Rwanda: Genocide Against Tutsi in the Jungle

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It openly mocks the stupidity and ignorance of the people!

Rwanda is a predominantly Christian nation where three out of four people call themselves Catholic after 100 years of intense exposure to white missionaries. In 1994, the country was turned into a vast graveyard.

In 100 days, 800,000 men and women, babies and old people were butchered as marauding bands of R.C. Hutu militia hunted and killed every member of the Protestant Tutsi minority they could find.

I shall include the not named here genocide of 8,000 S.D.A who were in hiding known only to one, their (SUPPOSED) leader. In reality he was a Jesuit plant. He is alive and in hiding in the United states Today!

At Nyange, Seromba’s parish, thousands of Tutsi fled to the church and Seromba, who had been the priest for about six months, for refuge. Instead, they were slaughtered.

Witnesses said Seromba, a Hutu, sided with the campaign to exterminate the Tutsi to an extreme extent. He urged on the militia attacking the church and, in a climax of unimaginable horror, ordered it to be bulldozed, crushing those inside.

Anastase Kinamubanzi, one of the bulldozer drivers, balked at demolishing “God’s house.” But Seromba told him: “There are many Christians in foreign lands. This church will be rebuilt in three days”. Witnesses are quoted as saying he paid the drivers and locals to bury the bodies. Between 2,000 and 2,500 were killed.

Today, a weed-strewn mound of rubble, mixed with bundles of rags that once were people, and four stark wooden crosses are all that remain of the church at Nyange. A lush grassy plain nearby covers a mass grave. The attacks on the Tutsi in the Nyange area began on April 8. Two days earlier, President Juvenal Habyarimana had been killed in a mysterious plane crash near Kigali, the capital. His death was blamed on the minority Tutsi, regarded as the enemy. It unleashed a wave of killings and, as happened everywhere, Tutsi in Seromba’s area fled their homes.

Seromba, accompanied by Grégoire Ndaimana, the burgomaster or mayor, and a group of councillors and police officers, toured the villages, urging people to gather in the church for their own protection.

The priest was a reassuring presence in an increasingly frightening world. But he was engaged in a cruel deception. Seromba and the burgomaster were chairing daily sessions of a “special security committee” whose one purpose, according to a police participant, was “the extermination of the Tutsi” gathering at the church.

By and by, hundreds of people had congregated for safety in the church and courtyard. But many Hutu militia, were converging on them as well. Many Tutsi had armed themselves with stones and their own traditional weapons.

Some were hiding in the presbytery, a two-storey building nearby where Seromba had his quarters. Seromba did not like them being there and had them expelled. According to Papias Hategekimana, his cook, he said to an Hutu militiaman who had come to ask permission to let them kill the Tutsi: “Wait, I will tell you when the time comes.”

When she entered the church on Sunday, April 10, Virginie Mukabarinda, who was 20, was struck by the pathetic sound of “children crying from hunger and lack of air.” She had a daughter and a baby girl and there was nothing to eat. Seromba was heard to say the Tutsi in the church should be left to starve.

On the Tuesday, Bertin Ndakubana, a livestock breeder and now a local councillor, entered with his family and found Seromba there. He heard someone ask the priest to pray for them. “Is the God of the Tutsi still alive?” Seromba replied.

“Someone else said to him, ‘Aren’t you concerned about these children polluting the altar? Couldn’t you allocate some rooms instead of the church,’” Ndakubana recalled. “Seromba answered: `You can go and s— on the altar if you want to, because I won’t be celebrating mass on it ever again’ ”

The next day, April 13, the gendarmes confiscated the Tutsi’s knives, machetes and axes, leaving them almost defenceless except for stones. Charles Kagenza, a member of the local Charismatic Renewal Movement, began organizing prayers. It was at this point that Seromba took away the chalices, communion cups and clerical vestments. Kagenza asked him to leave the monstrance and the Eucharist so that they could hold a service. Seromba said the building no longer functioned as a church.

The decision to kill the Tutsi was taken that evening. According to Adrien Niyyitegeka, a police officer who attended the meeting, Seromba approved. Ndaimana, the burgomaster, went to Kibuye, the nearest big town, to seek ammunition and gasoline to burn them if it was necessary.

The church was attacked on schedule the following day. The refugees, although weak from hunger and thirst, managed to defend themselves at first and repulsed the attackers with stones.

Another high-level meeting was called at which Seromba agreed to use his influence to persuade the refugees to leave the church. At the same time, reinforcements were summoned with drums.

The next day more the Hutu militants, wearing feathers and banana leaves, and chanting, blowing whistles and beating drums encircled the church. Seromba tried to persuade people to leave. The killing began an hour afterward. Seromba was seen firing into the crowd with his gun.

“They killed using machetes, hand grenades, guns, spears and arrows. It was horrific,” Ndakubana said. “God’s house were screaming, women were crying, men were groaning. Some people tried to get out of the church, but were caught and killed immediately, while others were running into the church to get out of the courtyard. Some people even went to the priests’ quarters, although anyone who hid there was chased out again by the priests.” Another witness described Seromba at one stage standing on the presbytery balcony with the other priests, watching the slaughter “as though they were watching a good film.”

Jean-Bosco Safari, 33, a civil servant whose wife was killed, was hiding in the presbytery kitchen with others. When they were discovered, Seromba told them he would ensure their safety.

Then, Safari said, the gendarmes came, lined up those still hiding in the courtyard and shot them. “They went on killing until the evening. The noise was indescribable, the screams, the terrifying sound of grenades exploding.

It was like a scene from hell with the devil dressed as a priest that evening. A young girl begged Seromba to save her. He replied. ‘Get lost, cockroach).’” Virginie and Alexis Mukabarinda were also hiding in the kitchen with their baby Apollonia. They had left their elder daughter and Virginie’s father in the church, where they later died.

Afraid that Apollonia would cry and give them away, Virginie hid in a cupboard used to store fruit. Alexis and others in the kitchen were dripping blood from their wounds when Seromba came in.

Seromba told them to set an example and be the first to leave. They were given no choice, Virginie said, and trooped out. It was the last she saw of her husband. Seromba believed that everybody had left and went to the sink to wash his hands.

“My heart was in my mouth,” Virginie said. “I prayed to God not to let Apollonia sneeze and gave her my breast to suck. God granted my prayer.” As she hid she heard Seromba talking to himself at the sink, unaware that he was being overheard. He was saying in a loud voice: “My God, forgive me. I can’t do anything else. They have to die. War is a terrible thing.”

Seromba brought in two Hutu girls to mop up the blood. One was Epiphanie. Hungry and hoping to find some fruit in the cupboard, she opened the door and found Virginie cowering inside with her baby.

“We’ll never get rid of the Tutsi fighters,” she exclaimed. “They are too crafty. How could that woman have got in the cupboard?” She ordered Virginie out and criticized Seromba for having Tutsi staff. But he told her not to bother about Virginie. “Why don’t you hand her over to the people who will deal with her?”

Virginie was let go but her tragedy was not over. After hiding in yam and manioc fields for two days she took the risk of contacting François Mwemezi, a Hutu neighbour, and appealing for his help.

He seemed to take pity on her and agreed to escort her and Apollonia across the Nyabarongo River to safety. “When we got near the river, François seized Apollonia and drowned her. I sat down and could not move.”

That evening, Seromba and the burgomaster chaired a meeting to decide on a “final strategy of extermination” of the Tutsi. At 10 a.m. the next day, April 16, after more abortive attacks, the order was given to destroy the church.

Two bulldozers that had already been used to bury the corpses littering the area were ordered back. They simultaneously smashed into the left and right sides of the church. The walls caved in on the people and the militia rushed in, hacking and stabbing at random. But the steeple was still standing.

Charles Kagenza had climbed up it to save himself and, supported by a beam, watched the horror unfold below him. “The church was completely destroyed between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. It made a terrible noise, combined with the victims’ cries and moans.”

Seromba sipped beer on his balcony and took pot shots at the refugees in the steeple, chatting with the burgomaster as to who was the better shot. Even before that incident, Serumba had allegedly refused help to Tutsis in the first days of the genocide, even turning down requests to buy food on their behalf with their own money.

The Role of the Church

Rwanda is still struggling to come to terms with the genocide. There is no doubt that the Catholic Church abetted the tragedy. It was the single most powerful institution in the country after the government and its clergy were not exempt from the country’s pervasive racism.

The church’s failure to foster reconciliation remains a hot issue in Rwanda. A bishop is on trial now for genocide, a first in the history of the Catholic church. The Vatican says the trial is an attack on the church. It has helped to organize his legal defence.

In the same way, it also looked after two priests who were Seromba’s subordinates at Nyange during the massacre. The Rwandan courts sentenced them to death last year. Contrast this with the Church’s protection of Seromba, who remains abroad and free.

Seromba has been in Italy for the past two years with the connivance of his home bishop back in Rwanda who sanctioned his overseas posting. However, the church’s protection of Seromba is about to be blown apart. A devastating dossier on his willing participation in the genocide, based on testimonies gathered in Rwanda by survivors, witnesses and accomplices, will be published as a charge-sheet against him by African Rights, the London-based human rights organization. African Rights has been investigating the genocide and its aftermath over the past five years and regards Seromba as one of its worst cases.

“In the light of the testimonies,” said Rakiya Omaar, African Rights director, “it is surely impossible for the church in Italy and in Rwanda, the judicial authorities in Italy or the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to allow Fr. Seromba simply to leave his past behind. The grounds for his arrest and prosecution are beyond question.”

Omaar also said the London-based group wanted to establish how and where Seromba obtained his visa, who facilitated him, whether his visa had been extended or its nature changed and whether it had been issued in that name or the one he goes by in Italy, Anastasio Sumba Bura. She said African Rights was also asking the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to investigate as well.

The group raised the case of Seromba in a 10-page letter to Pope John Paul last year but Omaar said it had been “summarily dismissed” and she had heard nothing back.

A spokesperson for the cardinal said: “Seromba was presented to us by his bishop and superiors in Rwanda. They asked us to take him for a while so we did. He is here practising as a priest and studying theology and we do not know anything else. But he seems to be a very good man and it is not nice to hear these things.”

At the Vatican there was silence. But a leading missionary figure who knew Seromba when he passed through Kenya on his way to Italy was both surprised and dismayed to learn last week that Seromba remains in the priesthood and in Florence.

He said: “In terms of attitude and ideology, I can say he was a Hutu extremist, a deeply un-Christian person and not a genuine priest; most likely he should be conducted before a genocide tribunal.” It was the first time anyone in the Church of any authority had dared to give a negative judgment on the Seromba case.

Confronted at his church, Seromba said at first he did not want to talk.

“I do not have the time,” he said. Pressed again, he insisted there was nothing he could have done to save his parishioners. He was not going to confess and he was at peace with his God.

A Rwandan court in April 1998 sentenced Serumba’s colleagues, Frs. Jean Francois Kayiranga and Edouard Nkurikiye, to death after finding them guilty of crimes against humanity. The driver of the digger, was given a life term. About 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates were killed by Hutu extremists in the

100-day killing spree in 1994.

In a separate case, Bp. Augustin Misago of Gikongoro in southern Rwanda, went on trial in Sept. on charges of collaborating with officials in Tutsi extermination plans.

Nuns involved also

African Rights is going after other alleged genocidal clergy as well. In a 62-page report documenting the alleged involvement of Srs. Gertrude Mukangango and. Julienne Kizito in the deaths of up to 6,000 Tutsis, they called on the Belgian judicial system to prosecute the two nuns.

The group said its report showed that members of the Belgian Catholic clergy had “sought to interfere with the process of justice.” African Rights said its findings were based on testimony from 34 witnesses to the slaughter in Sovu, Rwanda, from April to July 1994. These included survivors, other nuns, prisoners accused of genocide and residents of Sovu.

The nuns have been living at the Benedictine order in Maredret, Belgium, since Aug. 1994. The order declined comment on the report. The report said the unquestioning faith of the order alone could not explain why the women remained at liberty when there were so many people prepared to testify to their involvement in the genocide in Sovu.

“The example of the Church’s response to the accusations against the Sovu nuns raises… the broader issue of the Catholic Church’s political stance, before, during and after the 1994 genocide,” it said.

The report said the behavior of some at the Belgian monastery “suggests that at the heart of the Catholic church in Belgium are clergy prepared not only to tolerate genocide suspects, but to work alongside them, and even to do all in their power to cover up for them.”

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