Murambi survivors react with anger over ICTR’s acquittal of Ex Ministers
Genocide Survivors in the former Murambi Commune (Currently in Gatsibo District of Eastern Province) have voiced out a support to this week’s action by the umbrella of association of Genocide survivors (IBUKA) and other Rwandans’ march in a mass protest against the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)’s decision on two Rwandan ex-ministers; who have been released despite their former sentence of 30 years in jail.
The Appeals judge at the UN- funded court, Theodor Meron, recently overturned convictions for complicity to commit genocide and incitement to commit genocide against Justin Mugenzi, who was trade minister during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and Prosper Mugiraneza, former minister in charge of civil servants.
In September 2011, the tribunal had sentenced each to 30 years in prison, in the case commonly known as Government II – after finding them guilty of conspiracy to commit genocide, and direct and public incitement to commit genocide.
In the same scenario, the same court had earlier reviewed the sentence of Jean Baptiste Gatete, popularly known as the Butcher of Murambi, to 40 years. Gatete had been sentenced to life.
Speaking to scores of genocide survivors in different parts of the former Murambi commune, where Jean-Baptiste Gatete had served as Bourgmestre (Mayor) many years prior to the Genocide, many accused ICTR’s continuous favour of genocide architects as adding salt into the ‘creepy healing’ wounds.
“It is only we survivors who know what Gatete did here… no one else, to be honest. Not even had we felt contented by the tribunal’s first life sentence handed to Gatete than they leisurely lowered it to mere 40 years in prison with the magnitude of his genocide crimes. It is only God that will judge his people. Those are the only words I can say,” said an angry genocide survivor who survived Kiziguro Parish mass killings.
Another survivor, Leonilla Mukankusi of Rwankuba sector, which was allegedly the killing base of Gatete, recounted the former Bourgumestre’s closeness to Prosper Mugiraneza, former minister in charge of civil servants.
“The two were close friends given the fact that Mugiraneza was Gatete’s boss. They held several night meeting together during weekends. I was young but I could witness everything. Now that the two were acquitted…the next is Gatete to be declared free of all crimes he committed here! This is a total insult by the ICTR. The government should help us to fight such injustices,” she said.
The acquittal of these Ex-Ministers by ICTR is also a sign that the Rwandan Genocide against Tutsi will one day be rubbed off in History books if the World is not standing on true justice, Murambi survivors suspected.
“If the World body like UN commits itself to inject $250M annual budget to ICTR and later accepts injustices to free such genocide architects like these Ex-Ministers, it gives us (survivors) a clear picture that the World still ruins justice to prevail,” added another survivor.
The ICTR which is based in Arusha, Tanzania was established to prosecute persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda or in the territory of neighbouring States between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994.
Since its inception in 1994, it has operated on an annual budget of $250,000,000 but has only completed 72 cases with 10 of them being acquittals.