How Nyiramasuhuko Pauline participated in the implementation of Tutsi extermination policy called “Civil Defence” in her home prefecture of Butare

By Dr. BIZIMANA Jean Damascène
On 14 June 2020 at 02:54

As the genocidal government was progressively losing the battle, it did everything to intensify the Tutsi massacres in its controlled territory. In order to achieve this, Jean Kambanda had assigned to each minister a region to control and to ensure that the extermination was done according to the extermination plan in place.

The genocidal government, intensified its extermination policy by setting up "crisis committees", that is to say extermination committees which started to wipe away genocide evidences especially destruction of houses and traces of Tutsi who had just been massacred.

Nyiramasuhuko Pauline played a leading role in putting genocidal policy into practice in the Butare prefecture. She was born in April 1946 in Rugara cell, Ndora sector, Ndora commune, Butare prefecture. During the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi, she was the Minister of Family and Women Advancement in the Genocidal Government led by Jean Kambanda.

1. The Policy of Tutsi extermination called "pacification" by the genocidal government

The genocidal government implemented pacification as the policy of exterminating the Tutsi. For the Kambanda government, Pacification meant the elimination of Tutsi. The criminal government sought at all costs to better control the massacres and to ensure that they were perpetrated according to the extermination plan put in place by the same government.

A minister responsible for extermination had been appointed for each prefecture to ensure that the directives and instructions of the genocidal government were implemented. For Butare it was Nyiramasuhuko who had been assigned the task.

Each minister had to make the population understand the measures adopted by the government aimed at the extermination of Tutsi.

The speeches made during the "pacification campaign" in Butare were extermination speeches which were the same across the country.

2. The extermination of Tutsi in the Butare prefecture was assigned to Nyaramasuhuko Pauline

Nyiramasuhuko participated in all meetings of the genocidal government led by Kambanda Jean, between April 9 and July 14, 1994. On May 7, 1994, in Murambi, Nyiramasuhuko participated in the meeting of ministers dedicated to civil defense. The genocidal government’s “civil defense” program was a component of the genocidal strategy.

Numerous meetings of this government were held in Kigali, Gitarama and Gisenyi and during this period the ministers, including Nyiramasuhuko, were regularly informed of the massacres which were perpetrated against the Tutsi. During these meetings, the ministers demanded that weapons be supplied to them for distribution in their respective prefectures, in order to speed up the massacres against the Tutsi.

During these meetings, the genocidal government adopted directives and gave instructions to the prefects and bourgmestres, which were transmitted to the population and which aimed to continue the genocide throughout the country.

A minister had been appointed for each prefecture, with the mission of overseeing what was then called "pacification", that is, the extermination of Tutsi. Nyiramasuhuko was one of the most assiduous members of these meetings where extermination decisions were made.

3. The extermination agenda in the hands of Nyiramasuhuko Pauline

Nyiramasuhuko had a Tutsi extermination agenda in her bag, which showed the planning of the Tutsi massacres in general and the personal role to play during the implementation. Nyiramasuhuko wrote personal notes at meetings of the genocidal government which she put into practice in Butare prefecture.

The diary presented the scene of the massacres and the central role of the genocidal government. That agenda constitutes a written proof of the planning of the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi by the MRND, the CDR and the other parties grouped within the Hutu Power.

This diary shows that during the period from April to July 1994, the Kambanda genocidal government had an essential function and was indeed a place where the Tutsi extermination decisions were discussed and where they were taken.

Nyiramasuhuko Pauline perpetrated several massacres in the prefecture of Butare

- Nyiramasuhuko caused death of Tutsi on April 21, 1994 at the IRST

Nyiramasuhuko participated in the installation of roadblocks in the city of Butare used to identify the Tutsi, in order to eliminate them. Her son Arsène Shalom Ntahobali toured the Butare prefecture in search of Tutsi. After locating the victims, Nyiramasuhuko and her son captured them and took them to different places to be executed. Nyiramasuhuko ordered the Interahamwe, who controlled the roadblocks to take them to the place where the other Tutsi had been taken to be killed.

- Nyiramasuhuko called Tutsi « dirt ».

One day, in front of the Butare prefecture headquarters with the prefect Sylvain Nsabimana, she scratched her head and said angrily and aloud: "This place is dirty, this place stinks. There is dirt here. This dirt must be removed; I must not find this dirt again here.” Nyiramasuhuko pointed to the Tutsi refugees who were in the courtyard when she spoke of "dirt". Nsabimana then asked the Interahamwe and the soldiers to evacuate the refugees and force them to stay in the back of the prefecture office during that day. The refugees who were at the prefecture office were beaten and killed.

- Nyiramasuhuko ordered to evacuate and massacre Tutsi refugees

Nyiramasuhuko returned to the prefecture office another time. She asked Nsabimana to convene a meeting of the mayors of the prefecture, to ask them to evacuate the refugees to the communes where they belonged to. This order had been carried out, and after the evacuation the Tutsi were killed.

-The massacre of Tutsi at the roadblock established by Nyiramasuhuko at the Ihuliro hotel

Since April 1994, a roadblock had been established near the Nyiramasuhuko and Ntahobali residence, "the Ihuliro Hotel". The Ihuliro Hotel also served as a gathering place for planning the genocide. Nyiramasuhuko and the Interahamwe held regular meetings at the Ihuliro hotel during which they discussed the implementation of the genocide in Butare prefecture. Interahamwe and soldiers used this roadblock to identify, kidnap and kill Tutsi. For example, on April 21, 1994, a Tutsi called Léopold Ruvurajabo was killed near the Ihuliro hotel on the instructions of Nyiramasuhuko and Ntahobali.

- Nyiramasuhuko ordered the Interahamwe to kidnap Tutsi women, to rape them before killing them.

It was at the Ihuliro hotel roadblock that Tutsi girls and women were kidnapped and raped under Nyiramasuhuko’s instructions before killing them. This rape policy had been widely used by Nyiramasuhuko throughout the city of Butare. The rape of Tutsi women was used as a weapon of genocide, which formed part of the general extermination plan. Nyiramasuhuko encouraged the Interahamwe, including her son, to rape Tutsi women.

-Nyiramasuhuko ordered the massacre of Tutsi who had taken refuge at the EER

After Nyiramasuhuko and Ntahobali attacked the refugees at the Butare prefecture office between April 19 and the end of June 1994, those who survived were taken to various parts of the prefecture to be executed, including in the forest adjoining the EER. There, Tutsi were ill-treated before being exterminated.

Nyiramasuhuko was found guilty of genocide crime and sentenced to life imprisonment at first instance, but the sentence was reduced to 47 years on appeal. Her son Shalom Ntahobali was sentenced to the same 47-year prison term as his mother.


Tutsi massacre continued in the area controlled by the genocidal government, which intensified its extermination policy by setting up "crisis committees", that is to say extermination committees, and the policy of the civil defense which aimed to leave no Tutsi living in Rwanda. It was that time that the criminal government started to get rid of evidence of the genocide, comprising the destruction of houses and traces of massacred Tutsi.

Done at Kigali on June 12, 2020

Dr. BIZIMANA Jean Damascène
Executive Secretary
National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG)

Nyiramasuhuko Pauline played a leading role in putting genocidal policy into practice in the Butare prefecture.