Burundian refugees who devoured Tutsi’s hearts: Why Burundi kept a deaf ear to justice

By IGIHE
On 1 December 2020 at 10:01

Sorrow continues to engulf survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi whose relatives were heinously killed by Burundian refugees who lived in Rwanda but currently loitering freely without facing justice.

Rwanda granted refuge to Burundians in the years of 1972 and 1989. As genocide was prepared that time, Burundian refugees also took part in it. Apart from refugees, more Burundians, who were teachers in different parts of the country like Gisagara and Rusizi were also involved.

Not only genocide survivors testify their role during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi but also foreigners like Belgian, Constant Julius Goetschalckx known as Frère Stan (Brother Stan) are aware of the truth.

Brother Stan worked in Rwanda’s refugee camps in 1980.

In 2008, he testified at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) how Hutu Burundian refugees played role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

“Some of refugees (Hutu Burundians) from Saga camp in commune Muganza, Butare Prefecture were involved in killings. I reported it to officials that time,” he said.

Different genocide survivors testifies that Brother Stan is among masterminds behind such heinous acts that he later after genocide founded a school in Tanzania where he used to receive friends from ex-FAR militia (defeated former government army) and politicians who perpetrated genocide.

Faustin Nyakazungu, 77, lived in former Commune Ntyazo in Mpanda cell but was hunted.

Speaking to IGIHE, he reflected on neighboring Tutsi killed by Burundian refugees who stabbed one adult woman saying ‘let us see if she can bleed blood or milk as they drunk much milk.’

“I was living in the neighborhood of those Burundians. I am one of people who were not hunted. I know well their deeds. They were characterized by extreme bad characters. They killed an old woman called Nyinawabo Bernadette and another man Jabo Félix. Those killers were with Interahamwe. The old woman was stabbed by a Burundian saying he wanted to find out if female Tutsis bleed blood or milk they drunk. In know many of them,” said Nyakazungu.

Burundians who stayed in Saga camp are accused of killing Tutsi in Mugombwa while others in Nyagahama camp killed Tutsi in former commune Ntongwe and Mugina among others.

After killings, they dumped remains in a mass grave along with other Tutsis killed at different road blocks. The mass grave was named CND as a way to show they were sending them to Inkotanyi colleagues.

Samuel Dusengiyumva is among genocide survivors in Ntingwe. He was 13 year old in 1994 studying at a secondary school in Save. He is currently a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government.

As he attended the commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Ruhango district last year, narrated how Burundian refugees were used to train Interahamwe to kill Tutsi of torture.

“Those people from Burundi who were accustomed to killing Tutsi of torture trained Interahamwe in commune Ntongwe to the extent that they also set road blocks and set a heating brazier. Before loading remains of genocide victims to be dumped in CND mass grave, they first removed hearts, other internal fleshes which they roasted and ate. They killed people with extreme cruelty,” he said.

Jeanne Muhorakeye, a survivor from Kinazi in Ruhango district once revealed that they took care of Burundian refugees in the area and clothed them but ended up joining Hutus to kill Tutsi during the genocide.

In Kinazi, Burundian refugees joined killings upon instructions of Charles Kagabo who was the head nurse of Kinazi health center. The latter who had served as the mayor of Ntongwe commune in 1992 requested the refugees to collaborate with Interahamwe to exterminate Tutsi.

He was handed life sentence in absentia by different Gacaca courts from Gikoma, Ruhango, Gitisi, Bweramana and Rutabo in Kinazi in 2008.

Torture

Genocide survivors from neighborhoods of camps that accommodated Burundian refugees narrated how they tortured Tutsi.

It is said that Burundian refugees removed the heart, sucked flesh blood, and roasted made brochette.

They are also alleged to have hit pointed sharp objects into girls’ sex.

Gatandara of Mururu sector is one of areas where Interahamwe and Burundian refugees killed many Tutsis, removed hearts and ate them. The same happened in Kizura of Gikundamvura where they killed Rwicaninyoni and made brochette.

Other Tutsis on Rukungu village of Cyato sector were also killed of torture burnt inside a grass thatched house belonging to one Karekezi Alfred.

At the beginning of this year, the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG) released three books detailing bitter history of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi especially in former Gitarama and Cyangugu Prefectures.

These books also talk about Tutsis killed in Kabgayi forests, former commune Ntongwe and Mugina killed by Interahamwe and Burundian refugees.

Burundi kept a deaf ear

As countries are requested to play role in the process of bringing to justice genocide fugitives, Burundi kept a deaf ear rejecting Rwanda’s request to bring to book suspects or extradite them to Rwanda to face justice.

In August last year, the Minister of Justice and State Attorney General , Johnston Busingye told the parliament that genocide is an imprescriptible crime that files for Burundians suspected for involvement in genocide have been arranged.

“Matters regarding Burundians are often reflected and which goes hand in hand preparation of related files. Action will be taken as relations return to normal but you should know that such cases are imprescriptible,” he said.

The former Rwanda’s Prosecutor General, Mutangana Jean Bosco last year revealed that the matter of Burundians relented due to lack of political will.

“We have cases of Burundians who perpetrated Genocide in Rwanda and fled but Burundi showed no political will to help us track those suspects. The issue is persistent. There are many especially in Gisagara, Nyaruguru at the border with Burundi. We issued arrest warrants but got no reply. That’s a problem,” he said.

Mutangana explained that Rwanda is eying support from Interpol to arrest those fugitives.

Genocide survivors demand justice

The Executive Secretary of IBUKA, Naftar Ahishakiye has told IGIHE that genocide survivors in Southern and Western Provinces are thirsty to see such Burundians brought to book.

“Burundians played a great role during preparations of genocide. Some were trained to use guns along with Interahamwe and openly collaborated during genocide to kill Tutsi,” he said.

He explained that bringing the suspects to book will relieve genocide survivors.

“There is a wound and thirst for justice. In fact, these neighboring countries should understand the severity of Genocide against the Tutsi than other far distant countries. They witnessed it and saw people fleeing to their countries. They actually followed updates than others. They should demonstrate willingness to render justice and fight genocide ideology a way further compared other countries. However, the persistent lack of willingness is saddening,” noted Ahishakiye.

So far, Rwanda’s Prosecution has issued 1144 arrest warrants for genocide fugitives in 33 countries worldwide, majority of which being African countries.

Nine countries have tried 23 genocide fugitives while 24 have been extradited to Rwanda from nine countries.

Sorrow continues to engulf survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi whose relatives were heinously killed by Burundian refugees.

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