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Minister Niyitegeka Eliezer in the implementation of the extermination policy called “civil defense” in the former prefecture of Kibuye

INTRODUCTION

As the genocidal government was progressively losing the battle, it did everything to intensify the massacres in the areas it controlled. In order to achieve it very quickly, Jean Kambanda had assigned Niyitegeka Eliezer to the Kibuye region, to control and to ensure that the extermination was carried out according to the extermination plan in place.

NIYITEGEKA ELIEZER played a leading role in implementing the genocidal policy in the prefecture of Kibuye.

Born on March 12, 1952, Eliézer Niyitegeka is from the Gitabura sector, Gisovu commune, Kibuye prefecture (Rwanda). As a journalist and presenter at Radio Rwanda, he was appointed the Minister of Information of the Genocidal Government on April 9, 1994. He was a member of Mouvement Démocratique Républicain (MDR), and its president in the Kibuye prefecture from 1991 to 1994, he also sat on the national political bureau of his party. In 1994, he was the minister of information in the genocidal government.

1.      Niyitegeka distributed weapons in Gisovu commune and massacred Tutsi refugees in Mubuga church

On April 10, 1994 Niyitegeka Eliezer came to Gisovu, in a white Hilux at the back of which were three soldiers with many guns in the vehicle. Those weapons were distributed to the killers who used them in the attacks against the Tutsi.

On 16/4/1994, Niyitegeka came to Mubuga and told a large Interahamwe audience that he had learned that Tutsi were hiding in the Mubuga school and in the church waiting to launch an attack on them. He then chose numerous gendarms, armed with guns and grenades, who immediately launched the attack. The grenades were thrown from the roof top of the church which had been opened by the killers.

After the attack, Niyitegeka thanked the killers, promising to pay them with a drink as a reward, provided that they continue to kill Tutsi in other places.

2.      Niyitegeka massacred the Tutsi refugees on the hill of Kizenga, between April 17 and 30, 1994

Between 5,000 and 10,000 Tutsi men, women and children of all ages had taken refuge on Kizenga Hill. As its summit was very high, the refugees could see the attackers when they came to attack them. Niyitegeka arrived on the scene, accompanied by Ruzindana, the Interahamwe and gendarms with a total of between 2,000 and 3,000 killers. Niyitegeka himself carried a gun, the Interahamwe were armed with clubs, spears and axes.

The killers surrounded the hill and, with nowhere to go, the refugees decided to stay where they were and waited for death. Niyitegeka was the first to shoot at the crowd of refugees. Using a loudspeaker, he said to kill the enemy - the Tutsi and to spare no one. After the attack, corpses were everywhere and the dying people crying out in agony.

3.      Niyitegeka massacred Tutsi refugees on the hill of Muyira, between April 17 and 30

A large-scale attack was launched between 17 and 30 April against Tutsi refugees on the hill of Muyira, in Bisesero.

On that day the refugees were attacked three times. There were around 5,000 Tutsi refugees on the hill and more were arriving every day. There were Tutsi of all ages, including old men and infants on their mothers' backs. Some of them were survivors of other attacks, such as those from the churches of Ngoma, Mubuga and the Adventist Church of Mugonero, among whom many people had been massacred.

Among the killers, there were Niyitegeka, Segatarama who was the councillor of Gitabura, two communal police officers of Gisovu, Sebahire, Rukazamyambi, Minyotsi, a police officer, Ndimbati, the Bourgmestre of Gisovu, and Musema, who was the director of the Gisovu tea factory. They all carried guns. Among the killers, approximately 20 to 30 people were carrying firearms. Niyitegeka was leading the killers whose total number was over 6,000, including soldiers, police and Interahamwe. They were armed with spears, clubs and other traditional weapons. During this attack, the refugees defended themselves so well that the attackers had been retaliated.

More killers have returned. There have been deaths and the killers have been retaliated. Around 1:30 p.m., while organizing the funeral of the dead, the survivors were attacked for the third time on Muyira Hill. There had been countless deaths scattered on the hill.

4.      Niyitegeka massacred the Tutsi between April and early May in Kivumu

A mostly devastating attack was perpetrated between the end of April and the beginning of May 1994 in Kivumu, Bisesero. The attackers who took part in this attack which claimed the lives of many more victims were more numerous and better equipped than the others.

 

 

 

 

On the hill of Bisesero many Tutsi refugees were scattered on the hill. Some refugees suffered more than others. Some were wounded by gunshot or machete wounds, and others were suffering from common illnesses and they could not be treated. There were children, the elderly and women.

 

In order to give the wounded and the elderly time to find hiding places and because there was nowhere to go to escape, refugees ran to the attackers and met them in Kivumu. There were approximately 300 attackers carrying firearms, explosives, and traditional weapons such as machetes, spears, clubs, and sharp bamboo stalks.

Niyitegeka was leading, the Bourgmestre Charles Sikubwabo, the councilor Mika Muhimana, Ndimbati, the Bourgmestre of Gisovu, Segatarama, the councillor of Gitabura, Kanayira, the assistant of the Gishiyita Bourgmestre, Mathias Ngirinshuti, Kagaba and Vincent who was Mubuga's councillor.

Niyitegeka was armed with a gun and started shooting the refugees. The refugees resisted for a short time using stones and sticks but the attackers were heavily armed and they had come from many directions. They were chased by the attackers to the top of Gitwe hill where they then spent the night. The attack ended around 3:00p.m

 

5.      Niyitegeka launched a new attack against Tutsi refugees on the hill of Muyira, on May 13, 1994

On May 13, 1994, the attackers, including Interahamwe, soldiers and civilians, arrived between 8 am and 9 am. They had parked their vehicles at a place called "Kucyapa", in the junction of Gisovu and Gishyita communes. Among these vehicles were ONATRACOM buses, trucks belonging to COLAS and seized vehicles belonging to Tutsi who had been killed.

The attackers' vehicles were commuting between Kibuye and Cyangugu. The attackers were numerous; they were much more numerous than the refugees.

Among the attackers were the bourgmestres of Gishyita and Gisovu communes, the councillors, the prefect, Ruzindana, his brother Joseph, the pastor Ntakirutimana, the doctor Gérard Ntakirutimana, and Alfred Musema.

The attackers shouted "Tubatsembatsembe" literary “let us exterminate them”. The attack only ended around 17:30. During this attack, the attackers fired on the refugees and after they finished them off with a clubs and machetes. Niyitegeka was in the front line of attackers.

After the attack, the killers gathered at "Kucyapa" for a meeting. The refugees killed that day were very numerous. Some survivors who had some strength buried the bodies in shallow graves, other corpses were devoured by wild beasts and dogs on the hill.

6.      Niyitegeka wanted to finish off the Tutsi refugees on the hill of Muyira, May 14, 1994

The attack continued the next day on Muyira hill. In the morning, the killers had parked their vehicles at "Kucyapa".

Niyitegeka stood at a roadside sign. He was with Kayishema, the former prefect of Kibuye, Alfred Musema, Sikubwabo, the Bourgmestre of Gishyita, Ndimbati, the Bourgmestre of Gisovu, Ruzindana, Mika, Gérard and Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, Enos Kagaba, Kanyabungo Augustin, Victoire, Gashakabuhake, the former Bourgmestre of Gishyita, Segatarama, the councillor of Gitarama, Vincent Rutaganira, the councillor of Mubuga.

The group of attackers included civilians, soldiers, Interahamwe, gendarms and communal police. As soon as they saw the killers, the refugees fled to Muyira hill. The refugees were followed to the Kiraro river where another group of killers was waiting and they killed so many people and the river turned red with blood.

7.      Niyitegeka massacred the Tutsi in Rugarama and Kiziba, at the end of May

The refugees had been followed throughout the day. They had managed to escape to Cyamaraba, Kazirandimwe, and hide there in a bush.

Niyitegeka ordered the killers to return at 18:00 to continue the killings, in particular to attack and kill the refugees when they came out of their hiding places to look for food.

Niyitegeka, accompanied by Ruzindana and Kayishema also carried out massacres of Tutsi in Kiziba on June 18, 1994. He was shooting with his gun, and the Interahamwe finished off the wounded.

Returning from this massacre Niyitegeka met an old man and a young boy. He said to them, “Your parents almost killed me." He loaded his gun and shot on the old man's chest. He also shot the boy's head and body, and told the attackers to "remove the dirt," referring to the bodies of the old man and the boy.

8.      Niyitegeka led meetings that planned the extermination of Tutsi refugees on Bisesero hill, on June 10 and the following days

A few Tutsi refugees from Bisesero had survived several attacks against them since April 1994. Niyitegeka organized meetings to exterminate those who had escaped these massacres. The meeting of 10/6/1994 was held in the conference hall of Kibuye prefecture. The meeting was attended by Ruzindana, Kayishema, Musema, Doctor Gérard Ntakirutimana, Joseph Mpambara, Enos Kagaba, Mathias, the councilor of Gishyita, Mika, the councilor of Mubuga and the bourgmestres of Rwamatamu, Gisovu, Gishyita and Mabanza.

Ruzindana intervened on the subject of the meeting, which was to find the means to use in order to kill all the Tutsi in Bisesero. The participants reacted with applause.

Niyitegeka was speaking through a microphone. He promised that himself and Ruzindana would provide material support in the form of weapons to "resolve" the Tutsi problem in Bisesero.

A week after this meeting, Niyitegeka held another meeting during which he distributed weapons. He said that these weapons were to be used in the massacres in Bisesero. He presented the attack plan on the board and said that nobody would be spared. He first drew a circle on the board and then wrote the word "Bisesero" inside the circle.

Around the circle, the starting point assigned to each group of attackers was materialized by Niyitegeka by writing the full name or the initials of the chiefs designated for each group of killers. The five starting points surrounding the circle surrounding the word "Bisesero" were Karongi, Rushishi, Kiziba, Gisiza and Murambi. The starting point for the Niyitegeka group was Kiziba. No opposition had been lodged against the plan.

Niyitegeka ordered people to take part in the attack. He invited the bourgmestres to tell strong men to take part in the Tutsi killings and indicated that he would be personally present in the said attack. Sikubwabo and others expressed support for the planned attack, saying they would be on the scene and encouraged everyone to participate.

People welcomed this speech with shouts and applause.

9.      Niyitegeka personally raped and made several Tutsi girls and women raped

On May 20, Interahamwe, who accompanied Niyitegeka to carry out attacks in Bisesero, started to flush out people who had hidden in the bushes. They caught a young girl who aged between 13 to 15 years old. They took her to Niyitegeka and put her in his vehicle. Niyitegeka was seated in the vehicle, a red jeep, with the door open. Niyitegeka closed the door and was left alone with the girl in the vehicle. He raped the girl, then threw her in front of the vehicle before shooting her down with a gun.

On June 2, 1994, near the Ecole normale technique de Kibuye, at the edge of the road, Niyitegeka ordered Interahamwe to fetch a piece of wood, to sharpen it and to insert it in the genitals of a woman who had just been shot. The woman's body, with the inserted piece of wood, was later left by the roadside for about three days.

There were numerous cases of rape during the Bisesero attacks. Several women had been kidnapped where Eliezer Niyitegeka and Edouard Karemera were, and no one had seen them again, they had been raped and killed in the bushes. Any man who wanted to rape a woman could do it and anyone who caught a girl was free to rape her as he pleased.

Some men had taken girls to their homes and killed them after they were done with them.

Niyitegeka Eliezer was convicted of genocide and sentenced to life imprisonment. He is said to have died in prison in Mali.

CONCLUSION

The massacres of Tutsi continued in the territory held 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 around this time that the criminal government started to wipe away evidence of the genocide, including the destruction of houses and traces of massacred Tutsi.

 

Done at Kigali on June 19, 2020

Dr BIZIMANA Jean Damascène

Executive Secretary

National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG)