Today April 4, 2019 is a Thursday. On Sunday, April 7, Rwanda will go silent, mourning the victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and recommitting to Never Again.
In 1994, 25 years ago, April 4 was also a Monday. The ordinary Rwandan was in the field tilling land, or standing behind a counter selling merchandize, fetching water or working in an office.
Except for those who were prepared to participate in the killings─like interahamwe, Impuzamugambi and genocide masterminds, most ordinary Rwandans were busy fighting the daily battles of survival unaware of what was to happen in three days; starting in the early hours of April 7.
However, in the corridors of power, an apocalypse, as Col. Theoneste Bagosora called it, was in the final stages of planning awaiting full implementation─since targeted and politically motivated killings had started much earlier.
Earlier, on January 11, 1994, Canadian Gen. Romeo Dallaire, commander of U.N. forces in Rwanda – UNAMIR, sent a cable to his headquarters in New York that a key informer had told him that a campaign was underway to register all Tutsis for purposes of their elimination and ammunitions were already procured and a militia trained for this purpose. The details of what transpired after the cable was received has been widely reported about.
At the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda or ICTR, Col Théoneste Bagosora, a director of cabinet for the Ministry of Defence before the genocide, was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity in December 2008. Prosecutors described him as the “brain of the genocide”.
In 1993, as his boss President Juvenal Habyarimana was engaged in talks with the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), in one of the key meetings of the country’s top brass, Col Bagosora walked out.
Asked why he was leaving, Bagosora responded: “to prepare the second apocalypse”, according to a narration of the ICTR Judges in the lengthy verdict.
The meaning of the Bagosora statement was laid bare for the world to see several months later.
April 7, 1994, the mass killing machine rolled in motion across Rwanda.
For three months, day and night – during blazing heat or pounding rain, no Tutsi was safe – except if they managed to reach in the areas controlled by the rebels.
By July when the RPF rebels under the RPA put a stop to the genocide, Rwanda was in abyss.
The human suffering and destruction was unimaginable. The smell of death was everywhere.
It is 25 years now. Based on official data spread up in so many offices and multitude of pages, The Chronicles is putting the cost of this human engineered horror in numbers; although, of course, the actual cost is immeasurable.
The total number of victims is 1,074,056. This is according to a government census that recorded names of those killed. At least 53.8% of the Genocide victims were below 24 years old.
Some 1,958,800 cases files of killers were handled by the traditional Gacaca courts; conventional courts and the ICTR – but more than 95% by the Gacaca─generating 60m documents.
About 6% of the genocide convicts were women – including Paulina Nyiramasuhuko, former Minister of Family Welfare and the Advancement of Women. She is the only woman in living memory to be convicted for rape as a war crime.
From 93 suspects that the UN court indicted, only 61 were sentenced at a cost of $2.3billion or Rwf 2.1trillion, which is nearly Rwanda’s annual budget for 2019.
The ICTR spent at least $37 million (Rwf33,9billion) on trying each of the suspects.
In short, the cost spent on a single suspect at the UN court was more than the entire budget of the Gacaca courts.
The survivors of the genocide are 309,368 – all faced with varying levels of harm inflicted on them.
Instead of keeping all the people responsible behind bars forever, Rwanda decided to return most of them back to their communities after serving their sentences. They live with the same neighbours they tried to exterminate.
Over the years, a lot has happened.
The Pope, head of the Catholic Church, which oiled the genocide agenda, has apologized – and so did various other world leaders.
The Government of Rwanda, since 1995, has been allocating 5% of the annual budget to a fund that support the survivors, called FARG.
Most recently, the Rwanda has submitted four of the country’s Genocide memorial sites to the UN cultural agency UNESCO to be included on the World Heritage List.
After the Gacaca courts completed their work in 2012, the unit set up to track down the remaining genocide fugitives was handed 1082 active files, from which more than 70,000 perpetrators and co-perpetrators have come to light.
Below is a table providing a comprehensive picture of the 1994 Genocide in numbers:
|Population of Rwanda Before the Genocide||7,110,000|
|Women Survivors Infected with HIV/Aids||6,321|
|Crude Weapons Imported to be Used by |
Interahamwe Militias (Machetes, clubs, hammers)
|3,385 tons (581 tons of machetes)|
|Genocide Convicts In Prison as of December 2018||27,591 ( women=1,948)|
|Genocide Convicts in Prison Who Have Apologized, |
Forgiven by Survivors and Reconciled
| Genocide Convicts who Underwent Community|
|Genocide Fugitives Still on the Run||70,000|
|Inyangamugayo (Judges who conducted the Cases |
in the Gacaca Courts)
|Gacaca Budget Total Budget (2005-2012)||RWF 29.7 billion|
|Cases Tried by Gacaca Court||1, 958,634 cases|
|Gacaca Archives Containing Handwritten Pages||60million pages = 18,000 boxes|
|Budget of the UN International Criminal |
Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR): 1995-2015
|RWF 2,1 Trillion|
(US$ 2.3 billion)
|Suspects Indicted by ICTR||93|
|Sentenced by ICTR||61|
|Expense on Each Person Tried by ICTR (61)||Rwf 33.9billion|
|Acquitted by ICTR BUT NO ASYLUM COUNTRY, Currently Living in Safe House Provided by Government of Tanzania||9|
|The United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda|
| Forces Armées Rwandaises (ex-FAR) – |
|Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA)||12,000|
|Total women that participated in the Genocide||2%|
|Official Genocide Memorial Sites||223|