8 actions carried out as part of the planning of the Genocide from February 1 to 8, 1991 to 1994

By Dr BIZIMANA Jean Damascène, ES/CNLG

Every week since January 1, 2020, the National Commission to fight against Genocide (CNLG) highlights some of the actions carried out as part of the planning of the Genocide. This publication concerns actions carried out during the periods from February 1 to 8, 1991 to 1994.

  • The massacres of Tutsi who lived in the vicinity of the Bigogwe military camp

On the night of February 4, 1991, the para-commandos of the Bigogwe military camp fired into the air overnight to make it seem like it waas an assault by RPF troops. This masquerade was prepared to provide a credible pretext for the massacres that were to follow.

The next day, these soldiers invaded Tutsi residences, massacred many after torturing them in the Kanzenze Sector, and claimed to have killed RPF combatants. The International Commission revealed in its 1993 report that the people who were then murdered had smashed skulls and faces, were disfigured and bloodied, and bore traces of the blunt objects with which they had been struck, various wounds on their bodies including those inflicted by the firearms that killed them. More than 300 were killed.

On the same date, there was also a reshuffle of the Government and the ministers who had been quoted in the newspaper Kangura as what they no longer trusted, were all dismissed. They are Theoneste Mujyanama, who was Minister of Justice, Jean Marie Vianney Mugemana who was Minister of the Interior, Habiyakare François who was Minister of Public Service, while the Ministry of Institutional Affairs whose minister Antoine Ntashamaje, a Tutsi, was definitively removed.

2) Distribution of weapons to the population of Byumba

A secret document written on February 7, 1992 by the head of Byumba Intelligence services, Rwirahira Vincent, describes a meeting held on the same date in the offices of Muvumba Commune. The participants in this meeting were informed of the status of progress of the organization of civil self-defense in the Mutara region after the distribution of 300 guns made available by the Ministry of Defense. These guns were distributed as follows: 76 to Muvumba Commune, 40 to Kivuye Commune, 40 others to Kiyombe Commune and finally 24 to Cyumba Commune. Regarding the Muvumba Commune, a group of 250 people were selected by the Bourgmestre Onesphore Rwabukombe and sent for training to Gabiro from January 29 to February 5, 1992, to be trained in the use of guns. These weapons were used to kill the Tutsi in Byumba.

3) The Rwandan army draws up lists of Tutsi and Hutu opponents throughout the country

On February 2, 1993, Prime Minister Dr. Dismas Nsengiyaremye addressed a letter to the Minister of Defense, James Gasana from the MRND presidential party, a letter of protest against a measure taken by the chief of staff of the Rwandan army addressed to all the units consisting in providing the list of all the alleged “accomplices” of the RPF. When the Rwandan regime spoke of accomplices of the RPF, it meant first all the Tutsi, then secondly the Hutu who were opposed to the ideology of genocide. Thus, this measure was aimed at inciting the army to draw up lists of all Tutsi and Hutu opponents with a view to exterminating them when the time came.

In his letter, the Prime Minister requested the Minister of Defense to stop what he called “witch hunting” and demanded that all the lists already made be withdrawn and transmitted to the Minister of Justice so that the appropriate measures be taken. The army didn’t respond to this request, rather they continued to identify Tutsi and opponents to the genocidal project with an extermination aim.

4) France assigned a senior officer to the Rwandan army as military advisor

On February 3, 1992, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a letter to the French Embassy in Rwanda, informing it that, with the agreement of the French Defense Ministry, it had been decided to allocate to the Rwandan army a permanent military adviser in the person of Lieutenant-Colonel Gilles Chollet. His role was to provide permanent military advice to President Habyarimana, supreme chief of the Rwandan army, as well as the Chief of Staff of the Rwandan army. It read as follows:

Lieutenant-Colonel Chollet, chief of the DAMI, will exercise simultaneously the functions of adviser to the President of the Republic, supreme chief of the Rwandan armed forces, and thefunctions of adviser to the chief of staff of the Rwandan army.”

5) The RPF put pressure on the Rwandan army, and France became much more involved in the fighting

On February 8, 1993, there was intense fighting and RPF-Inkotanyi troops arrived in Shyorongi, a few kilometers from the city of Kigali. French troops, under the command of Colonel Didier Tauzin, launched Operation Chimère from February 22 to March 28, 1993. The 1998 report of the fact-finding mission of the French National Assembly to Rwanda affirmed what follows:

The objective of Operation Chimère was to provide appropriate military training to a group of about 20,000 people as well as to provide them with French command

The number of French soldiers during the war was impressive; there were 688 soldiers from Operation NOROIT and 100 from the DAMI detachment.

Operation NOROIT consisted in ensuring security in the city of Kigali and its surroundings as well as that of Kigali airport, while the DAMI detachment assisted the Rwandan army in the localities where the fighting took place and participated openly in those.

6) The Belgian intelligence services give information on the support of the presidential guard to the Interahamwe

On February 2, 1994, Major Hock of the Belgian General Intelligence and Security Service prepared a thirteen-page report which he gave to various Belgian senior officials, in particular General Mertens of the King’s military house and the chief of staff of the cabinet in the Ministry of Defense in which he details all the mechanics of the Interahamwe militias. This document gives elements of the plan that the Interahamwe had to launch the execution of the genocide, which consisted of different strategies. First, launch attacks on Belgian UNAMIR soldiers to incite them to withdraw from UNAMIR in order to weaken it. Next, attack the Tutsi and members of the opposition parties. The document specified that the Interahamwe had all the capacities to carry out this plan because they were armed and benefited from the support of members of the Rwandan army, the gendarmerie and especially the presidential guard of Habyarimana.

7) UNAMIR officials inform the UN of Habyarimana’s refusal to guarantee the peace and security of people and property

On February 2, 1994, the same day the Belgian report was drafted, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative in Rwanda, Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, sent a telegram to New York in which he reported that President Habyarimana was not doing nothing either to investigate the perpetrators of the unrest in the country or to guarantee the safety of people and property. Booh-Booh meant in other words that Habyarimana was the source of the insecurity plaguing the country, including all preparations for the genocide.

The next day, 3 February 1994, General Dallaire sent a dispatch to the UN Security Council in which he reported almost the same information as Booh-Booh, stating that there is an obvious risk of violent attacks on the grenade and armed attack against ethnic and political groups, in other words targeting Tutsi and Hutu from the opposition. Dallaire spoke very clearly of assassinations and attacks that risked reaching UNAMIR facilities. He insisted that each day that delays the seizure of weapons by UNAMIR contributes to the deterioration of the security situation especially since the weapons, he said, continued to be distributed. Dallaire concluded by sounding the alarm that if things continued this way, UNAMIR would be unable to fulfill its humanitarian mandate.

The UN gave a limited response to Dallaire by forbidding UNAMIR to seize the weapons alone, but to ask the Rwandan authorities to recover them while assisting them in this task. This was impossible since it was the same Rwandan authorities who distributed weapons to the militias for the purpose of genocide.

8) The Belgian Ambassador to Rwanda stresses the urgency of seizing arms

The report of the Belgian Senate published in 1997 establishes that the Belgian ambassador to Rwanda, Johann Swinnen, addressed on February 3, 1994 a report to his ministry for foreign affairs signaled the impotence of the UNAMIR in front of the gravity of the situation. The ambassador said at the same time that it was urgent to end the distribution of weapons and to destroy existing stocks. The same report reports that on the same day, officers of the Belgian General Staff informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the grenade attacks were continuing in Kigali and resulted in what they called “concerted action“.

Conclusion

 The events mentioned above constitute proof that the Genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi from April 1994 was planned by the Habyarimana Government. It also highlights the weakness of the international community which had been sufficiently informed about the preparation of the Genocide but which did nothing to prevent and avoid it.

This should also challenge the countries of the international community and remind them of their duty to prosecute those who were implicated in the Genocide but who remain unpunished, and to make all the efforts necessary to definitively eradicate the genocide in this world.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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