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Means used in preparation for the genocide against the Tutsi in the Gitarama Prefecture: training of the population on weapons handling

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, training of the population on weapons handling was conducted before and after the death of former president Juvénal Habyarimana.

Before 1994, training of the population on the use of weapons was conducted in some communes namely the communes of Buringa, Nyakabanda, Nyabikenke, Masango, Taba, Ntongwe, Kigoma, Mushubati, Musambira and Runda.

Leaders of the above mentioned communes were involved in the training of the populations on the use of weapons due to some of the senior political leaders, native of those communes who were members of MRND, MDR Pawa, PL Pawa and CDR parties who supported Habyarimana’s plan to exterminate the Tutsi.

Some of those officials include Callixte Nzabonimana who was the minister of youth and associations who was from the Nyabikenke commune, a member of the MRND political party at national level and its president in Gitarama Prefecture, Kamana Claver from Runda commune, Mpamo Esdras and his son Georges Rutaganda from the commune of Masango, Kagabo Charles from the commune of Ntongwe, Célestin Ugirashebuja who was bourgoumestre of Kigoma commune and others.  

In March 1992, the presidency of MRND party in Gitarama prefecture invited different leaders composing the MRND committee in a meeting that would mull ways to support people that were joining the Interahamwe militia.

In a letter dated 4/3/1992, Bizimungu Viateur, member of the MRND’s committee in the Gitarama Prefecture, wrote to the youth representative in Gitarama Prefecture inviting him in the meeting of Saturday 7/03/1992 which aim was to prepare the meeting of Sunday 08/03/1992 which would take place at the MRND palace in the town at 3:00 PM.

In the commune of Kigoma, training of the population on weapon handling was carried out before the crash of President Habyarimana Juvénal’s plane.

Celéstin Ugirashebuja, bourgoumestre of Kigoma commune, played big part so that youths from this commune be trained on weapons handling. The training started in 1992; instructors included reservists like Munyaburanga from Muhororo at Mukingo. Training in weapons handling was conducted near the area called Gatagara

In the commune of Mugina, the minutes of the meeting held on 19/01/1993, councilors of Mugina and Mukinga sectors informed participants that there were in those above mentioned sectors youths who had registered with MRND’s Interahamwe militia who were conducting clandestine meetings on Wednesdays and Saturdays. In the sector of Mukinga, the councilor said that he had concerns with Interahamwe that were training in combat drills, which had angered people in other political parties.

In the commune of Mushubati, training of the population, especially young boys in weapons handling was conducted in end of 1993. Training were offered by army retirees at a place called Kanyinya in Gatikabisi sector.  

In the commune of Musambira, training in weapons handling was conducted at the beginning of 1994 and during perpetration of the genocide between April and July 1994.   At the beginning of 1994, Iyamuremye Abdulahaman, native of Musambira Sector requested the councilors of sectors to find him youths that would be trained and fight for the country. After the youths were availed, they were trained in the Kantare forest in Gihembi Sector. They were trained on firing using a prototype wooden gun. They were trained by retirees including Albert Karemera. Those trained received gun were the genocide was being perpetrated.

In the communes of Nyamabuye and Musambira training were conducted in the Gitarama military barracks, training started in March 1993.

In the commune on Nyabikenke,  from 1993,younsters from MRND political party in the communes of Nyakabanda, Nyabikenke, Mushubati, Buringa and others from different places were trained atop the Ndiza hill in the Mashira’s forest in Mugunga, Nyabikenke commune (currently Nyabinoni Sector). The youngsters made what was notoriously known as Bataillon Ndiza, an outfit formed by captain Rurakaza. Retirees Nyirindekwe Philippe and Sebahima are the ones who trained the youngsters.

In the commune of Ntongwe, some youngsters were trained in the Burundian refugee camp in Nyagahanga in Gisare Sector since 1993. They had morning runs every day. The youngsters teamed up with Burundian refugees, who were mostly fighters of the PALPEHUTU.

Habyarimana’s government settled Burundian refugees in the Mayaga area so that they could later be used to kill the Tutsi. The training in this refugee camp went simultaneously with indoctrination on hate against the Tutsi, which the Burundian refugees had against their Burundian Tutsi colleagues.  

In the commune of Taba, training of the population in weapons handling was conducted from1993. In the commune of Runda, training of the population in weapons handling started end of 1992. The training took place at Kamana Claver, a civil engineer’s home. The training was offered by Kagarama, bother to Twamugabo from Kabagesera village in Gihara Sector.  Those who received training from Kamana Claver’s home composed an outfit called “Abajepe” founded by him. The outfit was involved in killings of the Tutsi in Runda commune.  Apart from providing the training place at his home, Kamana Claver fed those at the training and offered them transport fees.

End of 1992 and beginning 1992 and 1993, Interahamwe as the youth of MRND political party were taken to Gako in Bugesera in what was called Ingando. They were trained in weapons handling and indoctrinated on hate against the Tutsi   as well as defying opponents of the Habyarimana’s regime, to oppose the Arusha Peace Accords and fight for the Habyarimana’s regime in general.