Why bringing Burundian genocidaires in Gisagara hasn’t yielded

On 6 January 2021 at 10:53

Local authorities in Gisagara district say much effort has been expended in finalizing Gacaca court cases so as to promote unity and reconciliation but the progress has been impeded by Burundians accused of involvement in the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi who are still at large.

During the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, former communes of Muganza, Kigembe, Kibayi and others in the current Gisagara district were home to many Burundian refugees. Some of them are accused of having participated in the genocide.

Bunyenzi Isaïe, a genocide survivor in former Kigembe Commune currently in Nyanza sector has revealed that Burundians conspired with Interahamwe to kill Tutsis.

“Burundians accommodated in this area supported Interahamwe and hunted us from the commune’s office where we had fled. They stoned us with the intention of getting us outside so that they can kill us using spears,” he said.

After the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, several cases involving Burundian refugees were handled by Gacaca courts which ordered some of them to pay reparations.

The mayor of Gisagara district, Rutaburingoga Jérôme has explained that Gacaca courts handled over 31,000 cases but pointed out difficulties for cases involving Burundians.

“We have finalized 31,057 cases but we have over 400 pending cases involving Burundian refugees who were accommodated in Gisagara,” he said.

Rutaburingoga thanked Gisagara residents for role in finalizing cases which he considered a great contribution to unity and reconciliation among Rwandans.

“We appreciate the way the exercise to finalize these court cases was handled and residents contribution because there are some victims who forgave offenders who had to pay damages,” he said.

Genocide survivors in different parts neighboring with Burundi have at different times asked for justice to bring to book Burundians who took part in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

They are often accused to have perpetrated Genocide in Nyakizu, Ntongwe, Kinazi of Ruhango district, Mugina in Kamonyi district, Rilima in Bugesera district; Muganza, Kigembe, Kibayi in the current Gisagara among others.

Speaking to IGIHE towards the end of last year, Faustin Nyakazungu, 77, who lived in former Commune Ntyazo , 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. I know many of them,” said Nyakazungu.

In June 2019, the former Rwanda’s Prosecutor General, Mutangana Jean Bosco revealed that the matter of Burundians has been sluggish 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 eyeing support from Interpol to arrest the said fugitives.

In August 2019, the Minister of Justice and State Attorney General , Johnston Busingye told 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.

Sorrow continues to engulf survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi whose relatives were heinously killed by Burundian refugees.
The mayor of Gisagara district, Rutaburingoga Jérôme has explained that Gacaca courts handled over 31,000 cases but pointed out difficulties for cases involving Burundians.