UK church probes Rwandan Bishop over 1994 Genocide

The Protestant Church in the UK has opened investigations into allegations that a UK-based Rwandan top cleric was involved in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Bishop Ruhumuliza is being implicated for alleged role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Net Photo.
Bishop Ruhumuliza is being implicated for alleged role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Net Photo.

The Protestant Church in the UK has opened investigations into allegations that a UK-based Rwandan top cleric was involved in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

 Rev. Jonathan Ruhumuliza is currently attached to the All Saints Church in Worcestershire, United Kingdom.During the Genocide, he was the Assistant Bishop in Kigali Diocese, a post that made him the Diocesan Bishop of Kigali up to 1995.

Although the accusations against Ruhumuliza have lasted close to two decades, they recently resurfaced following an investigation that is allegedly being conducted by Canterbury, the global seat for the Anglican Church. 

In a story that was first published by the British newspaper The Ob server, the Church of England is quoted as claiming to have been His case has attracted the attention of Rwandan authorities who say they intend to open an investigation into the clergyman.

“We have heard of the accusations and usually when something like that crops up, we start looking into the person to establish if indeed he took part in the Genocide,” the head of Genocide Fugitive Tracking Unit, Jean Bosco Siboyintore told The New Times yesterday.

Ever since the accusations came to light, Ruhumiliza has reportedly declined to speak to the media about the case although the former bishop of Worcester, Peter Selby, who appointed Ruhumuliza in 2005, said the Church of England should consider referring the investigation to outside authorities.

 Among the accusations against the cleric include involvement in child abuse during the Genocide and providing cover for the perpetrators of the Genocide  that claimed over a million people.

“What the church can do is refer the case to the police. We do not have the capacity to deal with such cases,” Selby is quoted as saying.

Ibuka, an umbrella body of Genocide survivors’ association has also called for detailed investigation into Ruhumuliza’s alleged role in the Genocide.

“Ruhumuliza’s name always comes up whenever protestants are convening for a commemoration event. Like many other clerics who took part in the Genocide, he is not exceptional, we are requesting the authorities to pick up this case and investigate it thoroughly.

“At the peak of the Genocide, most of these clergymen took to defending and justifying the killings and even participated in the pogroms. Some of them have remained elusive, using the robe to escape justice. They have to be prosecuted,” said the Executive Secretary of Ibuka, Naftar Ahishakiye.

Reports indicate that at the height of the Genocide, in May 1994, Ruhumuliza wrote to the secretary general of the All Africa Council of Churches, Jose Chipenda, defending the genocidal government by blaming the killings on the Rwanda Patriotic Front, which actually stopped the Genocide.

Ruhumuliza portrayed the Genocide as a populist outburst of anti-Tutsi hatred caused by the rebels’ actions and praised the genocidal government of Jean Kambanda.

It is alleged that in June 1994, Ruhumuliza and the then Anglican archbishop of Rwanda, Augustin Nshamihigo, held a press conference in Kenya and claimed that it was the RPF leading the massacres and that the government was attempting to stop the killing.

In a comprehensive account of the Genocide, Leave None To Tell The Story, Human Rights Watch labeled Ruhumuliza as a spokesman of  the genocidal government.

“Far from condemning the attempt to exterminate the Tutsi, Archbishop Augustin Nshamihigo and Bishop Jonathan Ruhumuliza of the Anglican church acted as spokesmen for the genocidal government at a press conference in Nairobi,” the brief authored by the late Alison des Forges says in part.

In 1998, fresh allegations against Ruhumuliza emerged in a document sent by African Rights to the World Council of Churches.

It accused him of collaborating with another Anglican bishop, Samuel Musabyimana, who was later apprehended and tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for his role in the genocide.

African Rights said Ruhumuliza refused to shelter Tutsis who were facing imminent death and that he failed to try to save people after another Anglican bishop, Adonia Sebununguri, said the Tutsi were ‘wicked’ people who deserved to be killed.

 

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