March 28, 2021

Rutsiro District: Genocide Survivor Pleads for Relocation to Escape Horrifying Torment

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Emmanuel Rukundo at home

Days after February 15 will remain engrained in the mind of Rukundo Emmanuel for ever. His sister, and the last remaining member of his immediate family had just been buried. Then the cross on her grave disappeared.

Years of horrifying torment by some of his neighbours have left Rukundo, 32, a distraught man. He is traumatized, and has pleaded for safety from nearly all possible instances, without any durable solution to his pain.

Rukundo says he is a survivor of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. At the time, he was a small boy of around 5years. From the immediate family, he survived together with his young sister alone.

For years, they have lived in Bandamiko village, Karambo cell, Mukura cell, Rutsiro district in rural western Rwanda. It is here that they have lived through what Rukundo considers hell on earth, and just wants to leave the area altogether.

His sister died on February 15. After the burial, the cross put on the grave disappeared. It was just one of those inhumane things Rukundo has witnessed in that area.

Rukundi narrated: “I petitioned the district after the incident but like all these years, no help came. I live in a graveyard with neighbours who are determined to finish me. The only person who comforted me, my sister, is gone.”

Rukundo, and some supportive neighbors accuse a groups of five men of the same family, as the ones who have been haunting the genocide survivors. The five men are know in the whole area.

In interview with Radio Isangango, a community radio in western Rwanda, one of the accused men Ntakirutineza Theophile, when contacted, responded: “We are doing nothing of the sort. We cannot torment him. He is like a family member to us.”

Rukundo, and some neighbors narrate that his farmland has been uptooted several times. The five men have repeatedly used very hurtful language when they meet him.

“They tell me that all my family members killed in 1994 left their stomachs with me, and for that I will never get satisfied no matter how much I eat,” said Rukundo.

A 2008 law against genocide ideology categorize such hurtful language among the acts for which if one is convicted can go to jail for up to 25 years. Hundreds are in jail for doing exact that.

Acts like attacks on genocide survivors is an annual occurrence since 1994. It becomes more common and widespread in the weeks leading up to the genocide commemoration period that starts April 7.

Rukundo says he has reported his case countless times to different government agencies and support groups for genocide survivors. He mentions Rutsiro district, IBUKA – the umbrella organization for genocide survivors, as well as FARG – the government fund which supports survivors.

Officials at village, cell and sector level say they have done what is within their capacity to help Rukundo. However, the suffering of Rukundi doesn’t stop.

At Rutsiro district headquarters, mayor Ayinkamiye Emerence, said the case of Rukundo is known at all levels. She said a committee had been set up to further look into Rukundo’s plight.

As Rukundo awaits the findings of the committee, if he is not relocated as par his wish, there may be no person left when a solution is finally found.

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