Emmanuel Habimana, alias Cyasa, from the current Ngoma District on Thursday confessed to crimes he committed during the 1994 genocide against Tutsi and revealed how it was plotted.
The father of three was among 15 Genocide convicts who admitted and confessed to their crimes during a reconciliation session with survivors in Rukumberi Sector of Ngoma District.
He was the head of Interahamwe militia in the former Kibungo Prefecture, a position for which he was nominated by Colonel Pierre Celestin Rwagafilita — former head of the national gendarmerie (para-military police).
The Interahamwe militia was a paramilitary group that was trained with a specific mission to kill Tutsi during the Genocide.
Habimana, 62, who is serving a life sentence in Bugesera Prison, said that he envisages writing a book on the Genocide against the Tutsi.
“The book will contain the Genocide history including how it was planned, and committed, as well as my involvement in it. I am getting old, but, that would enable me leave a history that would help my country,” he said.
“I worked with Colonel Rwagafirita to plan to kill Tutsi,” he said, citing other officials who were also key in the plot including a Member of Parliament, one Mutabaruka, and Ernest Rutayisire, the then Bourgmestre of Sake Commune.
“I feel I should not hide the truth about the Genocide given the horrific crimes I carried out. I regret that I did wrong to my country,” he said. So far, Habimana has spent 20 years and four months in prison.
He joined the former army in 1976, and left it in 1990 with the rank of corporal. He worked as a businessman whereby he used his truck to ferry construction materials.
He said his nickname Cyasa came from a Korean language which meant ‘good Karate position.’
On April 1, 1994, he said, a meeting was held in a multipurpose hall of former Kibungo Prefecture. Most prominent people in Kibungo Prefecture were present.
They included local leaders, Interahamwe militiamen, soldiers, a MPs and ministers, professors and teachers, as well as religious leaders, among others.
“The decisions we took included exterminating all Tutsi,” he said.
Heavy deployment in Rukumberi
On April 8, 1994, he said, Colonel Rwagafilita, and Lieutenant-Colonel Anselme Nkuriyekubona, reached Kibungo Sector and said that Interahamwe should undergo special training at Camp Huye for advanced military and killing skills.
They said that Tutsi in Rukumberi had put up resistance The officers claimed that if no support was offered, Hutu would become refugees inciting Hutu to kill Tutsi in what was called civil self-defense.
The two colonels, he said, took six buses packed with soldiers and led the attack on Tutsi in Rukumberi. They had guns including machine guns, and mortars.
Then, they decimated the Tutsi in Rukumberi.
On April 13, Habimana led an attack on Tutsi who were in Birenga Commune of the same Prefecture where they had fled killing all of them. On April 15, he also participated in an attack that killed many Tutsi at ‘economat’.
“I went there with them, and we killed all people (Tutsi) who were there. They were many,” he said estimating that the victims were over 500.
“No one should lie that the Genocide was not planned. We planned the Genocide, and I am a witness to that. A person who can say that the Genocide was not planned has Genocide ideology, revisionism and denial,” he said
Raymond Harerimana, chairperson of Ibuka — the umbrella organization of Genocide survivors’ associations — in Rukumberi Sector said that seeking forgiveness on the side of convicts and granting it on the side of survivors was a noble action.
“Over 40,000 people were killed in Rukumberi Sector,” he said.
CP John Bosco Kabanda, Correction Division Manager at Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS), said that some prisoners have not yet accepted the crimes they committed, while others are making steps to admit and confess to their crimes after 20 years in jail.
“What Rwandans need is the truth of what happened. Today, there are Rwandans who could not give decent burial to their beloved ones who were killed in the genocide. It is you who have the truth about how they died and the whereabouts of their bodies,” he told prisoners.