Lectures, students and University employees were some of the major actors in propagating genocide ideology at the University of Rwanda (Huye Campus) in 1994, according to the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the fight Against Genocide (CNLG), Jean-Damascene Bizimana.
Bizimana said this last week during a lecture he gave about the role of the academia during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi at a commemorative event at the University of Rwanda campus.
“One example is in 1973 when on the night of February, 15, 1973 a list with 24 names of Tutsi students was released asking them to vacate the university. Later, more names were added to the list of students supposed to leave the university. At midnight, Tutsi students who hadn’t left the campus were attacked by Hutu students with clubs, metallic objects and knives,” Bizimana recalled.
One hundred and ninety (190) Tutsi students and those who were thought to be part of that ethnicity left the university leaving 329 Hutu students at the varsity. Among those dismissed included Dr Emile Rwamasirabo, Dr Ezechias Rwabuhihi, the Late Prof. Pierre Celestin Mutambuka, Amb. Joseph Nsengimana, among others.
“The dismissal of these students was instigated by Jean Berchmas Nshimyumuremyi, Joseph Nzirorera, Augustin Nduwayezu, Leon Mugesera, Ferdinand Nahimana, Charles Zirimwabagabo, Casimir Bizimungu, Juvenal Uwilingiyimana and Andre Ntagerura, among others,” he added.
The university rector at the time, Dr Sylvester Nsanzimana tried to find out what had prompted such action and he was told by Hutu students that they were doing what the management had failed to do. They told him that Hutu students have all the power and no Tutsi will ever set foot at the university. Nsanzimana wrote a report to the then Minister for Education, Gaspard Harerimana, informing him of what was taking place.
To make matters worse, even religious leaders such as Mgr Perraudin and Father Naveau who was based at College du Christ Roi, Nyanza, didn’t help. Between 1990 and 1994, many lecturers, students and university workers played a part in executing genocide at the university and within the district.
Bizimana gave two examples of how the Genocide was planned through associations such as Circle of Progressive Republicans (CRP) and Rwandan intellectuals of Butare Group.
“CRP was formed in February 1992 by radical Genocide perpetrators led by Charles Ndereyehe, Ferdinand Nahimana, Maniragaba Balibutsa, Alexis Nshimiyimana and Dr Eugene Rwamucyo, among others. This is the group that came up with the idea of establishing the Coalition for the Defense of the Republic (CDR) to help them speed up the aim of committing genocide and it also put in place ‘Impuzamugambi’, a Hutu militia,” he said.
The Rwandan intellectuals of Butare group was formed towards the end of 1992 and members consisted of lecturers, students, researchers and workers from different professions working in Huye district. The group was characterized by hatred and promotion of genocide ideology targeting the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) and Tutsi.
“One of their deeds was to write a letter to then French President Francois Mitterand not to allow the evacuation of French troops who were helping Rwandan soldiers in the ‘DAMI’ operation as it had been agreed upon by RPF and the government. In the letter, they claimed that the RPF intends to forcefully take over power and then proceed to establish a dictatorial government that would deal with any opposition in a harsh manner,” he added.
“The allegations against the RPF were a big lie which is a sign of genocide ideology because they were instigating hatred towards a single group of people by saying that liberation is killing. The act of supporting the stay of French troops was so that they could train the militia, and this they did between 1990 and 1993,” he said.
The letter was signed by almost 300 people. The list also contains 34 signatures of university lecturers, 30 university workers, and 12 researchers from IRST, 14 teachers from Group Scolaire Butare and 25 professional workers from around Butare town. The majority of the signatories were students.
Bizimana also said that majority of the people who were put in top ranking government officials were picked from Gisenyi and Ruhengeri because they subscribed to National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND), which is mainly responsible for planning of the genocide. “They employed militias in the institutions they headed and gave them military training; this plan was put in place from 1992 through 1993 and 1994.”
At University of Rwanda (Huye), Maurice Ntahobali, the university rector in the early 90’s was retained because he was a strong supporter of MRND and also married to then Minister for Family Welfare and Advancement of Women Pauline Nyiramashuko. His deputies included Dr Jean-Berchmans Nshimyumuremyi, from Ruhengeri, and Alphonse Murego who was vice-rector at Nyakinama University.
The head of personnel was Denis Mutagoma, from Gisenyi, and a member of CDR. The heads of faculty were either members of MRND, CDR or MDR Power. The Head of the Agriculture Faculty was Aloys Muhawenimana, while Jean-Baptiste Katabarwa was the faculty head of Applied Sciences and were both members of MRND.
The head of the literature faculty Francois-Xavier Bangamwabo was a member of MRND, while Ezekiel Bisalinkumi, head of pharmacy faculty, was also a member of MDR Power. Jean Gakwaya, head of law faculty, was also a member of MDR Power as well as Dr Alphonse Karemera, the head of medicine.
Dr Karemera used to treat Genocide perpetrators at the university with the assistance of Dr Jothan Hakizumuremyi, Dr Eugene Rwamucyo and Dr Sosthene Munyemana, among others. However, Bizimana said that one of the lecturers, Prof. Jean Gualbert Rumiya, fought against the promotion of genocide ideology.
“Prof. Rumiya who taught law at the university and was a member of MRND distanced himself from the genocidaires by writing a resignation letter to the party head, president Juvenal Habyarimana, citing reasons such as divisions and sectarianism among others as reasons behind his resignation. He also mentioned the promotion of genocide ideology that was being fostered in the party,” he said.
Later, during a speech at Kabaya and later in an open letter to Leon Mugesera (who was recently convicted of genocide crimes) , Prof. Rumiya told Mugesera to desist from his harmful politics and propaganda that was threatening to take the country to its darkest days. “He pleaded with him as a fellow professional colleague; however his cries fell on deaf ears,” said Bizimana.
Bizimana said that many the educated people, most of whom attended University of Rwanda (Huye campus) are responsible for the country’s darkest days. “By remembering the evil they did, we should also pick some lessons about fighting genocide ideology, denial and divisionism of the Genocide against the Tutsi.”
“Lecturers and researchers of the university should play an active role in fighting genocide ideology through the following ways: Understanding, writing and publishing the history of the Genocide and of Rwanda as a whole; to fight genocide ideology and to be supportive of government programmes that lead to the development of Rwandans instead of looking at themselves through prism of race or region,” he said.
He also said that the university should conduct extensive and research on the Genocide against the Tutsi, publish the findings, circulate academic research papers, books and also participate in public talk shows.