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Last update: 1 July 2022 h. 10:44
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Genocide ideology lingers on

With barely four months to the 10th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, a Senatorial Commission of inquiry set up to look into the recent killings of genocide survivors has said that the genocide ideology is still alive in some parts of Gikongoro, a province located in the South of Rwanda.
Nasra Bishumba

The Commission was set after reports of a series of murders aimed at genocide survivors were reported in Kaduha district of Gikongoro province.

The report, prior to the string of the torturous deaths, indicated that the victims were all executed in almost the same style.

The report says that the killings are all directly aimed at discouraging genocide survivors from testifying in the recently established Gacaca courts.

Gacaca courts are local courts that were established in 1998 to help lessen the pressure from the ordinary courts.

The courts were also established to help in the quick delivery of justice to both the survivors of the genocide and the executors.

An estimated 1Million people lost their lives when the majority Hutu turned against the minority Tutsis in the worst and fastest manslaughter after Hitler.

The Senatorial report indicates that the survivors of the genocide are now living in fear and panic.

Alarmingly, MP Stanley Safari has tabled in the Senate a list of seven survivors who he said have fled the province due to increasing intimidation and murder attempts.

One of the victims, according to Safari, is Ms Jane Mujawamariya, president of Ibuka, a genocide survivors umbrella group, in the province.

He said Mujawamariya and most other victims left their homes late last year and sought refuge in Rusumo, Kibungo province. Others have reportedly moved to Bugesera region of Kigali Ngali, and to other neighboring provinces.

Safari, a presidential nominee, broke the shocking news in presence of Prime Minister Bernard Makuza, who the upper chamber had summoned to give a verbal explanation on what his government has done on last year's confirmed reports of a series of horrific killings of genocide survivors.

"This is a clear indication of lack of prevention (of crime) in the province, particularly in Kaduha. It is appalling that at this time, people are still hunted down to be killed," Safari told the senate

Nevertheless, Premier Makuza insists his government has reserved no effort in curbing the 'surprise horrors'.

"We immediately acted on the incidents. A number of suspects (about 25) have been arrested and a first case for suspected killers of one Karasira alias Kabombo (killed on 21st April, 2003) begins on 21st of this month," he explained

Senate Vice President Prosper Higiro recalled that harassment of survivors had steadily been reported in Nyamasheke district, Cyangugu province, in the recent past years 'but little had been done to the incidents'.

Higiro said similar cases were spreading to neighboring districts of Karambo and Kabagari (Gitarama province), and Nyanza municipality of Butare province.

"It is a well co-coordinated conspiracy," Higiro, also president of the Liberal Party (PL), noted.

But Makuza requested the House to share information with his office. "Let us know whichever information you receive from any grassroots authorities anywhere in the country about such incidences."

A good number of suspects, including a Sector Coordinator in the district, have been arrested, with most of them pleading guilty. Premier Makuza insists his government has reserved no effort in curbing the 'surprise horrors'. "We immediately acted on the incidents".

Mugesera, a former Ibuka president, had also said similar reports were heard form other regions.

A survey by the Rwandan human rights organization LIPRODHOR in 2001 found that three Rwandans out of four back the "gacaca" project.

It said 81 per cent of people questioned believed that there was no other way of dealing with the legal aftermath of the genocide than through the existing judicial system and the "gacaca" courts.

But 51 per cent said they feared a failure of the "gacaca" project could lead to ethnic conflict, with inevitable socio-political consequences, according to the Fondation Hirondelle.

The independent human rights watchdog, Human Rights Watch, has noted the flaws in the gacaca system but has concluded that it is the only hope for dealing with the mass of suspects.

Surveys by foreign legal experts have revealed that some Rwandans fear that the courts will bring to the surface old fears and hatred and that there is a danger of intimidation of witnesses.

President Paul Kagame recently told the BBC that the system has flaws and there is the possibility of intimidation, but he said that even the International Court in Arusha had had to deal with the intimidation of witnesses.

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