January 20, 2020

Mass Grave Exhumed at Rubavu Airport Dates Back to 1993 – Government

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Justice Minister and Attorney General Johnston Busingye (in blue shirt) led delegation to site on Sunday

A high-level government delegation has confirmed that the mass grave exhume at airport in Rubavu district contained remains of Tutsis targeted as part of anti-Tutsi massacres before 1994.

Justice Minister and Attorney General Johnston Busingye this Sunday led a fact-finding team to the site together with Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, the executive secretary of the national commission for the fight against genocide (CNLG).

Two weeks ago, workers doing construction works at the airport began hitting human remains. Subsequent exhumation found remains of 141 people and the last of their belongings like clothing.

However, exile groups have also come out to claim, as has been case with all previous exhumations, that the victims are “Hutus killed by RPF rebels”. Government has vehemently dismissed such talk.

Bizimana told media at the site that victims buried there were killed elsewhere around Gisenyi during the waves of anti-Tutsi killings in 1993. The killings were done by group called “Turi Hose” led by Lt Col Anathole Nsengiyumva, said Bizimana.

“There is no doubt that these are genocide victims as there was a genocide against Tutsis in this country,” said Bizimana.

In December 2008, Lt Col Nsengiyumva was found guilty of genocide and jailed for life in the so called “Military I” trial by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)

He held the position of Chief of Military Intelligence within the Army High Command for several years, before taking over, on June 13 1993, the position of Commander of military operations for Gisenyi. In this position he had authority over the military sectors of Gisenyi.

Due to his relationships, he also enjoyed personal authority over the militias of the ruling MRND (National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development), over the Interahamwe militia and also the militia of the Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR), the Impuzamugambi.

The national commission CNLG says remains of Tutsis killed in Bigogwe in 1993 have never been found, and information has not been forthcoming. Other Tutsis were killed by soldiers commanded by Lt Col Jean Berchmas Nshimyumuremyi in the same region.

Speaking on Sunday, Justice Minister Busingye said information pieced together about this airport mass grave confirms without any doubt the remains are for Tutsis.

“There is evidence that shows people were killed elsewhere and brought here because it was an isolated place inaccessible to ordinary people,” said Busingye.

He announced that government is preparing to hold an official burial ceremony for the victims very soon. They will be laid to rest in the local genocide memorial site.

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