Rwanda survivors targeted

A spate of killings of those who survived the 1994 genocide in Rwanda has sent villagers fleeing from the southwest province of Gikongoro. Stanley Safari, a legislator in the Senate, says that there is increasing intimidation and murder attempts of genocide survivors and that public ridicule of survivors has become a culture in Gikongoro, the area in which the 1994 genocide plan was purportedly hatched.

The Government is now carrying out a nationwide inquiry into the security of genocide survivors. But Prosper Higiro, Vice-President of the Senate, warns that even though there have been steady reports of harassment of survivors, Government reaction has been slow. Four men who were due to testify in a genocide trial were recently tortured to death in Kaduha district by what authorities said was a marauding gang of genocide suspects and their sympathizers. Prime Minister Bernard Makuza says that at least 25 people have been arrested as a consequence.

In just four months, the 1994 genocide claimed an estimated million lives – primarily of the minority ethnic Tutsi, with some moderate Hutus also targeted. The country’s prisons are already crammed with 130,000 inmates accused of taking part in the killings. The Rwandan Government claims to have repatriated 3.3 million refugees who fled the 1994 death squads but is warning that if any of them took part in the genocide they will be tried.

New Internationalist issue 366 magazine cover This article is from the April 2004 issue of New Internationalist.
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