11 April 2018

Rwanda: Survivor - My Blood-Soaked Body Made the Militia Believe I Was Dead

Photo: Kelly Rwamapera/The New Times
Genocide survivors and perpetrators testify about their unity in Rwankuba (file photo).

Tears flowed freely as a survivor of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide recounted her ordeal during the massacre which left more than one million people dead.

This was during the Rwanda Genocide commemoration at United Nations headquarters in Gigiri, Nairobi on Tuesday. During the event, hundreds of Rwandans living in Kenya and their friends gathered to remember the victims of the 1994 Genocide.

The Rwandans had, on Saturday, participated in Walk to Remember to mark the beginning of the mourning week.

Ms Josephine Murebwayire Yozafina lost all her six children, her husband and two brothers 24 years ago when soldiers invaded her home, hours after the plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down.

REFUGE

"On the night of April 6, 1994, when the plane that was carrying President Habyarimana was shot down, two soldiers and two Interahamwe militia members came to our home. They demanded for money and said that those who were coming to finish us were on their way," Ms Yozafina narrated.

Ms Yozafina and her family left their home the following day, April 7,1994 to seek refuge at Ndera Seminary School. In this place, they thought they would escape death.

But that was not to be, as it was here all her that her family members perished. One million Rwandans were killed during the 100-day period from April 7 to mid-July 1994.

MILITIA

True to their word, the messengers of death, in the name of Interahamwe militia, returned four days later. On April 11, 1994, hundreds of Interahamwe militia descended on the Tutsi in the school and butchered them mercilessly. She lost all her children, her husband and two brothers.

The 64-year old widow survived by the grace of the Lord as her blood-soaked body made the blood thirsty militia believe that she was dead.

"Because I was soaked in blood from wounds all over my head, the killers left thinking I was dead. A few days later, Rwanda Patriotic Front soldiers came and took me to their base in Byumba where they treated me," she recounted.

RESILIENCE

During the Tuesday event, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Ambassador Macharia Kamau, who was chief guest, lauded the people of Rwanda for their resilience. He saluted the survivors, for their courage and resilience in their journey of healing, reconciliation and national recovery.

"On this day, Kenya joins People of Rwanda to honour those who perished in the Genocide. We laud Rwanda's astute leadership and resolute political will which has been at the centre of the transformed governance and socio-economic fabric of the Rwandan society," said Mr Kamau.

Rwanda High Commissioner to Kenya Ambassador James Kimonyo said the day offered Rwandan citizens a time to reflect what happened in 1994, why it happened and what they should do to ensure that the unfortunate incident does not happen again.

CRIME

"Many of those who committed this heinous crime in Rwanda are still at large. Rwanda has done its part by sending the indictments to different capitals seeking their extradition," said the envoy.

"If we are serious about fighting the culture of impunity, I call on you to support us in ensuring that these individuals face justice by either extraditing them to Rwanda for prosecution for the crimes they committed," he added.

The commemoration event was attended by among others, members diplomatic corps, United Nations staff and members of Rwandan community.

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