Burundi: What is the truth about the 1972 killings? (Fourth part)
We continue our approach towards the search for the truth about 1972 events. This truth will serve us to bar the way to the extremists who always seek to distort it to arrive at selfish interests for some, and to exterminate a category of Burundians for the others.
In our previous edition, we tried to show that genocide had been carefully planned and that the intelligence services of the Michel Micombero government did not do their job well because there is a worrying negligence in the exploitation of information which was passed on in preparation for this attack. Recall that these services regularly received information that there were rebel groups training in Tanzania, in Kigoma, and in Zaire (current DRC). The examples are legion:
An immigration official working in Gisuru allegedly claimed that at the beginning of April 1972, he went down to Bujumbura to inform the National Security that there were training sessions being carried out in Tanzania to attack Burundi. The information was not taken seriously.
Other reports say that a European missionary from a southern parish informed the authorities that during the Easter retreats, young men and able-bodied men had not presented themselves as usual. The faithful had revealed to him that there were camps in Tanzania where these young people were preparing for a war against Burundi.
A certain Abdul Aziz Ntahiraja, a former intelligence agent, allegedly revealed to the newspaper Iwacu that he had transmitted the information in connection with the preparations for rebel attacks in southern Burundi, 6 months before April 29, 1072. He claimed to have had information through two people (Hutu) that Hutu were preparing an attack from Kigoma, helped by the Mulelistes: “I informed Jean Bikamba and Gaspard Kazohera then respectively prosecutor and governor of Bururi. We held a meeting which also included Samuel Nduwingoma, the Bururi camp commander. The information was said to have been exploited until it even knew the probable date of the attack.
It was following consistent information from several sources that the highest security officials held a working meeting on April 23, 1972 in Bururi. Anonymous witnesses say that the Minister of the Interior Albert Shibura, the Minister of Information André Yanda, the Chief of General Staff of the Burundian Armed Forces Thomas Ndabemeye, the Administrator General of Security and Immigration Bernard Bizindavyi , Bururi camp Commander also participated in this meeting. It would appear that they did not judge the case « sufficiently serious ». However, they decided to launch a public awareness campaign, starting buy Rumonge.
It was exactly in this locality in the south of the country that the attacks began on April 29, 1972 around 4:00 p.m. whereas in Bujumbura, it was expected that they would start at 11:00 p.m.
Two very influential ministers of the Micombero government, Albert Shibura and Yanda were in Rumonge at the public awareness meetings. According to survivors, they sensed that something was going on. At the end of the day, the massacres began. All the Bururi officials who had gone to Rumonge were killed cut into pieces with a machete, on the way back. The radio journalists who covered the meeting were massacred, and the transmitting vehicle was burned. Ministers Shibura and Yanda were only saved when they took a roundabout road. Because the road along Lake Tanganika, from the southern border with Tanzania to the gates of the capital Bujumbura was infested with men armed with machetes, clubs and some rifles. These men, associated with former Congolese mulelists liquidated everything that was Tutsi as well as Hutus who refused to kill; say the witnesses.
Here is the list of some victims of the Bururi administration killed by the Hutu genocidaires in 1972:
- Rungarunga Domitien: 1st Provincial Secretary of the Uprona Party in Bururi
- Dr Simbiyara Cyprien: Director Physician of Bururi Hospital
- Zidona Isidore: Advisor to the Governor of Bururi
- Nindorera Joseph: Borough Commissioner in Bururi
- Karenzo Gaspard: President of the High Court of Bururi
- Bikamba Jean: Public Prosecutor in Bururi
- Rubati: Judge at Rumonge
- Sinaniranye Adolphe: Inspector of Primary Schools in Bururi
- Baranyitondeye Pie: Director of the Primary School in Rumonge
- Barampangaje Melchiade: Deputy Commissioner and Sector Manager of Rumonge
- Kimaka Antoine: Administrator of the Burambi Commune
- Ndarusigiye Isidore: Veterinary surgeon in Bururi
- Albert: Accounting Secretary of the Bukemba commune
- Nintije François: Commander of the Rumonge brigade
- Ruhigira Déo: Driver of the Isabu MOSO
- Ndikumuzambo Jean: Driver of the Burambi commune
- Captain Mbonihankuye: at Nyanza-Lac
- Nijimbere Charles: Nurse veterinarian in Bukemba
- Kivuvu Alphonse: Judge in Vyanda
- Siboniyo: Zone manager in Vyanda
- Majugu Jean
- Nturama Simon
- Ndikunkiko Etienne
In Bujumbura, the killings should start at 11:00 p.m. The killings were to start on national radio. It was to be occupied by the killers in advance, starting with the Emission Centre, which was opposite the current NCO mess, next to Muha Camp. The place is now occupied by houses in the Gasekebuye quarter. One of the plotters had been positioned on National Radio to announce the advent of the « Republic of the Sun », whose emblem had already been marked on the coin of a Burundian franc used at the time and had been reproduced on the wire mesh of several dwellings
The dancing evenings should start at 10 p.m. Captain Marcien Burasekuye, chief organizer of the officers’ evening dancing in Bujumbura, had invited all the senior Tutsi officers and even the President of the Republic. The rebels were supposed to arise at 11 p.m. to do their grim work. These drug addicts hid in the bush around the capital.
The people of Bujumbura were saved thanks to an error by this famous captain Burasekuye who fell asleep in the arms of a young woman in Musaga. When he woke up, he thought he was late. He ran to the Officers’ Mess and found no one there. Believing that the evening was already over, he ordered the killing of those on the routes. In their distraction, they nevertheless succeeded in burning the cars of passers-by and killing three soldiers (including Captain Dodelin Kinyomvyi) who returned peacefully to their camp. Other reports say that Kinyomvyi was going to prepare the arrival of Michel Micombero at the Officers’ Mess. They had arrived at the Regina Mundi Cathedral, where the monument to the Unknown Soldier was erected. The order expected throughout the country was not transmitted. In most of the chief towns, the party continued until dawn. The Tutsi had fun like the others, without suspecting that they had been saved from death by a providential combination of circumstances.
URN HITAMWONEZA promises to continue to deal with this matter to shed light on everything that happened after this fateful date of April 29, 1972. We once again condemn the killings of Hutus and Tutsis, who died without reason during these events and the silence that followed them.