Share Button

Genocide against the Tutsi in Gitarama: acts of violence and killings committed against the Tutsi in 1973 within the communes Ntongwe, Masango, Runda and Kayenzi

As explained by the study conducted by the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) on the history of the Genocide committed against the Tutsi in the former Gitarama Prefecture, perpetration of acts of killings and violence against the Tutsi begun in the end of February 1973.   The plot of the masterminds of these ignoble actions was to target all the Tutsi, starting from those in schools and different services. Top leaders of the PARMEHUTU party including president Kayibanda Grégoire himself incited their partisans to blaze and destroy the houses of the Tutsi as well as Killing them.

 In the commune of Ntongwe, the killers came from the communes of Mugina and Nyamabuye towards the place called Kabanda and found both the Hutus and the Tutsis had come together to contain the attack. The councilor of Gisari sector called Rugira had put together all the sector’s citizens to refrain the attacks that were mainly made of partisans of PARMEHUTU party from areas of Nyamabuye and Mugina.

 During the fight, the Tutsi called Gaspard and Karimumvumba from Mbuye were killed. Later on, the Tutsis fled and sought refuge in bushes where they spent two weeks.

The killings of the Tutsis and burning of the houses started from Kayenzi and then spread to Rubona, Nyabitare and Gisare. The houses of the Tutsis were burnt by the new Hutu resettlers that had been taken from areas of Gikongoro, Buringa and Nyakabanda. Most of the survivors fled to Burundi and came back later after the coup carried out by former president Juvenal Habyarimana on July5,1973.

 In the commune of Masango, the killings of the Tutsis and burning of their houses started from areas of the former Prefectures of Gikongoro and Kibuye. The killers burnt the houses of the Tutsis alongside their way while captured Tutsis were taken to Kirinda to be killed at the Nyabarongo River.  Those who were not killed sought refuge in bushes where they spent more than a week. The soldiers of the Kayibanda regimes are the ones who put an end to these acts of killings and violence. They are the ones who called the people and told them that security had been restored. Those involved in the killings were arrested, jailed and soon released.

 In the commune of Runda, the burning of the houses of the Tutsi and forcing them out of their properties occurred in March 1973. Most of the Tutsis from the commune of Runda fled to the parish of Kamonyi, others to the parish of Gihara. Manye Hutu civilians there were not against the Tutsi because they offered to guard the livestock of the Tutsis fleeing. There are even some others who went to visit their Tutsi neighbors in their hideouts.    

The witnesses of the commune of Runda say that the then Minister of Education Gaspard Harerimana is the one who calmed down the troubles and even called the command of the police in Gitarama which sent people to arrest those who were burning the houses of the Tutsi. However, those arrested were imprisoned during a short period. Among the notorious in these acts of violence and killings were councilor Nkotanyi Dismas, Munyakazi Alfred, Sibomana Joseph, Birikunzira Ananie and others.

In the commune of Kayenzi, the burning of the houses of the Tutsis started from Shyogwe and spread in other areas. The Tutsis from this commune and others from other parts fled to the hill called Bibare, in Bunyonga Sector and fought back attacks of PARMEHUTU partisans that were coming to kill them. Even though they fought back the attacks, the attackers went back and burnt their houses. Many Tutsis saw their houses burnt or saw the sheets or tiles removed onto the roofs of their houses. The notorious in these killings were Ngabonzima, Rwakirenzi, Rubagumya, Harerimana and  Byarahamye.