Second genocide in Rwanda? Slow, silent, systematic?


by Ann Garrison

What is happening in Rwanda? On Aug. 26, the BBC reported that Burundian officials are investigating to determine why Rwandan bodies have been found floating in Lake Rweru, on Burundi’s border with Rwanda.

Life prisoners – all Hutu – in Muhanga (formerly Gitarama) Prison are, according to the Global Research caption, regularly “hung, cuffed and crucified.” Some appear very young. Eighty percent of those who are released reportedly live no longer than another year or two. In 1995, the British Independent newspaper described this as the “worst prison in the world.” Much of it was destroyed by fire June 5. Were the prisoners inside? Are their bodies in Lake Rweru?
Life prisoners – all Hutu – in Muhanga (formerly Gitarama) Prison are, according to the Global Research caption, regularly “hung, cuffed and crucified.” Some appear very young. Eighty percent of those who are released reportedly live no longer than another year or two. In 1995, the British Independent newspaper described this as the “worst prison in the world.” Much of it was destroyed by fire June 5. Were the prisoners inside? Are their bodies in Lake Rweru?

The discovery is not only gruesome but also ominous because both East African nations suffer from extremely volatile Hutu-Tutsi ethnic rivalries rooted in centuries of Hutu oppression by a feudal Tutsi aristocracy, which became a colonial elite in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Attempts to institute European democracy – between 1959 and 1961 in Rwanda and in 1993 in Burundi – turned the existing social order upside down, giving electoral advantage to the Hutu majorities, which the Tutsi minorities refused to accept. War, genocide and massacres ensued and both nations, neither of which is yet 100 years old, are commonly described as tinderboxes awaiting a match.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is a Tutsi, Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza a Hutu. Despite past alliances of convenience, they are now antagonists. In 1993, Burundi’s Tutsi military elite assassinated that country’s first democratically elected president, Hutu Melchior Ndadaye, triggering genocidal massacres of both ethnicities in Burundi and escalating fears of the same – which did indeed follow – in Rwanda.

In 1994, near the end of a four year war of aggression, Kagame ordered the assassination of both Rwanda and Burundi’s Hutu presidents by shooting their plane out of the sky on April 6, 1994, and then launched a carefully planned, U.S. backed military offensive to seize power and restore Tutsi rule in Rwanda, even as the country sank into chaos and genocidal massacres of both ethnicities.

Any conclusion that the bodies floating in the lake are victims of state execution, genocidal execution or both could be incendiary within the two countries and/or between them. That incendiary potential has been manipulated by both foreign and domestic elites, who are no doubt following this story closely – and most likely attempting to control its outcomes.

These bound and bagged bodies certainly have the look of state execution, genocidal or not, and the simple conclusion that they were state executions has incendiary potential in itself. Rwandan President Paul Kagame arrested three of his own top military officers last week, as resistance continued to rise within his own Tutsi elite.

Rwandan or Burundian bodies?

Burundian official Jean Berchmans Mpabansi told the BBC, “The victims are not Burundian citizens because the bodies are coming from Akagera River flowing from Rwanda.”

Fisherman report finding around 40 bodies wrapped in plastic in Lake Rweru since July, some of them tied up. – Photo: Mike Goldwater, AlamyAlamy
Fisherman report finding around 40 bodies wrapped in plastic in Lake Rweru since July, some of them tied up. – Photo: Mike Goldwater, AlamyAlamy

The Voice of Burundi reported, translated here from the French, “In recent days corpses wrapped in plastic bags are found floating on Lake Rweru on the border between Burundi and Rwanda in Muyinga Province.

“More than 40 bodies floating in the Rweru Lake town of Giteranyi have been seen and counted since the month of July by the fishermen, as confirmed by the local administration and police. This week, these fishermen, accompanied by a unit of the Navy, saw two bodies on the mouth of the Akagera.”

Rwandan Police said that no one has been reported missing in Rwanda, and Burundian Police said the same about Burundi. Both claims are unlikely because the national police of any country of 10 or 11 million people is sure to have a list of missing persons at any given time.

It’s particularly unlikely in the case of Rwanda, because on May 16, Human Rights Watch reported that “an increasing number of Rwandans have been forcibly disappeared or reported missing” and that some were known to have been forcibly disappeared by Rwanda’s army, the Rwandan Defense Force. HRW detailed 14 cases of missing persons.

In mid-July HRW spoke to the anniversary of the murder of Gustave Makonene, coordinator of Transparency International Rwanda’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Center in Rubavu, Rwanda:

“The details of Gustave Makonene’s death are gruesome. His body was found outside the lakeside town of Rubavu, in northwestern Rwanda, on July 18, 2013. The police medical report indicated he was strangled. Local residents who saw his body gave Human Rights Watch more graphic detail. They believed his body may have been thrown from a car on a road above the lake and ended up twisted around a large tree, which had blocked its fall into the water.”

There have been neither investigations nor charges. Another HRW essayist asked, “Why is the whole world still silent on the murder of Rwandan activist Makonene?” On Aug. 1, Transparency International issued a press release saying that the staff of all five of their Rwandan offices are in danger.

President Paul Kagame’s plausibility problem

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has never been noted for plausible or consistent explanation. After 18 years of Rwandan invasion, occupation, assassination and resource plunder in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all copiously documented, he continues to tell Western television audiences that he cannot be held responsible for the problems of Congo, that Congo’s problems began with colonialism long before his birth.

Lake Rweru lies on the Rwanda-Burundi border. – Map: BBC
Lake Rweru lies on the Rwanda-Burundi border. – Map: BBC

And, of course, he continues to say that his destiny is to save and forever protect the Rwandan people from genocide, because, as he tells the story over and over, the world abandoned Rwanda in 1994.

It’s a matter of record that Kagame himself threatened to fire on U.N. troops if they attempted to intervene in Rwanda in 1994, but that’s never been of concern to corporate broadcast anchors. Neither has Kagame’s U.S-backed invasion of Rwanda, commanding a detachment of the Ugandan army in October 1990. Nor has the four year war that those Ugandan troops waged in Rwanda between October 1990 and July 1994. Nor has the active intervention of the Clinton administration to prevent the U.N. from intervening in Rwanda in 1994.

The story of four years of war and mass killing in Rwanda has instead been shortened and simplified into a 100-day morality play about genocide ending with “Never again!” And Kagame has been allowed to trump all evidence and reason by playing the genocide card for so long that he feels in no way compelled to offer a plausible or consistent explanation of anything.

Nearly 50,000 people reported missing in Rwanda this year

Although Rwandan officials denied, on Aug. 26, that anyone is missing, the government has, on other days, acknowledged that nearly 50,000 people have disappeared this year. The government says they’re missing, but dissident Rwandan refugees and exiles say they’re dead – and that they are Hutu victims of Kagame’s slow, silent, systematic Hutu genocide – genocide by exclusion, poverty, starvation, sterilization and execution.

Rwandans whom the government acknowledges are missing include 16,000 Hutu villagers from the country’s northwestern Ngororero District. Rwandan Interior Minister James Musoni acknowledged, in the country’s Kinyarwanda language, that these villagers are missing but said that the government has no idea where they’ve gone and fears they may have crossed Rwanda’s border with DR Congo to join the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

Rwanda’s Nyakiriba Prison in Rubavu burned July 7, 2014.
Rwanda’s Nyakiriba Prison in Rubavu burned July 7, 2014.

Rwandan refugee Ambrose Nzeyimana translated the English into Kinyarwanda and posted “Kigali acknowledges the disappearance of 16,000 of its citizens” to his British-based blog, The Rising Continent.Rwandans in exile write that these people have been massacred by the Kagame regime as part of its program to slowly, quietly and systematically eliminate the Hutu population. Their belief is based on their own experience, their contact with extended family in Rwanda and their attention to the Kinyarwanda press.

Rwandan prison authorities acknowledge that 30,000 Hutu prisoners sentenced to “community service” (hard labor) have also disappeared. Rwandan exiles, again, write that they’ve been executed by Kagame’s genocidal government.

It’s difficult to imagine how a government with one of the best trained, best equipped African military and security forces, including local forces everywhere, in one of the most tightly controlled, dictatorial regimes in the world, could lose track of 30,000 state prisoners. However, the government, again, and the Ibuka Tutsi survivors’ group, claim to fear that these people may have escaped across the border to join the FDLR in DR Congo, where they now constitute a threat to genocide survivors.

As with so much in Rwanda, including the history of the 1990-1994 war and genocide, there is a Tutsi version of the truth and a Hutu version, but the Tutsi version is legally enforced and championed worldwide by rich and powerful people, including Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Rev. Rick Warren and Howard Buffett. Despite wholesale de facto discrimination against Hutu people, they join Kagame in proclaiming that truth and reconciliation have been achieved in Rwanda and ethnicity is no longer important.

Prisoners incinerated?

More Rwandan Hutu prisoners may have perished in a fire on June 5, 2014, in Rwanda’s largest prison, Muhanga Central Prison in Gitarama, and then in a second prison fire at Nyakiriba Prison in Rubavu (Gisenyi) on July 7.

Rwandan exiles write that prisoners in both Muhanga Central Prison and Nyakiriba Prison were intentionally incinerated in their cells, once again as part of a slow, silent, systematic Hutu genocide.

Is it likely that two, geographically distant Rwandan prisons would be destroyed or badly damaged by fire in barely more than one month? All we know is what Rwandan authorities say, and all they say is that there were two prison fires but no prisoners died.

Muhanga Prison in Gitarama, Rwanda’s largest prison, was partially destroyed by fire June 5, 2014.
Muhanga Prison in Gitarama, Rwanda’s largest prison, was partially destroyed by fire June 5, 2014.

Muhanga Prison, formerly known as Gitarama Central Prison, was known to be one of the most hellish prisons on earth. In 1995, a London Independent headline about it read, “Hutus held in ‘worst prison in world’: 7,000 suspects of Rwanda massacre are kept in jail built for 400.”

On June 6, the International Red Cross reported that “the accommodations” of 3,500 prisoners went up in flames in Gitarama but that the Rwandan government said no prisoners were in their cells at the time.

Hard evidence?

There will be no hard evidence of the truth behind any of these missing persons reports, except perhaps those few filed by Human Rights Watch, unless the U.N. Security Council deems the situation in Rwanda so dangerous to international security and stability that an independent U.N. investigative team must be allowed in, as when U.N. investigator Hans Blix’s team was allowed into Iraq before the 2003 U.S./U.K. invasion.

Of course, the U.S. and U.K. ignored Blix’s conclusion that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as the U.S. and allied states will ignore any evidence counter to the security interests now defined by their executive corporate, military and foreign policy elites, not by popular democracy.

However, that’s no reason not to call for investigation. It’s better that Hans Blix’s team was allowed into Iraq than not, for the sake of history and global consciousness, and we can continue to work for just outcomes. Independent U.N. investigations should be undertaken, post haste, into each instance of individual and mass disappearances in Rwanda and into why bound, bagged bodies were found floating in Lake Rweru between the shores of Rwanda and Burundi.

Why has the U.S. renewed support for Kagame’s Rwanda?

Why did the U.S. renew its political and military support of Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s dictatorship at the U.S.-Africa Summit? Why is the U.S. threatening the Hutu refugees organized as the FDLR with military action if they refuse to disarm and surrender unconditionally?

The FDLR may be armed in self-defense, but Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region Russ Feingold has acknowledged that they pose no credible threat to Rwanda. The majority of Rwandan Hutu refugees in eastern Congo are simply that – refugees – who dare not return to Rwanda for fear of having their names added to these long lists of missing persons that the Rwandan government says it’s unable to explain.

When the living quarters of 3,500 of the 6,000 prisoners in Rwanda’s Muhanga Prison were destroyed by fire, were the prisoners out of their cells so no one was hurt, as the government claims, or were they incinerated? – Photo: ICRC
When the living quarters of 3,500 of the 6,000 prisoners in Rwanda’s Muhanga Prison were destroyed by fire, were the prisoners out of their cells so no one was hurt, as the government claims, or were they incinerated? – Photo: ICRC

Rwandan opposition leaders, Hutu and Tutsi alike, and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete have all called upon the Rwandan government to negotiate with the FDLR for safe repatriation to a Rwanda in which they will not be a de facto Hutu underclass threatened with elimination.

On Jan. 4, former Rwandan Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa told KPFA: “I understand the guiltiness that maybe some could be feeling about their failure to stop the genocide. But you don’t support somebody who’s in the process of creating another genocide. And I think they should be able to examine their consciences, look at what is happening in Rwanda and see exactly what is taking place.”

Many Rwandan Hutus, refugees and exiles believe that if the regime now headed by Paul Kagame remains in power for another 50 years, there will be no Hutu people left in Rwanda.

Oakland writer Ann Garrison contributes to the San Francisco Bay View, Counterpunch, Global Research, Colored Opinions, Black Agenda Report and Black Star News and produces radio news and features for Pacifica’s WBAI-NYC, KPFA-Berkeley and her own YouTube Channel. She can be reached at If you want to see Ann Garrison’s independent reporting continue, please contribute on her website,



  1. Thank you very much Ann Garrison ! This article tells the whole truth of what is going on in Rwanda. The country is led by criminals who take pleasure in killing and shedding blood of innocent Rwandans.Thanks a lot for standing up for the truth and justice ! As Rwandans,we are very grateful for your being on the side of the oppressed and voiceless.

  2. This is funny! These prisoners have families and they went to them! Why you realy want show Rwanda as hell! It’s our Country Ann! Go fix fisrt your jails where you keep all black american you boy and excute them daily before you come teach us how to run our Rwanda.

    • Mr Rubayita, you are very cynical man !!! The truth hurts !!! I`m a Rwandan like you but I have a mind and a heart of compassion for those victims of oppression and dictatorship. You think you are in heaven(Rwanda) because you are favored maybe and blind fan of your regime but many others think they are in hell (Rwanda) because of what is going on and what they see and hear every day. Some even have no right to mourn their loved ones, many have their relatives kidnapped by your soldiers and they have no news about them ( maybe some of them are among those bodies floating on lake Rweru…), threats are everywhere and your death squad is active everywhere in the country. My fellow Rwandan Rubayita, I believe in Almighty God and I know that everything has an end..and when you get my age you will find out ! Peace be with you my brother !

      • Dear Mbarushimana, I’m not in Rwanda since 1998 to start with but all people who died during genocide did you write anything? Did those people commited suicide? People in jail there is a reason there are there, as any country Rwanda has laws. Yes everything has an end, but you won’t tell me that one day Jails will close completely in this word! Ngo kirya abandi bajya kukirya kikishaririza! Na nyina w’undi abyara abahungu.

        • Mr Rubayita, you don`t get it so far…Your thinking is of a very low level.You mix up everything. As I told you time will help you find out that TRUTH ends up victorious !!

          • Deat Mbarushimana you called me Cynical, and now tell me that my level of thinking is too low! If that help you to build your confidence I like it, but when you can’t deffend what you trying to say there is no reason to discuss with you as at your age ( as you said that you are old) you should be able to respond to mu questions. As smart as you claim, I can tell you that you are more Cynical as no one in this conversation! Genocidaires will pay the price you like or not, the thruth won bebfore and will win again! Just a reminder again that we NEVER AGAIN. I know those people you call victims in jail, when they were kill they never thought that they will pay! There are more running around the world but one day they will respond to what they did.

          • Sir Rubayita, keep holding your grudges but being extremist won`t help you at all ! When I read your comments and try to understand what you want to convey,I see a mean- spirited person who does not care about dignity and respect of human life. How can you put in a same basket all people in jails in Rwanda and call them all ” genocidaires” ? Even all peoples who escaped persecution and the killing machine of Kagame Paul and found asylum in foreign countries you call them all genocidaires ? Really ? Are you serious ?Go and find a psychic for your mental treatment .

  3. Mr. Rubayita has a point about our jails, where the incarceration rate for Black males is more than 7 times that for whites. Could a country still guilty of such mass atrocities be expected to oppose mass atrocities in another? However, the fact that the U.S. is committing the mass atrocity known as mass incarceration at home does not mean that Rwandans should be forgotten, especially when the US has had so much responsibility for what has happened there for the last 24 years.

    • well done Ann.

      you enlightened me on the topic. I always tell my friends that Kagame is simply and squarely evil. He is a failed secondary school boy, taken to the army by Museveni to act a stooge, trained to kill and torture! you see? we have your average-run-off-the-mill dictator who at a young age learned to kill instead of loving. a man groomed to hate! being ignorant of history and living as a hopeless failure, he saw the chance of being a third world agent of neo-colonialism a chance to become prosperous. sadly, Rwandan hutus are paying the price.

    • Hello Ann!
      There is any prove those bodies were Rwandan if yes let us know, but you wrote that there is investigation, is it done? What is conclusion, who did it and how they found out if this are Hutus or Tutsis?
      By the end only Rwandans will resolve their problem or they will suffer forever. Outsiders will talk use their power for their interest, but nothing will change except when ourselves (Rwandese) we decide to live together.

  4. In his 7 April 2007 commemoration of genocide, delivered in Murambi, Rwanda, President Paul Kagame spoke—in the Kinyarwanda language—with the inflection and innuendo of viciousness. He complained that the French should have tasted the RPF’s wrath when—Operation Turquoise, 1994—the RPF had the chance to inflict and wound them. He complained about all the Paul Rusesabaginas abroad, and their white friends, who malign and slander the good name of Rwanda. And when he complained about the Hutus, there was no mistaking the message—Rwandans say—for the threat that it is. President Paul Kagame said that the RPF Army made a mistake: that they should have finished off all the Hutus before they fled to Congo (Zaire), and they should have finished off all those who returned, when they had the chance. Kagame’s supporters, both emboldened and embarrassed by his words, issued a sanitized version of this speech; the original has disappeared from public view. Rwanda today is a cauldron of terror. It is not over. For many Rwandans, every day it begins anew.

  5. Sometimes we see intrigue and we just ignore it, sometimes we see drama played by all kinds of actors and we love the show, many times we all forget or ignore the realities that media outlets represent.
    What we have not forgotten is that media is a major player in the politics of the world often for no objective reasons or genuine love they claim to be having for whoever they speak for. They support crime against humanity and with high level professionalism take whichever side they chose as long as they enjoy it. Rwanda is a victim of media vultures that have never ceased to scavenge on the plight and innocence lives of people all on behalf of quarters they have chosen. They’re actually responsible as you will never believe for exacerbating situations they have helped to create.
    I don’t have any doubt this is another media action waiting to victimize another lot of people they claiming to be speaking for! Media will take intrigue like the one we’re seeing unfolding and paint a picture in their own colors of choice and what else can we see but those colors.
    I wonder whether media practitioners stop for once and think about their contribution in the long or even short run they make in exposing innocent citizens to devastation by writing stories like these with utter irresponsibility!!!!!
    I would call on individuals, institutions and everybody that has the power and will to actually preach different unless you don’t see where such a writer is taking us!
    D Rujugira.

  6. Mr Mbarushimana you can’t write anything without calling me names! Since I don’t have any name to call you, you’re just “IKINTAZI”.
    Back to what you said that I’m racist! Come on man! Who is racist? You who thinks that all victims of genocide don’t deserve justice or me who want justice?
    I’m sure you have have your family with you, do you think I and other survivors we don’t deserve that? Can you imagine if your kid loose all family when he/she is under 15?
    Now you said that no one need to go in jail. I didn’t even said that all people who are in jail are all genocidaire, since Gacaca put many of them out.

    Thanks to recommend me to see a Dr. for mental issues, but we should go together as you need more help than anybody, because at your age (you said that you’re old) you shouldn’t be standing and support people who killed kids, women etc.


    • Rubayita, I told you that you are blind and maybe brain washed and you are proving that. You don`t even hide your racism to the point of insulting me without even knowing who I am. Let me be clear with you guy, I never stood and will never stand or support criminals of all kinds….period… Either those who killed innocent people during the genocide against tutsis and moderates hutus, or those who killed innocent peoples in the area under control of you RPF and after liberating the country until know. Every human life is God given gift and must be respected. Those who killed kids and elderly men and women in Kibeho (1995) ,in the Northern part of Rwanda, in RDC and who continue their killing system until now ,are they different in mind from those extremist militias who committed genocide ?If you condemn killers, look at both sides . If you talk about justice, look at both sides (hutus and tutsis) otherwise you are showing your extremism with your one-sided vision of our history.You want justice and others also want justice.They have a emotional heart like you. And guess what, when the truth hurts you, you begin insulting me and showing your lack of decency and balance.I know many persons who lost many of their relatives ( me included) killed by either side and they don`t behave like you.

      • Mbarushimana you’re the one who started to insult me and I called who you’re that is not insult. Each email you called me names and showed hate but I don’t care what you think about you, what worried me is that your will teach your kids or relative this hate and that won’t fix all those problems we’re discussing.
        I’m 100% with you that all (hutu/tutsi) have to respond any criminal behaviour. But you sound like all people in jails in Rwanda are innocent because you hate the regime in Kigali! If you were leading a country maybe you will close all jails!
        another point I want tell you is that I’m nont extremist as you call me but if that helps you feel like you’re a man go a head call me that, maybe you can sleep!
        We had a good conversation and I won’t comment you post anymore because some how, you used to say what you want and no one respond or tell you that you’re wrong! Can’t wast my time with Ignorant like you anymore
        Since you said that I’m on one side, how about you? Except criticize what the government in Kigali does what did you do as Rwandan to make sure that all Rwandan where you live stay together without calling you a victim?
        As I told you I don’t live in Rwanda but I know how people get in western country saying that all are victims just to get papers! Remember home is Rwanda.
        Last question, except to say that bad thing on Rwanda do you have anything good that government you hate did for Rwanda or all is bad!

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