. Hategeka was armed with a grenade and a machete [but he was not killing]. After the police had killed Hategeka, the people killed some of those who were fleeing, a man called Kabera and a woman called Mukakaremera and her seven children. The National Police went on towards Ruhashya.53

Maraba assailants borrowed methods and equipment from the Gikongoro attackers: they too used the portable spray devices to make it easier to burn houses quickly. A driver who worked for the commune reportedly used one of the commune pickup trucks to supply the arson squads with fuel.54

Hundreds of assailants, some local, some from Gikongoro, attacked the Simbi church and health center at about 9 a.m. on April 18. They wore banana leaves and had chalk on their faces and they made a lot of noise with drums and shouting. One priest, who was Tutsi, had escaped the night before and the other, who was Hutu, was in the church baptizing people in anticipation of their imminent deaths when one of the attackers threw a grenade into the building. The killers slaughtered all day and into the night, then stopped to feast on the cattle that they had looted. They returned to resume the slaughter on April 19 and 20. According to one survivor from Maraba, some of the killers were "like madmen," but many others had been forced by the authorities to kill.55

Eight soldiers, who had arrived in a red pickup truck, directed the massacre with the help of communal policemen. On the first day, a second group of uniformed men also arrived, driving in a van, apparently to ensure that the others did not need help. The soldiers in the van distributed grenades to assailants as it drove around the area. The burgomaster, armed and present before the attack, was not reported seen during the slaughter itself.

Most of the 3,000 to 5,000 persons in the church and outbuildings at the time of the attack were slain. The few who escaped were caught in the dense web ofbarricades that covered roads and paths "at every ten paces."56 During the attack, three Hutu nuns were killed, apparently because they opposed the pillage of the health center.

Burgomaster Habineza rewarded with one kilogram of rice each person who helped bury the victims in shallow graves around the church. The rice had been stored by church authorities for distribution to the hungry.57

Habineza reportedly participated in the pillage of the health center and subsequently confiscated valuable goods from ordinary people who had looted them from Tutsi homes. He almost immediately organized local meetings to divide up the fields of those who had been killed.58

Massacre at Kansi

In the commune of Nyaruhengeri also, local leaders decided that April 18 was the time to begin large-scale killing. Until that day, Hutu and Tutsi had worked together at road blocks and on patrols. Near the church of Kansi, Tutsi teachers had at first been afraid to take their places at the barrier and did so only after Hutu had promised that they would not harm them. Thousands of people had sought shelter in the church and adjacent buildings after the burgomaster, Charles Kabeza, had refused to let displaced persons come to the communal offices. Saying he had been ordered not to allow them to gather at the offices, he had put a barrier in place to keep them at a distance. The parish priests had sought without success to get the Red Cross to provide food for the displaced, who were also lacking water.59

In the afternoon of April 18, retired soldiers or military men in civilian dress came to goad Hutu into attacking Tutsi at the barrier near the church. At first the Hutu hesitated, but then they began to throw stones at the Tutsi, who threw stones back. That night, armed men attacked the church complex and killed some Tutsi. The next morning workers warned the priests, who had spent the night in the rafters of the church, that a major attack would come that night. The priests, who had notbeen able to get even food for the displaced despaired of getting any protection for them. They advised the crowd to flee, but leaders of the group asked "Flee to where?" Many were already weakened by lack of food and water. Unable to save the thousands of people, one of the priests gave them absolution and left. As he passed behind the church, he was caught by an assailant who put his machete to the priest's neck and warned him to stay clear of the killing that was going to take place.60

That afternoon assailants killed the director of the school outside the convent of the Bernadine sisters. Shortly after, former soldiers and communal councilors led thousands of armed men in attacking the church and school buildings, beginning with grenades and finishing with machetes. In a few hours of intense slaughter, they killed between 10,000 and 10,500 persons. During the attack leaders used plastic whistles to direct the activities of the killers. Among the killers were Burundian refugees who had been housed at the Nyange camp not far from the church.61

The next day, one of the priests found ten or fifteen survivors outside the main door of the church. As he stood talking with them, he heard assailants blowing their whistles in the same rhythm that they had used the day before. From the woods behind him, a crowd surged forward and killed the survivors before his eyes. When the priest later entered the classrooms, the killers once more came after him and killed babies who had survived the massacre of the day before. When he asked them why they were murdering infants, they replied, "They are the enemy."62

For the next six days, local people were too occupied with searching for survivors and plundering to help dispose of the bodies. Dogs came to eat some of them. After the six days, the burgomaster sent men to help with the burial. The church paid for the labor.

Pillagers made off with everything portable from the church and school buildings, even items for which they had no possible use. When the burgomaster appealed for the return of some of the goods, people did bring them back. Some who regretted having killed asked the clergy, "Will God punish us?"63

The Hutu at the barrier who had promised the Tutsi teachers that they would not harm them kept their promise. Burundian refugees killed them instead.64

On April 18, the same day as the massacres at Simbi and Kansi, administrative officials and political leaders launched the slaughter of between 2,000 and 3,000 people who had taken refuge at the communal offices in the commune of Kigembe, just south of Nyaruhengeri.65 On the same day, assailants spread out over the hills of the commune Huye, burning and killing in all sectors except Mpare.66 And in the northeast, assailants from outside the prefecture and others from the commune of Muyira drove Tutsi, including those displaced from further north, from Muyira into Ntyazo, just to the south.67

Welcoming the New Prefect

Although many had already moved to violence on or before the 18th, the first day when people became generally aware of Habyalimana's dismissal, the commune of Ngoma and others forming a protective shield to its north – Mbazi, Ruhashya, Mugusa, Shyanda, and Ndora – were largely, if not completely, quiet. In many places Hutu and Tutsi were still patrolling or guarding barriers together. In Mbazi, the burgomaster Antoine Sibomana had coordinated an effective defense of Hutu and Tutsi against attacks from the adjacent commune of Maraba, in one instance killing several of the assailants. He had arrested commune residents, including his own brother, who had attacked Tutsi.68 In the northeastern commune of Ntyazo, Hutu, and Tutsi came together for an effective defense that would last for ten days.69 Several burgomasters still hoped the armed forces would help them to keep the peace. The burgomaster of Runyinya, who had provided both protectionand food to people who had fled from Gikongoro, appealed to Major Habyarabatuma for additional help from the National Police. In a letter to the local military commander, the burgomaster of Ndora described how he had been able to intervene successfully to stop an attack against a man who was accused of hiding "unknown persons" in his house and asked the commander to send a patrol from time to time "to quiet the troublemakers."70

In accord with orders from the prefect, many burgomasters and other officials held meetings about security between April 14 and 18. They organized patrols and guard duty on the barriers and they also addressed the fears felt by people, whether Hutu or Tutsi. One witness from the commune of Ngoma recalls such a meeting where Kanyabashi urged the people of Cyarwa to avoid violence and to fight together against attacks from Huye and Gikongoro, while others recall a similar session that he led in Rango to encourage resistance against attacks from Gishamvu.71 In a foreshadowing of events to come, Hutu Power advocates took over several of the meetings and used the occasions to frighten Hutu. At the meeting at Kabutare in Butare town, for example, Hutu pressed Tutsi to explain why they had sent their children away if they were not intending to cause trouble in the community. In a sector meeting in Tumba, also in Butare, a well-known local doctor, Sosthène Munyemana, reported wrongly that the RPF had attacked people in Kigembe and had caused fifteen people to flee to his home in Butare. Witnesses in the community declared that his speech and the angry reaction to it sparked dissension among Hutu and Tutsi who had previously worked well together to avoid violence.72

To hold together the dwindling island of peace in the swell of genocidal violence would have required great political skill and force of character. The man named by the interim government as prefect, Sylvain Nsabimana, was not known for these characteristics but rather for his cordial good nature and readiness to havea good time. The decision-makers had wanted to appoint someone from the PSD since the party was dominant in Butare and its young adherents were showing greater openness to Hutu Power. They hoped that a prefect from the PSD would be able to bring local people into line with government policy.

PSD leaders François Ndungutse and Etienne Bashamiki welcomed the idea and set about recruiting Nsabimana, an agronomist who headed the PSD in the commune of Mbazi, but had little experience with politics at the national level. At first Nsabimana refused the post, citing his lack of experience, but then he was swayed by the argument that it might go to the MRND if he did not take it. He and others in the PSD feared that a prefect from the MRND might harass the party (and perhaps Nsabimana himself) over PSD involvement in the February murder of CDR head Bucyana, a case that was still being investigated. Nsabimana maintains that he still had not actually accepted the offer when the interim government announced the appointment on the radio. Three days later he heard on the radio that the interim president was coming to install him in the post. Forced to decide whether to accept or not, he went that morning to buy a suit and then to be installed as prefect. He thus assumed a position of major responsibility in a government which had already made clear its genocidal program.73

Months later, Nsabimana learned that his appointment had been examined and approved by the executive committee of the Interahamwe, an indication of the power exerted at that time by the militia within the circles of government.74

The formalities of installation took place on the morning of April 19 in the Salle Polyvalente, a large auditorium on the main street of Butare, built to house meetings of the MRND in the closing days of the single-party era. The assemblage included a host of dignitaries of the interim government: Prime Minister Kambanda, Minister of Trade and Industry Justin Mugenzi, Minister of Family and Womens' Affairs Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, Minister of Information Eliezer Niyitegeka, and Minister of Justice Agnes Ntamabyaliro. The interim president attended but, according to witnesses, came in late. Minister of Agriculture Straton Nsabumukunzi may have been there as well. Their presence underscored theimportance of the occasion and placed it firmly within the context of the program to extend the genocide which they had already begun executing the day before at the meeting with local officials in Gitarama. A number of high-ranking military officers were in the audience, as were most local burgomasters and councilors. The heads of various prefectural administrative departments, many of them Tutsi, were there as well.75

Callixte Kalimanzira, still temporarily in charge of the Ministry of the Interior, served as master of ceremonies for a program which included speeches by the president, the prime minister, the ministers Mugenzi and Niyitegeka, the newly appointed prefect, and the burgomaster of Ngoma. Contrary to usual practice and to emphasize the humiliation of the outgoing prefect, Habyalimana was not given the opportunity to speak. Once he was officially dismissed, Habyalimana was in effect told to leave and he did so. This further humiliation shocked some of those who had been his subordinates and roused their fears of a similar fate.76

The interim prime minister apparently spoke first. Declaring that the current conflict was the "final war" that had to be carried to its ultimate conclusion, he insisted that the government would no longer tolerate those who sympathised with the enemy and helped him by sapping the morale of the Rwandan army. He mentioned burgomasters who had supposedly gone for training with the RPF and asked that their colleagues warn them that the government was determined to win the war.77

Kanyabashi, the most senior burgomaster, both by length of service and because of the importance of his commune, responded to Kambanda's speech.78 The Ngoma burgomaster presumably understood the threat implicit in the primeminister's accusation about RPF training. Some months before, a group of PSD party members had gone to the RPF zone, supposedly for a friendly football match, but the rumor was that they had gone for military training with the RPF. Burgomasters who supported the PSD, as did Kanyabashi, would most likely have realized that their loyalty was in question simply because of their party affiliation, a reason to declare support for the government even if they did not feel obligated by party solidarity to endorse the new appointee. In Kanyabashi's case, the pressure may well have been greater because he was known to have a Tutsi wife and because he had already been criticized so frequently for his friendships with Tutsi.79 The man described by some colleagues as "supple" and by others as "an opportunist" took the safe course of supporting a government that was carrying out a genocide. According to the transcript of the speech recorded and subsequently played over Radio Rwanda, he declared:

    We promise you once more, as we have not stopped showing, that we support your government and that we will continue to do everything that is in our power to permit it to realise its objectives.

After professing support also for the army, he continued:

    We will do everything in our power to keep our country from falling into the hands of the "inyangarwanda" (those who hate Rwanda), we will do everything in our power to make every citizen understand that national sovereignty is his concern. In addition, we will maintain security wherever this can be done while also trying to restore it wherever it is absent.

Perhaps revealing his discomfiture at having pronounced this endorsement, he remarked that it was "difficult to find the right words," and then concluded that the people of Butare would put into action whatever was possible to protect the security of the prefecture.80

Interim President Sindikubwabo presented a seemingly casual series of remarks, directed primarily at the new prefect, whom he addressed with the affectionate term "sha." He reviewed briefly the visits he had made the day before to Maraba, Nyakizu, and Nyumba church in Gishamvu, using the chance toreinforce the myth that the "refugees" gathered in these locations were armed with "very sophisticated weapons," including rifles and grenades. Because of this, he said, they had badly frightened the local populations. Quoting the minister Mugenzi, he stressed that the "refugees," the Tutsi, were being well fed and cared for in the churches while "the great majority," the Hutu, received no such care as they wandered about in the pouring rain.

He chastised authorities in Gikongoro and Butare for requesting help from National Police who were needed for "other obligations." Sindikubwabo recounted that he had asked in one commune if there were no more men there, meaning men who could deal with "security" problems themselves, only to be told that there were few left because most others were preoccupied with enriching themselves. This passage echoed the directives, like those heard at Nyundo, Nyakizu, and Maraba, that killing Tutsi was more important than pillaging them.

Stressing that each burgomaster was responsible for protecting his commune, Sindikubwabo told them, "Act like adults and protect our prefecture." He insisted that officials could not hide behind excuses, such as not being in the office when there was work to be done. They could not just watch while others did the work.

In the harshest passages of the speech, he remarked that people of Butare were well known for their know-it-all attitude, for their approach of "it's not my business." He declared,

    What this means is that "the actors who only watch," the "those who feel it's not their business," should be exposed. Let them step aside for us and let us "work" and let them look from outside our circle. He who says "that's not my business and I'm even afraid," let him step aside for us. Those who are responsible of getting rid of such a person, let them do it fast. Other good "workers who want to work" for their country are there.

Referring back to the prime minister's mention of officials who had gone to the RPF for training, Sindikubwabo asked anyone acquainted with such people to get rid of them. He predicted that the interim government would win the war once it had eliminated those who felt the war was not their business.

Sindikubwabo excused himself for speaking in "an almost authoritarian voice," but said he had to do so to make his audience understand the gravity of his message. Because the country was at war, "these are not ordinary words." The interim president said that he had delivered only a part of his message "because the way is still long." Before continuing the message, Sindikubwabo said, he "would first observe the conduct of each person. I am speaking especially of the authorities." The implication was that the rest of his message – with dismissals ofother officials – would follow if local authorities failed to join the killing campaign. He concluded by insisting,

    ...I want you to learn to understand us and to interpret our remarks as they are intended. You should understand the reason that pushes us to talk this way, analyze every word so that you understand why it was delivered in such a way and not in another. It is because we are living through extraordinary times. Jokes, laughing, taking things lightly, indifference, all must for the time being give way to "work."81

Two of the ministers most known for their virulently anti-Tutsi views, Mugenzi and Niyitegeka, also spoke. Their remarks clearly were less important than those of Sindikubwabo, not only because they were lower in status than he, but also because they were not native to the region. Even so, their incitements to action multiplied the pressures on the listeners.82 When the formal addresses were finished, Jonathas Ruremesha, burgomaster of Huye, asked what he should say to the people of his commune who wanted "to begin conflicts." As in the meeting in Gitarama the day before, the highest authorities stood back and allowed Mugenzi to respond for the government. He stated unequivocally, "If the population gets angry, it should be allowed to do what it wants." Ruremesha reportedly decided at that point that he would make no further attempts to halt violence.83

After being sent from the auditorium that morning, Jean-Baptiste Habyalimana crossed the road to the prefectural offices. The main building, a long, decrepit one-story structure, faced a large expanse of beaten earth. The prefect's office was at the far end, to the left. To the right stood the small and dark jail that housed prisoners arrested by the National Police. A witness at the prefecture on the morning of April 19 observed some 500 displaced persons gathered in front of the prefecture. As he watched, soldiers loaded men from the crowd into three trucks which departed full and returned empty about twenty minutes later. In an hour'stime, the trucks made three roundtrips to an unknown destination. The women and children stayed at the prefecture. The witness, a foreigner who needed some assistance from the administration, sought out the prefect who was seated at the desk in his office. When he stated his business, Habyalimana said that he could not help because he was no longer prefect. As he was leaving, the visitor thanked Habyalimana for being one of the three men who had tried to keep the peace in Butare. Habyalimana asked, "Which three?" When the visitor mentioned Habyalimana, Major Habyarabatuma, and Kanyabashi, the former prefect exclaimed with anger and disgust, "Kanyabashi!" The visitor asked what Habyalimana would do next. He answered, "I used to be a professor. I will probably go back to teaching." As he said this, he turned his face away so that his tears would not be seen.84

Disappointed though Habyalimana might have been in Kanyabashi's performance, the burgomaster of Ngoma was, according to one witness, still trying to prevent the killing in the late afternoon of April 19. He told a crowded meeting at the Ngoma sector office that the slaughter must not happen, but he apparently could offer no concrete advice on how to avoid it.85

The day after his installation in office, the new prefect met with his predecessor to go over financial records and other paperwork related to the change in administration. Nsabimana agreed to allow Habyalimana to keep the two National Policemen who were supposed to protect him and to permit him and his family to remain in the official residence of the prefect, a modest house near the airport. After this meeting, Habyalimana went into hiding, stalked by Pauline Nyiramasuhuko and her collaborators.86

Nsabimana spent some time after Habyalimana's departure searching through documents in the prefect's office and in a storeroom adjacent to the auditorium, looking for proof that his predecessor had actually supported the RPF as he had been told was the case. He found nothing. Similarly, he had been assured that the security service had files on burgomasters and others who had gone to RPF headquarters in Mulindi for military training, but none was ever produced to confirm the assertion.87

On the day Habyalimana left his post, Major Habyarabatuma came home in the late morning after having directed security patrols in various sectors. He found a telegram from the army general staff that had been delivered at about 9 a.m. ordering him to report to the battlefield in Kigali at 2 p.m. that same day. Deprived of about half the police under his command a few days before, he had experienced growing difficulty in getting compliance with his orders and had had to discipline some subordinates, even imprisoning a lieutenant, junior grade, who had participated in the Cyahinda massacre. Still he had remained an important presence in discouraging violence. His departure, like the replacement of Habyalimana, marked the defeat of forces opposed to the genocide. He left the National Police in Butare under the command of Major Rusigariye, who was known to support the slaughter.88

South of Butare

By April 19, some 12,000 Rwandans had sought safety in Burundi. Many others wanted to leave, but just as the need for escape was becoming more pressing, so flight across the border was becoming more difficult. One man in Butare was able to convince a soldier to escort his wife to safety in return for 10,000 Rwandan francs (about U.S.$55), but few had that kind of resources or connections.89

Foreign aid workers witnessed the violence directed against residents of the area south of town and people trying to flee across the frontier. On the morning of April 19, several staff members of MSF drove the thirty-five miles south from Butare through the communes of Gishamvu and Kigembe to the Burundi frontier to pick up some medical supplies. They had to pass through twenty to twenty-five road blocks, most of them made out of rocks and limbs of trees. The most important, such as the one just outside Butare and another near the frontier, were manned by soldiers, some of them armed with machine guns and grenades. Others were guarded by civilians with machetes and one or two men with firearms. At several places, the MSF staff noticed men wearing bright yellow wool scarves, as had Interahamwe both at the Kibeho church massacre and in the town of Butare. Guards were interested in checking the identity papers only of Africans in thegroup. At one barrier, they examined the cargo in the pickup truck asking "Are you carrying Tutsi?"90

When the cars reached one of the road blocks in Gishamvu, the staff began seeing dead bodies alongside the barriers and scattered among the houses. Dr. Rony Zachariah saw people being pulled violently out of their houses and handed over to groups of two, three, or four people who were armed with machetes. Often the victims were made to sit down before being struck. He recalled the entire landscape being "spotted with corpses" virtually all the way to the border. In some of the piles, there were between sixty and eighty corpses.

As the MSF convoy approached the border, Zachariah saw a group of ten militia armed with machetes chasing sixty to eighty people who were running on the road "like cattle in a stampede." Zachariah recalled:

    In front of us there was a man who looked very elderly to me because he had white hair. He could not run so fast and he stumbled. The militia [member] took his machete and he hit him with the machete on the side of the neck, right there before our eyes, directly in front of our car. We could see the blood that was gushing out....It was done in such a professional manner that he was cut, there was blood gushing out and the old man just fell down in the middle of the tarmac. The militia [member] started chasing the group of people along with the others. It was very close to the car, so I had to swerve the car in such a way that I would not drive over him. I tried to get past this group of people – and the people were trying to get into the car. They were crying for help, "Take us in!" But we had raised the window glass and the doors were locked. We could not take anybody in. We crossed [passed] them and we reached the border. But at the border there was another group of militia that was waiting. All these civilians, sixty to eighty of them were pursued and hacked to death. There were six, perhaps ten, that managed to cross the bridge between Rwanda and Burundi with their wounds.91

A representative of Action Internationale Contre la Faim (AICF) who had come from Bujumbura to meet a convoy from Butare wrote a description of a similar scene that he witnessed at the same crossing point several days later. At one moment, everything was quiet at the border, where the two barriers marking each side were separated by two hundred yards of paved road. Suddenly a crowd surgedover the top of a nearby hill, some twenty Tutsi being chased by many others, and rushed towards the frontier.

The witness described the total unreality of the scene; he had trouble believing that he was really seeing the blows fall and hearing the cries and moans:

    My position made the situation even more hallucinatory; alone, I stood deliberately in the middle of the carnage. I was so naive as to believe that my presence might restrain the violence of the assailants, so I stayed in the middle of the slaughter. But they paid no attention at all to me, completely cut off by their own rage. When one scene of violence began several yards of away, I went there, just to be there, to make my presence troubling, but at the same time, another was happening on the right and I wanted to go there too, then another and still another, always the same thing, a man trying to flee and the others catching him and hitting him, a man on the ground not even trying to protect himself, immobilized by the blows, resigned, and other men crushing his flesh with blows of clubs and machetes, spears, bows, and arrows.

The assailants did not finish off a victim, but injured each just enough to immobilize him before going after another. The witness continued:

    Not everyone was armed with weapons, but everyone was armed with hate, ready to trip up a Tutsi who was passing, to slap in passing the miserable person who was running, out of breath, out of strength, who, exhausted fell flat on the macadam. Scarcely was he down when the blows fell with twice the force. Children...made a game of it all, following their older brothers in running after the Tutsi, throwing stones at them, and laughing at each Tutsi who was caught.

A Zairian who was also trying to cross the border stood next to his car, watching the scenes of horror. As broad as he was tall, massive and solid, the forty-year-old man was built to inspire respect. This man watched what was happening before his eyes and sobbed silently.

When the awaited convoy arrived, the aid worker went to get in his own car to lead them across the border. As he did so, two women with babies on their backs, ignored by the crowd, murmured a plea to be taken in one of the cars. The aid worker feared that doing so would attract the attention of the crowd to the cars and the Tutsi inside whom they were hoping to get across the border. He recalled that"I would have preferred dying on the spot to saying no to these women and condemning them to death, but that is what I had to do."92

The Meeting of April 20

After having delivered his message to the administrators and politicians on April 19, Interim President Sindikubwabo carried the word to the population by visits to the Cyamukaza and Muzenga sectors of his home commune of Ndora, where he reportedly demanded violence against Tutsi even more bluntly than at the Butare meeting. He also delivered instructions to the people of other communes, such as Shyanda, and to the sub-prefectural center at Gisagara, where he apparently helped prepare assailants for the massacre that began the next day at Kabuye.93

On some of these visits, he was joined by Callixte Kalimanzira, who would appear in the region with growing frequency to prod and supervise the prefect and his subordinates into efficiently implementing the genocide. As a long-standing member of the MRND, Kalimanzira had little hope of being named prefect in a prefecture so hostile to his party, but he expected and was expected by others to run the prefecture through Nsabimana, given the new prefect's lack of experience with the territorial administration. Sindikubwabo and Kalimanzira together allegedly put great pressure on those burgomasters who still hesitated to kill, such as Théophile Shyirambere of Shyanda, stressing that if they failed to perform satisfactorily and were removed their lives might be in danger.94

While the national authorities were reinforcing the message, the new prefect began the work of implementing it. He subsequently claimed that he did not go to his office between April 20 and 26 and that there was no one in charge during those days. He described the first week after he took office as "total disorder."95 But the day after his installation he chaired a well-attended meeting of the prefectural security committee. Notes taken by a participant reflect a carefully planned agenda and a well-structured discussion. The participants agreed that "infiltrators"accounted for the mounting violence. Proceeding from the government doctrine that local Tutsi residents were in fact armed RPF agents, the participants agreed that such persons must be arrested and brought to the authorities; that military operations would be executed to "disarm those who are armed"; that search operations should be carried out whenever solid information indicated the need; and that administrative meetings should be held the next day with subordinate officials and other local leaders "who could contribute to restoring security." They singled out several places as needing special attention, including the Burundi border and Nyakizu, with its "problems of armed people," no doubt meaning the last resisters on top of Nyakizu hill. The participants also considered what to do at Maraba and concluded "The burgomaster should work there first; he should identify everyone from his commune who is at Gihindamuyaga," a monastery where Tutsi had taken refuge.

Reflecting the wish to deal only with those who were their own responsibility, the participants stressed that "refugees" should go back home "to be helped" in their places of origin. Gikongoro people, in particular, should be the responsibility of Gikongoro authorities. Recognizing that all those without identity papers were likely to be killed, the participants declared that care should be taken to ensure that the "innocent not become victims as well," no doubt meaning those Hutu who had fled their homes without the necessary documents.

Apparently planning ahead for the hunt that would follow the first massacres, the participants talked of eliminating hiding places, such as empty houses, and of directing all residents to cut the brush around their houses.

The participants dealt with some administrative arrangements to facilitate the "restoration of security," such as exchanging information with Gikongoro authorities, and allocating fuel, which was in short supply.

Jean-Marie Vianney Gisagara, the burgomaster of Nyabisindu, known for his vigorous resistance against attackers from Gikongoro, was apparently the only one to openly dissent from the program. He described the grief among the people in his commune over the removal of the previous prefect and over the deaths of their relatives. He reported that they were discussing creating a territorial base to resist the genocide.96 Other participants did not challenge the unspoken genocidal program and made no suggestions for dealing with the violence. One assessed thetenor of the meeting by saying, "At that time, there was no way to stop the killing."97

On the last line of the entry for this meeting, the notetaker wrote "Ndora -Rusatira -," and then instead of continuing the list of names of communes, he struck it out and wrote simply, "All on Friday except Mbazi." There were attacks in most of the previously untouched communes on Friday, April 22, except for Mbazi, which was targeted the following Monday, April 25.

After the attacks from Gikongoro, after killers had mobilized in half the communes of Butare, after the prefect and the police commander who fought for order had been removed, and after the leading officials of the national government had come to deliver incendiary speeches, the security meeting of April 20 destroyed the last hope of most burgomasters opposed to the genocide. Bourgomasters like Ruremesha of Huye, Hategekimana of Runyinya, and Sibomana of Mbazi seem to have left the meeting ready to accept if not to encourage the genocide in their communes. Faced with pressure from above, burgomasters also had to confront grass-roots political leaders determined to carry forward the genocide. A witness on the spot recalls hearing the former soldier and militia leader Emmanuel Rekeraho remark that "it could turn out badly for the burgomaster of Mbazi, who, according to him, was trying to hold back the revolution."98 Tutsi were attacked at the communal office in Huye even while the prefectural security meeting was going on and a messenger brought the news to the burgomaster there. The burgomaster, Ruremesha, who the day before had asked the assembled ministers what to do if conflict threatened, set off for his office but took along no soldiers or National Police. He had apparently decided that there was no point in asking for their help.99

Some burgomasters passed the new message of violence to their subordinates and the people of their commune by public meetings. Elie Ndambayaje of Muganza commune reportedly openly incited people to kill at such meetings. Others were more circumspect. On April 21, at the stadium in his commune of Mbazi, Sibomana delivered a speech described by one witness as "very complex." Some say he cited proverbs to convey his meaning, the most important being Iyo inzoka yizilitse ku gisabo ugomba kikimena ukabona uko uyica. Literally the sentence means "In killing a snake curled around a gourd, you break the gourd if you mustto kill him," in other words, you do what you must to eliminate a danger.100 Sibomana admits having used the proverb, but protests that it was on another occasion and that the speech has been misconstrued.101

Officials also made the new program clear by releasing from jail those who had been arrested for attacking Tutsi. Immediately following the meeting at Mbazi, Sibomana and the public prosecutor for Butare, Mathias Bushishi, released the persons whom Sibomana had arrested for having attacked Tutsi.102 In Nyabisindu, where Gisagara, the burgomaster opposing the genocide, had arrested the former soldier Abel Basabose and others for attacking Tutsi homes, National Policemen insisted on their release and restitution to them of the weapons taken at the time of arrest. As in similar cases in Gikongoro and Gitarama, the release of those who had openly killed Tutsi and destroyed their property demonstrated that Tutsi no longer enjoyed the protection of the law.103

In a number of sectors, councilors held smaller meetings on the night of April 20 from which they excluded Tutsi and during which they planned attacks for the following days. In Tumba, for example, the councilor told participants that lists had been found proving that Tutsi were planning to kill Hutu and that they must attack first to protect themselves. In Cyarwa a Tutsi who tried to attend a security meeting was insulted and spat at. In Kabutare, participants were told that the RPF was attacking in a neighboring sector and that the people needed to organize patrols immediately to combat the enemy. At the university, the vice-rector told students that if they heard shooting, it was soldiers "fighting infiltrators here in Butare." Hetold them that they must take measures to protect themselves.104 He also summoned faculty to a similar meeting for the next morning, but by then the slaughter was too widespread for any more talk.105


As in Kigali, where troops and militia launched the genocide while army officers and politicians were talking of "restoring order," so in Butare soldiers launched the period of most extensive slaughter while the April 20 security meeting was taking place. At 11 a.m., just as the session was beginning at the auditorium in town, a detachment of soldiers commanded by Lt. (jg) Pierre Bizimana, acting under the orders of Capt. Nizeyimana, invaded the modest home of Rosalie Gicanda, a short distance up the main street in the northern part of town. Gicanda was the widow of Mutara Rudahigwa, the ruler of Rwanda who had died in 1959 just before the revolution that overthrew aristocratic Tutsi rule. About eighty years old, she lived a quiet life as a devout Catholic, sharing her home with her bed-ridden mother and several women and girls who cared for them both. Because she eschewed any involvement in politics and behaved with discreet dignity, even the most anti-Tutsi politicians had left her largely undisturbed throughout the thirty years of Hutu rule. When the killing began, she trusted that Prefect Habyalimana would look out for her. As his power waned, she began to receive threatening telephone calls. According to testimony, she called on Burgomaster Kanyabashi for protection, but he replied that he could do nothing for her. The soldiers passed through the wooded enclosure that protected the house from the main street and entered the little house with its air of faded respectability. They seized the former queen and six others, leaving her bed-ridden mother and one girl to care for her. The soldiers passed by the ESO and then took Gicanda and the others to a place behind the national museum where they shot them. One teenaged girl, left for dead, survived to recount the murders. The soldiers returned to pillage Gicanda's home in the afternoon and, two days later, they killed her mother. At the request of a priest, Kanyabashi sent prisoners to recover Gicanda's body and bury it in the yard next to her house.1

The news that this gracious lady and others from her household had been taken away by soldiers in the back of a pickup truck spread rapidly and alarmed Tutsi andall others who opposed the genocide. They concluded that if soldiers dared to seize even this revered person, then no one was safe. On the afternoon of April 20, physics professor Pierre-Claver Karenzi called colleagues to suggest trying to find a safe place for women and children, but knowing of the massacres elsewhere, others hesitated to bring Tutsi together into too large a group.2

Shortly after Gicanda was taken, soldiers at a barrier just south of the auditorium killed four young men whom they hauled out of a vehicle bearing license plates from Burundi.3 After killing them, one of the soldiers checked the identity card of a priest who was stopped at the roadblock. He demanded, "Give me a cigarette, I've just killed four Tutsi." Then he allowed the priest to continue on his way. At about that time, witnesses who lived in the Kabutare area just adjacent to this barrier saw five men brought by pickup truck to an area next to the psychiatric center. They were shot and left there. Soon after a truck returned with eight more who were killed in the same way. Later that afternoon, a witness saw sixteen young men tied up in a pickup at the barrier. One was being beaten by a soldier. Suddenly a number of soldiers set upon the others in the back of the truck, yelling that they were "Inyenzi," insulting and beating them. The truck then took them up the road into the ESO.4

Barriers in Butare, as elsewhere in Rwanda, often became the sites of murders. On April 22, witnesses passing the barrier in front of the Hotel Faucon saw soldiers from the ESO beating fifteen children who had fled from Gikongoro. When they returned shortly after, eight or nine of the children lay dead.5 The Presidential Guard kept a barrier across one of the main roads entering Cyarwa and allowed virtually no one to pass there. They diverted pedestrians and vehicles to another road to the east where there was also a barrier in front of the bar known as Chez Ngoga. Alphonse Ngoga, former burgomaster of Kigembe, worked as an employee of the prefecture and was a stalwart supporter of the MRND. His son, Micomyiza, known as Mico, was a university student who organized a crowd of young toughs, many of them from Burundi, to guard this barrier. They were reportedlyresponsible for killing many people, including the university student Gilbert Ntazane6

Systematic Slaughter in Town

Killing the Targeted Individuals

As in Kigali, soldiers – particularly Presidential Guards, members of Nizeyimana's bodyguard, and troops from Ngoma camp – along with National Police began the slaughter by targeting people from the intellectual and political elite of Butare. They went directly to the homes of those selected ahead of time for slaughter, sometimes relying on local guides or asking directions from neighbors. Militia backed up the members of the regular armed forces. In addition to the dozens of Interahamwe who had apparently been discreetly brought in during the previous ten days, one hundred or so Presidential Guards and militia arrived in Butare on April 20. A C-130 transport plane landed at Butare airport between 4 and 5 p.m., perhaps the first time such a large craft had used the small landing strip. Struck by the arrival of such an unusual plane and by the appearance of unknown soldiers and militia in town that evening, many people assumed that the strangers had been flown into Butare. In fact, they had arrived by bus while the plane, flown by Belgian pilots, had come from Nairobi to evacuate a group of European nuns and U.N. military observers. In addition to militia from outside Butare, local killers reportedly led by Shalom Ntahobari, also began the most damaging of their attacks on April 20.

Although soldiers and militia killed some people in their homes, they took many to be executed at one or another of the main killing grounds, like that behind the museum or in the arboretum of the university or near the psychiatric center and the Groupe Scolaire. Beginning late in the day of April 20 and continuing for the next three days, residents of Butare town reported hearing frequent bursts of gunfire, particularly from these execution grounds.7

The soldiers began the slaughter in the pleasant neighborhood of Buye, striking leading Tutsi like Professor Karenzi. Presidential Guards from the group that protected Habyarimana's brother, Dr. Bararengana, came for Karenzi at about 2 p.m. on April 21 and took him to the barrier manned by soldiers of the ESO in front of the Hotel Faucon. There he was lined up with a number of other people,including another professor who was accused of having falsified his identity card. According to a witness, a militia member from out of town then killed two men, two women, and five children under the eyes of Prefect Nsabimana and Vice-Rector Nshimyumuremyi who stood a short distance down the street, in front of the Hotel Ibis. One of the other men bolted and ran for his life and Professor Karenzi was shot and killed immediately afterwards. Soldiers returned shortly after to the Karenzi home and murdered the professor's wife. The children and young people of the household were hidden in the ceiling and escaped, although all except one would later be killed too (see below).8

When killing began in Cyarwa, witnesses immediately recognized that it was being done systematically. One man first heard shots behind his house at about 1 p.m., then others from a house next door. He stated:

    The soldiers who came had very clear objectives: Ndakaza was a supporter of the PL, a Tutsi, who lived in the house behind mine; Sinzi Tharcissse, who was at the national university; Simpunga who worked at the Butare Economat and who was a member of the PSD; and Gregoire Hategekimana, an administrator from the university, who was a member of the MDR. The soldiers went down the street behind me and then up my street and stopped at these particular houses.9

Another witness to the same events not only heard the perpetrators, but saw them clearly from his enclosure. He declared:

    The trouble began in Cyarwa on the afternoon of the 21st. We heard gunfire first from the direction of Rango. People coming from the market said that soldiers had shot a man named Venuste and then had gone to his home and had killed everyone there. The soldiers then proceeded down the line, killing as they went. I could hear the sound of gunfire, moving in a line around my house, since the street behind follows a wide arc that circles back towards my house.

A few of those killed were officially Hutu on their identity cards, but someone had done research and had learned that they had previously been Tutsi.Someone had gone to the home communes of those who were suspected to check on whether they were really Hutu or Tutsi.

    I saw the deputy [Laurent] Baravuga leading three or four soldiers who were carrying South African rifles [probably R-4 rifles]. He had a list. He knew the area well and could direct them. The soldiers were Presidential Guards and they were followed by a large crowd of people. After the soldiers had finished and moved on, the crowd would move in and loot the house. I saw people streaming by carrying refrigerators, radios, anything. Nearly everyone from Cyarwa joined the crowd and they were happy to steal.10

During the first days of attacks, a crowd of militia and others in Cyarwa found that not all Tutsi were to be considered targets. They forced their way into a large building where several women friends of interim President Sindikubwabo had taken refuge with their families. The assailants were rounding up the Tutsi and preparing to kill them when Presidential Guards from Sindikubwabo's house hurried to the scene and ordered them to leave. The assailants did not want to give up their intended victims, but the Presidential Guards threatened them with grenades and made them withdraw.11

In addition to political and intellectual leaders, the military targeted the rich. In the heart of Butare, soldiers invaded the home of a prosperous businessman on April 20 and extorted some 300,000 Rwandan francs (about U.S.$1,700) as the price of his own life and that of his family. Two days later, a young soldier named Claude12 came back with three Interahamwe, reportedly from the group headed by Shalom. They took five young adults and a twelve-year-old boy with them and walked the short distance to the killing field at the Groupe Scolaire where theymurdered them.13 In Tumba six National Policemen led a crowd in attacking the home of a Swiss entrepreneur who had a Tutsi wife. The ordinary people were armed with machetes, spears, and even a bow and arrow – wielded by a young man wearing a baseball cap with the visor behind, in the fashion of foreign young people. The National Policemen fired a couple of warning shots and forced their way in. After having robbed the family of several hundred thousand Rwandan francs, they called in the civilians, who looted the house. Some of the crowd stole valuable items, but others seemed almost embarassed at what they were doing and took items of little or no value, like a cooking pot full of potatoes or a child's toy. To one observer, they seemed to be participating because they had no choice. They left without injuring anyone.14

Soldiers killed important Hutu who were thought to oppose the genocide, just as other troops had killed Hutu officials of the national government in Kigali. According to witnesses, Nizeyimana and soldiers of his guard murdered his neighbor, Deputy Prosecutor Matabaro. Soldiers also slew the professor Jean-Marie Vianney Maniraho, who had criticized the heavy military presence in town at a public security meeting, and his family. In Cyarwa, soldiers burned down the home of a Hutu woman related to a national leader of the MDR who opposed Hutu Power. Several days later, she was killed at a barrier, reportedly on the order of Deputy Baravuga. Soldiers and militia killed the sub-prefect Zéphanie Nyilinkwaya and fourteen others of his family during the night of April 21. A Hutu member of the PSD, Nyilinkwaya was seen as a potential leader of resistance to the slaughter of Tutsi. A MSF doctor came by Nyilinkwaya's house early on the morning of April 22 and found the corpses of the family scattered over the drive in front of the house. Among them was a child three months old, shot in the back of the head, lying at his mother's breast, which had also been blown open by a bullet. The doctor found two survivors, a girl about seventeen years old, who had been shot by a bullet that had passed through both breasts, and a fourteen-year-old boy. When he prepared to take them to the hospital, two soldiers came at the run to stop him. It was only by insistent negotiating that the doctor won the right to take the wounded for treatment.15

Killing by Neighborhood

While most soldiers concentrated on the elite targets, others, together with National Police supervised the militia that swept through neighborhoods eliminating Tutsi. A frail resident of the working-class neighborhood of Ngoma, in her mid-eighties, observed the genocide with horror. She had seen the killing of Tutsi since the 1950s but, she said, this slaughter was different because "it killed babies on the back, children who were beginning to walk, pregnant women, old people." She declared:

    The militia always came escorted by soldiers, two or three of them. The soldiers did not kill, they just accompanied the militia and watched them kill. They came many times over many days: attack, leave, attack, leave. They came during the night, attacking one family, then leaving. Then they came the next night and attacked another family. Maybe three families in this place in one night. Then, tomorrow, five families over there.

During the day, there were rumors about who would be attacked that night. They had meetings in town to plan. Sometimes, they said, "Tonight we will attack a family with this number of people in the household, this number of children." Those listening tried to guess which family was being talked about. Children especially would move about, listening, and come to give warnings. Children and household workers moved between houses, between houses and the meetings, between houses and the bush. Sometimes they would get paid for going to listen. But there were other children, too, who spied on those who were giving warning.

While some were in meetings others were out on the streets, moving around, poking around, trying to find the people who were hiding inside houses. Those who did the spying included women, prostitutes, and girls who did not have husbands.

The old lady lived in a well-built house at the corner of two streets. One street runs along the ridge on which most of Ngoma sits; the other cuts across the first and descends steeply into the valley which separates Ngoma from the rest of the town of Butare. Starting on the night of April 21, she saw the crowds surging down the street, some of them dressed in banana leaves, and always with their military escort:

    I hid and saw it from the window, from behind the curtain, cowering there in the corner. I saw them driving the groups of people ahead of them, shouting and shoving them with sticks and wooden clubs. Behind them came the soldiers with their guns, but they did not shoot. I saw a pregnant woman get hit in the stomach and fall back. I heard her cries. They took them down to the valley and killed them with nail-studded clubs, with hoes and machetes. I heard no shots, only the cries of horror and pain from the valley.

The elderly woman, herself a Hutu, became a target when informers told the militia that she was hiding her Tutsi grandchildren. Knowing that sheltering Tutsi put her own life at risk, the elderly woman also took in one teenaged girl who was not part of her family but who had fled to her home in the middle of the night. While the witness was peeking out from behind her curtain, she saw the girl run, bent over, into the enclosure that surrounded the house. She opened the door and the girl threw herself inside and collapsed unconscious on the floor. When the girl revived, she recounted how the rest of her family had been slain or fled to an unknown destination. The old woman allowed her to stay with the young people of her family. They hid in the bush during the night and came in furtively during the day to get something to eat.

The militia who came three times to search this home included people from the neighborhood and those from the adjacent sector of Matyazo. The two groups, which joined together outside her front door, were supervised by two soldiers. Most came on foot, but they also had a couple of vehicles to transport whatever they were able to pillage from this house or others they intended to attack that night.

At the time of the second search, Shalom Ntahobari led the group. He particularly wanted to find the girl whose midnight arrival had been noticed by local informers. He knew her older sisters well and had often dined and spent the evening at the girl's home.16 Shalom and his followers forced their way into the house and demanded to know where the girl and the others were hiding. He had a machete stuck in his belt. When the old woman said there was no one there, he grabbed her by her two ears and twisted them to try to make her talk. She said nothing. They searched the house thoroughly, but found no one. Two days later, they returned, again ready to kill. Once more they had to leave empty-handed and angry. Soon after, someone came to rescue the old woman and her charges. As they drove away, she saw the crowd arriving for another search.

The witness remarked that many who invaded her house were strangers, but, she added, "Even the ones I knew, I couldn't recognize them. They hadtransformed themselves into animals. They were like lions."17 Another witness in Ngoma remembered what he saw outside his window:

    I saw people out on the street, carrying clubs, axes, and machetes. They were all wearing MRND or CDR hats. Those without hats wore banana leaves around their necks or over their shoulders. They wore portrait pins of President Habyarimana on their chests. Even the youngest also tried to carry a weapon or a stick and were wearing the portrait pin. Even the young members of the PSD were wearing the hats of the CDR and the MRND and the portrait pin. We could not understand how that was possible because the PSD was opposed to the MRND and the CDR.18

After the first attacks on April 20, assailants moved on to other neighborhoods in the following days. In Cyarwa, soldiers and militia herded the crowd of Tutsi down the street in the middle of the day and beat them to death at a bridge, at a place known as Gateme. In one part of Tumba, the physician Munyemana reportedly organized the patrols and supervised the arrest and detention of Tutsi who were locked in the sector office, to which he had a key. In another part of the sector, the cell leader and employees of the university laboratory guided National Police to the homes of Tutsi. In both Cyarwa and Tumba, Hutu and Tutsi had collaborated until April 20 in protecting their sectors from outsiders, so some Tutsi joined the patrols organized on April 21, believing they were still part of the defense, not the enemy. They were killed by their fellow patrol members.19 In the sector of Sahera, assailants attacked the home of Aristarque Rwigimba, who was able to hold them off with the help of a stout door and a bow and arrow. But the assailants returned the next day with a communal policeman, who shot two of the resisters, making it possible for the assailants to kill nine others in the house.20

At Kabutare, teachers and staff members from the Groupe Scolaire secondary school lived in a tight-knit community just down the road from the school buildings. Of the sixty-five or seventy families in one neighborhood, five wereTutsi or mixed Tutsi-Hutu households. Soldiers, reportedly guided by the cell leader, Faustin Twagirayezu, arrived one morning and went directly to the houses where Tutsi lived. They were followed by a gang of street kids who tagged along after the soldiers to watch the violence. According to one of the community who was present that morning,

    We stood in front of our houses, unable to do anything at all. We waited, knowing what had happened elsewhere, waiting our turn to have it happen here, waiting with our arms folded.21

The soldiers took several Tutsi men, one Tutsi woman, and a Hutu and headed down towards the psychiatric center. According to one witness, they chose people at random from the onlookers and tried to get them to beat the Tutsi to death, but those selected refused to do the job.22 The soldiers locked the captives in the local canteen, saying they were too hungry to kill at the moment. They went away, telling local people to guard them. In the opinion of one onlooker, that measure was not necessary because they would not have tried to flee anyway. Later that day, the soldiers returned with civilians from outside the community. They beat the captives to death. A witness who heard the soldiers coming a second time called his children to come in the house, not wanting them to see what would happen. He went outside himself, pretending to read a notice that was posted on a tree. He saw the soldiers go into the house of a neighbor named Joseph and then went back inside his own home and closed the door. All those taken away were killed and their families were killed three or four days later. The witness added, "That finished our neighborhood and they never came back."23

Once the killing campaign was launched, soldiers and militia acted as though they had license to kill anyone who looked Tutsi. On April 23, a Zairean couple, Mr. Kisasa Lukasa and his wife, were traveling through Butare and stopped at the market. While Mr. Lukasa went to make some purchases, his wife stayed in the car. Militia or soldiers passing by the vehicle noticed her and asked for her identitypapers. When she could not produce them immediately, they killed her on the spot.24

Slaughter at the University and the Hospital

While some soldiers and militia were targeting neighborhoods in town, others began killing at the university. Classes were in recess for the Easter vacation, but some students had stayed in residence to prepare for examinations and others fled to the university once killing began elsewhere because they hoped to be safe there. Beginning on April 8, soldiers had restricted movement to or from the campus and authorities had prepared a list of students in residence, supposedly to facilitate their passing the soldiers' barrier. Students, already polarized by previous events such as the February killings, formed into two groups, that of Hutu Power and that of Tutsi and those willing to support them. The Hutu Power students, known as the LIDER group from the name of their student association, began playing the music of anti-Tutsi singer Bikindi and staying up at night to see what the others were doing. The Tutsi students and others of their group also organized into four teams of guards who took turns keeping watch at night. They moved to rooms other than those where they usually slept and the LIDER students tried to keep track of where they were.

At mid-day April 21, soldiers killed a student at the campus barrier and another either at the barrier or in town. That evening, they came to round up Tutsi students as they entered the cafeteria, checking them off on a list as they were taken. A few Tutsi students saw the roundup beginning and managed to flee along with Hutu friends. The soldiers took those captured either to the arboretum adjacent to the campus or across the road to a woods on the grounds of the national research institute. LIDER students then took up the search for those students not yet found by the soldiers. As they discovered Tutsi who had hidden in the rooms, under the beds, or elsewhere, they took them out to deliver to the soldiers. One student was found at about 3 a.m. by a group of fellow students who kicked and beat her before taking her and another student across the road to the soldiers in the woods. As the student recalled,

    The soldiers there said that these were the last students they would take. They said not to bring any more to them, because they were finished for the day. The two soldiers took us and pushed us into the woods. They cocked their guns and I thought it was all over. But then they spoke to us. They asked us ifwe would have anywhere to hide if they let us go. I said I had an aunt in Cyarwa and Aimable had a cousin in town. And so the soldiers told us to run. They fired their guns into the air so that the students would think that we had been killed and they left.

Aimable and I went further into the woods. It was full of cadavers. There were bodies everywhere, many, many of them. There was nowhere else we could go, so we had to stay there until it got light, there among the bodies.25

The next morning, the two students sought refuge at the nearby university hospital, which was still quiet. One of the two was eventually killed, but the second survived.

According to the vice-rector, some 650 students were at the university on April 20 with more arriving all the time. On May 31, there were 212 students on campus, 190 of them Rwandan, the rest from Burundi. Some students had fled, but the great majority had been killed. In a later exhumation of a mass grave near the university, some 600 bodies were found. Most of these victims were students – a significant part of the national intellectual elite in training at the university.26

During the night of April 22, after students had come to seek shelter at the hospital, soldiers of the ESO and the Presidential Guard came and killed some forty Tutsi patients. One remarked to MSF staff who worked there, "The hospital stinks with Tutsi and we must clean it up." The next morning, the soldiers continued removing patients from the wards and even from the operating rooms. They also took away hospital personnel because their names were on the list of those to be killed. One of the nurses taken and beaten to death behind the hospital was a Hutu who had been caring for wounded FAR soldiers. She was seven months pregnant with a baby fathered by a Tutsi. Over a two day period, the soldiers killed between 140 and 170 people at the hospital. After meeting authorities at the prefectural offices on April 23 to protest the killings, the head of the MSF mission, Dr. Zachariah, returned to the hospital. He later recalled:

    I looked around me with my team and people were just being taken out in groups of threes, fives, going behind the hospital. We could hear the screams. I told my team, "We are getting out of here! There is nothing more to do."27

Like the university students, others had sought refuge at the hospital in late April, some of them occupying tents in the courtyard that had once housed refugees from Burundi, others hidden in the wards, closets or kitchen of the conglomerate of rambling buildings. In the days following the first killings at the hospital, soldiers returned repeatedly to search out those in hiding. One evening they took a law student named Épiphanie who was pretending to be one of the hospital staff. By this time, authorities had proclaimed an end to the killings (see below) and had said that anyone who was threatened should call for help, so Épiphanie screamed repeatedly. But no one came to her rescue and the soldiers took her away to the woods below the hospital. There they raped and beat her. A military doctor named Rwanyonga heard of the attack and went to find her in the woods. He brought her back and put her in the intensive care ward for treatment. At about 11:30 p.m., four soldiers returned and took her away and killed her.28

Some of the Tutsi who had taken refuge at the hospital were from the commune of Huye. Soon after the soldiers killed the patients and medical staff, militia from that commune came, with an escort of soldiers, to collect the men and boys from Huye. The militia forced them to set out for Huye and reportedly killed them, either en route home or shortly after arriving there. According to testimony, the burgomaster of Ngoma helped pressure the Huye people to leave and allegedly also returned several times in the next two weeks, twice in the company of soldiers, to see that other Tutsi be put out of the hospital. Some of those expelled were reportedly killed at a barrier just a short distance down the road from the hospital.29

Dr. Alphonse Karemera, dean of the medical school, produced an attempted justification for "cleaning up" the hospital in an official plan dated April 24 – whilethe slaughter was still going on. Entitled "Socio-hygenic and Humanitarian Action for Victims and Persons Displaced by the War: A Proposal of the Faculty of Medicine concerning the functioning of the UH [University Hospital] in this period of provoked catastrophe," it was forwarded by Vice-Rector Nshimyumuremyi with his approval to the prefect. The plan called for removing refugees, displaced persons, and those not critically ill from the hospital and the tents on the hospital grounds. Those persons who, in the words of the vice-rector, "clutter up the UH without good reason" were to be handed over to humanitarian organizations and the administration. In the proposal, Dr. Karemera complained of the "suffocating lack of support personnel." Without remarking on the reason for this sudden loss of staff, he merely asked for authorization to begin recruitment for provisional replacements. He also insisted on immediate action to remedy the critical hygenic and sanitary situation in the region, that is, to remove the bodies which could become a hazard to health. Noting that the post of medical supervisor was empty for the moment, he offered the help of the faculty of medicine in supervising this work. It was apparently Dr. Eugène Rwamucyo, a member of the medical staff known for his virulent anti-Tutsi attitude (see below) who undertook this task.30

On May 2, Prefect Nsabimana informed the vice-rector that the prefectural security council agreed with the proposed plan. He noted that the administration was looking for ways to take care of the remaining refugees and displaced persons still at the hospital.31 That same day, the director of the hospital told those who had sought shelter at the hospital to go to the prefecture; he even provided transportation to take some there. One witness who was present remembers being told that they were to go to the prefecture to get the documents necessary to go home. According to another witness:

    Then they said that everyone who was at the hospital had to go to the prefecture. The burgomasters wanted them to go back to their homes and theburgomasters were going to come fetch their people and take them back to their hills.32

One of the two university students who had been captured and then allowed to escape was among those sent to the prefecture. She reported:

    At the prefecture, the Interahamwe were waiting. They had been told that we were coming and there were Interahamwe from each of the communes waiting to take their own people to kill. Our students were there too. When we arrived, we were surrounded by Interahamwe, they encircled us. A soldier tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was a student from the university. I said that I was. He asked if I was alone, and I said that no, I was with another student. He asked us to follow him. He took us to the brigade. There was a crowd of people there, and they beat us. After they were done, they told us to leave. We went outside, and when we went out, another soldier tapped me on the shoulder. He asked if I knew him and I said no. And he asked if I knew what this was, and he handed me my identity card. He said that he was the soldier who was supposed to have killed me but let me go....He said that he would help me and so he escorted me to Cyarwa. I really do not know why.33

Not all those from the hospital were taken back to their communes at this time. Some joined the group of Tutsi already at the prefecture and remained there for another two weeks.

Collective Slaughter

Butare Town

In Butare prefecture, as elsewhere, the largest numbers of Tutsi were killed in the shortest time in massacres at churches, public buildings, and other gathering places. In the town of Butare, however, the worst massacres took hundreds rather than thousands of lives because officials had not permitted massive assemblages of Tutsi within town limits.

In the first two weeks of April, several hundred Tutsi had assembled in the broad space before the prefectural offices. On April 19, as described above, soldiers removed the men from that group and apparently took them to be executed. Those left behind, mostly women and children, formed the nucleus of agroup whose presence would trouble authorities until the end of June. They were shifted from place to place and dozens of them were seized at night, but they were never openly attacked in town.

Authorities had transferred six to seven hundred children from an orphanage in Kigali to the Groupe Scholaire and also had allowed several hundred other displaced persons from Kigali to take shelter in the school buildings and courtyard. On April 21, soldiers and Interahamwe, some of whom were wearing the distinctive green and yellow patterned tunic of the militia, came to the Groupe Scolaire as the orphans and displaced persons were eating their noon meal. They called them out to the courtyard, separated them into two groups on the basis of their identity cards, and began killing the Tutsi, mostly with machetes and clubs. Local residents, reportedly under the direction of the cell head Faustin Twagirayezu and including especially Burundians, also joined in the slaughter. According to one witness, several women, both Rwandan and Burundian, killed other women and children.34

Some people from Kigali and elsewhere, at least several hundred of them, had dispersed quietly throughout the town with family or friends. Small numbers of them, like locally resident Tutsi, sought protection clandestinely in convents and other church facilities. Larger groups took refuge openly at the Ngoma church and the Rwandan Episcopal Church (Eglise Episcopale Rwandaise).

Ngoma Commune: Matyazo and Kabakobwa Massacres

Not permitted to congregate in massive numbers inside town, the displaced did assemble in the thousands at Matyazo and Kabakobwa, two sites just outside of town but within Ngoma commune. Authorities had first tried to send displaced persons gathered at Matyazo to churches at Karama and Simbi, as mentioned above, but when this failed, Burgomaster Kanyabashi had installed them at the Matyazo health center and had arranged for police to be posted there as guards. As with such groups elsewhere, the displaced at first had freedom of movement, to go out and buy food, for example. After April 19, those inside were no longer permitted to leave. On April 21, soldiers touched off the attack on the health center by firing grenades into the enclosure and then shooting some of the people inside. Militia and local people followed up with machetes and clubs, killing most of the two to three thousand persons who had sought refuge there. A witness on a hill facing Matyazo could hear clearly the sounds of the massacre. He remembered:

    I heard all the noise from Matyazo, the explosions of grenades, preceded by the shouts of the young who yelled "Power," the blasts on the whistles and the beating of the drums. It went on until 5 a.m.35

Children and infants who survived the Matyazo massacre were left alone among the bodies for three days. Then some women came to take the little girls home, probably to raise them as servants. On April 25, the councilor of the sector, Athanase Nshimiyimana, and the communal policeman, Marc Polepole, drove a truckload of injured children to the hospital at the Groupe Scolaire. When they attempted to transport a second group of sixty-two injured children, the soldiers at Ngoma camp said it was forbidden to transport Inyenzi and refused to allow them past their barrier. They left the children, who ranged in age from a few months to four years old at Ngoma parish, not far from the barrier, where some four hundred other people had already taken refuge. The priests at Ngoma tried to get the Red Cross to come to take the children to the hospital, but they also replied that it was no use because the children would just be killed en route. A nurse, Domitilla Mukabaziga, who was among those who had taken shelter at the church, cared for the wounded children despite the lack of supplies and equipment. Mukabaziga was the sister-in-law of Burgomaster Kanyabashi and called him repeatedly during these days to ask him to rescue her, her children and her nephew. He reportedly answered that there was nothing that he could do for them.36

The second major massacre of Ngoma commune was launched the same day as that at Matyazo, but at the opposite end of the commune. Matyazo lies at the northern most point of Ngoma while Kabakobwa, a gently sloping site where three valleys merge, lies between the two southernmost sectors, Nkubi and Sahera. Many Tutsi from Gikongoro and such Butare communes as Huye, Gishamvu, and Ngoma, some with their few heads of cattle, camped in the open space there while deciding whether or not to continue their flight some ten miles further to the Burundi border. From Kabakobwa, they could have gone directly south, following the Migina River, or they could have taken one of the two roads paralleling the river that led to the frontier. As the slaughter intensified, more Tutsi came to Kabakobwa, some of them told by authorities or advised by Hutu neighbors to go there. A mile or so north of Kabakobwa was the Rango market, one of the two markets functioning to serve Butare town and the immediate region. Thursday,April 21, was a market day. Some men in civilian dress arrived at the market in late morning by bicycle and began checking identity cards among the crowds trading there. The story quickly circulated that the men were soldiers, even that they were Presidential Guards. Either these men or others in uniform shot a Tutsi named Venuste at the market. Many people then fled from the market to Kabakobwa, swelling the number of persons there. According to some estimates, there may have been as many as 10,000 Tutsi at the site.37

That afternoon local people attacked the Tutsi, apparently with some support from the communal police, including at least one former soldier. At first the Tutsi repelled the attack. Some Tutsi, numbering perhaps 500, decided to flee Rwanda and headed southeast for the frontier in Kibayi commune. Most were killed before they could cross the river that forms the boundary between Rwanda and Burundi. The next morning, April 22, the communal police arrived in a Ngoma commune pickup truck and took away several Tutsi selected from the crowd. They returned later that day with soldiers and National Police who used rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns to slaughter the Tutsi. That night, on the hills of Nyaruhengeri, on the other side of the valley, some local people celebrated the massacre with feasting, singing, and dancing.38

Elsewhere in the Prefecture: The Devastating Third Week of April

In the week between April 18 and April 25 authorities accelerated and intensified the large-scale slaughter that was begun at Cyahinda on April 15. They had been slower than authorities elsewhere to launch the most devastating phase of the genocide. Now it was as if they had to hurry to catch up in order to meet the goals set by the extermination campaign. At any number of sites, particularly in the southern half of the prefecture, they massacred thousands of people, and at each of several places, they killed ten thousand or more at one time. They executed these massacres at churches such as Simbi, Kansi, Karama, Nyumba, Mugombwa, and Rugango; at health centers such as that at Sovu; on Mont Bisi and, continuing these killings, at the Senior Seminary at Nyakibanda; at the communal offices of Huye, Kigembe, Kibayi, Maraba, Muyaga, and Muyira; at the Mbazi commune stadium and at the Mugusa commune playing field; at the agricultural research stations at Rubona and Songa; at the market of Nkomero and the artisanal school at Nyaruteja;and at gathering places at Bitare in Gishamvu, Kabuye in Ndora, Nyamure in Ntyazo, and in the communes of Muganza and Kibayi. At the end, the churches were marked by the traces of grenade explosions, the benches overturned, the bodies strewn inside and outside the sanctuaries; the health centers were burned, with the remains of people and their possessions scattered about; and the communal offices looked like slaughter-houses.

Apparently more displaced persons were gathered at the church of Karama than at any other site in Butare. According to one count made the day before the massacre, some 75,405 people were present.39 In a 1996 study of massacre sites, a commission set up by the Rwandan government established a lower but still remarkable number of 50,000 present at the center of Runyinya commune, the location also of the church. This study suggests that 40,000 persons died and that some 8,000 survivors fled to Burundi.40 Others have estimated that as many as 43,000 died at Karama, while sources in the Catholic church, including a priest from a parish in the region, have proposed between 20,000 and 30,000 as the death toll. Investigators from the U.N. Human Rights Field Operation's Special Investigations Unit estimated that about 17,000 people were slaughtered there, basing that figure on the distribution of food rations shortly before the massacre.41 Whatever the toll for Karama or any other single site, it is likely that more than 100,000 persons were slain in the large-scale massacres in Butare prefecture.

The Betrayal of "Pacification"

The slaughter in Butare prefecture, launched most intensively two weeks after the genocide began in Kigali and elsewhere, was still at its worst when national authorities were already proclaiming "pacification" on the weekend of April 23 to 24. Even as the massacres continued without relief at places like Kabuye and were yet to begin at others like the agricultural research stations at Songa and Rubona, authorities in Butare were repeating the new national line about "pacification."Here, as elsewhere, the promised end to killings served only to deceive both Rwandans and the international community.

Authorities drove through Butare town and its environs beginning on April 23, making announcements over a sound system or through a hand-held megaphone. They declared that the killing was finished, that people should put away their weapons and bury the dead, and that those in hiding should come out. In addition to this message, cited by witnesses from several different parts of town, some others remember hearing a specific call to women and girls, inviting them to return to their homes in safety. Others remember being told that the markets were open and that the hospitals were ready to receive the wounded. In addition, several witnesses remember a message reporting protests from the international community about the killings. In order to avoid such criticism, the announcement said, signs of the killing must be hidden from journalists flying over in helicopters and from surveillance satellites passing overhead. Most witnesses state that the message was delivered by communal authorities, if not by the burgomaster himself.42 Prefect Nsabimana asserts that he also drove around, either delivering a similar message or calling people to meetings where he delivered such a message. He declares that this was his own initiative, not ordered by anyone. Yet the coincidence in timing and the similarity of the message with that delivered elsewhere in the country show that the announcement of "pacification" was part of the campaign ordered at the national level.43

At a meeting at the Butare stadium on April 26, the prefect and other authorities declared an end to the killings and announced at the same time that all residents would be obliged to participate in a system of patrols and barriers.44 Dr. Emmanuel Kazima attended the meeting and then returned home to find that the seven Tutsi whom he had been hiding had been taken away by soldiers. During the "pacification" meeting, the group, including a child two-and-a-half years old, were killed in a woods 200 yards from the house.45 Many others in Butare, as elsewherein the country, were slain in the days when the message of pacification was being disseminated: they had come out of hiding believing in the official guarantees of safety. One man who was a councilor at the time and who lost family members in the genocide remarked of the "pacification," "It was a strategy to get the Tutsi to come out from where they were hiding to be able to continue with the killings."46 Prefect Nsabimana admits that Tutsi who emerged after hearing the message were slain, particularly at the barriers. As a result, he says, he decided not to promise safety again.47

Nsabimana carried out other pacification meetings on April 27, including one held jointly with Kanyabashi on the football field next to the Ngoma church. At the church were nearly 500 people who had escaped from the massacre at the Matyazo health center a few days before or who had been forced to flee when their homes had been attacked. The great majority were children whose parents had been killed or who had fled, leaving them behind. From inside the church, the priests and the displaced listened with growing hope to the prefect and the burgomaster as they delivered the pacification message. The church had been raided on April 22 by the councilor Said Hussein and others bent on looting. At the time, Said had remarked on how many displaced had taken shelter there. Initially afraid that the pillage would be followed by slaughter, the people in the church began to breathe more freely after hearing the official announcement of the end to violence.48

The Massacres of April 30

The people at Ngoma church had only two days to enjoy the promise of safety. At 10 p.m. on April 29, militia and local crowds attacked the church buildings. One of the people inside reached the bell tower and sounded the bell for thirty-five minutes, alerting the entire region to the attack that was violating the promised peace. One of the priests called the Ngoma military camp, less than a mile distant. The soldier who answered inquired what kind of weapons the assailants carried and then told the priest, "Don't worry. They won't hurt you." Hardly reassured, the priest called the public prosecutor, Mathias Bushishi, a man from Ruhengeri who was thought to have influence with the local leaders of the genocide. Bushishiagreed to call the camp commander. Two hours later eight soldiers appeared, led by a lieutenant (jg) named Niyonteze. The officer directed his ire at the priests for sheltering such a large number of people in the vicinity of a military camp and showed no interest in arresting their attackers. He counted the number of displaced persons at the church and then he left. The assailants, kept at bay by a hail of stones from the roof, also left for the night.49

The next morning, at about 10 a.m., twenty-two soldiers returned under the command of Lt. Ildephonse Hategekimana, head of the Ngoma camp. After telling the displaced people that they would be not be killed but would be taken to prison, he called in the civilians to do the killing. A witness who was hidden heard the children crying and the women begging. He heard the "dull blows, followed by small cries," which he supposed were the sounds of children being clubbed to death. Then, after an hour, silence. There had been 476 people in the church, 302 of them children. Some victims were taken off to be killed in the nearby woods, a number of the women raped first. According to witnesses, the communal policeman Marc Polepole particularly sought out the sister-in-law of the burgomaster and her children and delivered them to killers outside the church.50

It rained in the late morning, but when the rain ended in the early afternoon, killers came to finish off the wounded children who were still alive, lying on the grass. As they were clubbing them to death, a vehicle belonging to the Ministry of Health appeared and several officials got out. The killers chatted with them while continuing to club the children on the ground. After the officials left, the killers pillaged the remaining rice stocks of the church as payment for their "work."51

Some soldiers had searched especially for the parish priest, Abbé Jerome Masinzo, and reportedly intended to torture him before killing him, but two others helped him to hide just before the attack. One returned later and demanded 500,000 Rwandan francs (U.S.$2,800) to keep the secret of the priest's location. Without any such sum available, Abbé Masinzo appealed to other church contacts who managed to obtain 50,000 Rwandan francs from Burgomaster Kanyabashi. This was the first of a number of payments delivered to soldiers as the price of thepriest's life. The burgomaster agreed to help Abbé Masinzo although he was said to have refused to save members of his own family who were killed in the Ngoma massacre. On several subsequent occasions, he reportedly refused aide to other relatives, including to two little girls, one aged seven, the other aged eight. He supposedly believed that help to relatives would be more quickly discovered than aid to others and would expose him to immediate reprisals.52

Apparently just after having launched the operation at Ngoma church, Lieutenant Hategekimana led another large group of soldiers, professional people from Buye, and others in searching the convent of a Rwandan religious order, the Benebikira. They brought a warrant signed by Lieutenant Colonel Muvunyi. Hategekimana ordered his soldiers and the professional people to round up everyone inside the extensive complex. Meanwhile a larger crowd of civilians stayed outside, moving around the wall of the compound, shouting and yelling.

Among the Tutsi particularly sought by the soldiers were the children and young people from the household of Professor Karenzi, who ranged in age from a seven-year-old girl to a young woman of twenty-two. After Karenzi and his wife had been killed on April 21, the young people had hidden at first in a deserted house and then had been stopped by soldiers as they tried to move to another hiding place. After looking at their identity cards, the soldiers remarked "You are Inyenzi, Tutsi" and threatened to kill them. Several soldiers were unwilling to kill, complaining that they had already killed so many people that day. One claimed to have killed eight women, another to have killed thirteen girls. A Presidential Guard appeared and insisted that the young people be taken to the police brigade. At a barrier, soldiers instructed them to sit down and pray because they were about to die. In the end, the soldiers decided to be satisfied with money and, perhaps, with raping one or more of the girls. The soldiers accused one of the girls of having rebuffed the advances of soldiers before the genocide had begun. Finally the soldiers delivered them to the convent, where they had asked to go and where they remained until April 30.

When the search party located "the Inkotanyi from Karenzi's house" at the convent on April 30, they loaded them and others into the back of a pickup truck. The soldiers climbed in to stand on top of the children. In all, they took away twenty-five people, five of them men, the others women and children. The youngest was a little girl named Aimée, who was five years old. Just as soldiers had said that the people at Ngoma church would be taken to prison and not to be killed,so the assailants said that this group was being taken to the prefectural offices for protection. When the soldiers returned later in the afternoon to loot some beer that they had noticed during the search, the sisters asked what had happened to the young people. One answered, "That's not our job. We left that to the Interahamwe."53

An hour or so after the convent of the Benebekira was invaded, ten soldiers and thirty militia and other civilians demanded entry to the Junior Seminary at Karubanda, a short distance away. When asked why they had come, one of the group answered, "Even the clergy and the nuns have been found hiding arms for the RPF, so they can't be trusted...watch out if you hate our country...."54 The search party checked the identity papers of those present and found two Tutsi employees, who were handed over to the militia. The Interahamwe took them to a nearby woods and beat them to death, then climbed on their bus to go home. At about 5 p.m., the soldiers returned to loot the seminary. They took a couple of the young women who were there caring for orphans as umusanzu, a "contribution" to the army. They raped them. Shortly after other soldier