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Genocide in Cyangugu: Acts of violence committed against the Tutsi on the 2nd Republic until 1990

 As explained in the study conducted by the National commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) on the history of the Genocide against the Tutsi in the former Cyangugu Prefecture, when president Habyarimana took power, there was a short respite, people thought that he was bringing them peace due to kind words in his speeches. However, this did not last long as he continued into the acrimonious line initiated by president Kayibanda, favored those from Rukiga (the Bakiga), the native area of president Habyarimana (Gisenyi, Ruhengeri and Byumba) and isolated the Tutsi in general and the Hutu from Nduga (Gitarama, Butare and Gikongoro). This acrimonious line was incorporated into the Habyarimana’s politics in what was called “the policy of quotas”.

That policy of ethnic and regional segregation was used in education with the purpose to isolate the children of the Tutsi and other non Bakiga citizens. The Tutsi were denied access to schools, not because they were not capable, whereas the Hutu were granted access to schools based on ethnic or regional favoritism. A big number of Tutsi was oppressed by the “policy of quotas”, many of them turned to agriculture and commerce to subsist after they were denied the chance to study.

In his leadership, president Habyarimana was eager to the interests of the Hutu and development of his native area, the North of the country. The same as his predecessor, president Kayibanda, president Habyarimana founded in 1975 the country’s only political party, MRND, based on ethnic and regional segregation, which continued the PARMEHUTU ideology initiated by Kayibanda.

Since 1985, the regime of president Habyarimana faced several challenges including famine among the population and inflation on cash crop on the international market among others.  In 1988, international media raised awareness on the issue of Rwandan refugees abroad. As the politics of hatred and division had been enthroned, president Habyarimana did not give attention to the issue. It is when he rather announced publicly that the country was full, and that there was no place for the Tutsi refugees.

In 1989, there also arose perfidy and rivalries among the leaders, there thus arose ideas that president Habyarimana had isolated in leadership the Hutu who were not from the north of the country. This caused misunderstanding among the leaders and followed by deaths in unclear circumstances of leaders including father Sylidio Sindambiwe who was editor in chief of Kinyamateka, MP Nyiramutarambirwa Felicula, Sebukura and others. Their death was mysterious.

 There was also a native of Cyangugu, Nkubito Alphonse Marie, a public prosecutor who was against violation of human rights. His opposing to acts of violation of human rights caused him constant transfers, which was clear to everyone that the aim was to discourage him.

During this period, rumors had it that Rwanda was going to be attacked by the Tutsi who had fled the country. This drew the Habyarimana’s regime to  closely  monitor all activities of the Tutsi, measures were taken to deny them travel documents (Laissez-Passer), to know their locations and their activities among others.

It is in this perspective that in July 1990 in the Gisuma commune, a certain Rutayisire Théoneste got married to a daughter of Gategabondo Egide, a wealthy businessman in Bukavu but originating from Mutimasi in Cyimbogo commune. The ceremony was considered as something extraordinary because it brought together several participants from DRC, Burundi and across Rwanda. A few days after the wedding, the RPF-Inkotanyi launched the liberation in October 1990.

 Following the way all Tutsi activities were monitored on daily basis, information was spread out that there were many of ‘Inyenzi’ (Tutsi refugees) who infiltrated in Cyangugu under the pretext of   Rutayisire Théoneste’s wedding.  This led the Tutsi of Cyangugu to being closely monitored in a particular way, many of those who attended Rutayisire’s wedding were imprisoned on allegations of being spies with the RPF-Inkotanyi.

The beginning of the liberation war was used as a pretext to heighten the constant acts of violence against the Tutsi until the Genocide was perpetrated against them.