Revenge killings by troops in Rwanda

EVIDENCE that members of the Rwanda Patriotic Front have taken part in revenge killings and arbitrary executions is emerging for the first time since the final stage of the civil war began in April this year.

Although overshadowed by the genocide of Tutsis by Hutu militias this spring, the killings by the RPF troops will not only make it difficult for the new government to persuade the two million, mainly Hutu, refugees to return home, but also make it harder for the international community to support the new government. Until now, the RPF soldiers have earned a reputation for discipline and restraint, though there have been persistent rumours and second-hand stories of isolated atrocities.

Two recent victims of death squads, interviewed by expatriate aid workers, gave accounts of how they had been left for dead, after being beaten with nail-embedded clubs. Jean-Marie Vianney Twagiramungu, interviewed in a refugee camp in Burundi, said he had tried to return home on 16 July. Like many others, he had fled from the advancing RPF in early April. Mr Twagiramungu was in poor physical condition, still bearing the wounds of the attack.

He said that he and eight others, including his three-year-old son, whom he carried on his shoulders, had been ambushed at Mututu by a party of about 30 Tutsis. Three managed to flee, but he and four others had been captured, tied up and then assaulted with clubs, machetes and hoes. All five had been left for dead, with about 25 other corpses, in a sorghum plantation. His attackers came back after a while and held the victims' noses to check that they were dead. His little son, his brother and his cousin died, but he was still alive and managed to crawl away and find help.

Violette Mukubutera still showed scars on her head from an attack by a nail- studded club, when she was interviewed in Burundi. From Kigali, Mrs Mukubutera said she had hidden from the RPF when they attacked the city, but they gave themselves up in early May when they heard on the radio that the RPF were not killing people. They were taken to a camp at Rutonde, she said. First of all, the young men were taken away, including her husband. Only one of them came back; the rest were tied up and thrown in the river. Tutsi women then told them they were to be executed the next day, so she and her child escaped from the camp. Mrs Mukubutera was caught by a uniformed RPF unit. Her child was killed and she was hit on the head. Eventually she escaped to Burundi.

These accounts, similar to those told to journalists inside Rwanda in recent days, will provide grist to the paranoia mill of the Hutu refugees who are fearful of returning home because they believe the, mainly Tutsi, RPF government will kill them. The incidents may be unrelated, springing more from a desire for revenge on the part of individual Tutsis, than a policy by the RPF. Some members of the RPF have returned home, after the war, to find their entire families wiped out. But although first-hand evidence of RPF atrocities has been rare, the tight control placed on journalists in RPF areas has led many people to wonder if they are hiding something.

Yesterday, Save the Children called for a 'massive flow of material assistance' to the new government and support in helping to establish the rule of law in the country.

(Photograph omitted)

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in