The US State Department has opened a new front in the search for eight Rwandans who have eluded the superpower’s might for more than a 15 years despite each having a $5m bounty.
The “War Crime Reward Program” has gone to Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, to circulate the identities of the Rwandan fugitives wanted for their role in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. The latest effort comes as Rwanda is commemorating the 25th anniversary for this whole week.
The reward program has been around since 2002, but the fugitives – all men, have not come any close to being apprehended.
Among them is billionaire businessman Felicien Kabuga, who imported up to 581 tons of machetes from China which were used by the rampaging interahamwe genocide militia, in addition to putting the most money into RTLM hate radio.
He was also a close confidant of former president Juvenal Habyarimana. The last time he was sighted was in Kenya years ago.
On Twitter and Facebook, new accounts were set up on April 2 to spread the information about the reward program. The posts there, are reposted almost daily in Kinyarwanda, English and French.
“Do you have information? Contact us! firstname.lastname@example.org, WhatsApp +1 202 975 5468” – it reads on Twitter account @WarCrimesReward
“The genocide of Rwanda occurred 25 years ago and some those responsible are still large around the world…Submit the tips which lead to arrest them and get paid”, another reads.
Apart from Kabuga, the other wanted fugitive is Maj Protais Mpiranya, a key commander of the presidential guard that conducted many of the high profile and gruesome massacres. For years, he has been said to be living in Zimbabwe.
The other is Augustin Bizimana, who held the office of Minister of Defence in the Interim Government of 8 April 1994, in Rwanda. Under his oversight, the government army and paramilitary groups did much of the killing, they relocated to Zaire, now DR Congo, and continued up to today.
Fulgence Kayishema was chief of the judicial police in Kavumu commune, in current Ngororero district, western province. He is alleged to have provided the interahamwe militia with fuel, in order to be able to set fire to the Nyange Church, whilst at the same time, the gendarmes and the communal police launched grenades into the church – leaving some 2,000 Tutsis dead.
Phenean Munyarugarama was a lieutenant colonel in the Rwandan Army during the genocide. He is said to be in DR Congo forests, and probably a member of the FDLR Rwandan militia.
He was the highest-ranking military officer at Gako military camp in Bugesera district, and led the planning and execution of several attacks on Tutsis, including attacks at Kanzenze Communal Office, Nyamata Sector, Ntarama Catholic Church, Cyugaro Primary School, and the Ntarama Swamps.
At Ntarama church alone, over 5,000 Tutsi’s were massacred as they sought refuge here. It is today a memorial site.
The UN tribunal trying genocide suspects (ICTR) has transferred his case to Rwanda, meaning if arrested, he will immediately be brought back home.
Aloys Ndimbati, also wanted by the Americans, was the former Bourgmestre of Gisovu Commune in Kibuye Prefecture – currently Karongi district. He was a key face of the Bisesero massacre where tens of thousands were killed, despite trying to fight back with stones and sticks. The site is also linked to presence of French troops.
His dossier has also been transferred to Rwanda by the ICTR.
Another fugitive is Charles Sikubwabo, a former Bourgmestre (mayor) of the Gishyita Commune in the Kibuye Prefecture. He worked alongside Ndimbati on the Bisesero operations. He will also be tried in Rwanda if arrested.
However, for one fugitive, the US reward program provides only one name “Ryandikayo”. The man they are referring to is Charles Ryandikayo, a former wealthy businessman in Kibuye Prefecture.
He operated together with the above two fugitives in Kibuye region. Ryandikayo will also be handed to Rwanda if nabbed.
There are an estimated 70,000 genocide fugitives, whose names were identified from the Gacaca community courts which handled more than 1.9million cases.
However, in the 2018 annual report, the National Commission for the fight against Genocide (CNLG) says arrest warrants have been issued for 356 individuals.