Kwibuka26: When a UK charity denounced Genocide against the Tutsi

Visitors are taken through the history of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. / Photo: Sam Ngendahimana.

This week 26 years ago, the then genocidal regime continued to implement its plan to exterminate the Tutsi despite efforts by Oxfam International, a global nonprofit group, which publicly declared the regime’s actions as wrong and evil.

According to the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), on April 28, 1994, the then US Secretary of State for Africa, Prudence Bushnell, called Théoneste Bagosora, a top military officer known for his key role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and told him to stop the killing that he was leading together with his criminal government.

 

As noted, this warning fell on deaf ears because the massacre continued and the same day in Paris, France, Jérôme Bicamumpaka, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the criminal government held a press conference, furthering the lies of the government he represented, saying that there were no killings.

 

“However, on April 28, 1994, OXFAM issued a statement condemning the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda,” reads CNLG’s latest brief on key events during the Genocide.

 

Massacres at ISAR Songa,and Sinzi’s heroics

One other detail provided by the Commission on that same day is how events led to the massacre of more than 40,000 Tutsi in ISAR Songa, in the current Huye District.

According to the Commission, people came together regardless of ethnicity and went to fight them but it was in vain because one day they came in large numbers with soldiers and guns.

Many Tutsi fled and camped on Rubaba and Sazange hills. The next day, around nine o’clock in the morning, the attackers started from Rwaniro and Kibika, others went up to Gashoba and Kiboga looting, burning and killing the Tutsi everywhere they passed.

As noted, the Tutsi who had taken refuge on Rubaba hill including Rusagara François and George, Sinzi Tharcisse and his older brother Butare Frederic, “and many others had decided to go and fight the killers.”

According to CNLG, more than 40,000 Tutsi were killed in ISAR Songa.

“About 7,000 were on the top of the hill, while children and women were at the bottom of the hill at a place called Munyinya wa Songa.”

Every hour, the attacks would come, and Sinzi Tharcisse, a survivor who is a martial artist, would position all the young men on the borders of the camp to fight bak and they would defeat the killers.

“The killers had brought guns but as they shot, Tutsi young men crawled down and caught them on spot.”

When the killers got defeated, they called for support from the Gendarmerie based in Nyanza.

The attack of 28 April, 1994 had more than 60 gendarmes armed with heavy guns.

There was a large number of Tutsi armed with traditional weapons and forming vertical lines.

Due to the heavy noise of the bullets that they were not familiar with, they were not able to flee. Many were shot dead, others were chopped by interahamwe. Others were killed gradually as they marched and ran hoping to flee to Burundi.

“Most of them were killed in Gakoma where they used to call “kwa Kantano” (RTLM journalist), while others were confronted in Ramba, Muyanga commune.”

About 108 people were able to cross to Burundi.

The Tutsi who were gathered in Songa had fled from neighbouring areas including Gikongoro (Kinyamakara, Rukondo), Nyanza, Ruhashya, Rusatira, Ntyazo and Muyira.

And, according to CNLG, the massacre of the Tutsi continued.

“This was done in a way that every so-called Tutsi would be killed, most of whom were killed while fleeing. On this day many were killed within administrative buildings, communes, churches because people falsely believed that they could survive in such places.”

jkaruhanga@newtimesrwanda.com

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