"While in hiding, we heard good news that we were going to be saved
and we went back from our hiding place.
Then we joined French soldiers. They told us that our security was insured,
that we did not have to worry about anything.
It was a lie."
BISESERO SURVIVOR SAW FRENCH
"The objective of French soldiers was to gather us
in order to make it easy for Interahamwe to exterminate what was remained.
It seemed that French troops gave instructions to Interahamwe how to do their work.
And the evidence of this I am telling you,
is that they were watching how Interahamwe were killing people.
They did not do anything to stop them."
To Orwell Today,
re: BISESERO HILL OF SORROW and BISESERO HILL HAUNTS CONGO and RWANDA FRENCH TURQUOISE FILM
I read your articles on Bisesero with interest. I work with a smallish Scottish Charity called Comfort Rwanda and we partner a Rwandan organisation called Solace Ministries. Recently we have been working towards a project at Bisesero as the needs there are still very great. I thought you might like to read one of the testimonies from a survivor Ė I have taken his name out to protect his confidentiality. One of the other things we have repeatedly heard is that French medics who were treating the injured repeatedly made injuries more severe. That is, if there was a wound in a leg or arm they would cut off the whole arm or leg. I do not have substantiated accounts of this, just repeated comments from different survivors from Bisesero.
Testimony about 1994 Genocide of Bisesero
This testimony will tell how Interahamwe and their leaders killed innocent people in Kibuye. Their objective was to exterminate all Tutsis. Bisesero region in Kibuye was inhabited by thousands of Tutsi. Tutsi from the surroundings of mount Bisesero and also from neighbouring regions assembled to that mountain in search of security together. They were several thousands. I was there among others.
In the beginning, we organized a resistance using stones and anything we could have at hand such as spears, sticks. Killers on their side had guns, grenades, clubs and machetes. Despite their number and the equipment they had we could stand and fought them and we were often victorious over them.
The Interahamwe called for support from Ruhengeli, Gisenyi and Byumba.
Then many killers from those regions came with the objective to exterminate us. We continued to resist but not as before. Now many people died. Women and children helped men in handing them stones and sometimes they helped in fighting, throwing stones to killers. With their equipment and the support of the army, sometimes we could not resist though we were able to stand for many days. It was not easy to fight people with bombs, grenades, guns. We were overwhelmed. They came among us to finish people who were not completely dead by using machetes and clubs reinforced with nails.
My whole family was killed there and I am the only survivor. The few survivors ran from among dead bodies and were thus scattered. Everyone went to search where he could hide. I also ran away. I was a good runner. I realize that God had a special plan for me.
While in hiding, we heard good news that we were going to be saved and we went back from our hiding place. Then we joined French soldiers. They told us that our security was insured, that we did not have to worry about anything. It was a lie.
The objective of French soldiers was to gather us in order to make it easy for Interahamwe to exterminate what was remained. It seemed that French troops gave instructions to Interahamwe how to do their work. And the evidence of this I am telling you, is that they were watching how Interahamwe were killing people. They did not do anything to stop them.
At that time Interahamwe killed the remnants and this was easy for them because we were encircled and could not flee. But if only French soldiers did not say that they would protect us, many people would have stayed in their hidings and could survive from those killings. But by Godís miracles few people managed to escape them and then joined RPF army. I was among them. RPF helped us and comforted us. They gave us food and clothes and a shelter where to stay. Those who were wounded or sick were put under appropriate care.
When French soldiers came to know that RPF Army was nearby, they left the place. The shame is that those people are not punished whereas they are known.
Why do not international tribunals pursue them? It is like their country sent them with the mission of kill.
In brief, I survived alone in terrible hardships. Beginning 1994, I live alone without parents or brothers. I continued to live in those conditions without anyone to talk to. I can say many things but let me stop here. It is my first time to talk about what happened to me, and feel like relieved.
~ by survivor, Bisesero Hill, Rwanda, 1994
Thank you so much for sharing that Bisesero Hill testimony and please pass on my appreciation to the survivor for fulfilling his mission of spreading the truth about what happened there.
All the best in your Bisesero project,
FRANCE NO RSVP RWANDA (reader Badang asks about french response to accusations of Bisesero genocide survivors)
Genocide survivors offended by French Minister Kouchner comments. RwandaNewsAgency, Feb 3, 2008
Government has to be careful with the gestures for a renewal of diplomatic relations with France because of the suspicious language used by top French diplomat on a recent trip to Rwanda, Genocide survivors have demanded. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was in Kigali on a visit observers say was to try to restore the severed relations. Mr. Kouchner and President Paul Kagame exchanged pleasantries calling each other "a friend". However, following his tour of the Genocide Memorial Center, Mr. Kouchner touched the hot potato in Franco-Rwanda relations - Genocide responsibility. He fell short of admitting French role instead saying there were "political faults". Mr. Kouchner told reporters: "It was certainly a political fault ... we didn't understand what happened. But there was no military responsibility." The genocide survivors' umbrella organization IBUKA is bitter. "The Association IBUKA has been heavily offended by these untruthful and arrogant comments, and vigorously denounces them", the grouping said in a statement released Saturday - more than a week after the visit. IBUKA says Mr. Kouchner - was himself in Rwanda during the Genocide between May 10 to 17 1994, but on pretext of evacuating orphans. When he returned to Paris, the former humanitarian campaigner avoided the use of the word Genocide to describe the events in the country. He never used the word 'Genocide' instead emphasizing it as the 'worst humanitarian crisis'. Well aware that had he used the word 'Genocide', it would have weighed strongly on international conscience", IBUKA says. Current estimates suggest that up to 1.5 million people were massacred by rampaging militias and government soldiers in just 100 days. However, as the RPF rebels took on ground, French soldiers are said to have aided the Genocide machine to flee south and then west to Zaire (DRC). Corroborated evidence to the government appointed probe into French role shows that French soldiers fought along the militias and government forces. In the south, they put up a 'humanitarian cordon' through which the interahamwe lived and later crossed to Zaire. French doctors in eastern Zaire are reported to have "deliberately amputated" limbs of wounded Tutsis in a move survivors who went through the ordeal say was to leave them inapt. In the fortified area - the zone turquoise, Tutsis girls as young as 10 years were hunted for and raped. According to experts brought in by the Mucyo Commission, French diplomats at the UN headquarters ensured an information blackout on Rwanda to prevent any debate. British researcher Prof. Linda Melvern detailed a conspiracy mechanism facilitated by then UN Secretary General Egyptian Boutros Boutros Ghali. IBUKA says France was aware of the "criminal and ethnic nature" of the regime in power that was implementing the Genocide - supporting them militarily, politically and diplomatically...
Rwanda quake crashes on congregations (Cyangugu helped sooner than Bukavu). AFP, Feb 4, 2008
Congo & Rwanda hit by 2 deadly quakes (6.0 & 5.0 respectively). BBC, Feb 3, 2008
Questions as French Minister Visits Great Lakes Region. The Nation, Jan 30, 2008
France has offered an olive branch by sending an emissary, the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, to her former colony Rwanda. Mr Kouchner, upon his arrival in Kigali admitted that France must have failed somewhere politically in Rwanda. But, Mr Kouchner insisted that despite the political failings the French bore no "military responsibility" for the 1994 genocide that led to the massacre of close to a million Rwandese. Mr Kouchner said: "It was certainly a political fault ... we didn't understand what happened. But there was no military responsibility." This is probably why there has always been a diplomatic gap between the two countries. But, the question many are asking is; "Is there any hope of bridging the gap between the two, if the French are still insisting they had no military role in the genocide?' Both countries have in the past traded accusations over involvement in the 1994 genocide. As a way of encouraging a "truth and reconciliation process" Rwanda, almost a decade ago independently decided to probe France's role in the events that happened during the genocide. A probe committee called The Mucyo Commission, christened after the name of it's presiding president, Jean de Dieu Mucyo, was set up by the Rwandan government to adduce evidence of France's role in the genocide. During some public hearings, covered by the local press, Mr Mucyo's commission heard from many witnesses, interestingly including some French nationals testifying against the French military....Mr Mucyo proceeded with his probe commission and finalised work late last year producing a 500-page report that is yet to go public. While probing the killings, members of the Mucyo Commission heard from French nationals who said the French military and politicians actively supported and directly participated in training genocide protagonists. Witnesses including international journalists and two celebrated British writers Andrew Wallis and Linda Melvern testified that there was a certain degree of killings done by French soldiers, who operated under the auspices of the UN troops within Rwandan borders. Mr Wallis the author of the International bestseller, Silent Accomplice, a book that explored the role played by France in facilitating the genocide, wrote that the French carried out atrocities under what was then called Zone Turquoise, a humanitarian operation meant to create escape routes for the fleeing victims. Mr Wallis particularly said that Zone Turquoise Operation worsened when the French military wooed the 'would be' victims out of their hiding, particularly in Bisesero Hills and thereafter shielded the Interahamwe militia during their subsequent exodus to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Interahamwe is a term used to refer to the Hutu extremist militia created by the Habyarimana clan in the early 1990s and trained by Rwandan army. According to Mr Jean Hatzfeld a journalist who covered the Rwanda genocide as a foreign correspondent for the French daily Liberation, there is evidence that the Interahamwe were sometimes locally trained by the French military. The 13 foreign witnesses who testified during Mucyo's public hearings mostly concurred on the fact that the French Zone Turquoise Operation was not a humanitarian mission as claimed by the French. During his short visit to Kigali, Mr Kouchner said, "we have to work on history. But we have to separate the legal problems and the political problems, the historical problems and the political problems." Mr Kouchner as a person is an appealing character. As co-founder of the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), he visited Rwanda several times during the genocide to help organise humanitarian aid corridors...
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~