Facing genocide

As soon as the assassination of president Habyarimana the 6th of April 1994 is known, the rumour in Kaduha spreads that Tutsi are preparing to kill Hutu, and invites the Hutu to kill them. At that time, it is common knowledge that a large number of Tutsi from the prefecture of Gikongoro live in Kaduha. The lives of these people are now in danger. Their houses are sacked, destroyed or burnt by Hutu extremists. The Tutsi flee the attacks and gather in different buildings around the parish of Kaduha. They come from all around the subprefecture, especially from the communes of Karambo, Muko, Musange, Musebeya and Mushubi. They are sometimes encouraged by the local authorities to go to this parish, claiming that it’s a peace haven where they will be protected. Unfortunately, this promise is revealed to be a trap, intended to lead the Tutsi to their death.

Built on the peak of a hill, the Catholic church of Kaduha is circled by a primary school, two secondary schools – an agro-veterinarian school and a nurse’s school, health centre and a hospital. At the time of the genocide, this big complex of social work is transformed into a vast camp welcoming tens of thousands of Tutsi refugees, piled into the buildings and the courtyard. All of the cows are gathered at the summit of the hill. The people that still have some supplies cook, others have nothing. The senior priest of the parish of Kaduha, Abbot Jean Marie Vianney Niyirema, is in a meeting in Kigali, where he will be killed the 7th of April. The priest that remained there, a Hutu from Burundi, is unfortunately a bad example: he doesn’t really care about the refugees or their fate.

At first, some courageous Hutu neighbours brought food to the Tutsi refugees and bring back their cattle abandoned during their escape. Nevertheless, the situation worsens when the civilian and military authorities of the area decide to encircle the refuge by building roadblocks, to keep an eye on the refugees, and to cut them off from any exterior help.