The Killing Continues – The Legacy of the Rwandan Genocide
1.1 Between Sept 26th to Oct 1st 2004, a Jubilee Action delegation including Lord Alton, and journalist Becky Tinsley travelled toRwanda.
Jubilee Action delegation with President Kagame
1.2 The purpose of the trip was to gain a fuller understanding of the cause and legacy of the 1994 genocide, to visit sites where an estimated 800,000 people were killed over a period of 100 days and to assess the prospects forRwanda’s future. We listened to the testimony of survivors, and visited projects for widows, abandoned children, orphans and people with HIV/AIDS. We also met NGOs, leaders of civic society, religious leaders and politicians to discuss the process of achieving reconciliation and justice, and rebuilding the nation. We learnt more about the residual problems in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo where genocidal militias remain in exile with dire consequences for all concerned.
2.0 Narrative and History
2.1 AsRwanda’s colonial power, the Belgians instituted identity cards classifying most of the population as either Hutu, who made up the majority, or as Tutsi. After independence in 1962Rwandawas ruled by Hutu-dominated governments, including a period of one-party rule under the Hutu President Habyarimana between 1972 and 1994. During this time the Tutsi minority (making up 15%) were excluded from power, denied university education, and restricted to a few professions like teaching and nursing. Consequently many Tutsi became businessmen, and comprised a large part ofRwanda’s middle class.
2.2 Discrimination and ethnic hatred resulted in widespread massacres of Tutsi in 1959 after which many Tutsi went into exile, particularly inUganda. Further violence followed, and as a reaction some Tutsi inUganda, including the current President, Paul Kagame, formed the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) and its armed wing, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA).
2.2 The RPA invadedRwandain 1990 but were halted by the Forces Armee Rwandaises (FAR). Unrest and dissatisfaction continued, and in April 1994 President Habyarimana signed a power-sharing agreement in Arusha, but on his way back fromTanzaniahis plane was shot down.
2.3 This event is widely understood to have been the pre-arranged signal the Hutu militia, the Interahamwe, had been waiting for: roadblocks went up across the nation, and the systematic and coordinated killing of Tutsi and moderate Hutu began. It is thought 100,000 Interahamwe spearheaded the genocide, supported by Hutu peasants who had been indoctrinated with ethnic hate propaganda against their neighbours. Between 800,000 and a million people were murdered, and it is believed at least 200,000 Tutsi women were raped.
2.4 From their base inUgandathe RPA invaded and reachedKigaliby July, fighting off a coalition of FAR, Interahamwe and supporting Zairean troops who retreated intoZaire. Since 1994 they have used their bases in exile to menace local ethnic Tutsi in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as Tutsi inRwandaandBurundi. Their presence in eastern DRC has also contributed to the continuing violence and massive bloodshed there (see previous Jubilee Action report on DRC).
2.5 Meanwhile, in 1994, a government of national unity was formed with Pasteur Bizimungu, a Hutu, as president, and Paul Kagame, the Tutsi commander of the RPA, as his deputy. In effect the RPF have since dominated Rwandan government and institutions, and when Bizimungu resigned in 2000 Kagame became president. He was later sentenced to 15 years in prison by the Kagame Government on allegations of inciting genocide.
2.6 In late 1996 the RPA backed a rebellion in eastern DRC (then still calledZaire) which destroyed the Hutu/Interahamwe/ex-FAR refugee camps, and precipitated the downfall of Mobutu Sese Seko. A million refugees returned toRwanda, but many ‘genocidaires’, as they are known, escaped. They remained in easternZairefrom which they continued to attack northwestRwanda.
2.7 In 1998RwandaandUgandatogether backed rebel militia in DRC ostensibly to eliminate the Interahamwe/ex-FAR. They defeated the combined forces ofZimbabwe,Chad,AngolaandNamibiawho were supporting DRC, leading to a stand-off with Mobuto’s successor Laurent Kabila. By the time a ceasefire was signed inLusakain autumn 1999 the rebels had taken large parts of the north and east, at the cost of millions of civilian lives. A further agreement, brokered bySouth Africa, was needed in 2002 before Rwandan forces began to withdraw from DRC.
David Alton pays his respects at the Murambi Genocide site
2.8Rwanda continues to have interests in the vast mineral wealth of eastern DRC, and it is accused of using local militias to impose their will in the area and to fight against remaining Interahamwe/ex-FAR groups who are believed to number about 8,000. EquallyRwanda accuses DRC of arming and supporting Interahamwe/ex-FAR militia and their allies who have been killing and terrorising the ethnic Tutsi population in eastern DRC. We used most of our one hour meeting with President Kagame to raise Rwanda’s continuing conflict with the DRC.
2.9 The Rwandan economy is based almost completely on agriculture (coffee, sugar cane, bananas) of which the majority is peasant subsistence farming. It lacks the huge mineral wealth of neighbouring DRC, or an industrial base. It currently imports goods it could be manufacturing for itself, and there is potential to develop a more value-added agricultural export business, given effort and imagination.
2.10Rwandasuffers from deforestation (another consequence of the war) and soil erosion. Its economy is vulnerable to both world commodity prices, and the cost of oil. The continuing violence in DRC restricts regional trade and discourages inward investment.
3.0 The Consequences of Genocide: Political Freedom and Human Rights in Rwanda
3.1 The Rwandan Government is currently struggling to strike a balance between allowing free speech, and defeating once and for all the genocidal ideology responsible for inspiring millions of people to participate in the murder, betrayal, and looting of their fellow Rwandans.
3.2 Everyday, in every encounter we had, we were reminded that people have good reason to be apprehensive to the point of paranoia about allowing people to make derogatory comments about the ethnic minority Tutsis, or to deny the genocide occurred. We are also sensitive to fears that the exiled Interahamwe and ex-FAR wish to destabilise the country by force. We met many people who either fear for their lives, or are receiving threats, or have actually been attacked by those who believe their testimony will put them in prison. We took evidence of genocidaires released under the Gacaca and returning to their communities to commit revenge attacks on those who testified against them. 30 Tutsi survivors were reported to have been killed in June 2004 in Butare.
3.3 The aspiration of the Government, recited by all and sundry in positions of power and by many NGOs, is that the Gacaca system will bring about justice and reconciliation, given time. We were constantly told that the future lies in all people regarding themselves as Rwandans first, and Hutu and Tutsi second. Although we agree with the importance of national identity, history suggests that trying to wish away ethnic awareness is futile and counter-productive. You can remove ethnic identity from ID cards (good) but not from memory. Co-existence , mutual respect and power sharing would be a more productive course.
3.4 There has been criticism of the dominant role taken by the Tutsi minority in government, the army and throughout society. We would question whether the Hutu majority has a big enough stake in Rwanda’s future, and if there is a role for power-sharing structures, and confidence building measures to bring about reconciliation through practical, everyday cooperation in rebuilding Rwanda. Although acutely conscious thatBritainfailed the Rwandan people in 1994, we suggest that we might now make a small contribution by sharing our experiences of building cross-community institutions inNorthern Ireland(see: recommendations).
3.5 Human Rights Watch recently catalogued its concerns about the suppression of the free press, the imprisonment or exile of political opposition figures, and the 96% (sic) President Kagame received in recent elections. Our impressions, from speaking to people as varied as 14 year old rape victims, Hutu genocidaire prisoners, town mayors, social workers, and government ministers, was that the Kagame administration is determined to silence criticism or divergence from the agreed path forwards. One local health worker in Butare claimed that political dissidents are first warned and then imprisoned for criticising the government.
Category 1 prisoners in Nyanza prison responsible for the worst acts of genocide in 1994
3.6 A vital element in this strategy is eliciting confessions of guilt from prisoners, and encouraging them to provide information on who planned the genocide, in exchange for their freedom: the Gacaca process. In every province, citizens are being trained to chair Gacaca tribunals, to ensure victims are able to confront their attackers, and that witnesses can give testimony. Whilst the planners of the genocide and those who raped are considered category one prisoners, and do not qualify for parole, the rest have the chance to confess.
3.7 We visited Nyanza prison and watched in admiration as the country’s Prosecutor General, Jean de Dieu Mucyo, urged the five thousand genocidaires (male and female) gathered before him in the prison yard, to confess their guilt, submit to the Gacaca process, and go home to their families. Given his own personal loss during the genocide, his commitment to resolving the future of the prisoners was doubly impressive. On a practical levelRwandacannot afford to keep 70,000 genocidaires in prison indefinitely, and if they want to reconcile their shattered nation, we concluded there are worse ways to go about it than the Gacaca process.
3.8 Some doubts remain about the validity of the confessions from the point of view of the victims and survivors. The President of the Rwandan Survivors Fund (SURF) told us of her disappointment when she was able to confront the killer of her husband and children, only to find he felt no remorse. We also heard prisoners say they were under pressure from fellow Hutu not to confess or implicate genocidaires who have avoided punishment so far. Some less skilled Hutu freely admitted they preferred to stay behind bars where they were given three meals a day, rather than to face the economic hardships in the outside world.
3.9 Whether the Government will succeed in persuading the majority Hutu population that the genocide was wrong remains to be seen. Tutsi unease at the true intentions of their fellow Rwandans is understandable, given the undercurrent of genocide denial, and threats to witnesses and survivors. They are not allowed to keep weapons at home, but the tension within the community was apparent.
3.10 We note the importance of learning from experiences in the formerYugoslavia, where the International War Crimes Tribunal has been careful to hold each community to account for the atrocities perpetrated on each other. Croatian and Bosnian generals allegedly responsible for war crimes against Serbians have been arrested and put on trial atThe Hague.
3.11 Until 2003, Carla del Ponte was the Prosecutor for the International War Crimes Tribunal responsible for bothRwandaand the formerYugoslavia. She believes there was political pressure from the Rwandan Government for her removal because she was urging the investigation of the members of the RPA suspected of reprisal killings.
3.12 If this indicates a subjectivity or an unwillingness to accept that there was retaliatory violence on Hutu civilians, then this would not bode well for theRwanda’s future.
David Alton with the Prosecutor General – Mr Mucyo
3.13 Being even handed, and being seen to be even-handed, could be an important element in trying to assure one part of the community in Rwanda that even though the other part of the community bore the greater brunt of the horrors of genocide, they have not been absolved of atrocities they in turn committed, even if they were smaller in scale. We were struck by testimony from Hutus who suffered greatly in 1994 when up to 100,000 were killed by the RPA when they invaded the country. We also heard of mass reprisal killings in1996, and we believe that until these events are acknowledged openly and justice is delivered, the level of resentment in the Hutu community will severely damage attempts to unite and reconcile the nation.
3.14 We urge President Kagame to embrace the political benefits that could accrue from an admission that atrocities, reprisals, and large scale revenge killings were carried out by the RPA in 1994 and 1996. We were pleased to read an interview given by President Kagame to the BBC during the tenth anniversary commemorations in which he accepted RPA responsibility for killings of Hutu. We urge him to build upon this by bringing to justice those responsible for atrocities in 1994 and 1996, and so to assure the whole community of his government’s intention to apply justice evenly, irrespective of ethnic background.
3.15 We were concerned to learn that six well-respected NGOs who are the subject of a Parliamentary Report have had no opportunity to defend themselves against the extremely serious charges of inciting genocidal ideology. To accuse an organisation of using ‘divisionist’ language damages the credibility of the NGO concerned, and the rules of natural justice require there to be a transparent and fair means of examining the evidence and presenting a legal defence.
3.16 In discussions with officials at the Commission for Human Rights, and with Jean de Dieu Mucyo, the Prosecutor General, we raised this issue, and urged them to allow a full and open judicial process, giving the NGOs concerned the right to defend themselves. Officials were unwilling to explain exactly what the individuals at the NGOs are alleged to have said or done, and we remain concerned that well-intentioned NGOs or other groups in civil society will be subject to harsh and arbitrary punitive measures. We hopeRwandawill study the ways in whichBritainis currently legislating against the incitement to racial and religious hatred. We also trust that reference to our anti-discrimination laws, evolved and refined over decades, might be of some use. We were also concerned that if every criticism of the government were to be labelled as inciting genocide, it would devalue the use of the word and minimise the enormity of what actually took place.
3.17 Similarly, we are alarmed by reports from Human Rights Watch about opposition politicians, who have not previously promoted ethnically divisive views, now being accused of ‘divisionism’. The most startling example of this is the former president ofRwanda, who is in prison awaiting Gacaca, although he was a military supporter of President Kagame during the Genocide. We have also heard of other long-standing members of the RPF and RPA, who faithfully served their cause throughout the years of struggle, and whose credibility has suddenly been challenged, and who are now accused of promoting genocidal ideology.
3.18 Human Rights Watch has catalogued the cases of a number of democratic politicians who have expressed criticism of the Government, and who are now in exile, fearing for their safety and liberty. HRW also questions the reported crackdown on press freedom, and the suppression of healthy, pluralist dissent.
3.19 We were told by the authorities that they come down on genocidal ideology swiftly and surely. While we are sensitive to the reasons why any ethnic slurs or genocidal denial must be firmly dealt with, we are concerned that genuine free speech may be sacrificed, and a system of informing and the censorship of well-intentioned political criticism and debate may arise as a consequence.
3.20 We are pleased there are now several independent radio stations inRwanda, but were dismayed to learn each station had been required to sign a commitment to avoid political subjects. We are acutely aware of the role played by the media in disseminating hate ideology and propaganda during the genocide. For the future, we hopeRwandawill gradually appreciate the benefits of allowing free speech within a framework of legal guarantees for the respect of minority rights, human rights, anti-discrimination and mutual tolerance.
3.21 As friends and admirers of Rwanda we hope our concerns about the slide towards repressing free speech will be taken as they are meant: constructively. We are hugely impressed by the way in whichRwandais being reconstructed, by the lack of corruption, and by the efficiency of the Government which is an example to all in the region. We share the Government’s aspirations to pull all Rwandans together, emphasising what they share, rather than what divides them. But we are also concerned about the potential backlash from an overzealous rewriting of history, and from denying fair comment. From our meetings with politicians, religious leaders and activists acrossRwanda, we are confidentRwandais strong enough to allow full and informed national political debate.
3.22 In Butare we were deeply impressed by the personal friendship and public leadership of the Catholic and Episcopal (Anglican) bishops, Bishop Msgr. Philippe Rukamba and Bishop Venuste Mutiganda. They are both involved in reconciliation and social projects. InKigaliwe visited the Catholic Cathedral, met with Protestant church leaders and talked with faith-led individuals and groups about a whole host of impressive initiatives.
3.23 As mentioned above, we met Antoine Rutayisire of African Enterprise whose book, “Faith Under Fire”, details the stories of individual Christians who resisted the genocide. We heard of pastors who lost their lives , and of a group of nuns who refused to abandon the children in their care, and were brutally murdered.
3.24 Antoine Rutayisire is involved in a coalition seeking to encourage Christian dialogue and engagement. He also told us that “the position of the church is very complex: it has taken many different positions and reconciliation is not a popular concept. It often sits on the fence.”
3.25 It is also clear that during the genocide individual pastors, priests, and Christian leaders either collaborated in the killing or failed to speak out prophetically against the slaughter.
3.26 Fatuma Ndagije, Executive Secretary of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, alleged that the deceased Catholic Archbishop, Nsengungiyuva, had been involved in planning the Hutu attacks on the Tutsis. At Nyanza Prison we talked to one of two Episcopal priests who are prisoners, Musominali Paulin, who was accused by a parishioner of betraying her husband. He has been waiting for seven years to be tried for a charge he strenuously denies. He told us that at Nyanza there is a Baptist pastor, and two Seventh Day Adventist pastors, and that a Catholic priest had been in the prison, but under the Gacaca system he had been released (and is back in his post in his parish). Musominali raised an interesting aspect of Gacaca when he said, “some confess to things they have not done in order to secure release. Why should a man confess to a crime he did not commit?”
Murambi Genocide site in South-West Rwanda
3.27 Notwithstanding individual acts of bravery during the genocide, the failure of the church to be more outspoken is partly to do with the over-identification of individual denominations with one ethnic group of the other, and the failure to inform individual believers and parishes/fellowships in the duties that go with Christian citizenship. In facing the future the church must learn hard lessons from this experience.
3.28 Our visit to the Murambi Genocide Site in the south west ofRwandaserved to remind us of the hellish reality ofRwanda’s recent past. Murambi was a technical college, to which children from a nearby orphanage, went there to take shelter. They believed the French garrison there would protect them. Instead, so we were told, the French soldiers stood by and watched as the Interahamwe hunted down local Tutsis, as they are reported to have done throughout the country, delivering them to what became the mass graves of Murambi.
3.29 Fifty six thousand bodies were found there, and we walked from classroom to classroom, viewing 852 remains that have been disinterred. Within a few days of the massacre, a volleyball court had been built on top of one of the mass graves which, we were told, the French then used in their leisure time. We saw the site of where the French raised their flag while the killings proceeded without impediment. Meanwhile, at the UN, French diplomats were working in concert with Secretary General Boutros Ghali (cf family connections) to withhold any information about the genocide from the Security Council as it occurred.
3.30 The French position was unquestioningly supported byBritain’s representative to the UN and in the House of Commons by the Foreign Secretary at the time.
3.31 France’s role in allegedly training FAR, and supplying them with satellite telephones with which to coordinate the killing from community to community, deserves special mention, but equally we were constantly aware on our trip around Rwanda that Britain’s record in 1994 is nothing to be proud of. However, while theUKis now the biggest donor toRwanda(£37m in 2003-4),Francehas given very little, has refused to examine its role in the run up to the genocide and during it, and denies any moral responsibility. We agree with President Clinton’s reflection that the failure to act in theRwandagenocide was ‘the greatest regret of my Presidency’ – a view shared by the British Aid Minister of the time, Baroness Chalker.
4.0 The Consequences of Genocide: HIVAIDS
4.1 “We are a generation in transition, carrying the wounds of the past, and trying to shape the future.” (Antoine Rutayisire)
4.2 With every personal connection we made inRwandawe were reminded that the consequences of the 1994 genocide are still making a profound mark on almost all aspects of life. There is great continuing hardship for widows who survived the war, in particular those who were raped and are now HIV positive. However, because of the genocide women inRwandaare more aware of HIV/AIDS than elsewhere in the region, and we trust this will assist the spread of awareness about the need for testing. In many respects, the fatalities of HIV/AIDS represent a continuing genocide inRwanda.
4.3 There are 260,000 orphans inRwanda, of whom 65,000 are HIV positive, and the President’s office told us they classify one million children as vulnerable. Given that the total population ofRwandais eight million, it is clear the country faces an enormous challenge. Every year, 40,000 children are born to HIV-infected mothers.
4.4 Of the 100,000 Rwandans who need HIV treatment, only 4,000 are currently receiving anti-retro viral (ARV) medicines. Disgracefully the international community decided to prioritise the treatment of HIV positive prisoners, most of whom participated in the genocide, as their victims died of AIDS or struggled to survive, the perpetrators of the genocide received three meals a day and ARV. This perverse situation was compounded by the knowledge that those who could testify against them would die before they could go to trial. This grotesque iniquity is finally being corrected, and the President’s office told us they hope to have virtually everyone who needs treatment receiving ARVs within five years. However there are only 274 doctors serving a population of eight million inRwanda, and we applaud efforts to train survivors and victims to administer home-based care.
4.5 In our meeting with the Minister for Health for HIV, Dr Innocent Nyaruharira, we agreed that a campaign to help school children become AIDS-aware would provide a great opportunity to explain that in the case of consenting sex, AIDS is 100% preventable but 100% fatal. We gave the Minister to “Towards an Aids-free generation”, a primary school level book produced inAfrica. It was agreed this book would be highly appropriate for distribution to every pupil inRwanda. We also gave the Minister a copy of the secondary school level book, “Aids and You” with the same purpose in mind.
4.6 We also met Colette Cunningham of World Relief who is responsible for delivering World Relief’s portion of theUSPresident’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Colette told us that ‘for once, thanks to theUS, there is money. It will change the face of AIDS inAfrica.’
5.0 The Consequences of Genocide: Orphans
5.1 Forty per cent of all 10-14 year olds inRwandaare orphans. 26% of all children inRwandaare orphans and the UN forecasts this will rise to 32% in 2005. There are 6000 child-headed households inKigalialone. The Rwandan Government is encouraging a policy of allowing extended orphan families to live together and manage their own lives, with modest financial support, rather than putting children in orphanages. Many live a hand-to-mouth existence, and are burdened with remarkable responsibilities at a young age, but we were impressed by how optimistic and ambitious the children we met were.
Two orphans at Kabuga
5.2 We spoke to children as young as 14 who were running households of four or five, at the same time as attending school, earning money to support their families, and coping with the legacy of having lost their parents either to AIDS or the genocide.
We visited thePeaceVillage, just outsideKigali, where 52 children live in a community of ten simple but well-built homes. Gratien Gatete, age 24, told us his “mission” was to have a career in which he could create jobs for as many people as possible. During the genocide Gratien’s life was saved by a Hutu man who recognised him and told the Interahamwe he was his brother. The man hid Gratien and five other people for days until he could escape. Of Gratien’s nine siblings, three survived. One of his sisters, Marie Rose, has saved when a Hutu priest rescued her and took her to a doctor: she had been cut with a machete twice on her head, and on her back and arms, and left for dead. The priest’s mother took the girl over the border into DRC, cared for her for two years and on her return re-united her with her brother. Gratien now lives with his surviving siblings and cousins, and they help each other to solve daily problems and to make sense of their experiences, he said. “We have formed a community, and we stick together”.
5.3 Gratien spoke for many we met when he told us he was glad the truth was finally coming out through the Gacaca system of local truth and reconciliation trials. “At least now I know where my parents were killed, and where they are buried.” However it disturbs him to see his brother’s killer on the streets, and wishes the ‘genocidaires’ were still in prison. (Under the Gacaca system, prisoners who confess before village trials are released from prison, unless they are the highest category of killer who planned the genocide or committed rape).
5.4 When we met Jean-Pierre Kanyandekwe at his home in thePeaceVillagehe was still badly bruised from a beating the previous week. He feared his mugging was part of a pattern of attacks on Tutsi survivors who know the identities of genocidaires and might therefore testify against them at Gacaca hearings. The shy, thin 26 year old told us he had faith that the rule of law would deter wide scale reprisals, but, as he said, “We live together in our country but we don’t love each other.”
5.5 Jean-Pierre was 13 during the genocide. He escaped by carrying a sack of cooking charcoal on his back for miles, past Interahamwe checkpoints, pretending to be a trader heading for Burundi. Jean-Pierre does not know who killed his parents, but he understands that the man who killed his brother is in prison, waiting to be released. “He confessed at Gacaca, and he told them how and where he killed my brother, but he did not apologise or ask for forgiveness.”
5.6 Life has been particularly harsh for orphans like Jean-Pierre who were between the ages of 10 and 15 during the genocide because they had to quit school to care for their remaining young family members. Now they have no skills to sell, and cannot afford to go back to school to get an education. Jean-Pierre sells cabbages in the market, but when he was younger he had wanted to be a teacher.
5.7 At thePeaceVillagewe also met Gihozo Christian (aged 4) who is the first child in the village to be born to an orphan. Perhaps Gihozo represents new life for such a traumatised country.
5.8 Every person we met had their own traumatic story of bereavement. Nineteen year oldConstanceworks at a garage during the day to provide for her four siblings. At night she attends computer classes and hopes to one day have an information technology career.Constancewas nine at the time of the genocide, and she survived by hiding beneath the body of a dead boy. As she was escaping the militia, she came across the corpses of her father, aunt and two sisters, but she never found her mother’s body. Constance and her four siblings lived with another aunt after the war, but the aunt got married and the new husband beat the children and eventually threw them out. Constance had heard about the work of the Solace Ministries inKigaliand approached them for advice. They found her a house where she now lives with her family.
5.9Constanceis grateful for having a roof over her head, but she told us it was more important that she had dependable adults she could come to for support. She also finds it invaluable to discuss everyday problems with other child heads of households, although she insisted the most ‘healing’ benefit of her involvement with the Solace Ministry was finally being able to tell her story.
Constance was nine years old when she survived the genocide.
5.10 Another orphan survivor, John Bosco Gasangwa, from Butare, agreed. “After the genocide no one wanted to talk about what had happened, and we children went around with a huge pain in our hearts. For years I felt so depressed and despondent, and I didn’t know what the point of living was. Then I was able to talk to others who had experienced the same horrors, and it was amazingly healing.”
5.11 Although the Rwandan Government favours the creation of child-headed households, the scale of the orphan problem means there are still many orphanages, some of which cater for abandoned babies too. Despite the difficult circumstances at Reverend Ngondo’s Foundation inKigali, we were struck by the determination of the children to make the most of school and become professionals such as lawyers and doctors. Ngondo’s orphanage has 41 children, most of whom are genocide survivors or the offspring of people who have died of AIDS. A few of the children are HIV positive, and we were concerned that there appears to be no special provision in Rwanda for dealing with the medical problems of child AIDS sufferers, or their eventual demise. Although the other children at the orphanage are supportive of the ones with AIDS, we wondered how they were expected to cope with their medical needs.
5.12 There is currently only one hospice inRwandawith just 10 beds and no children’s hospice, something World Relief’s Colette Cunningham hopes to change in the future. However next year World Relief hopes to train church volunteers in palliative care and to support Home based palliative care with HBC kits and volunteer training. She explained that $28m from the PEPFAR has been allocated to the Community Based NGO partners inRwanda, one of which being World Relief. Initially the church, which is still greatly respected in Rwandan life, was reluctant to get involved in AIDS, but it has now committed itself to using its pivotal position in the community to ‘mobilise for life’. Increased financial assistance is being used to train pastors and volunteers in each province to identify orphans and vulnerable children and to make sure they are tested, given nutrition, support and treatment within the community. However Colette Cunningham warned us thatRwandahas a very young population, growing rapidly, and already 16% of the 20-24 age group are HIV positive.
5.13 Another challenge presented by the growing population, and the huge number of orphans, is in education. Before the war teaching was one of the few professions open to Tutsi, and they were wiped out en masse during the genocide. As a consequence there is a now a severe shortage of both educators and school places.Rwandarecently made primary education free for all, and classes of 30 suddenly became classes of 200.
5.14 Many people we spoke to expressed reservations about the quality of the state system. “If you pay $2 a year to go to the village school, what do you expect?” said one parent who prefers to make sacrifices to send her children to private schools. There are not enough places in state schools, so there is a large private sector. We were told a reasonable education would cost $200 a year, a huge sum, given that average earnings are $280 a year inRwanda.
5.15 Church groups running orphanages or supporting child headed households had no choice but to pay for their children to go privately, and to supply uniforms, books and transportation costs. This is a financial burden on already overstretched NGOs caring for orphans, and we hope the international community will earmark funds to enable the Rwandan Government to provide free education of orphans, a vulnerable group which, as has been mentioned, often selflessly put the needs of their extended families before their desire to go to school.
5.16 The Government ministers we met, such as Angelina Muganza, Minister of State for Public Service, Skills Development, Vocation training and Labour, were acutely aware of the need to skill their young people and encourage them away from the belief that they can work on the land as their parent’s generation had. “Educate the women and you educate the nation,” she said, describing initiatives to get girls to study science subjects in particular.
5.17 The United Nations estimates that 98% of children witnessed someone being killed during the genocide. We cannot begin to adequately evaluate the long term repercussions for both the survivors and those who perpetrated the murders. Ben Kayumba of Solace Ministries put it, “I used to look at every face I passed on the street or in a crowds and wonder if they had killed my family. It took me a long time to stop thinking everyone was evil.”
5.18 Antoine Rutayisire believes many young people are burdened by feelings of great anger that they have been unable to express, not least because others, particularly adults, have wanted to avoid the subject. Groups like Solace Ministries organises forums where survivors can give testimony, but generally there are very few arenas in which young people can confront the past, grieve or express their resentment.
5.19 “How are the children of the generation who committed the atrocities going to make sense of the behaviour of their parents?” Rutayisire wonders. “What are we going to do with children who were so brainwashed by propaganda that they killed their own mothers and desecrated their bodies?”
5.20 John Bosco Gasangwa is a survivor, now at university, who found it changed his life to meet with other orphans to talk about his experiences. He felt profoundly empty and alone until he heard what another boy his age went through. “This boy hid behind a fence when the Interahamwe came for his father. His father was a very tall man, and so the militia first cut off his legs, then cut him in half at the middle, and finally cut off his head. Then the boy watched as the same men attacked his pregnant mother and cut her open.”
5.21 InRwandaevery orphan has a similar horror story, but Rutayisire, who runs African Enterprise inRwanda, is optimistic, and believes young people are now growing up in a much less corrosive environment, without ethnic labels. “Now they may discriminate in private, but hopefully the next generation will put it behind them. We are a generation in transition, carrying the wounds of the past, and trying to shape the future.”
6.0 The Consequences of Genocide: Widows
6.1 The story of one woman we met represents the dire consequences of the genocide still being visited uponRwanda’s women. The past ten years of Bertrude Mukandigo’s life encapsulate all that has flowed from the 100 days of murder. On the day when the genocide reached her town ofGuro, Bertrude was raped by eight different men. On subsequent days she was raped again repeatedly by soldiers who tormented her as if returning and violating her were a game. She became pregnant and HIV positive as a result, and the baby she gave birth too was also HIV positive.
6.2 The men who raped her escaped across the border. One of them returned from the refugee camps in 1996, and when she passed him in the street he was initially afraid she would report him to the authorities. Due partly to the stigma attached to rape inRwandaand due to her decision to forgive her perpetrators, Bertrude told him he had nothing to fear.
Bertrude’s story encapsulated the plight of Rwanda’s widows.
6.3 She married a man who, it emerged was also HIV positive, and they had two children, one of whom has Downs Syndrome, and other of whom is HIV positive. Her husband has now died, leaving her with three children, and no extended family nearby. As if that were not bad enough, the man who raped her began to threaten her, fearing she would go to the Gacaca to denounce him. His threats have become more frequent and frightening, made worse for her by the knowledge that genocide survivors acrossRwanda are being hunted down and intimidated and in some cases killed.
6.4 An example of this intimidation is the story of one of Bertrude’s friends who was attacked and raped with a stick and who is still in hospital. Bertrude is terrified because she is receiving threatening letters, and wants to move to an area where she is among friends and feels safer. Sadly she lacks the money to relocate at will. When asked what the police were doing about the intimidation, she explained that in country areas there are too few police to respond. Jubilee Action has committed to raise the funds to re-house her, but we are acutely aware her plight is shared by many thousands of genocide survivors.
6.5 The Interahamwe systematically used rape as a weapon of war throughout the genocide period, knowing it would shame and humiliate their victims, particularly in a traditional society in which rape stigmatises the female victim. Human Rights Watch estimates that more than 200,000 women were raped in the course of the 100 days, and many more were made widows. The rate of HIV/AIDS among widows is twice the national average as a result of the genocidaires programme of ethnic extermination.
6.6 At Solace Ministries inKigaliwe attended a widows’ support meeting at which women listened to each others’ testimony about their experiences during the genocide, and the hardships since. Many had scars on their arms, heads and faces from machete cuts, and some were missing hands. Each had an extraordinary story: witnessing their husbands, siblings and children killed; hiding from the murderers who were often their neighbours and friends who had suddenly turned on them, calling them snakes and cockroaches; travelling across country to try to find refuge; and being raped by genocidaires. Since the killing stopped, some of them they have suffered from the stigma of rape; some have become HIV positive, infected by the men who raped them; most have had trouble finding somewhere to live and work; and all have struggled financially.
6.7 Another feature common to the widow’s lives is the difficulty in coming to terms with what they saw, and talking about their experiences. Solace provides a supportive forum for widows to come together, as well as practical help, training women in handicrafts such as soap-making, toy-making and weaving to help them generate income. They also have a bakery and a pineapple plantation producing 12,000 fruit a year currently, and aiming for 50,000 next year. In addition Solace has fields outsideKigaliin which they grow mushrooms, beans and sweet potatoes.
6.8 We met Patricia, a tall, elegant woman with a quick smile, who is the president of the community association of 35 widows in Kabuga. There the widows make soap and weave baskets to support themselves. They said they feel safer living together in the same community, and they were very aware of the threats to genocide survivors who witnessed killings and are potential witnesses at Gacaca hearings. As she said, “The devil of death is still operating in this region.”
6.9 Jean Gakwandi, who started Solace in 1995, recognised an enormous need for comforting and understanding, putting people in touch with deeply suppressed emotions. He now runs special camps for the most profoundly traumatised, and has found it is only with time that the widows are able to admit what had happened to them. Often it takes months or years before it emerges they were raped, and them Solace arranges HIV testing.
6.10 Those who test positive receive nutrition, and as much medical treatment as Solace can afford. Currently, 23 out of a total of 350 HIV positive widows are getting ARV, with 49 on the waiting list. They all attend twice monthly meetings to share their problems, fears and experiences of living with HIV or AIDS. The cost of treating people is falling, and will be further reduced due to Kenyan-produced generics, but the current $160 a month for ARV alone is a fortune in a country where the average annual income is $280.
6.11 Solace is also training widows to provide counselling and health education to other women in the same situation. In addition they have collected testimony, an activity we increasingly realised is vital to countering genocide-denial charges (see below: Human Rights). Solace make a point of integrating HIV positive sufferers with healthy women in each of their work and training areas, aiming to build support mechanisms for when they become ill and need help. They have found that HIV sufferers survive longer when they live and work with uninfected people, and healthy people in turn lose their fear of HIV and AIDS. Solace also has a home-based programme of support for AIDS sufferers. We were both moved and impressed by the work being done at Solace, and by the commitment, efficiency and humanity of Jean Gakwandi, Ben Kayumba and the others.
6.12 Women have a tough enough time inRwandabecause in their traditional role they carry the burden of working in the fields, walking miles twice a day to fetch water, raising the family and taking care of their house and husband. We were told on many occasions that women are not given enough say in whether or not they consent to sex or marriage or the use of condoms. In some areas custom has it that a widow can be claimed by the male relatives of her dead husband’s family and forced to marry one of them. There is also pressure on young girls to become sexually active at puberty, with little consideration given to their wishes. The fight against AIDS inRwandahas not been helped by hostile male attitudes to abstinence, monogamy and condoms, nor by a reluctance to discuss such previously taboo subjects.
6.13 Josephine Uwamariya of Health Unlimited runs a weekly radio soap opera, called Urunana (hand in hand) which is modelled on the Archers, in which social problems such as HIV/AIDS, rape and domestic violence are dramatised. It is a hugely popular programme – reaching 60% of the population – although men are known to confiscate the household radios in annoyance at its message.
Rwandan Warriors in Butare
6.14 A member of our delegation, Dr Richard Rowland of Judah Trust, has run AIDS awareness programmes acrossRwanda in which sensitive subjects are broached through drama. Despite these excellent initiatives, and the wholehearted commitment of the Rwandan Government to tackle AIDS, general ignorance and truculent male attitudes make it an uphill struggle at a grassroots level. It is very encouraging thatRwanda leads the world in female parliamentary representation (48%) and women government members (30%), and we trust and believe their influence is already being felt throughout society. This partnership of men and women will be required to re-shape attitudes and behaviour.
6.15 When we met President Kagame we asked him if he would spearhead a public information campaign to educate Rwandan men about HIV/AIDS and sexual health. Given the respect in which President is held across the country, we felt it could be invaluable to use his standing to get the message across. He agreed with this suggestion. He was also supportive of an initiative to put primary school books designed to teach children about HIV/AIDS in schools. Dr Richard Rowland gave him an example of the book produced and used inZimbabwetowards an AIDS-Free generation.
7.0 The Consequences of Genocide: the Democratic Republic of Congo
7.1 Another lasting and devastating consequence of the genocide is the ongoing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (see opening narrative). Our meeting with the Rwandan president was timely because Prime Minister Bernard Makusa had just signed an agreement with DRC’s President Kabila at the 59th session of the UN General Assembly inNew York.
7.2 When we met President Paul Kagame at his offices inKigali, we encouraged him to pursue and persist with his attempts to build a personal bridge to DRC’s President Joseph Kabila. We referred to the lessons ofNorthern Irelandpeace process, and urged him to put in place confidence building measures such as exchanging diplomatic representatives withKinshasa. He was receptive to attempts to establish and maintain dialogue with Kabila personally, and DRC, and we hope to propose a tri-partite Inter Parliamentary Union dialogue, bringing politicians from DRC andRwandatoBritain.
7.3 We also met the Hon. Evariste Kalisa, a member of the Rwandan Parliament who chairs the Human Rights Committee. He told us of the Amani Forum (the Great Lakes Parliamentary Forum on Peace) which he helped found in 1998. Based inNairobi, the Forum includesRwanda,Uganda,Tanzinia,Kenya,ZambiaandBurundi– but not yet DRC. President Kagame told us that he strongly welcomed such initiatives and said that the ideal way forward would be a bilateral DRC/Rwandan military force to deal with the militia and to assist DRC restore sovereignty over its territory. We were impressed by the President’s commitment to forging a personal and close working relationship with President Kabila.
7.4 Although we are acutely conscious theUKdid nothing to helpRwandawhen it needed it in 1994, President Kagame made it clear to us that he values the friendship and active help of theUnited Kingdom.
8.1.1Rwandadeserves the support of the international community in their concern for the rights of the ethnic Tutsi population in eastern DRC. We call upon the DRC (as we haveRwanda) to commit itself to stopping the flow of arms and support to militia within eastern DRC which continue to harass and kill the ethnic Tutsi population. We also call upon the international community to respond toRwanda’s concerns.
Specifically we urge theUKgovernment to use its role as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to demand the clarification of MONUC’s mandate in DRC. We call for a consistent mandate to be acted upon and publicised sufficiently to let the local population know what they can expect from UN peacekeepers.
8.1.2 We urgeRwandaand DRC to establish embassies in each other’s countries as soon as possible. We also urge them to begin a process of constructing confidence building measures and joint institutions between the two nations, their politicians, business leaders, civil society groups and churches. Moreover we urge the leadership of bothRwandaand DRC to develop the personal relationships from which so much reconciliation and practical progress can flow.
8.1.3 We welcome the Amani Forum initiative and hope the DRC will support it. We believe it provides a very helpful model of building multinational institutions which can further mutual understanding, air differences and lead to constructive engagement.
8.1.4 We commendRwandafor being the first nation to send peacekeeping troops toDarfur. We urge the Rwandan army to maintain its high levels of professionalism.
8.1.5 We commend the British Government for its overall support forRwanda, and for maintaining relationships between the two countries through regular ministerial visits. However we think it is vital for the Foreign Office to recognise the scale and impact on the region of the conflict in DRC, and therefore to visit DRC and establish equally strong ties.
8.1.6 Leading on from recommendation 5) above, we believeBritainis uniquely placed to act as an honest broker between DRC andRwanda. Just as an outsider, Senator George Mitchell, helped to make theNorthern Irelandpeace process work, so it may be thatBritaincould play a useful role in facilitating dialogue between DRC andRwanda. The British Government should commit itself to playing this role, recognising how interconnected so many of the region’s problems are.
8.2.1 We applaud the training of judges and court officers throughoutRwandato handle the huge backlog of Gacaca trials. We recognise the enormous strides that have been made in rebuilding the nation’s system of justice. We therefore urge the Rwandan Government to strive to protect the human rights of all its citizens through a legal system that is transparent and fair.
8.2.2 We urge the Human Rights Commission to establish and maintain a proper dialogue with human rights NGOs, recognising that an exchange of views can be invaluable for both sides, and thatRwanda’s friends around the world need to be reassured about the country’s commitment to democracy, human rights, and fostering an open society.
We also urge the Human Rights Commission to demonstrate its independence from government by questioning the suppression of constructive dissent and political opposition withinRwanda, and by pressing for the prosecution of those responsible for crimes against all parts of the community during and after the genocide.
We urge them to benefit from decades of trial and error inEuropeby examining existing European Union and British laws which guarantee human rights, and balance freedom of speech with the need to prevent ethnic hatred and discrimination.
8.2.3 We applaud the decision by the international community to provide funding to develop an infrastructure to provide HIV/AIDS treatment for women who were raped and infected during the genocide, however late it might be.
8.2.4 We commend President Kagame for agreeing to spearhead a public information campaign to educateRwanda’s men about HIV/AIDS and sexual health.
8.2.5 We applaud NGO’s such as World Relief for providing books appropriate for secondary schools.
8.2.6 We urge the Prosecutor General and the Ministry of Justice to bring to justice perpetrators of genocide from all parts of the community and to apply justice, and what is more, be seen to apply justice equally. We commend the work of the International War Crimes Tribunal in the formerYugoslaviain striving to hold to account members of all sections of the population who violated the human rights of others, and we believe their work should be of interest to the Rwandan Government in its attempts to bring true reconciliation toRwanda.
8.2.7 The central role of the church in promoting national cohesion, reconciliation, and a recognition of human dignity should both be recognised and encouraged. The courage of those who resisted the genocide should be celebrated and taught as an inspiration to others, and where the church failed, appropriate public admission should be made and lessons learnt.
As a priority, western churches should devote resources to helping the Rwandan church, and parish-to-parish, fellowship-fellowship relationships should be forged.
8.2.8 The Governor of Butare province told us that he would like to see Butare city to twin with a British city. Since an admirable proportion of the Rwandans we met are ardent supporters of Liverpool Football Club,Liverpoolwould make a good choice. Its association with Africa and its own suffering during World War II commend it but there are other obvious cities such asCoventry. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office might like to facilitate this request.
8.2.9 We commend the efforts by SURF and the Solace Ministries to compile an archive of testimony from genocide survivors, so long as they reflect the suffering and experiences of the whole community.
8.3.1 We encourage NGOs to actively promote African solutions toRwanda’s problems, pointing out African success stories and projects appropriate toRwanda. For instance we commend the Scripture Union of Zimbabwe’s primary school textbook, “Towards an Aids-free generation”. On women’s issues, we also urge that the success of projects run by African women should be a model for initiatives inRwanda. For instance we commend the work of Dr Phylista Onyango inNairobias a model to create self-help commercial initiatives.
8.3.2 We commend to Dfid the application of the women’s organisation MOGAR, whose President is Josephine Irene Uwarmariya of the proposed project to redress and prevent acts of sexual gender violence.
Child born inside Nyanza Prison
8.3.3 We applaud the Rwandan Government for making primary education free to all. We urge the international community to direct its resources to programmes aimed at providing free education, books and uniforms toRwanda’s orphans. We believe this would remove a great financial burden from overstretched NGOs and church groups struggling to provide for orphans.
8.3.4 We applaud the enthusiasm of the Rwandan Government for cultivating computer literacy. We urge the international community to focus its programmes on supporting and enhancing the teaching of information technology to both children and adults inRwanda.
8.3.5 We recognise that the genocide and the fast rate of population growth have placed great burdens on the Rwandan education system. The decision to make primary education free has meant that classes of 30 have grown to 200. We urge the international community to direct its aid at programmes for training many more teachers, retraining existing teachers, and enhancing the quality of education.
8.3.6 We recognise that the medical profession was decimated in the genocide and we urge the international community to prioritise programmes aimed at training new doctors and retraining existing medical professions to prepare for the challenges of a rapidly growing population, HIV/AIDS etc.
8.3.7 We recommend that World Relief incorporates the cost of printing “Towards an Aids-Free generation” into the current PEFFAR programme, so that every schoolchild inRwandamay receive a copy; and that the proposal for a children’s AIDS hospice inRwandaand the development of palliative care be made an urgent priority.
8.3.8 We welcome the Rwandan Government’s commitment to provide AIDS treatment to street children, and we will be recommending to Jubilee Action that they support the work of the Catholic and Episcopal Bishops of Butare in relation to their work with street children and commercial sex workers.
8.3.9 We recommend Jubilee Action responds practically to assist the orphans of genocide by supporting education, health, housing and IT projects; in addition should continue to promote dialogue internally inRwandaand externally in the DRC.
9.1 We re-iterate our enormous gratitude to our hosts and for their commitment in facilitating our visit and in patiently answering our inquiries.
9.2 We were visiting the country just after Rwandahad commemorated the 10th Anniversary of the genocide.
9.3 At many of the sites where the killings occurred, we saw the words “Never Again”.
David Alton with the first child of an orphan at the Peace Village
9.4 Rwandan people need to forgive one another, if the country is to be healed and enabled to move on, and if such shocking events are not to be repeated in a future bloodbath. ButRwanda should never be asked to simply “Forgive and Forget”. Rwanda does need to forgive but it must also remember. The international community also needs to remember.
9.5 If we learn nothing from our failure to prevent the deaths of 800,000 people – and from what we saw in DRC and later inDarfurthat seems to be the case – it truly will be unforgivable. It would also make a mockery of the cry of the dead that such crimes against humanity should never be allowed to happen again.
10.0 Contact Information
Tel 00 44 1483 894 787 Fax 00 44 1483 894 797 www.jubileeaction.co.uk