Genocide survivors in Nyamirambo narrate ordeal

On 8 April 2021 at 10:28

Sorrow continues to engulf survivors of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi which took lives of over 1 million victims.

Nyamirambo in Kigali city is among areas where Tutsis were brutally killed by Interahamwe militia in collaboration with Guards of the then President Habyarimana Juvénal.

After the shooting of the airplane that carried Habyarimana on 6th April 1994, the long-planned Genocide went into execution from the next day on 7th April.

On 8th April, Tutsis in Nyamirambo were hunted Interahamwe militia in collaboration with Republican Guards of the then President Habyarimana Juvénal. Some Tutsi sought refuge at St Charles Lwanga Catholic Church, School of Josephite Brothers and College Saint André in Nyamirambo but were unfortunately killed.

27 years after genocide against Tutsi, survivors who lost relatives or continue to endure physical and emotional wounds inflicted by perpetrators.

Gakwaya Gérard, is an old man from Urumuri village in Rwezamenyo sector. He is among Tutsi that survived gun shots of Habyarimana’s guards after the death of her children and wife.

As killings started, Gakwaya revealed that these soldiers were invited by neighbors that worked at the Central Bank to exterminate Tutsi in the area.

“After the plane crash on 6th April 1994, we started hiding from killers the next day. In the night of 8th April, soldiers shot dead a resident at the entrance of my home,” he said.

As he explained; Fabien Neretse, a resident of Nyamirambo invited Republican Guards of former President Habyarimana to help them exterminate Tutsis on 9th April 1994. Gakwaya’s wife and children were killed the same day.

Neretse Fabien was in 2019 handed 25-year sentence convicted of genocide crimes and crimes against humanity by Belgian courts.

Gakwaya explained that Nyamirambo was inhabited by magnates and other public servants with decent jobs working with the Central Bank or Banque Commercial du Rwanda (BCR) currently known as I&M Bank.

The old man went on to reveal that some BNR staff in the area invited soldiers because most of them hailed from Gisenyi and Ruhengeri, regions where Habyarimana and senior military officers had roots.

Since then, Gakwaya said that those soldiers went to the area regularly to hunt and kill remaining Tutsi.

Before the killings began, Gakwaya explained, a list of Tutsi to be killed had been made earlier. These soldiers did not only kill Tutsi in Nyamirambo but also pillaged their belongings.

Like other relatives, Gakwaya narrated that these killers looted all his possessions that he was left with bare hands.

Cerobika Alphonsine also lives in Nyamirambo. Her husband called Buseruka Gérard was killed by guards of President Habyarima.

She told IGIHE that her husband who worked at BCR was killed on 3rd May 1994.

The day her husband was killed, Cerobika had fled with children so that they could not be killed together and hide them from rapists.

“The husband advised us to flee fearing her daughters would be raped in his presence. So we went into hiding. When killers came, they asked him where we were. He replied that he didn’t know. They immediately took him outside the house and shot him dead in the backyard,” she narrated.

The President of IBUKA, organization umbrella of genocide survivors, Rwego Yusuf, has told IGIHE that many Tutsi were killed in the area even though the number of victims has not yet been established.

“Many Tutsi from different places were killed here in Nyamirambo. Some came from St Joseph and Biryogo among others. Many victims in Urumuri village were killed by soldiers,” he said.

Rwego explained that some Tutsis were boarded in a car from St Joseph and taken to Rwezamenyo where they were killed.

The former mayor of Commune Nyarugenge and Renzaho Tharcisse who was the then Kigali city mayor are accused to be masterminds behind getting Tutsis killed in Nyamirambo.

Despite the atrocities, Rwego said that the evil was finally defeated in July 1994 that Habyarimana soldiers fled the country as RPA soldiers intervened to rescue and liberate the country.
“From Kanombe Military camp and elsewhere, Habyarimana’s soldiers were dispersed that they couldn’t spend time identifying who is a Tutsi or not but rather begged food along the road. Whoever alive witnessed how Habyarimana’s soldiers were defeated and hit hard at the time,” he noted.

RPA soldiers kept soldiering on to rescue targeted Tutsis and as they repelled Habyarimana’s soldiers until they were completely defeated.

Despite endured dark past, Genocide survivors in Nyamirambo are glad for attained transformations under the visionary leadership of President Paul Kagame.

The Government helped them to get decent shelters, access education among others that orphans have grown into men and women with great hope for a prosperous future working with the rest of Rwandans to rebuild the nation shaken by wounds of genocide.

As Rwanda started the 27th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, President Paul Kagame has said that Rwandans have united against the evil than ever before highlighting that the shared identity of striving for a united Rwanda has paved way for Rwanda’s resilience and quick recovery from wounds of Genocide.

Considering the journey, Rwandans went through and attained progress; President Kagame said that the immensity of what has been achieved is almost miraculous that the results are attested to by Rwandans, and indeed indisputable.

“First, there are the tangible signs, things that we can see and feel. New buildings and roads. Better hospitals and health centres. Water and electricity services, where they never existed before. Visitors flocking to see Rwanda’s unique wildlife and enjoy our hospitality. But the intangible transformations which have taken place in the hearts and minds of our people are even more important. They allow progress to be sustained from generation to generation,” he said.

Despite efforts by genocide deniers and propagandists that continue to fuel genocide denials, and trivialization, Kagame stressed that Rwandans have managed to distinguish the right from evils and remained committed to their purpose to rebuild a better nation and consolidate gains.

“We also credit Rwanda’s rebirth to the fact that the larger part of Rwandans wanted to build a better nation and overcome the manipulations by the bad leaders of the past. Given the chance to live better and see things differently, our people seized it. This is an indispensable part of our strength,” he said.

“As a result, even in the midst of constant pressures and distractions, Rwanda today is unquestionably more united and forward-looking than ever before. And here, I am speaking particularly about the youth, who are the vast majority of our country’s people. That is why all efforts to divide and divert us have failed, and will continue to fail,” added Kagame.

Some Tutsi sought refuge at St Charles Lwanga Catholic Church, School of Josephite Brothers and College Saint André in Nyamirambo but ended up being killed.