By Tom Ndahiro
Genocide ideologues never cease to create and recreate forums to sustain their toxic isms. The political juggling and tricks packaged as human rights activism and Democratic campaigning, are recycled over and over again. In the planning and execution phases of the genocide and the subsequent denial, metaphoric catchphrases are liberally employed. To those in the know, the metaphors serve as encrypted verses for extermination.
During genocide against Tutsi for instance, the rape of Tutsi women was referred to as “Kubohoza” literally to liberate. ‘Kubohoza’ in one sense mean that the rapists were ‘liberating’ themselves by raping Tutsi women whom they turned into sexual slaves. This dehumanising act was used because had it not been genocide, they would otherwise not have been able to have sex with Tutsi women. Alternatively, this was a grotesque and mocking way of saying the rape victims were being ‘liberated’ by these vile and inhuman acts.
The code for an area with many Tutsis, “a lot of dirt here.” As for ‘a lot of dirt here’, this is a usual propaganda strategy. You dehumanise your victims in order to justify exterminating them. So the meaning here is get rid of ‘the dirt’; just like they were mobilizing people to kill ‘snakes’ and ‘cockroaches’.
In monarchical, pre-colonial Rwanda “Umutabazi”, or Abatabazi in plural, literally saviour or rescuer, referred to individuals who gave their lives for the well-being of the country. Such heroic figures who were considered liberators, typically gave their lives to save the nation from catastrophes, whether natural, like floods or famine, or man-made like defending the nation from external attacks.
The genocidal interim government lead by Theodore Sindikubwabo was deliberately named “Guverinoma y’Abatabazi” literally a government of redeemers. Umutabazi is from the verb “Gutabara” which has several but related meanings that include help, rescue, intervene, fight for your country etc.
It is a thinking that is alive and well in the minds of the adherents of such an ideology. It can for instance be seen in another self-styled redeemer of Rwanda, Ingabire Victoire Umuhoza. On 11th September 2019, she announced the creation of yet another political party in Rwanda, “Development and Liberty for All (DALFA) – UMURINZI”
The addition of Umurinzi is significant. The word is derived from the verb ‘kurinda’, to protect and to watch over. It is also a ritual name for a sacred tree called Umuko botanically called Erythrina abyssinica.
The tree figures in Rwanda’s ancient religious beliefs, whose adherents were known as Imandwa. Imandwa celebrated Ryangombe as a sacrificial figure, almost as Christians celebrate Jesus Christ.
According to this myth, Ryangombe was a hero who died, after being gored by a furious buffalo which threw him into the branches of Umurinzi. The belief was that as he lay dying in Umurinzi, or the protective tree, Ryangombe established a set of religious beliefs which assured salvation on earth, and in the hereafter.
For Ingabire, the choice of the word Umurinzi is culturally significant. As the political heir to the intellectual framers of genocide ideology in Rwanda, she preserves the code.
She has always projected herself as redeemer. On 16th January 2010, the day she returned to Rwanda from The Netherlands, her website announced her coming and her mission. She declared that she came to Rwanda as a “liberator” to save the ‘people’ from the yoke of Tutsi inequalities “especially fear, poverty, dictatorship, feudalism, racism, loss of national heritage, precarious housing, life without a home, living in humiliation, and other ills.”
In this, she was only replaying the so called Hutu Power ideology, since the first murders of Tutsi in 1959, to date. Declare that the ‘people’ (for PARMEHUTU, the people always mean Hutu) need liberation from the terrible Tutsi, which liberation would then be used to justify the mass murder and genocide.
Until she proclaimed her DALFA-UMURINZI, for thirteen years, Ingabire was the leader of Forces Democratiques Unifiées/United Democratic Forces (FDU-Inkingi). For thirteen years before that, she was at the head of the “Rally for the Return of Refugees and Democracy in Rwanda (RDR). Both organisations served as an umbrella for the leadership of Rwanda’s genocidal establishment.
When she took over the leadership of RDR, it was from some of the master minds of the genocide against Tutsi, many of whom, like Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, Major-Gen Augustin Bizimungu, Major Aloys Ntabakuze, Dr. Ferdinand Nahimana, were convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
These were the intellectual stalwarts for Parmehutu ideology, who wanted their organisations sanitised and repackaged for a new, global audience, and Ingabire was their chosen perfect successor.
Clever, shrewd, energetic, committed, and free from direct involvement in the 1994 genocide against Tutsi (she was in the Netherlands at the time, unlike her mother Thérèse Dusabe, a particularly cruel genocide perpetrator fugitive known as the ‘Butcher of Butamwa’ convicted by a Gacaca court for her many murders of pregnant Tutsi women from whose wombs she loved cutting foetuses).
Ingabire is of great importance to the genocidal establishment, the principals of whom must necessarily hide in the shadows. From the outset she was selected as the acceptable face of Rwanda’s genocide ideology. Her rise within that community was meteoric.
In 1997 she became leader of the RDR, Netherlands chapter. Three years later, in 2000, she was elevated to President of the organisation, internationally. Wherever such people were in the world, they answered to her.
In 2003, RDR changed its name to become the Republican Rally for Democracy in Rwanda, keeping the abbreviations. The pernicious ways and dog-whistle politics, are common time honoured tactics within PARMEHUTU. The name of the organisation changes to fit the conditions, and the particular stage of implementation of the ideology. It is an insidious camouflage that is hidden to all but the initiated into the ideology.
The first genocidal pogroms of Tutsi in 1959, were organised under the Belgian administration, but with Republican Democratic Movement (MDR-PARMEHUTU) leading the murders. MDR-PARMEHUTU was created in October the same year, a month before the killings began.
The first pogroms of genocidal proportions against Tutsi in 1959, were organised under the Belgian administration, but MDR-PARMEHUTU was at the helm of the mass murder. MDR-PARMEHUTU was created in October the same year, a month before the killings began. The half acronym “MDR” stands for Republican Democratic Movement. The other half “PARMEHUTU” was the short form of Party of the Hutu Emancipation Movement.
In 1973, MDR-PARMEHUTU was ousted from power in coup d’état led by Juvenal Habyarimana. It is safe to assume with the blessing of the Belgian colonial authorities, since nothing of significance happened in Rwanda, without their say so.
In 1975 Juvenal Habyarimana created a new ruling party the Mouvement Révolutionnaire National pour le Développement/National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND). Words ‘revolution’ and ‘movement’ maintained to root the new party within PARMEHUTU ideology.
The organised recurrent mass murders of 1959-64 were officially to be called “The Social Revolution.” It is a term that many still use today. As they prepared the next genocide in June 1991, they changed the name again, National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development, the acronym remained untouched. The pattern continued to be change to a name in which genocide could be hidden and justified, as “Social Revolution” “Self Defence” or “Liberation”.
This audacity to glorify criminality is a genocidal mind-set. By January 1960 with Rwanda still officially under colonial rule, there were thousands of Rwandan refugees in neighbouring countries. They were ‘Tutsi’ fleeing from genocidal massacres. But in a speech on 7th December 1990, President Juvenal Habyarimana declares that these were people who had “fled from a regime chosen by the majority. They fled from the will of the people”. According to Habyarimana, the victims of genocide were “staunch supporters of the monarchy fleeing from the Revolution and fighting against the establishment of the Republic.” Because of that mentality, perpetrators of genocide were “representatives of the people, who were against the monarchic regime.” And just like that, genocide is denied, the victims vilified, and perpetrators exonerated, even praised.
The words ‘Republican’ and ‘Democracy’ carry a particular meaning for the adherents of the PARMEHUTU ideology. To them Democracy, as with people, is always code for Hutu to exclusion of Tutsi, who are not to be regarded as people, certainly not Rwandans. Republican is code for the leadership of the ‘people’ the ‘Democracy’ is the ‘rule of or by the people’ (i.e. Hutu).
And when they speak of the ‘majority’, they do not mean the majority of Rwandans, they mean a majority which is exclusively Hutu. It is esoteric language that up to now has served them well, as they proclaim to the world that their only crime is to represent the majority, and campaign for Democratic, Republican values, and who could object to that, except the terrible Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF)! This is another propaganda strategy. The community is divided into ‘us, the people’ and ‘them, the anti-people’.
This is the logic which brought the creation of yet another ultra-extremist Hutu party Coalition pour la Défense de la République/Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR). Ingabire embodies this ideology. For her and others like her, the RPF is not seen as properly and can certainly not lead her kind of ‘Republic’ in Rwanda.
The ‘emancipation’ part in PARMEHUTU, explains why in 1992, CDR or “defenders of the republic’ to give it its full meaning was created. In their euphemistic language, the name looks harmless enough to foreigners or to the unwary or gullible Rwandans. Unless you understand the almost always coded language of PARMEHUTU, the codes have more precise meaning for the target group of Rwandans who subscribe to their tropical “republicanism”.
From 2003 to 2006, Ingabire was installed into the position of President yet another political camouflage — Union des Forces Démocratiques Rwandaises/Union of Rwanda Democratic Forces (UFDR), ostensibly with the aims of achieving what the words denote, but in reality, a discriminatory organisation, a façade for people who champion the genocide ideology of the RDR.
In April 2006, three groups namely the Alliance Démocratique Rwandaise/ADR-Isangano Rwandan Democratic Alliance (ADR-Isangano), the Resistance Forces for Democracy (FDR/RFD) and RDR came together to form the Unified Democratic Forces (FDU-Inkingi), under the leadership of Victoire Ingabire, until recently, when she created another political party, DALFA-Umurinzi.
To paraphrase a Stalinist era saying, new party, same as old party. As in all previous incarnations, the new party is FDU-Inkingi in all but name, which in turn was RDR in all but name, and so on, like the Hydra’s many heads. It is also like a computer virus designed to camouflage her decades’ long lethal PARMEHUTU ideology.
The changing of names and appellations of their supposedly political groups often misleads people who know little or nothing about the construction of popular genocidal narratives. Words like ‘republican’ or ‘Umurinzi’ and ‘Inkingi’ in the context of Rwanda are justifiers. Whenever these genocide ideologues write that so and so Rwandan is a ‘Republican’, it means that person, people or party are Hutu who are ultra-extremist Tutsi haters. And this is the same people who consider themselves to be a ‘PILLAR or PILLARS’ (Inkingi) and ‘PROTECTOR or GUARDIAN’ (Umurinzi).
Ingabire and her supporters are aware Rwanda has a law establishing national orders, symbols awarded by the nation to persons who demonstrated valuable, even supreme acts. Umurinzi is one among the seven orders, awarded mainly in recognition of people who have distinguished themselves in combating genocide against Tutsi, or in protecting targets of murder.
We also have a National Order of Outstanding Friendship—Igihango. The National Unity and reconciliation has been rewarding people who risked their lives to save Tutsis during the genocide. Such people are mostly Rwandans (and few foreigners) who were not targets of genocide. An individual in that category is called ‘UMURINZI w’IGIHANGO’ meaning “a protector of the indestructible relationship/friendship”.
Igihango in Rwandan tradition is a pact sealed in blood. Guhana igihango or kunywana meant to drink one another. The ritual tied two people or two families in an unbreakable bond, in perpetuity.
The vow of ‘Igihango’ was sealed publicly, with a symbolic drop of blood from each other’s abdomen, usually too close to the navel. The two drops were mixed in milk or specially made beverage that would be drunk by individuals entering the numinous pact. It was sacrilegious and even unheard of to betray a friend with pact sealed in blood. From my findings, the betrayal of Igihango, only happened during the genocide in 1994.
Ingabire the Interahamwe protector
For Rwandans, it is offensive, an aberration, incongruity and denial of genocide for someone like Ingabire, given her allegiance to PARMEHUTU genocide ideology, to name her party Umurinzi. The recipients of these honours, mostly Rwandans, but also some non-Rwandans, were individuals who demonstrated great bravery, in fighting against crimes of genocide, which the ideology she espouses leads to.
In a document published in June 1996, top twelve RDR intellectuals and influencers led by Theoneste Bagosora say before and during the genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda had two antagonistic political tendencies: the Pro-RPF trend and the ‘republican’ trend. They say the first leaning was Inyenzi or cockroaches. They explain in their document that Inyenzi is “A vernacular term used to designate the pro-RPF trend. By extension, that term is used today to designate even foreigners who are supporting the RPF.”
The second tendency –Interahamwe, where Ms Ingabire belongs, is described as “A vernacular term used to designate the republican trend. By extension, that term also applies to any person who no longer wishes to collaborate with the RPF, even if he is a foreigner”. Taken as a noun, the Ingabire/Bagosora group say: “Interahamwe means “those who walk together”. And adds: “In Rwandan culture, that noun is used to signify men decided to walk together to accomplish good deeds for the benefit of the society. Never can it be used to denote the contrary”.
In the above statement, its authors acknowledge they are indeed Interahamwe. But later in the document deny the obvious that they were the genocidal apparatus.
That said, the RDR men supports what Kambanda told the ICTR investigators. Speaking to ICTR investigators on 24 September 1997, Kambanda lay emphasis on the so-called ‘civil defence’ or the training of genocidal militia and distribution of weapons started long before the genocide. He said: “…they were never referred to as Interahamwe being trained. They claimed they were being trained for the entire nation. So it saw itself as the guarantor or the representative of the nation. The term they used therefore was “civil defence”.
Kambanda particularises: “So they didn’t train people saying “we are going to train Interahamwe” because that would have been interpreted as training for their party (MRND). They wanted people to believe that it was for the whole nation and not for the political party.”
One investigator asked Kambanda if that went back to 1990. And Kambanda was unambiguous: “The period doesn’t matter. When arms were distributed to civilians, it wasn’t said “we are going to distribute arms to the Interahamwe” because the Interahamwe were identified as the youth wing of the MRND…they couldn’t say, “I am going to arm MY youth wing”.
Kambanda further added: “Officially they said “we are the guarantors of national unity and peace in the whole country and are going to organise civil defence”. But, he added, “recruitment was done among what I referred to as the republican youth and this republican youth was ITS youth wing, that of the CDR”. Here Rwandan republicans are genocidaires
This revelation or analogy by Kambanda clearly tells why Ingabire chose “Development And Liberty For All”, and Umurinzi. The key words are “For All” and UMURINZI or protector. From the Rwandan ‘Republicans’ or genocidaires of 1959 to the pre-1994 Hutu-Power republicans to Ingabire 60 years later there is a strong ideological association.
To accentuate what ‘republicans’ mean in the minds of Rwandan genocidaires, on 25 May 1994, Jean Kambanda issued Prime Minister’s Civil Defence Directive. Paragraph five of the decree reads: “Close cooperation between territorial administration authorities and political parties that uphold republican and democratic ideal is a prerequisite for the recruitment of members of resistance groups and the organisation and training of such groups.” Needless to say, ‘political parties that uphold republican and democratic ideals’ is a euphemism for those who support the genocide ideology.
Jean Bosco Barayagwiza was an RDR member, and is among the genocidaires who were convicted by the ICTR. In his book Le Sang HUTU est-il rouge? (Is Hutu Blood Red?) (1995), Barayagwiza says the RPF was liable for the shooting down of the plane of President Juvenal Habyarimana and that its foremost goal was to take over-all power in Rwanda by force, ending the ‘republican movement’ in the process and inciting retaliations against the Tutsi.
Genocide against Tutsi ideologues are not exclusively Rwandans. There are Europeans and North Americans who harbour the similar noxious thoughts. One of them is Serge Desouter, a Belgian Catholic priest from the congregation of The Missionaries of Africa commonly known as the ‘White Fathers’. In his expert report to the ICTR (2006) Desouter replicate what was said by Barayagwiza by endorsing the September 1992 definition given by the Rwandan Military that the Tutsi were enemies of the country because were “determined to overthrow the Republican institutions by force.”
This priest describes the genocidaires’ hate propaganda media as “The pro-republican private press” which he believes “advocated maintenance of the achievements of the 1959 social revolution and addressed the defence of the country.” He lists some: “The newspapers classified in this category are Umurwanashyaka, Kamarampaka, Echo des Milles Collines, Kangura and the Medaille-Nyiramacibiri as well as RTLM.” Whoever knows the role of these ill-reputed mouthpieces of genocidaires would surely wonder why Desouter remains a priest proselytising love while he endorses hate and genocide.
It is not quite hard to see how genocidaires live in the image which they are diametrically opposed to. The so-called Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) is a bunch of a Rwandan “Hutu” armed group which has for over two decades established its base in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since its creation, its leadership is dominated by those who were involved in the genocide against the Tutsi.
Members of this group call themselves “Abacunguzi” or Saviours. The singular form is Umucunguzi. Salvation in Kinyarwanda is “Gucungurwa”, which means FDLR is Rwandan’s source of salvation—and hence likely to be saved out of a perilous condition in which they risk perishing. According to the scripture, God saves humanity through Jesus Christ (Luke 2:11) and that the gospel brings salvation to believers (Romans 1:16).
The FDLR and other genocide ideologues like Ms. Ingabire mirror their criminal projects the same as eschatological and prophetic promises in the Bible. For instance, Israel had confidence God will help them (Micah 7:7) and also when Yahweh said Jeremiah will save his people by bringing his people to their land (Jeremiah 31:7) or in Exodus 34:22. So, “Abacunguzi” have taken on the role of the Messiah! It is unfortunate that this particular ‘Messiah” is also the avowed exterminator of one group of Rwandan people.
The idea and word salvation are cardinal in the New and Old Testaments. Genocide ideologues know what it means to use scriptural panaches in packaging their hatred targeting people who believe the bible is a Holy book. That’s what Joseph Gitera and Hassan Ngeze did in enacting their heinous Ten Hutu commandments in 1959 and 1990 respectively. We need to critically analyse this discourse of ‘salvation’. Media people who entertain and promote their ideas as legitimate politicians, should go beyond the surface meaning of this rhetoric and see the ideologues for what they are; not the saviours of Rwanda but disguised exterminators.