21 April 2014

Rwanda: Remembering the Victims of the Genocide Against the Tutsi Killed in Murambi

On this day in 1994, as the Genocide against the Tutsi spread all over Rwanda, over 60,000 people were killed at Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO) at Murambi in Nyamagabe District (formerly known as Gikongoro).

The genocidal government instructed Tutsi to flee and take refuge at ETO Murambi, which was under construction at the time. However, this was a strategic and planned decision by the authorities to simplify extermination. Victims quickly gathered in numbers hoping to be protected.

ETO Murambi was a strategic choice because it is on an isolated but visible hill, local officials and soldiers established a network of roadblocks to control the movement of Tutsi and many were murdered or raped before they reached the school. The authorities made sure most Hutu residents were part of the plan by mobilising, supplying arms, ammunition and providing transport to the killers.

The Tutsi that been arriving since 8 April and on of 18 April, they were attacked but managed to resist, pushing the killers back.

To respond, the refugees were denied food and water to weaken them. On 19 April, interim President Théodore Sindikubwabo met with local officials, militias and the military officers at Gikongoro, and guns, grenades and new machetes were distributed.

Sindikubwabo ordered killers not to spare any victims and Hutu living in the area were taken to safety in nearby schools to separate the victims from other residents.

And then death

Speaking about his role and that of the genocidal government, Emmanuel Nyirimbuga, who was part of the militia explains that they were told that there were thousands of Tutsi at the school who were planning to kill Hutus so they needed to do it first or risk death.

On 21 April, the killers attacked around 3am and the victims tried to fight back with stones but were overrun. The attack was well-planned with militia working with soldiers, well armed with guns and grenades.

Survivors say that by 6 a.m. over 50,000 Tutsi had been killed and those who were still breathing were finished off with machetes and clubs; only 20 people are known to have survived. At 11 a.m., the authorities lead by Prefect Laurent Bucyibaruta met the killers to thank them for a job well done.

By the end of day, over 60,000 Tutsi were dead.

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