Friends of Evil (Chapter 9) Other initiatives of Rwandans living in Exile

Posted: August 28, 2013 in Book
Tags: , , , , ,

Now that we have taken a first look at the complicity of Northern NGOs in the efforts of Rwandan NGOs to deny the Tutsi genocide, let us examine the various initiatives of the group RWANDAN CIVIL SOCIETY IN EXILE (SCRE) towards the same end. Here again, logic impels us to begin with what was happening in Europe. We will then go on to what was done in Zaïre and elsewhere in Africa.

Prior to this however, an important question must be clarified. How does the Rwandan civil society group “SCRE” introduce itself?

The SCRE signed its charter on January 14, 1995 and elected the members of its general coordination office on January 28, 1995 in Mugunga camp in Goma in North Kivu, Republic of Zaïre. The members of the bureau were: Monsignor Simon HABYARIMANA (President)[1], Immaculée NYIRABIZEYIMANA (Vice-President)[2], Anastase RWARAHOZE (Vice-President), Isaac KILIMWABO (Vice-President), Jean Baptiste HATEGEKIMANA[3] (Secretary), and Afzal Khan MOHAMED (Treasurer).

The SCRE announced its objectives as follows: to defend the interests of Rwandan refugees by making their cause heard, promoting and maintaining solidarity between Rwandan refugees, promoting the conditions of security and well-being of the refugees, acting as the link between the Rwandan refugee community and those living inside Rwanda on the one hand, and the international community on the other, examining with all concerned all the obstacles in the problem of the return of refugees to Rwanda and the building of lasting peace.

The SCRE was composed of eight subdivisions, with one coordination bureau each. Six sections were in Zaire: Mugunga, Kibumba, Katale, Kahindo, Lac-vert and Bukavu. A Kenyan section was represented by an Anglican Bishop, Augustin NSHAMIHIGO who lived in Nairobi, and Tanzanian section was represented by another Anglican Bishop Augustin MVUNABANDI, and who was in the refugee camp in Ngara, Tanzania.

While NCOS and EUROSTEP were organising their aforesaid May-June 1994 mission in the Great Lakes region, with Van Hoof and Godfroid as envoys, another meeting of Rwandan civilians was being held at Froidmont (Belgium) on May 20-21, 1994.[4] This meeting was not the first of its kind; it was a follow up of another one held on May 12, 1994 in Brussels, which had called for further meetings to be held often, to “carry out objective analyses of the problems and the “illness” of the country”.[5]

This May 21 meeting in Froidmont brought together Rwandan civilians from various political leanings and non-Rwandans working with European NGOs who had lived in Rwanda, including prominent ones like Mayer Graaf of Switzerland, Dominique Lessaffre, Bernard Taillefer of France and Hugues Dupriez of Belgium. The majority of participants, however, were from “Hutu power circles.” The purpose of this meeting was, “to identify areas of agreement capable of helping to find a solution to the tragedy the country was currently going through, point out areas of disagreement which could be discussed at a later date, strengthen ideas or positions of the Rwandan civil society, give room for voices other than those of guns in the settlement of the conflict and the search of lasting peace in Rwanda”.

Having identified the various problems of the Rwandan society which had plunged the country into the genocide and massacres, the participants aired their views and ideas about the most important points which had always characterized the history of Rwanda: ethnicity and regionalism; the regional and international geopolitical context; socio-economic problems; extreme poverty and population density; the State, dictatorship and fear; political parties, responsibilities in the genocide and the massacres, and civil society.

The participants in this meeting expressed themselves on these points, each one according to his political leanings, and their views agreed on a number of points, particularly on ethnicity and regionalism. On this point, the participants proposed “putting in place transparent rules of the game governing the access to and change of power and the mechanisms of power control, promoting the democratic culture by educating the Rwandan people who are currently under the grip of intoxication regarding the problem of ethnicity and regionalism”[6]

With regard to democracy, the meeting unanimously deplored that democracy had never been able to flourish in Rwanda and that fear stemming from dictatorship had instead been established. The participants felt that “the State has always been a dictatorship which has not worked for the public good. The International Community has never discouraged this state of affairs. Dictatorial regimes generate mechanisms which cause fear. The people of Rwanda fear that one dictatorship is replaced by another. As for a true and free civil society, it simply does not exist. The Froidmont meeting wants to revive a genuine civil society, and this revival should be translated in the establishment of a national commission of inquiry which is independent from the current political powers”[7]

Views also differed, especially with regard to the problem of genocide and massacres. Concerning responsibilities in the genocide and massacres, the Froidmont meeting “condemned the political massacres and the genocides committed in Rwanda since the beginning of the war (…), demanded the setting up of an international commission to bring to the surface all the responsibilities of the massacres and (…) that the actors of these deeds should be tried and punished.”

It is important to note that at this meeting, the minutes of the meeting condemn not the genocide, but the GENOCIDES (in plural). This was done deliberately: the meeting linked these so-called genocides to the beginning of the October 1990 war and called for the establishment of an international commission to try the actors of the conflicting parties, since the RPF, according to them, had also committed genocide and massacres. The participants of the Froidmont meeting felt that little or nothing at all was being said about the genocide and massacres allegedly committed by the RPF.

It is not surprising that the Froidmont meeting had some similarities with the NCOS mission in the Great Lakes region mentioned earlier. In fact, their aims overlapped: both appealed to the international community to intervene and put sufficient pressure to stop the war and the massacres, and to bring the parties to resume dialogue and negotiations for the formation of a transitional government which should give a say back to the ‘Rwandan people’. These were the cherished ideas of François Nzabahimana, who knew about the NCOS mission, but who also attended the Froidmont meeting and whose role in revisionism is very significant.

Nzabahimana developed these theses and disseminated them through a group called Comité Rwandais d’Action pour la Démocratie (CRAD) or Rwanda Action Committee for Democracy. In a document entitled “Propositions sur la situation au Rwanda” dated June 17, 1994, Nzabahimana analysed the Rwandan crisis in his own way and came up with his own solutions. He writes about the causes of the crisis, the behaviour of Belgium and other powers such as the United States, Great Britain and France. His thesis on the causes of the crisis is well known. It is the RPF attack of October 1, 1990: “the situation of poverty, anxiety, abandonment which the population has been experiencing since October 1, 1990, when the RPF first attacked the country, sending a million people into internal displacement, the fear of the Hutu seeing Tutsis (the RPF) take power.” These are allegedly the indirect cause of the genocide; thereafter, “the death of Habyarimana, the vacuum left by this death and the lack of a clear position and rapid response of the International Community”[8] are the immediate causes which led to the genocide, which Nzabahimana does not admit it happened.

Nzabahimana tried to justify the anti-Belgium campaign before and during the genocide, though in the past, Belgium had been “Rwanda’s first and most important partner in the economic, social and political aspects”.

According to Nzabahimana, it was from the date RPF attacked on October 1, 1990, that Belgium began misbehaving, by refusing to arm the Habyarimana Government. This refusal was seen by Nzabahimana and by the ‘Rwanda people’ as Belgium being sympathetic to the RPF.

This, also, justified the animosity of the genocide perpetrators towards Belgians, hence the killing of the Belgian peacekeepers. Nzabahimana also accused countries such as Great Britain and the United States for having done little to find a solution to the problem of Rwanda.

His views about the solution of the problem of Rwanda revolve around points to which he always makes reference in his documents, and which we have found both in the Froidmont meeting and in the general conclusions of Van Hoof and Godfroid NCOS mission. These are: the people of Rwanda were abandoned in the hands of the RPF by the international community; the perpetrators must be identified, tried and punished; there is need for a rapid, resolute and strong intervention (pressure) of the international community to bring the war to an end; and a new Constitution should be drafted, supported by a process of normalisation leading to elections.

An important document in which Nzabahimana officially addresses “the conditions for the return of the refugees” bears the title “Quelques préalables au retour des déplacés de guerre”. This is in fact a report of a meeting held in Namur (Belgium) on July 30, 1994. This meeting was attended by Rwandans living in France, Belgium and Germany and was organised by CRAD with Nzabahimana as its chairman. The theme of the meeting was “Refusal of the military solution imposed on the people of Rwanda.”[9]

In this declaration, Nzabahimana’s cherished topics emerge: the RPF took power by arms and the war it prosecuted against the people of Rwanda over the last four years was the cause of the people’s flight; the RPF is responsible for the massacres before and after April 6, 1994 and for the exodus of Hutus who were afraid of its cruel methods; the thesis of double genocide is reiterated. The declaration maintains, in fact, that “everybody killed both FAR and RPF; Hutus and Tutsis are equally bad,” and “rejects the assertion that all the Hutus are killers.”[10]

According to Emmanuel Havugimana, the author of the article “the moderate has little chance to succeed”, a Hutu CDR or a Tutsi CDR are all the same. In addition “all MNRD members are not killers”. See also Dialogue N°187, December 1995, (p.73). In the same issue, a Belgian Catholic priest and White Father, Guy Theunis advertises “Radio Agatashya”, (p.172). Again, it was in this same issue that Dialogue announced the publication of its three issues of “Revue de presse rwandaise”.

It is remarkable and shocking, to see that Dialogue continues to advertise Kangura (Revue de Presse Rwandaise n° 20), closing its eyes to the role of this newspaper in the genocide of the Tutsi. It is in this issue that we find the extract of the homily of Pope Jean Paul II delivered in Nairobi on 19 September 1995.   His message to the people of Rwanda (and Burundi) called for reconciliation and forgiveness, urged particularly the refugees of these two countries to persevere, and pledged his help in order to lighten their cross.  The Pope did not utter a word on the genocide, be it on the survivors of this cataclysm or on those who planned and committed it. (p.126)

The Namur document, started by identifying the reasons which made the refugees flee from their country—the fear of RPF and the war it launched. It emphasises that ‘the people’ ran away from the RPF because they knew its atrocities and did not want to relive the experiences of October 1990, February 1993 and of course, April 1994. The document claims that, barbaric actions, by the RPF, against the civilian population and the massive displacement of the people, were part of its strategy.  The International Community, it says, was made hostage by RPF propaganda and did not listen to some Rwandans because they were against RPF and were considered as extremists; it should accept the restoration of the truth. (p. 1)

The document accuses the Government of Kigali, described as “the RPF government”, of not complying with the Arusha Agreements and of using then instead as “a stepping stone and a smokescreen for international opinion”.(p. 3) It accuses the RPF of modifying these Agreements to its whims and of holding several offices concurrently. It urges the international community to not recognize the “RPF Government”, and claims that “the people” do not identify themselves with this new government. (Ibid p. 4)

The July 30, 1994 Namur document sets out the following conditions for the return of refugees. The RPF must stop making lists of genocide perpetrators. It must release the illegally occupied properties of the refugees. It must reassure the population by appointing Hutus in the Ministry of Rehabilitation. It must remove “foreign mercenaries” from the army before forming a truly national unity army. The RPF must stop acting as a judge, because it is also a defendant; the right of trying the perpetrators of the massacres should be left to the international community. Those responsible for the attack against the plane of President Habyarimana (read, RPF members) should be identified, for they are the real cause of the massacres. In short, “there is need for political action leading to the establishment of a government of genuine National Unity which must be negotiated and be representative of the population.”(p. 5) Note that at no single time does Nzabahimana speak of “the genocide against the Tutsi.” He prefers to refer to “the massacres of Tutsis and Hutus.”

DIALOGUE and International pressure

One cannot speak of the actions of the Rwandan Civil Society in Europe without mentioning the role of the non-profit making association DIALOGUE[11], and the journal bearing the same name. The themes of genocide denial by Nzabahimana and his colleagues are echoed by the journal, DIALOGUE. For a long time, Nzabahimana was a member of its editorial committee. During the genocide, he was made the chairman of the Executive Committee of ASBL DIALOGUE.

DIALOGUE journal began publishing in Belgium after July 1994. The issues of this journal were on sale at the head office of NCOS. Since then, DIALOGUE published in Belgium has become a systematic critic of the RPF and the Kigali government, as well as the mouthpiece of the genocide perpetrators and revisionists, initially NZABAHIMANA being their team leader.

Nzabahimana devoted all his energies to the defence of the rights of the of the genocide perpetrators who lived in refugee camps in Zaire. Determined to deny the genocide against the Tutsi, Nzabahimana ignores what happened in Rwanda from April 6, 1994 which was rightly qualified by the United Nations as “Genocide”, and prefers to systematically remain evasive, and talk instead of “the events which shook the country.”

There are other people who have coined inappropriate terms and expressions to refer to the Rwandan genocide. For instance, Robert Kajuga, the President of Interahamwe, says in, speaking to Le Monde newspaper: “Everything was spontaneous. The population defended itself when the rebels from the Rwandese Patriotic Front attacked. It was not savagery, it was war[12]

For the Editors of DIALOGUE No. 175, there is no question of genocide but rather of “the greatest massacres in the history of Rwanda”. This issue was due to come out in April 1994, but came out only in November 1994 “for well known reasons”, as the editor puts it. Why not simply say, “because of the genocide against the Tutsi which started on 6 April 1994?” But we know the answer: the journal could not address this issue honestly, even though it liked to call for “objectivity and honesty in political information.” Quite strange!

In the DIALOGUE No 177, in an editorial by Nzabahimana focused on humanitarian aid and the return of the refugees, the genocide is systematically elided, with references to “the massacres of April” or “tragedy” or “war”, and “collective hatred”.[13] And there is total confusion when he even adds cholera!! (DIALOGUE No. 179 November-December, Editorial).

DIALOGUE No. 179 devoted to “Issues of concern in Rwanda,”[14] was full of confusion deliberately sowed by the editorial staff, of which Nzabahimana was well aware since he was a member of the editorial committee. The editorial knowingly avoided talking of “Tutsis” killed in the genocide and used the terms just mentioned above. Very subtly, the word “survivors” was applied not to the very few Tutsis who survived the genocide, but to “those who today are victims of unspeakable vengeance and reprisals”!! Given the context of the defeat of the genocidaires, and his own sympathies, Nzabahimana was clearly reserving the term “survivors” for—Hutus.

The editorial of DIALOGUE issue No. 179 set out to prove that there had been two genocides in Rwanda, and that the real culprit in these two genocides was the RPF. In this connection, it stated on […] “One cannot understand the present without knowing the past, without recognizing that the genocide has a history behind it and that RPF is part of this history.” (p. 2)

The editorial’s author (i.e. the Editorial Committee) strove to argue that it was wrong “to classify all the Hutus as the killers and the Tutsi as the victims of the genocide; the former government as embodying the genocide and dictatorship and RPF as the saviour of the country and democracy”. In the opinion of DIALOGUE[15], both are killers and both are victims.

The other cherished theme of the Editorial of DIALOGUE was “dialogue”, a precondition for avoiding a new war. This dialogue was to be between the RPF and “the representatives of the majority of the population”. In his article “Sujets d’inquiétude au Rwanda” of October 1994, a Belgian Filip REYNTJENS also raised the issue of dialogue. He expressed his pessimism with regard to the stability of the country in which “can be seen as the outlines of some worrying and potentially destabilising trends”.

Reyntjens mentioned the insecurity created mainly by the RPA, injustice, the return of old refugees and the unlawful occupation of the properties of the new refugees, disappearances, massacres and assassinations by the RPA, detentions which he compared to those meted out to Ibyitso (accomplices of RPF) in 1990.

According to REYNTJENS, the current government, identified as “the RPF” should hold a dialogue with the moderates among the politicians in exile; otherwise there was the danger that Rwanda would be involved in another war. This prediction of a new war was put forward as a way of putting pressure on the Kigali Government of National Unity, so that it would negotiate with those who planned and executed the genocide in Rwanda and then fled to Zaire and to other countries supporting them.

In the same issue of DIALOGUE, a man called Charles BAKUNDAKWITA reiterates the responsibility of RPF in the genocide against the Tutsi. He writes on page 16: “When it started the war, RPF knew quite well that it was making the Tutsi living inside the country hostages who, wrongly or rightly, were considered as its accomplices”.

Bakundakwita continues by accusing RPF of having knowingly “infiltrated Interahamwe militia in order to incite them to commit much more atrocities and make particularly their hideous crimes more visible”.

With regard to international pressure, Jean Pierre Godding, a Caritas (Goma) volunteer, also wrote an article in Issue No 179 of DIALOGUE in the same vein. This Belgian had only one concern: the insecurity prevailing in the refugee camps in Goma. But quite astonishingly, he did not want to recognize the cause of this insecurity, namely the will of the militia and the soldiers to hold the population hostage. Godding instead blamed UNHCR for having failed to organise the camps and the NGOs for having failed to do their work, resulting in the refugees dying of hunger and scorning the refugee agency. In his report, Godding proposed voluntary return of the refugees, and for this to happen, he called for NGOs to put pressure on both parties “so that meetings are made possible, negotiations are launched and a way to return is finally found.” (p. 24)

The same concerns are found in another document by the same Godding, dated January 14, 1995, but with only one new element: the possibility of a new war if there were no dialogue. “[…] if both parties continue to refuse to meet, if the refugees continue to feel abandoned, if the new authorities talk of “winners” and “losers”, there is the risk of new militias being formed, hatred and vengeance will prevail in a group which will feel desperate and war will resume.”[16]

In the Editorial of DIALOGUE Issue No183 of May-June 1995, François Nzabahimana finally gets around to recalling the memory of certain members of DIALOGUE and of the Editorial Committee of DIALOGUE who were no longer alive: François Funga, Director of the Journal, Emmanual Bahigiki, Treasurer of the Executive Committee, Jean-Baptiste Ngirabacu, member of the Editorial Committee, André Kameya and others. However, Nzabahimana does not say how they died, but simply that they were killed during the “events which happened in Rwanda”. Shouldn’t the readers of DIALOGUE be told, straightforwardly, that these were killed during the 1994 genocide? One would think that they died of a natural catastrophe like earthquake, floods, etc!

In addition to glossing over the genocide, DIALOGUE tries to find a way of establishing a moral and strategic equivalence between the perpetrators and those who combated and ended the genocide. For example, former Prime Minister Dr. Dismas Nsengiyaremye, in an article entitled “What is to be done to get Rwanda out of impasse” does not see any difference between the actions of the MRND-CDR and those of the RPF. Both were killers and both trampled human rights in the same way: “the MRND-CDR duo is not the only one to trample on human rights. The other political military bloc, the RPF, is striving to equal it in massacres and other crimes”. […][17]

Quoting “Le Nouveau Quotidien” of Lausane-Switzerland, in its issue of July 25, 1994, he writes: “while the refugees are dying in Goma, RPF is clearing the capital Kigali. Disappearances, summary executions, night infiltrations in hospitals (…) contrary to what it pledges, RPF is carrying out acts of vengeance with the greatest discretion and sorts out systematically suspects.”

He concludes: “RPF’s behaviour is curiously reminiscent of that of MRND in the past: both of them act under the logic of absolute and sole power which is acquired and kept by force and terror even if it means driving the whole population out of the country as a result of continuous killings and forced exile.”

Laurien Ntezimana from “Service d’Animation Théologique de Butare” shared the same view in the same issue of DIALOGUE. He calls this “falling from Scylla into Charybdis”, i.e. “avoiding one danger and falling in a similar one” (p. 61) He found similarities between the systems of the Interahamwe and the Inkotanyi. According to him, they resemble each other and apply “the same forces of depravity of humankind of fear, greed and conceit” (p.62). Neither of the two can bring any positive change to Rwanda and to Rwandans. It is replacing one dictator by another dictator.

As far as Ntezimana is concerned, the Interahamwe killed the Tutsi (he does not mention the word genocide) and looted the country, and the RPF-Inkotanyi did the same, if not worse. In fact, he wrote: “massacres mainly during the lightning advance, serial killings after the victory, “mysterious” disappearances today, this is what made the majority of the population tremble. Without mentioning that all soldiers from both sides and both periods are alike—behind these crimes, there is a whole climate of terror which continues.”

In Ntezimana’s view, “Those who were not supposed to die” (Hutu) are in fact at the mercy of “those who were supposed to die” (Tutsi) and who escaped miraculously. It is enough that “somebody who was supposed to die ” points a  finger (gutunga agatoki) at “somebody who was not supposed to die alleging that he has participated in the massacres or looting for the latter to be automatically arrested and killed (formerly) or imprisoned (currently) without any trial. One wonders how those who fled will come back if anyone who shows up is punished before he is tried” (Ibid p.63). There is not only a double genocide but also a double looting of the country. Interahamwe and Inkotanyi “are all the same.”

Ntezimana even calls the latter “vultures”, who not only loot but also kill to take the properties of the Hutu: “Add to these those who disappear because of claiming back their properties –some are killed or ordered to be killed in order to take their vehicles or their houses for good – if then these are added to those, without forgetting the numerous scores being settled for other reasons (old quarrels, old hatreds which finally find an appropriate context to vent out or get satisfied) then one gets more or less a correct idea of the climate of fear which prevails currently in the country of a thousand horrors and a thousand mercies.” (Ibid p. 63)

DIALOGUE also featured preaching on the theme of double genocide on the part of the church leaders, including Father Michel Donnet, a “Fidei Donum” priest of the Diocese of Tournoi.[18] The main concern for him is not the genocide against the Tutsi, but rather the “demonization” of the Hutu as genocide perpetrators and the silence about the massacres organised by the RPF, which too often are presented as “blunders” or “loss of control.”

The Rwandan priest Venuste Linguyeneza who lives in Belgium is another revisionist who writes often in the DIALOGUE journal. In his numerous articles, Linguyeneza also asserts that: a “single genocide, hides another, because the wrath behind the genocide against the Tutsi gave rise to the wrath which caused the acts of genocide against the Hutu”.[19] Linguyeneza continues further on: “Rwandans were killed, the Tutsi Bagogwe, the Tutsi from Bugesera and elsewhere, and the Hutu of Byumba, Ruhengeri and everywhere else where passed the RPF and this continues. On one side, people agree to talk of genocide, but what about the other side. Was it simply a news item?”[20]

Linguyeneza is only one of several Hutu priests who used the DIALOGUE journal to defend and disseminate revisionist ideas.  Mention can also be made of Father Juvenal Rutumbu of Ruhengeri diocese, a refugee in France, who wrote extensively in various issues of DIALOGUE, attacking virulently the Tutsi and the RPF on whom he heaps the responsibility of all the ills of Rwanda, including genocide.

Reacting to the “Confession of Detmold” (Germany) from 7 to 12 December 1996, Nkiko Nsengimana felt that “As analysed in its logic, the confession seems imbalanced. The death of very many Hutu exceeds by far the context of vengeance and blind suppression in which you are placing it. These are crimes against humanity which have been carefully ordered by some army commanders of RPF. Don’t forget the people of Byumba who suffered a heavy toll in the war since October 1990 and from 7 April 1994. While no Tutsis had been killed in their area, with the exception of the commune of Murambi, they died by tens of thousands of gunshots and grenades in schools, in places of worship or in any other places where they were gathered […]. For the people of Byumba, when we talk of and condemn the genocide, they genuinely think that it is the genocide against the Hutu committed by the soldiers of the RPF army. In fact, these are the only massacres which they experienced. Talking of isolated acts of vengeance when people have disappeared in such big numbers could be construed as being also criminal.”[21]

In short, every editorial of DIALOGUE written in Brussels was deeply revisionist. The examples cited above are not exhaustive; they were selected from many others, with priority going to those which appeared in the first few months after the genocide against the Tutsi. They demonstrate the extent to which the DIALOGUE journal in Brussels was and continues to be attached to the Hutu genocide ideology, with an incredible loyalty to the government which committed the genocide.

The journal claims a deep commitment to human rights, but displays remarkably little concern for the rights of the victims, survivors and opponents of the genocide against the Tutsi.

2. In KIVU and elsewhere in Africa

Let us now return to François Nzabahimana and his report on his mission to Goma and Bukavu on August 29, 1994, on behalf of the Rwandan Committee of Action for Democracy (CRAD), entitled “Rwanda or Political urgency.” Here too, Nzabahimana talks of “genocides” in the plural, but this time, he adds an alleged genocide against the Batwa!! “GENOCIDES were committed, the country was destroyed. There was the degeneration of a people”. [22]

On this basis Nzabahimana urges that it is first necessary to establish who is responsible for the Rwandan conflict: “The search for the truth is the only thing that can bring about some compensation. No politician, no political party, no country, no matter how strong should be spared. Only the truth will bring back the political, economic, social and religious life.”[23]

Nzabahimana demands first and foremost, that the RPF be held accountable, then the United Nations, Belgium and finally the United States. He finds the responsibility of these actors to be clear, but that of the Government which prepared the genocide of the Tutsi is yet to be proved. Nonetheless, Nzabahimana is convinced that “everybody killed: members of FAR, RPF, political parties’ militia, RPF squads and Hutu and Tutsi.”[24]

It is difficult to imagine that a person like Nzabahimana does not know the definition of the word “genocide”; according to him, everybody planned the extermination of everybody else. Here we have a champion of revisionism, indeed.

Having denied the genocide, Nzabahimana focuses again on the issue closer to his heart: the situation of the refugees in the camps. He accuses the international community of having abandoned a people who are the victims of RPF and who are branded by RPF as “killers when the accountability in fact lies elsewhere.”[25] Where? Again with the RPF, and the international community: “Every day, thousands of people die in the camps, there is total human degeneration—the relations with humanitarian aid bodies are tense, often full of hatred and dangerous, there is the impression that these institutions are biased in favour of RPF, the people have the impression that the international community has taken them hostage.”[26]

The message sent by Nzabahimana is easy to understand and without ambiguity: “The refugees cannot return to Rwanda because of fear of the RPF; they fear also that accountability may not be correctly established, that those who are the true culprits may go unpunished and that, as a result, the war may start all over again.”[27] Here, Nzabahimana implies that the refugees will not go back as long as the RPF is ruling alone. In any case, the people are not in a hurry to go back in these conditions: “the RPF will have to wait for 5 years.”[28] In his view, it is therefore necessary that accountability be established, particularly that of the RPF for starting a war in October, 1990: “for many people in Bukavu and Goma, that is when their misery started and the RPF will always be held responsible.”[29]

Nzabahimana accuses the RPF of murders and massacres before 6 April 1994, and of the massacres of Hutu intellectuals and politicians between April 6 and April 9, 1994. He even accuses the RPF of being responsible for the death of some Tutsi. What cynicism! He then accuses the UN which, according to him, was an accomplice of the RPF for not having condemned its acts and murders. He accuses Uganda and Burundi; he accuses Agathe Uwilingiyimana.

According to him, it is as if Agathe Uwilingiyimana deserved to be killed, and the Belgian peacekeepers died very stupidly. He accuses virtually everybody—except for those who were responsible for the genocide!

Nzabahimana concludes by saying that all these accusations were the facts gathered from “reliable people in Bukavu and Goma,” including employees and leaders of NGOs, members of cooperatives, religious people, peasants, etc… In reply to the question: “what should be done for the refugees to return?”

He claims they unanimously replied that it was necessary “to quickly bring out the truth and the responsibilities, put in place a government recognized by the population which excludes those who were responsible for the massacres from both sides, the people choosing their leaders, trying those guilty of the massacres by an international tribunal, countries which have the trust of the population to be entrusted with military security.”[30]

Annexed to Nzabahimana’s report was a Goma declaration August 24, 1994 of a “Commission de la Société Civile Rwandaise Exilée au Nord-Kivu pour un retour rapide, collectif et organisé au pays.” (Commission of Rwandan Civil Society exiled in North Kivu for a quick, Collective and organised return home)

According to this Commission, the Hutu chose to run away from the RPF because they had experienced massacres by the RPF since 1990. They feared the tyrannical rule and the revenge of the RPF, as well as the reprisals of soldiers whose kin were killed; they feared the insecurity inside the country and human rights violations; they feared a self-imposed government from outside, an ideological inquisition, etc.[31]

The Commission spelled out the conditions for the return of the refugees: an equitable sharing of power between Hutu and Tutsi, security (total demilitarization of the country, recovery of properties, putting a stop to statements which sow fear and vengeance, abolishing lists of alleged genocide perpetrators and ceasing to make new lists, and giving dignified and official burials to the people who died since October 1, 1994, including President Habyarimana.[32]

As stated earlier, the leitmotiv of NGOs from the North and those based in Zaire was the need for a negotiated return of the refugees. To pursue this objective, a meeting was organized in Bukavu with the head of ACT, a Flemish Democrat Christian NGO, and the PPE Group Foundation. The meeting was attended by, of course, François Nzabahimana, as chairman of the Rwanda Action Committee for Democracy (CRAD), Paul Mbaraga (then a journalist with Deutsche Welle) and Samuel Hitimana (delegate from MDR, Belgium section). There were also Europeans such as Bernard STASI, vice- president of the Development and Cooperation Commission of the  European Parliament, Rika DE BACKER, former CVP Minister and ACT Chairman, and Alain DE BROUWER, Advisor in charge of Africa at the l’Internationale Démocrate Chrétienne (IDC). The objective of the meeting was to “listen to the voice of Rwandan refugees, the bulk of the population, and support any initiative meant for the peaceful and safe return of the refugees.” [33]

According to accounts, allegedly collected by this delegation, the refugees unanimously maintained that they wanted to return, but return together, freely and in security, without any processing by the RPF.  In the delegation’s view, the prevailing fear of insecurity in Rwanda was the result of accounts told by those who attempted to return individually; the refugees do not recognize the genocide of Tutsi alone, but genocides.

They noted that Associations and NGOs were very active in Bukavu. They discussed the causes of and the solution of the Rwandan crisis. They felt that the solution lies in negotiations with the RPF. They expect much from partnership with European NGOs. The European members supported the decisions of the meeting, namely the Bukavu Charter (a series of ten conditions) for a quick and peaceful return of the refugees detailed below.

In addition, this Charter demanded the support of the International Community for the future organ representing refugees. This representation was no other than RDR (Rally for the Return and Democracy in Rwanda) and whose first president was François Nzabahimana himself. The ten (10) conditions were as follows:

  1. Establishment of a legitimate government of national unity, a National Assembly and one territorial administration which is representative of the people, in a Collective institutional framework between the RPF and the Rwandan community in exile, based on the Arusha Peace Accords;
  2. Formation of a national army based on the Arusha Accords (4th Protocol) ;
  3. Expanding the mandate of MINUAR II so that it may ensure internal security and oversee the formation of this national army and the establishment of a new law and order force nationally and locally (communal police) ;
  4. Establishment of an international tribunal outside the country for trying all war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the war from October 1, 1990;[34]
  5. Creation of a permanent body for the enforcement of the respect of human rights whose mandate and compositions should be accepted by both the RPF and the Rwandan community in exile;
  6. Establishment of an independent judicial system for identifying and trying offences outside the jurisdiction of the international tribunal. This can only be done after the formation of a legitimate government of national unity;
  7. Reactivating a genuine process of plural democracy in the spirit of the Arusha Accords ;
  8. Prompt return of occupied land and properties ;
  9. Stop to summary executions and to the institutionalisation of the spirit of vengeance inside the country and release of all political prisoners ;
  10. Rejection of the illegal lists of killers published by the combatants because they expose individuals to arbitrary judgements and even to summary executions locally or to the refusal of visas to travel abroad, and a stop to all publications and writings in the media which can be provocative”.

Finally, the Bukavu Charter made an urgent appeal to the international community to facilitate a quick dialogue:

  1. It asks the international Community to become involved for the fulfilment of the above mentioned conditions;
  2. It calls for the review of some of the negative attitudes towards the refugees based on the unilateral statements of RPF which lead to the embargos being imposed on the granting of visas, the restrictions of free movement of the refugees and the refusal to recognize their basic rights;
  3. It calls for the international community’s assistance in carrying out a census of the refugees in order to project the real size of the population in exile and improve the services they receive;
  4. It advocates for an immediate organisation of an international conference on the Rwandan refugees to which their representatives would be invited;
  5. It requests its support for the future structure representing refugees.

It should be noted at this juncture that the Bukavu meeting left open this urgent practical question because it wanted to recognize the on-going structuring exercise of the refugees’ communities and the “government in exile”. We should note also the still missing balance between the various partners, including the armed forces. Point 5 above is important: the needs of the refugees’ communities in terms of external communication are crucial: any follow up of the Bukavu agenda will have to bear on this point.[35]

Nzabahimana himself announced the results of this Bukavu meeting in the journal DIALOGUE, at the same time as he announced his resignation from the Editorial Committee of the journal:

“[…] I was also involved in other activities aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the Rwanda conflict. At the end of a meeting held in Zaire, the Rwandan community in exile established the Rally for the Return and Democracy in Rwanda (RDR). This organisation aims at ‘mobilizing all the Rwandans for the return of the refugees in dignity and to work towards the establishment of institutions which are representative of all the components of the population and guarantors of security and individual freedoms of every citizen”.[36]

Nzabahimana concludes his editorial and announcement of resignation by saying: “Having been elected President of this clearly political organisation, I have decided to resign from the Editorial Committee of DIALOGUE magazine”.

Nzabahimana was relying on the support of Alain De BROUWER; advisor in-charge of Africa at the IDC, for whom: “the Bukavu meeting has proved that in the camps, there were reasonable groups which were ready for a dialogue and that even the former interim government had carried out self-criticism and was able to restructure on new foundations […]. For the time being, there should be strengthening of links between European and Rwandan NGOs operating in the refugees’ camps: this is an essential factor for peace and the reconstruction of the social fabric.”[37]

In providing this support, De BROUWER was either being ignorant, naive, disingenuous or iniquitous. For him to say that he found in the camps reasonable people ready for dialogue, including Jean Kambanda, means that he did not know Kambanda was the prime minister of the “interim government” which had committed genocide against the Tutsi just a few months before. Or that he knew it, and was trying to free this government of guilt and present it as “converted”. When and how could they be converted while they never admitted the crimes they had committed by exterminating the Tutsi?

The Rwandan Civil Society in Exile in Kivu (Rwandan NGOs and Human Rights Associations) made several declarations in support of RDR agenda. The SCRE in South Kivu appealed for massive, voluntary and organised return of refugees. In its report dated September 5, 1995,[38] they described the exile “of more than half the population” as something caused by the October 1990 war. It maintained that the refugees wanted to return home but that the conditions were not favourable because of insecurity, injustice against the Hutu, occupation of properties, etc.

This report insists that the obstacles preventing the return of the refugees must be removed by the international community and the government in Kigali: before going back home, refugees were waiting for individual and collective security to be secured, that sound and equitable justice to be restored, that soldiers (the RPA) return to barracks, for a law and order force “in which everybody recognised himself” to be restored, and for the re-establishment of trust between Rwandans inside the country and  those in exile. The report also insists that all this was only possible if the international community facilitated dialogue between the Rwandan community in exile and the authorities in Kigali.

Another appeal to the international community was made in another report of the Civil Society in Exile through its President, Monsignor Habyarimana. During their meeting on December 11-14, 1995, they asked the international community to convince the authorities in Kigali to accept the return of the refugees, or else impose sanctions: an economic, diplomatic and military embargo. From the government in Kigali, they demanded security, respect for human rights and returning refugees’ properties.

Meanwhile, in its continued efforts to deny the genocide, the RDR was continuing to try to explain what it considered to be the cause of the Rwandan conflict.

On August 31, 1995, the RDR reaffirmed that the origin of the Rwandan conflict was of a political and ethnic nature, i.e. the struggle for power between the Hutu and the Tutsi. It blamed the RPF for having attacked Rwanda in October 1990 and of being responsible for “the deadly interethnic clashes and massacres of people in the two enemy camps”. We note here that the RDR is continuing in August 1995, to avoid use of the word “genocide”

The RDR accused the RPF of creating unrest in a peaceful and economically sound country in Africa: by attacking Rwanda, the RPF seized power forcefully and as a result, sent in exile millions of people who were now living in a precarious situation. The RDR insists that prior conditions must be met for the return of the refugees: security, stopping accusations against refugees as genocide perpetrators, disarming the RPA and FAR, negotiating with the refugees, a neutral international force, a commission of inquiry on the death of Habyarimana and Ntaryamira, a national army (composed of APR and FAR), power sharing, preparation of elections, etc.

This report was signed by Aloys Ngendahimana, who was the RDR’s Vice-President for Social Affairs. Ngendahimana was the Director General in the Ministry of Interior in the Habyarimana government that planned the genocide, and the secretary general in the “interim government” of Rwanda which supervised the genocide.

The following anecdote is indicative of the sympathy and moral support the RDR could hope for among European NGOs. On April 24, 1996, Sylvie SERVAES, a consultant with MISEREOR[39], visited the refugees at Mugunga. She is said to have told one military captain, Anastase Bizumuremyi of the FAR in Goma that she found the refugees in the camps happier that the people living in Rwanda whose faces looked gloomy.[40]

According to the report of their conversations, the refugees told Servaes that they had done no wrong to the Tutsi, but that it was rather the RPF that was the source of all the ills for the Hutu since its attack of Rwanda in 1990, killing about three million people.

She recognized that it was difficult for the West to know the real culprits, and noted that her mission was to help both communities to reconcile. But she confirmed that the concept of genocide was really a political tool, and that Europe wanted to help the Hutu but that it was waiting for them to do something. She hinted that Europe would like to help the leaders of the refugees, since the United States of America were on the side of RPF.

One has to wonder whether Sylvie Servaes was aware that the “leaders of the refugees” were genocide perpetrators!

A similar note was sounded a few months later when the Brussels journal, DIALOGUE published a July 3, 1996, open letter from Bishop MUNZIHIRWA, clearly a spokesperson of the Hutu, to the US Ambassador. The letter accused the big powers of supporting the minority (Tutsi), and warned that if nothing were done by these powers to resolve the question of refugees, neither Rwanda nor the Great Lakes region would see peace.

Also, in its journal, REVEIL, belonging to a refugee organisation called the League of Rwandan Women for the Defence of the Right to Life[41] accuses the RPF of not restoring justice. The league recognizes that justice had been paralysed by the war and the massacres, but still avoids the word genocide. The women’s league dwells on the issues of insecurity prevailing inside Rwanda, and alleging illegal arrests and detentions.

The League maintains that only a few women took part in the “massacres”, again avoiding the word genocide. (It either did not know what women did during the genocide, or, else it was ashamed of recognizing it. In reality women did a lot of harm, particularly to other women and children.) The League points the finger at the RPF of deliberately preventing the justice system from functioning and of rejecting foreign lawyers in order to delay trials.

It defends the imprisoned nuns whom they consider innocent and claims in general terms that “priests and nuns are detained without evidence.” In fact, among the first people to be convicted of genocide by Belgian courts, were two Benedictine Nuns, Kizito and Mukangango. A catholic priest Anastase Seromba was convicted and got a life sentence from the ICTR.

Once established, the RDR acted as if it were part of the SCRE. Among its numerous statements, special mention should be made of its letter to the Secretary General of Amnesty International written from Nairobi on August 28, 1995, and signed by Chris Nzabandora, entitled “Call for vigilance in favour of the Rwandan refugees expelled from Zaire”. Here the RDR claimed, that the 15,000 refugees ‘expelled’ from Zaire August 19-24, 1995, were threatened by the RPA, and need the protection of Amnesty International to escape the fate of those who had taken refuge at Kibeho and whose camps were demolished. In this letter the RDR accused the UN of being responsible for this because it had lifted the arms embargo imposed on Rwanda.

In the same letter, the RDR also claimed that, the refugees, traumatized by the war, did not want to return to their country. It was useless to force them to go back since it would be “to throw them in the hands of RPF from whom they had run away”. A few lines further, the RDR contradicts itself by saying that “many refugees continue to return”! It then reverts to the reasons which prevent the refugees from returning home: ill-treatment in the prisons in Rwanda; lack of judicial institutions even though money is spent on weapons; and that the RPF cannot deliver justice since it also had blood on its hands.[42]

On the same date, August 28, 1995, the office of the powerless Prime Minister Kambanda of the genocidal interim government in Bukavu issued a press release in which it vigorously condemned “the atrocities meted out on the refugees expelled from the camps in Zaire”. It blamed these atrocities on the UN Security Council and the international community for having done nothing to facilitate the voluntary return of the refugees.

On September 2, 1995, in Bukavu, Kambanda’s  office also issued a “Memorandum on the conditions for the return of Rwandan refugees to their country,” signed by Kambanda and addressed to Mrs SADAKO OGATA, High Commissioner of UNHCR who was visiting the region. Kambanda called upon the High Commissioner for a quick and fair settlement of the Rwandan problem.

He explained the major problems faced by Rwandan refugees in the camps and the conditions for a final solution to the Rwandan conflict or at least, alternative solutions to the forced repatriation carried out earlier by the Zairian government. Kambanda defined the causes of the refugee crisis as: the death of Habyarimana on April 6, 1994, and the immediate resumption of hostilities by the RPF, the result of which was the exodus of “more than half the population” of Rwanda. And this was the cause of food shortages and the inertia of agriculture in Rwanda.

Kambanda denounced some States for ignoring the principle of the presumption of innocence of detained people denounced by the RPF, which itself stood accused and could not be judge and jury at the same time. His conditions for a final solution of the Rwandan conflict were the same as those set by the RDR.

Regarding alternative solutions to forced repatriation, Kambanda asked that the UNHCR find other countries of asylum, or create protected humanitarian zones in Rwanda itself: he proposed the prefectures of Cyangugu, Kibuye and Gisenyi for the refugees in Zaire, and Kibungo for those in Tanzania, Butare, Gikongoro, South Gitarama and Kigali rural for those in Burundi.

From these zones, Kambanda said, the refugees would go back to their properties under the watchful supervision of the international community, and await the organisation of an International Conference on Rwanda with a view to a lasting settlement of the conflict.

Could it be that Kambanda hoped the UNHCR would recreate something similar to the French-controlled “Zone Turquoise” i.e. a safe area for genocide perpetrators? Kambanda of course, said not a word to Ogata on the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and his own role in it—the realities which would see him convicted in 1998 to life in prison for genocide by the UN-ICTR.

In general, the above mentioned memoranda, namely those of  the Rwandan civil society in exile; the RDR, the Rwanda Protestant Churches settled in South Kivu, the Rwandan Catholic Community working for the refugees in the Archdiocese of Bukavu (which were for the most part the same presentations made during the visit of Mrs SADAKO OGATA, all had one point in common: they pretended to be working hand in hand to find a solution to the Rwandan problem, “based on the truth, honesty, justice and reconciliation.”

It is regrettable that in their explanations, all of these memoranda without exception, denounced only the RPF and the Government in Kigali, and failed completely to recognize the crimes committed by the genocide perpetrators. The basis of their message, therefore, is other than the honest truth, which makes it hard to believe that their interest in justice and reconciliation was genuine.

In  Goma, on August 4 – 9, 1995, there was  a meeting of FAR’s high command to assess the progress of the RDR, worldwide and their activities report had among other things publications, including the one in Cameroon. It was well received by the FAR in Zaire.[43]

This “inventiveness” of the RDR, from its section in Cameroon, was the publication in May 1995 of a document entitled “La Verite sur le Drame Rwandais” (The Truth about the Rwandan Tragedy).[44] The Cameroon section of RDR made its own analysis of the situation. Naturally, it avoided the use of the word genocide, preferring to refer to the “Rwandan tragedy” whose victims were primarily the Hutu. As far as this section of RDR was concerned, there was no genocide committed against the Tutsi, but a “civil war of ethnic nature which led to interethnic massacres”. These massacres, as the document say, resulted in 200,000-500,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu “killed” against 1,500,000 Hutu “exterminated.”[45]

It was not by accident that these words were used here. It was in fact the position of the RDR since its birth: no mention should be made of the genocide against the Tutsi by the Hutu, but only of one against the Hutu by the RPF. That is why the word “exterminated” was used when talking of the Hutu and the word “killings” when talking of the Tutsi, thus deliberately reversing the facts.

But as it is always difficult to defend the “indefensible”, the RDR section in Cameroon found itself entangled in contradictions while trying to explain the causes of the “tragedy”. At a certain point, the authors of the document had to recognize that Hutus killed Tutsi simply because they were Tutsi. So they justify these killings by arguing that, the Tutsi showed sympathy towards RPF INKOTANYI: “The demons of hatred between the Tutsi and the Hutu became active as the Tutsi continued to manifest sympathy and complicity with the RPF, who were carrying out selective massacres during their attacks.”[46]

The Tutsi were killed, they insist, because the Tutsi seemed proud of having their children in the army of RPF rebels and did not hesitate to justify the war which, according to them, was to enable them to get rid of the hegemony of the Hutu majority. For their part, young Hutus were enthusiastic to join the ranks of the Rwandan Armed Forces in order to fight the INKOTANYI.

On the other hand, the RDR says the Hutu population was astounded as they observed, dumbfounded, the unity of action and thought between the Tutsi inside the country and the RPF when the RPF battalion, which was to be stationed in Kigali, was received triumphantly by Tutsi who had come from all the corners of the country.

This welcome, so the RDR Cameroon branch says, also turned into a kind of pilgrimage to the Parliamentary hill where the battalion was accommodated. “All the Tutsi inside the country came in succession to this hill to greet their “heroes” and their “liberators.”[47]

For the RDR Cameroon branch, “the arrogance and triumphalism of the Tutsi” justified that they be exterminated.

According to the RDR Cameroon branch, the causes of any evil that occurred in Rwanda are therefore the October 1990 war, the selective massacres of the Hutu by RPF, the support of the Tutsi to RPF, the arrogance and triumphalism of the Tutsi, the assassination of Hutu leaders by RPF, particularly Gapyisi of MDR, Gatabazi of PSD, Bucyana of CDR and Rwambuka Fidèle of MRND and many others, and finally, the killing of President Habyarimana, also by RPF.[48]

These false accusations, by genocidaires against the RPF for massacres and assassinations have now had a long life, showing up in works of many Rwandan writers like Marie- Beatrice Umutesi and others, and of various European academics, lawyers and writers. These falsehoods, have also found their way into the indictments of Judges Bruguiere of France and Merelles of Spain.

Concerning the causes of the exodus of the Hutu from Rwanda, the explanation from the RDR Cameroon branch, is similar to that of given by Rwandan NGOs and the Civil Society in exile: the “RPF military victory and its coming to power in Kigali seem therefore to be in line with the Collective and premeditated logic of the western powers in collusion with President Yoweri Museveni. What was nonetheless not taken into account by this logic was the choice imposed on the Rwandan civilian population by the deadly war of RPF which forced them to become displaced inside their own country first, and then forced into exile. This was one of the bitterest choices which could only be justified by the survival instinct of a people who for four years had experienced war, torture, massacres and extermination at the hands of RPF who were presented or considered as liberators by some uninformed quarters in the West or in Africa. Today, facts are there to be seen: more than 80% of the people of Rwanda have voted against the RPF by choosing, against their wish, to go into exile and the resultant misfortunes: they have said no to dictatorship, to torture and to various atrocities by RPF. Today, life is a nightmare and misery in the refugees’ camps where there is destitution, hunger, thirst, death, horror, for more than four million persons uprooted from their land and properties. Contrary to the declarations by some western quarters sympathetic to the propaganda of RPF, it is not Hutu leaders who called on the people of Rwanda to flee their country; it is rather this same RPF who forced them into it and who still keep them in exile deliberately.”[49]

The RDR Cameroon branch buttressed its arguments with documents published by other revisionists of the genocide, both Rwandan (François Nzabahimana, SOLIDAIRE-Rwanda, Dr. Nsengiyaremye Dismas, etc) and foreign (Bishop Christophe Munzihirwa of Bukavu in Zaire, Filip Reyntjens and others), to assert that the main cause for the refugees not to return home was once again the RPF: “continued large scale massacres by RPF against the backdrop of increasing insecurity created by the new national army composed mostly by the Tutsi, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), undisciplined and thirsting for material gains and blind revenge, the climate of insecurity worsened by lack of a judicial apparatus, leading to illegal detentions, torture and summary executions. The illegal and arbitrary occupation of buildings and land by the former Diaspora who returned in a disorderly manner, reprisals and revenge by the members of RPF justified by the massacres, true or alleged, of their Tutsi brothers by the Hutu, etc.”[50]

Concerning the conditions to facilitate the return of the refugees, the RDR Cameroon branch presented the same as those contained in the Bukavu Charter (See above): the Hutu would rather endure the misery of exile than submit to the RPF usurpers. With this reasoning it is surprising that this same RDR was asking this alleged usurper of power to accept dialogue and negotiations with the refugees. A logical solution to this contradiction would be to suspect that the RDR thinkers hoped that such negotiations would ultimately lead to the fall of the “Usurper”.

The association called SOLIDAIRE-RWANDA or “DUFATANYE” in Kinyarwanda, was a member of the Rwandan Civil Society in exile (SCRE) and was born in Bukavu on 8 September 1994.[51] Its President, Froduald Gasamunyiga, was Vice President of RDR at its birth, while its General Secretary, Stanislas Mubiligi, was a Catholic priest. Gasamunyiga had been appointed to be the Director General of the Rwanda Development Bank during the genocide. Mubiligi has since abdicated from his ministry, maybe to devote his time to wicked politics.

According to Jean Kambanda’s testimony to the ICTR investigators, on September 22, 1997 this association was initiated by the “genocidal interim government” in exile, in order to gather accusations against RPF. The sponsors of this association claimed that “it aimed at bringing together all men and women of good will, of all nationalities, who are willing to contribute through non-violent methods to the search for solutions to the numerous and thorny problems of Rwanda caused by the war imposed on Rwanda since 1990 and by the ensuing exile of more than 90% of the population of Rwanda.”[52]

The RDR has also always insisted on another point, that of involving the international community in the repatriation, resettlement and rehabilitation of the refugees. It is therefore not surprising that SOLIDAIRE, from their founding statement mentioned above, had also among its objectives “to contribute to the rehabilitation of the Rwandan refugees in their dignity and their rights, to work for solidarity among the Rwandan refugees on one hand, and between them and the International Community on the other, to inform the Rwandan refugees and the International Community on the socio-political developments of the Rwandans.”

Nzabahimana, who was the first President of the RDR, spelled out the primary condition for the return of the refugees as the re-establishment of the truth about the Rwandan crisis. Even though he did not mention it, the truth he was referring to was the truth about the genocide. Judging from his various writings and those of other genocide deniers, the truth to be re-established was that the RPF was responsible for both the genocide against the Tutsi, and the exile of the Hutu as well as all the ills to which they were subjected to in the camps.

Another association quite close to SOLIDAIRE, at least with regard to its motivation, was SOCAR ASBL (Solidarité Chrétienne pour Aider les Rwandais). It was created with “the primary objective of searching for and promoting truth, justice, respect of human rights, moral and spiritual recovery for all the victims of the Rwandan tragedy and reconciling information, in collaboration with all those who are engaged in the peaceful fight for the return of peace and human dignity in Rwanda.“[53]

This association used biblical verses from the Old and the New Testaments[54] to explain the problem of Rwanda which, according to it, dates as far back as 1928 “when the Tutsi seized power from the Hutu and that the rule of Tutsi Banyiginya and Abega [Clans] since then dominated and deliberately ill-treated them.” But contrary to its primary objective of promoting truth, peace, justice, moral and spiritual recovery of all the victims of the Rwandan tragedy, SOCAR accuses the Tutsi for being the immediate cause of what it called the Rwandan “wound” by killing Habyarimana, “the father of the nation” and turning Rwanda into a country of “nightmares of tears and blood.”[55]

SOCAR’s message No.1 did not mention “the genocide against the Tutsi” and at no single time did it use the word, and naturally so since the Rwandans it set out to help were Hutu refugees to whom it addressed a message of hope that one day they would “reverse the situation of those who today are in power, eating, drinking and dancing with joy and sing their victory, without mercy.”[56]

This is a strange message from an association ostensibly founded by Christian Rwandan refugees from all Christian churches! It should be pointed out that this message was sent for dissemination to all the big names of this world: church leaders starting with Pope Jean Paul II, and more than 25 Heads of State and Government.[57]

In its second message[58], SOCAR wrote to Paul Kagame, then Vice President of the Republic of Rwanda. It pointed out to him that he was “at the throat” of the nation and cautioned him against any attempt to strangle it, calling upon him to protect it, instead. SOCAR made a number of recommendations to Kagame aimed at re-establishing peace in Rwanda, “not through guns but through forgiveness, mercy and reconciliation.” It gave him the names of persons he could contact or from whom he could get inspiration if he really was for the interest of the Rwandan people: Pope Jean Paul II, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King and many other historical figures.

It is worthy to note that a copy of this message of SOCAR to Kagame was sent to the “President of the Republic of Rwanda in Exile”. This is Theodore Sindikubwabo, who had mobilised the Hutu to exterminate the Tutsi in 1994. SOCAR’s good moral lessons, if they have and believe in any, would have been more useful to the perpetrators of the genocide than to the person who had the courage to stop the genocide. The signatories of this message are the same as for the previous one.

On June 1, 1996, SOCAR wrote to the “Rwandan Community Abroad”,[59] inviting them to work with SOCAR to find a lasting solution to the Rwandan problem. It thanks the international community for what it has done so far to help the Rwandan people, from the Arusha Accords until the date of the letter. Among the people the letter mentions as resourceful are various well-known genocide revisionists such as the White Father Serge DESOUTER, Prof. Filip REYNTJENS, Luc De TEMMERMAN, etc.

SOCAR hoped that with the aid of the above individuals, the truth “will be known, that it will come out in great day light, that it will impose itself on the world in the interest of this battered and currently demonized people”[60]. SOCAR meant to confirm the theses held by all the revisionists who pretend that there was no genocide against the Tutsi but rather the Hutu, or, at a pinch, a double genocide for which the RPF is responsible.

Besides SOCAR, another association was created called “SODERWA” (Solidarity for the Defence of Accused Rwandans). As its name states, the objectives[61] of SODERWA were: to contribute in any way (documentation, evidence, facilitation through contacts with third parties) to the clarification and investigation of cases brought before the courts where Rwandans were accused; to act as liaison between accused Rwandans, their lawyers, and their compatriots and any other persons interested in giving evidence or intervening in their cases; to enlighten Rwandans on the guidelines of a fair and equitable trial (defence of legality, authenticity of evidence, etc); carry out investigations and inform the public about the analysis of the “Rwandan tragedy,” targeting especially the decision makers on the issue as well as the relevant jurisdictions; constantly inform potential persons liable to trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda of their rights and, finally, promote a culture of solidarity among Rwandans.[62]

Rwandan journalists in self-imposed exiled in Zaire, Burundi, Tanzania and Kenya and elsewhere, were not left behind. They too, claimed that they were part of Civil Society.  A report by the French NGO REPORTERS SANS FRONTIÈRES[63] questioned why journalists (about forty were identified) who had worked for the hatred media were not only free but, far from hiding, were carrying out their activities abroad without any remorse.

At the time, Joel Hakizimana was the only journalist who had been arrested. However, these journalists who were well known to have collaborated with the extremist media considered themselves to be members of the Civil Society. In September 1994, in the camps at Goma and Bukavu (Zaire) and in Nairobi (Kenya), these journalists resumed their activities.

The major former actors of RTLM, Radio Rwanda and several hatred newspapers (Interahamwe, Kangura, La Médaille…) formed the Association of Rwandan Journalists in Exile (AJRE), the main organisation led by Jean Baptiste Hategekimana. It edited and published the magazine Amizero. The bimonthly Kangura resumed its publication in Nairobi, Kenya.

Founded on September 14, 1994, the Association apparently encountered no problem in obtaining a licence from the Zairean authorities. Yet, the composition of the Executive Committee as well as the list of the founding members of this Association, speaks volumes about the nature of this group.

On the Executive Committee, the president of the association was Jean-Baptiste Hategekimana, who was, as mentioned earlier a founder and leader in the “SCRE”. Hategekimana is one of the most virulent hate journalists Rwanda has known in its recent history. He worked for the official Rwanda Press Agency, and for various extremist publications including Kangura, Zirikana and Interahamwe. Vice-President Thacien Hahozayezu had writen for various extremist publications, ending up as the Editor in Chief of the newspaper Interahamwe, to reinforce his commitment to the militia which had the same name. He is now believed to be within the ranks of the FDLR.

The Executive Secretary was Anselme Bigirimana who had worked with National Television. One of his former colleagues described him as “pathological anti-Tutsi”. Gaspard Gahigi was elected to the position of “Radio Advisor.” Before and during the genocide, he was the Editor in Chief of Umurwanashyaka[64] magazine, which was the ruling MRND party’s mouthpiece, before the MRND disbanded it to let its journalists join RTLM, where he assumed a similar post. He is thought to have since died in Zaire.

Florent Kampayana, the association’s treasurer, worked for Radio Rwanda before and during the genocide. He was famous in Rwanda for his dehumanising discourse against the RPF and Tutsi in general. In one of his broadcasts on the National Radio Rwanda which I can remember from early 1991, he said RPF fighters had tails and drooping ears.

The other three members of the Executive Committee had all previously worked for the official Rwanda Information agency, (ORINFOR). Those are, Emmanuel Ngirwanabagabo, National Television, Advisor, Television and Charles Ruvugabigwi, La Relève, Advisor, Print Media.

Contributing Members of AJRE : Oswald Ahigombaye, NTV; Jean-Baptiste Bamwanga, Radio Rwanda; Valérie Bemeriki, RTLM; Assumani Gakusi; Gérard Gatare, NTV; Habimana Kantano, RTLM ; François-Xavier Hangimana, Ijambo; Julienne Icyimanizanye, NTV; Samuel Kalinda, NTV; Jean Léonard Karuranga, NTV; Cyprien Musabirema, Radio Rwanda ; Cyprien Ngendahimana, Radio Rwanda; Jean-Baptiste Ngerejaho, Radio Rwanda; Viateur Nkundibiza, Radio Rwanda; Ananie Nkurunziza, RTLM; Ntamukunzi Jean-Baptiste, Orinfor; Telesphore Nyirimanzi, Radio Rwanda; Alexis Nzamwita, Orinfor; Jean-Baptiste Nubahumpatse, Orinfor ; Issa Nyabyenda, Kangura; Nzabonimpa Abdallah, Radio Rwanda; Emmanuel Rucogoza, RTLM; Ephrem Rugiririza, Radio Rwanda; Innocent Rwabuhungu, Umurwanashyaka/Interahamwe; Francois Rwabutogo, La Medaille – Nyiramacibiri; Etienne Sendegeya, Radio Rwanda ; Joseph Serugendo, Radio Rwanda/RTLM and Emmanuel Uwihoreye, Radio Rwanda.

The role of all these individuals in inciting the population to the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994 is public knowledge in Rwanda. It was alleged that the General Assembly held on June 18, 1995 in Goma was characterized by a conflict within AJRE between the “hardliners and the more “open” tendency of the Association. The former were determined to fight the government in Kigali by all means, and the latter were anxious to initiate a dialogue with the Government of National Unity.

One of the covert activities of some members of AJRE was the establishment of a network of informers tasked with undermining the repatriation of the refugees. In addition, following this General Assembly, a reshuffle was carried out within the Editorial Team of Amizero, an AJRE liaison magazine, in order to make this publication more “presentable.”

This magazine was launched early November 1994, by Gaspard Gahigi, as the publishing Manager. Gahigi had been tasked to be AJREs Advisor for audiovisual media.

Besides Gahigi, the other editors of this magazine were Valérie Bemeriki (RTLM, AJRE member), Kantano Habimana (alias Hatana, RTLM, AJRE member), Jean Baptiste Hategekimana (President of AJRE), Thacien Hahozayezu (Vice President of AJRE, and deputy chief editor of Amizero), Gerald Ngendahimana, Etienne Sendegeya, Jean Baptiste Bamwanga and Ephrem Rugiririza as reporters.

According to the Editor in Chief, the circulation of Amizero was 500 copies, 350 of which were meant for the refugees’ camps, 50 for NGOs, 50 for the town of Goma and 50 for “export”. At least five issues of the magazine were published between November 7, 1994 and August 28, 1995. In the issue “zero” of November 7-14, 1994, the tone was given: glorification of the RTLM, “immortal radio”. Copies were distributed in the camps through a well-organised network of activists.

On September 1, 1994, Kangura reappeared on the scene. The editorial team consisted of three persons: Hassan Ngeze, Pablo Ngabidasunikwa and Jacques Turana. Headed by Hassan Ngeze, the bimonthly deliberately continued the editorial line followed before the genocide started. It continued the numbering of the issues of Kangura from No 59, the last issue published in Kigali in April 1994, such that the new issue published in exile was No 60! Initially Kangura was printed in Nairobi by Nairobi Printers, but some of the last issues I saw (68 to 71) appear to have been printed in Brussels.

From reliable sources, this information of printing in Brussels was false, only aimed at creating confusion so as to hide the source of financing and other covert operations, which enabled the newspaper to carry on its activities and the individuals to travel constantly between Goma and Nairobi, to publish Kangura and have it translated.

Published first in French (approximately a third of the articles) and in Kinyarwanda, Kangura was later published in English as well. Copies – some hundreds –were distributed freely in the camps by Hassan Ngeze himself. In other camps, it was sold more or less in openly through ad hoc distribution networks. But gradually, Nairobi became the centre of its publication, as part of the Rwandan intelligentsia in exile lived there.

The “international” edition in English targeted more particularly the Kenyan public.

Kangura gladly used threats to mobilize its troops. In the first issues (60-61-62), the style was very aggressive and revengeful. It even announced the “imminent return to Kigali, (…), if necessary by arms.”

Gaspard Gahigi of Amizero, declared to Agence France-Presse on November 30, 1994, with regard to his activities at RTLM and the charges levelled against him: “These are stories; we did not incite anybody into killing. But it was war time against the backdrop of an ethnic conflict. And before sentencing us, we should first be tried.” He then added that RTLM was no longer broadcasting “but that they had all the equipment” and that “it was not excluded that they could start broadcasting again under a different name”, because the “war is still on”. Indeed, for a few days in March 1995, from the camp of Mugunga, there were some broadcasts monitored, between 6 and 9 hours in the morning and evening, in FM through a mobile short range transmitter.[65]

[1] At the time of writing this book, Monsignor Simon Habyarimana, is based in Italy, in the Diocese of Florence Before and during the genocide, he was the Vicar-General of the Catholic Diocese of Ruhengeri under Bishop Nikwigize.  He is known for his extremist views full of hate against the Tutsi.

[2] Before the genocide, Immaculee  Nyirabizeyimana, was the deputy speaker of the Rwandan Parliament (CND). At that time the speaker was Dr. Theodore Sindikubwabo. Since the later was nominated Rwanda’s president, Nyirabizeyimana presided over the swearing ceremony of the new president as the Acting speaker of Parliament, a post she held until July 3, 1994.

[3] This is a journalist known for his virulent anti-Tutsi propaganda and an organizer of his colleagues in exile.

[4] See document: “RWANDA, RENCONTRE DE FROIDMONT 20 et 21 Mai 1994, Compte Rendu Provisoire”. It is in the Author’s archives

[5] These meetings were being held at the time when the RPA was gaining ground against the FAR. On May 19, 1994 the RPA captured the Kigali International airport and the biggest military barracks of Kanombe


[7] Ibidem, p.24.

[8] F. Nzabahimana, Propositions sur la situation du Rwanda, 17 June 1994, p.1.

[9] About a hundred people attended this meeting. The signatories of the Namur Declaration of 30 July 1994 included: Nkizamacumu Désiré, Mukangayabo …., Niyoyita Vestine, Mukarubayiza Domitille, Ntawumenya Monique, Mushamba Augustin, Mugirishyaka …, Uwinkindi Jeanne, Sakindi ., Karengera Dan., Nyirandayisaba Louise, Mutesi, Nahimana Eugène, Ukobizaba M., Mukandanga., Nimbeshaho, Nduwumwe Corneille, Ntawuhungurwaje C., Mukasine Kagabo, Bicamumpaka Hy., Bingoma D., Kalima Aimable, Manirakiza Fabien, Jean Marie.., Nduwayo Leonard, Mbahunzineza Martin, Habyarimana G, Nzakamwita Manassé, Hitimana Célestin, Niyitegeka Antoine, Carine …, Harerimana G., Akimpaye , Kagabo Jean, Niyitugabira Eustache, Hitimana Samuel, Nzabonimpa Joseph, Kayihura J. Claude, Turatsinze Léopold, Uwitonze Paul, Muhutu Elimereck, Nizeyimana Ladislas, Mugengasaro Augustin, Bizimana Justin, Nkuranyabahizi Gabriel, Bareke Grégoire Baltazar Munyampuhwe, Eugène Shimamungu, Ngaboyisonga Martin, Hakizimana Emile, Mukasine Louise, Niyibizi Shadrak, Bisalinkumi Ezéchiel, Sengarambe François, Nzabanita Floribert, Sindambiwe J.Bosco, Ugirashebuja Christian, Twagirayezu Valère, Twagiramungu Bernard, Habimana Jean de la Croix, Marie Assumpta Uwamahoro, Mbaraga Paul, Katoto Straton, Kabanda Louis, Twagirayezu Evode, Gatsinzi Jean Bapt., Munyemanzi Boniface, Cyiza Prosper, Ruzindana Anthère, Hakizimana Emile, Nimbeshaho Anselme, Nzisabira Jean, Ntavyohanyuma Pie, Uwamungu Benedict, Ayingeneye Angeline, Mujawamariya Assumpta, Niringiyimana Madeleine, Mme VANDERHEYDEN Patricia, Vincent Karengera, Vanderheyden Patrick, Vanderheden Martin, Nsabimana Jean, Akimana Claudia, Franzen Damien, Mukazana Patricie, Harelimana Alexandre.

[10] Details are in Dialogue, N° 184, July-August 1995 (p.150)

[11] In French they call it DIALOGUE followed by an acronym ASBL, which means non-profit making association.

[12] VERDIER R., DECAUX E., CHRETIEN J.P, Rwanda, un génocide du 20ème S, Harmattan, 1995, p.129

[13] Five hundred copies of this issue were allegedly distributed freely to Rwandan refugees and the displaced living inside Rwanda (see No .178, p. 19).

[14] Filip Reyntjens “Sujets d’inquiétude au Rwanda” published in October 1994.

[15] During the first year of the publication of DIALOGUE in Brussels, the editorials of this magazine often were written by Fr Guy Theunis or by Charles Ntampaka, and sometimes by François Nzabahimana.

[16] Refer to. “LES CAMPS DE REFUGIES DE GOMA: MORT ET ESPERANCE” p. 5. (Author’s archives)

[17] See: Que faire pour sortir le Rwanda de l’impasse? (Dialogue No. 178, October 1994, (p.27-28)

[18] See Dialogue No. 185, p. 34-35

[19] DIALOGUE, No189,  p. 43

[20] Ibid.,  p. 47

[21] Dialogue No. 197, p. 38

[22] “Le Rwanda ou l’Urgence Politique” (p.8)

[23] Ibid. p. 8

[24] Ibid. p.4

[25]Ibid. p. 5

[26] Ibid. p. 6

[27] Ibid. p.7

[28] Ibid. p.7

[29] Ibid. p.13

[30] Ibid. pp. 20-21

[31] Ibid. p.22

[32] Ibid. p. 23

[33] Mission report in authors archives  (Rapport succinct concernant la rencontre de Bukavu sur le thème crucial du retour des réfugiés Rwandais, 23-28/10/1994 p.2 One of the delegates on this mission, Paul Mbaraga, told me it was members of the IDC who were organisers of this trip since are even the ones who contacted him.

[34] The participants at the Bukavu meeting insisted that the members and services of this international tribunal should be enabled to communicate directly with the population. Some underscored the serious damage done to the efforts for peaceful solutions to the impunity of the authors of the massacres in Burundi for the past 30 years.

[35] See Rapport succinct concernant la rencontre de Bukavu sur le thème crucial du retour des réfugiés Rwandais, 23-28/10/1994, p. 9-10.

[36] See DIALOGUE No. 183 of May-June 1995, p.2. this part of the editorial is also an Extract from the Declaration of the Creation of RDR, Mugunga, 3 April 1995.

[37] Ibidem, p.15

[38] The document is in the author’s archives

[39] MISEREOR is the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany. MISEREOR is mandated by the Catholic Church in Germany: to fight the causes of hardship and misery as manifested chiefly in countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America in the forms of hunger, disease, poverty and other forms of human suffering, enabling the people affected to lead a life of human dignity; and to promote justice, freedom, reconciliation and peace in the world. See

[40] The document which was a note to the FAR’s head of intelligence is in the Author’s archives

[41] From some issues in the author’s archives, it appears that Marie Beatrice Umutesi was one of the writers of this propaganda organ.

[42] During the visit of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mrs SADAKO OGATA, to the Great Lakes region also on August 31, 1995, RDR produced another document in Bukavu: “Memorandum on the voluntary return of Rwandan refugees to their country”. It was signed by RDR Vice President in charge of Social Affairs, Mr Aloys Ngendahimana. The memorandum explained the Rwandan problem by referring to the “History” of Rwanda (Parmehutu). It denied that the genocide began on 6 April 1994 but said that there were clashes between the two camps and that many innocent lives were lost! It avoided saying that those who were killed were Tutsi but further on, it suggested that those who fled were Hutu. Quite normal since the others had been exterminated, they could not flee! On the situation inside Rwanda, the memorandum repeated what had been told to Amnesty International about security. Concerning the return of the refugees, the memorandum suggested that it was the responsibility of RPF and the International Community.

[43] [Annexe 3] Goma, du 04 au 09 Août 1995 RÉUNION DU HAUT COMMANDEMENT DES FAR RAPPORT D’ACTIVITES DU “R.D.R.” Author’s archives

[44] The publication is in the author’s archives.

[45] La Verite sur le Drame Rwandais p.21.

[46] Ibid La Verite…p.23-4

[47] Ibid La Verite p.24

[48] Ibid. La verite…p.25

[49] Ibid. La verite…p.39-40

[50] Ibid. La verite…p.49

[51] The document announcing the establishment of Solidarité Internationale pour les Réfugiés Rwandais (SOLIDAIRE-RWANDA ASBL or DUFATANYE) is in the authors archive.

[52] SOLIDAIRE was created with the very similar objectives to those of the RDR.  It should be recalled that the latter has always militated in favour of creating conditions supposedly to build the confidence of the refugees.

[53] See Message No 001/96 de la SOCAR au Peuple Rwandais et aux Amis du Rwanda, Bukavu, April 6, 1996 p. 1. SOCAR stated that its mission was “to mobilize every Christian so that he/she may be an active architect of peace, truth and justice”.

[54] Ibid, It referred to, among others, Lev. 24,19-20. Rm 12, 19-21 to preach about non-revenge.

[55] Ibid, p.3

[56] Message numéro 001/96 de la SOCAR… (p. 2).

[57] This message was signed by Etienne SHYIRAMBERE (Dean of SOCAR), Evangelist Oscar ILIZABALIZA, (Deputy Dean) and Albert RUKERANTARE (Executive Coordinator of SOCAR)

[58] This message was an open letter addressed to H.E. Paul Kagame, Vice President of the Republic of Rwanda. It was dated 16 June 1996 and signed by Etienne Shyirambere, Albert Rukerantare and Evangelist Oscar Ilizabaliza, Dean, Deputy Dean and Executive Coordinator of SOCAR respectively

[59]Ref. No. 006/2d.1c-01/SOCAR/96 addressed to the Rwandan Community Abroad, c/o Dr. Jean Baptiste Murenzi, Joseph Nzabonimpa, Mrs. Marie Madeleine Bicamumpaka, Mr. Floribert Nzabanita, Mr. Michel Hakizimana

[60] Ibidem, p.3.

[61] See Minutes of the Constitutive Assembly of Solidarité pour la Défense des Rwandais Accusés “ SODERWA ” asbl, Bukavu, 25 February 1996,  p.2

[62] The Assembly held on 25 February 1996 elected the following members of the Coordination Committee: André Kaggwa Uwumukiza (Chairman), Deogratias Hategekimana (Vice-chairman), Emmanuel Mbarushimana, (Secretary Treasurer), Charles Ntagozera (Legal Counsel) and Dismas Nzanana (Information Advisor).

[63]  “Rwanda: l’impasse? La liberté de la presse après le genocide 4 juillet 1994”

[64] This paper started in 1991 when MRND was really engaged in hate media. Most journalists, who were in this paper, ended-up working for RTLM Radio in 1993.

[65] See Report of REPORTERS SANS FRONTIÈRES entitled “Rwanda: l’impasse ? La liberté de la presse après le génocide, 4 juillet 1994 – 28 août 1995 ”

  1. […] Chapter IX: Other initiatives of Rwandans living in Exile […]

  2. […] Chapter IX: Other initiatives of Rwandans living in Exile […]