Agathe Habyarimana was one of the powers behind the throne
of her husband's 20-year presidency and was the centre of
a powerful clique of northern Hutus
called le clan de Madame or akazu.


Her brother, Protais Zigiranyirazo, commonly known as Monsier Zed (Mr. Z)
has been accused of collaborating in the 1994 Rwandan genocide
and the 1985 murder of Dian Fossey.

Ex-first lady of Rwanda seeks shelter in Canada
(daughter in Ottawa)
National Post, Jan 16, 2007

The Ottawa-based daughter of assassinated Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana will push to have her mother admitted to Canada if French authorities uphold a decision denying her political asylum. Rose-Marie Habyarimana said her mother, 64, was "among the victims" of the missile attack that brought down her father's plane on April 6, 1994 - an act that triggered the Rwandan genocide. "The plane came down in the grounds of my parents' home." Ms. Habyarimana said yesterday in an interview from her home. "The people who carried out the attack were trying to kill our whole family. It doesn't make sense she may be denied permission to remain in France."

Ms. Habyarimana, 38, was studying at Quebec's University Laval at the time her father was killed, and received Canadian asylum within a month of applying for it in July, 1994. In the aftermath of the assassination, French forces evacuated Ms. Habyarimana's mother, Agathe, and other family members to France, but the French Office for the Protection of Refugees last week turned down her 2004 application to stay permanently. "The French refugee office is simply not doing its job," said Ms. Habyarimana, who today is an English-to-French translator.

According to reports, the French authorities turned down the application because the former Rwandan first lady had, in an interview, "denied the reality" of the genocide, which left up to 800,000 dead. Her attorney's noted this was tantamount to an indictment, but pointed out the international tribunal that the United Natons established to prosecute the main architects of the three-month slaughter has never charged her with involvement.

The current Rwandan government does, however, accuse the elder Ms Habyarimana of having links with those who plotted the genocide, and issued a demand following her asylum-denial that France arrest her. "Habyarimana's wife is not the only one," said Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama. "There are several genocide plotters in France." The current government is headed by Paul Kagame, former leader of the then-mainly Tutsi rebel army that succeeded the mainly Hutu Habyarimana government three months after the killing began. But complicating the picture is that a French investigating magistrate, Jean Louis Bruguire, recently issued nine arrest warrants against people close to Mr. Kagame, accusing them of having a hand in the Habyarimana assassination.

While the former Rwandan first lady has several appeal possibilities open to her in France, if she is expelled, her daughter says she cannot live in any African country. "After first going to France, she lived in Kenya, Gabon and Zaire, but her security could not be guaranteed," Ms. Habyarimana said.

Agathe Habyarimana

Agathe Habyarimana (born Agathe Kanziga in 1942) is the widow of former President of Rwanda Juvénal Habyarimana. Kanziga was the daughter of a Hutu lineage that had ruled an independent principality until the late nineteenth century. She was frequently regarded as one of the powers behind the throne during her husband's 20-year presidency, and her family connections to powerful Hutu politicians are often regarded as having provided necessary political capital for Habyarimana. She was the centre of a powerful clique of northern Hutus called le clan de Madame or akazu (Kinyarwanda for "little house").

On April 9, 1994, immediately following Habyarimana's assassination and the beginning of the Rwandan Genocide, she was airlifted out of Rwanda by French troops. In this exodus she was accompanied by thirty other members of the akazu, including Ferdinand Nahimana, director of Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines. Upon arrival in Paris, she received a gift of 230,000 francs from the French government, from a budget allocated for "urgent assistance for Rwandan refugees".

The book We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families suggests that the Akazu clique, which included both Agathe Habyarimana and the Rwanda's de facto ruler Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, was responsible both for the assassination of her husband and the organization of the genocide.

Agathe Habyarimana is the sister of Protais Zigiranyirazo, who was implicated in the genocide. She presently remains in exile in France.

Protais Zigiranyirazo

Protais Zigiranyirazo (born 1938) commonly known as Monsieur Zed ("Mr. Z"), is a Rwandan businessman and politician. He is the former governor of Ruhengeri prefecture in northwestern Rwanda. He has also been accused of collaborating in the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the 1985 murder of Dian Fossey.

Between 1974 and 1989 Zigiranyirazo served as governor of Ruhengeri. An ethnic Hutu, he was well-connected to the Hutu establishment of politicians, businessmen and military officers which then controlled Rwanda: he is the brother of Agathe Kanziga, wife of the late Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, whose assassination on April 6, 1994 precipitated the events leading to the genocide.

In 1989 he resigned his position as prefect to study at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He was expelled from UQÁM and from Canada in 1993 after being convicted of uttering death threats against two Tutsi refugees in Montreal, who "accused him of participating in the planning of ethnic massacres."

Agathe Habyarimana
by Ignatius Ssuuna & Robert Mukombozi
The New Times, Dec 15, 2006

France owes the world an explanation as to why it has refused to bring to justice the late Juvenal Habyarimana’s wife Agathe, for her role in the 1994 Genocide. Justice Minister, Tharcisse Karugarama said that twelve years after the genocide, France has continued to shield Agathe Habyarimana, the woman whose hands are tainted with genocide blood.

“What France is doing is abnormal. This woman is a criminal and is listed under Category One of the genocide suspects,” Karugarama said by phone on Tuesday. He said that France’s continued protection of genocide perpetrators is an indicator that the European country is a liability to the administration of justice and the rule of law in the world. “She must be arrested and be prosecuted for her role in the genocide. They are shooting themselves in the foot,” Karugarama said. “The French government”, Karugarama stressed, “must be honest, credible and straightforward and stop misleading the world.”

He added that by protecting Agathe Habyarimana, “France is selective and, inspired by politics and hatred against the current leadership.” He said evidence indicates that Habyarimana’s wife took part in the planning and execution of the killings, which saw an estimated one million Rwandans killed in a record spell of 100 days. Agathe Habyarimana is among other crimes accused of ordering the killing of former Prime Ministry, Agathe Uwiligiyimana. The Office of Prosecutor General mid this year released a list of 93 genocide suspects, with Agathe Habyarimana among the fugitives. Agathe is also said to have mobilized massively, together with Akazu members to kill Tutsi women, saying they were ‘the reasons why all Hutus were suffering’. A French Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin is also among the French government officials that backed the genocide.

Karugarama also castigated the recent move by a French magistrate, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, describing it as baseless. President Paul Kagame has laughed off Bruguiere’s indictments for nine Rwandan army officers, saying it was a manifestation of how the French were gambling. He has warned France against interference in Rwanda’s internal affairs and urged other African leaders to resist persistent meddling by some western countries.

Rwanda says hand over Agathe Habyarimana
(let Rwandan courts do their job)
Montreal Gazette, January 17, 2007

Rwanda has asked France to arrest and hand over Agathe Habyarimana, the widow of the Rwandan president whose fiery death in 1994 triggered the genocidal killing of 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis. The couple's daughter, living in Canada, wants this country to welcome her mother. Letting Agathe Habyarimana into Canada would be an abomination. The proper place for her is in Rwanda, where the country's robust and credible justice system can deal with her according to the evidence - which seems to implicate her in planning the genocide.

Juvenal Habyarimana was in an airplane that exploded mysteriously in the air one night in April 1994. As the slaughter of Tutsis began in the days that followed, French soldiers spirited his powerful wife to France. "Habyarimana's wife is not the only one, there are several genocide plotters in France," Rwanda's justice minister, Tharcisse Karugarama, told the Agence France Presse news agency. "France has become a sanctuary for genocide perpetrators." French diplomats and soldiers were suspiciously close to Hutu leaders linked to the genocide. As Rwandan claims of French complicity grew louder in recent years, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, a prominent French judge, accused Paul Kagame, then a rebel leader and now Rwanda's president, of having caused the plane crash.

There is no evidence against Kagame, whose troops deposed the Hutu regime and ended the killing. Britain's Guardian newspaper notes that "two of Bruguiere's key witnesses, disaffected former (Kagame) soldiers, have since accused (the judge) of using the indictments (of Kagame's aides) for political ends in an ongoing campaign by France against the present Rwandan leadership." Kagame replied to Bruguiere by breaking off diplomatic relations, saying: "It is France that supported the genocidal forces, that trained them, that armed them, that participated in fighting against the forces that were trying to stop the genocide." Rwanda's government is said to have found Hutu-regime documents revealing that France was deeply implicated in the military buildup to the genocide.

Readers of Romeo Dallaire's memoir, Shake Hands With the Devil, or of Philip Gourevitch's riveting We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, will nod in agreement with those points.

It is hardly surprising, then, that France has sheltered Agathe Habyarimana. Now, however, a French tribunal has refused her refugee status citing, in her own lawyer's words to the BBC, documents "giving serious believe that she participated as instigator or accomplice in committing genocide."

For Canada, then, the only question about this case should be: Would Agathe Habyarimana get a fair trial in Rwanda? The answer is yes. The UN's International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, preparing to conclude its work, will hand over residual cases to Rwanda's government. So evidently the UN has confidence in Rwandan justice. Under these circumstances, there is no room in Canada for Agathe Habyarimana.

Rwanda seeks ex-first lady arrest. BBC, Jan 11, 2007
Rwanda has demanded that France arrest the wife of its former President Juvenal Habyarimana on charges she was involved in the 1994 genocide. Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama told the BBC that Agathe Habyarimana was one of the main genocide plotters...Rwanda broke off relations with France last year in a row over the genocide. A French judge accused Rwanda's President Paul Kagame of ordering the assassination of Mr Habyarimana - the act which sparked the genocide...Mrs Habyarimana, 60, has been living in France since shortly after the genocide but only applied for political asylum in 2004. Rwanda has long accused France of having links to those who carried out the genocide and last year started an official enquiry into the allegations. Mr Karugarama said Mrs Habyarimana was a "category one" genocide suspect. "So how can she sit and dine with French security and judicial authorities?... What they should be doing is to apprehend her and bring her before justice in Rwanda or before the ICTR [UN's International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda] in Arusha or any other court that can try her," he said...

Report from the Rwandan genocide
by Michael Skoler, American Radio Works, Jun 13, 1994 (filed 68 days into the genocide)
... Suwethe had been an adviser to the president and chief of protocol for the Hutu-led Rwandan government, and now he calls his former government colleagues 'killers.' He claims the massacres were part of a carefully constructed government plan to wipe out political opponents, both Hutu and Tutsi. It was no secret, he says, that the government had armed and trained the civilian militias that carried out the massacres. "So many people were armed. Official- there were official letters - we saw them - describing how people in different areas should be given arms, and the letters were coming from the chief of staff of the army. The president died at 8:00 or 8:30 in the evening. At 9:00, the killings have started all over Rwanda." Within a day or two, the Rwandan army had hunted down and killed Hutu government officials like the prime minister who were willing to compromise with the Tutsi-led RPF. Army officers accused the rebels of shooting down the president's plane, but Suwethe and others think the president's plane was attacked by the army because the president wasn't willing to go ahead with the massacre plan. Suwethe says he wasn't in the president's inner circle, the group which devised the plan, but occasionally, he would hear about it. "Some of the masterminds of that plan used to, you know, to talk about their plan once they had a more - a bit of whisky or a bit of cognac." "They would brag about it?" I asked. "Yeah, they were proud about it. Habyarimana set up a network of killers, and they did their job."

There is mounting evidence that supports Suwethe's story. Human rights organizations have documented that the government was arming and training civilian militias for more than a year. U.N. forces intercepted arms shipments intended for the militias in January and February. Survivors of the massacres confirm that soldiers, many town mayors and local police helped the citizens' militias kill Tutsis. Radio stations linked to the government and the president's party called on people during the massacres to 'finish off the job' by killing Tutsis. It even seems government troops and their militias may have forced Hutu civilians to take part in the killings - at least, that is what people like Juliana Mucanguaya say. She is a Hutu woman with six children from a village not far from Gahini. As she speaks, she sits in a small compound - her jail - with 21 others in an empty town littered with corpses. She has been imprisoned by the RPF for taking part in the massacres, though she insists she did not want to kill... Other prisoners tell similar stories, that they had to either kill Tutsis or else they would be killed. It is hard to know if that is the truth, and whether that occurred all over the country.... Even Batancien seems to blame the country's leaders more than her neighbors for what happened. Everyone knew government soldiers had trained the civilian militias, and government propaganda had long taught Hutus to fear Tutsis, telling them the rebel RPF army and its Tutsi supporters wanted to take over the country, steal their land and kill their families....




Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~