Burundi: What is the truth about the 1972 killings? (Part Five)
We have already seen, with supporting evidence, that what happened on April 29, 1972 was a veritable genocide of Tutsis which had been well planned by extremist Hutus. It is regrettable that Micombero’s government is not able to prevent him because information had been given on the preparations for this genocide. To say that power was confused by the famous regional problems, the return of the monarchy and the coups that could result from it can in no way be an excuse for not putting all the attention on the security of the population in danger of genocide. We have also seen that the genocide was not carried out as planned by human error. Captain Marcien Burasekuye, who should start the operation in Bujumbura at 11:00 p.m., fell asleep in the woman’s arms in Musaga and when he woke up suddenly, he did not consult his watch and believing that ‘They were late, he started the killings before the agreed time. Some sources say that at least 200 rebels surrounded the capital. The radio that was supposed to kick off across the country was not used. This means that Bujumbura did not know many victims that day. In many provinces, the evenings continued until dawn as if nothing had happened.
On the other hand, in Rumonge, the killers did not wait for the hour because they wanted to take advantage of the meeting which was organized there to kill the main part of State officials who were gathered in this meeting. Those who were not killed on the spot were ambushed on their return journey; their vehicles were burned by these rebels.
In general, on April 29, 1972, the coastline of Lake Tanganyika, the sectors of Rumonge, Bururi, Vyanda, Nyanza lac, Makamba were occupied by the rebels. In Rumonge, they attacked the brigade, they ransacked households killing all Tutsis without distinction, even the Arabs (traders) were killed accused of having hidden the Tutsis. : “We learned that soldiers, commanded by Colonel Sylvère Nzohabonayo had just arrived from Bujumbura. It was Wednesday May 3, 1972. We came out of our hiding place and headed for the commune office. « Said a witness on the spot. It therefore took two days to clear the shore of Lake Tanganyika; President Mobutu of Zaire has even sent planes to support his Burundian counterpart, some sources said.
At Nyanza Lac, a Hutu, Camp commander, would have lined up all the soldiers as if they were going to intervene, then he ordered « weapons on the ground » and had all the Tutsi soldiers killed on the spot.
In Mabanda, Makamba and especially in Vugizo, the rebels had time to kill and consolidate their positions. They planted the red and green flag of victory. They thought they would stay there because the Hutu from the interior of the country were supposed to relay them in their massacres. When they arrived, the soldiers fought a hard battle because, according to witnesses, the rebels knew how to lead savannah guerrilla warfare. Some of them had firearms, but the majority had spears, poisoned arrows and machetes. It took the army five days to master the situation.
Other sources sad that the Gitega commando camp was attacked by 50 elements from the Ruyigi road. They would soon have been neutralized. Two soldiers were said to have died in the attack. Another source says that the attack we are talking about is one way to justify the assassination of King Ntare V who was taken from the palace to lead him to the dungeon of Camp Commando. Micombero, who still feared the return of the monarchy, believed that killing him would discourage the monarchists. He was effectively executed in his cell on April 30, 1972 by three bullets in the forehead and thrown into a mass grave on Nyambeho hill in Gitega, alongside the rebels killed in the attack.
Other reports say the rebels from Tanzania also attacked in Ruyigi and Cankuzo, but were soon neutralized.
This is roughly the information gathered about what happened. It is clear that the rebel elements had planned the systematic elimination of the Tutsis. Fortunately, the execution was not as planned. No one knows the exact number of Tutsis killed by these rebels because no investigation has been made.
A strange thing happened the next day April 30, 1972. The radio, the Voice of the Revolution did not start broadcasting as usual at 6.30 am. She remained silent, which worried many. Some had even believed in a breakdown. It was at 10 a.m. that she announced that ‘’ monarchist elements had invaded the country in several places. Their goal was to release Ntare, who had perished in the fighting ’’
In other words, Micombero had not understood until then that it was rebels who had attacked, but had in mind his problem with the monarchists.
When he woke up, he committed the irreparable. A state of emergency was declared throughout the territory. Circulation between the provinces was prohibited; the nationwide curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The provinces were placed under military control; say some sources
A council of war was created and sat stealthily. A terrible verdict has fallen. The summary execution of any Hutu suspected of being directly or indirectly involved in the events.
Large-scale arrests were made on May 1, 1972 in Hutu circles. They were followed by extrajudicial executions, to the extent that no trace was found of the people imprisoned at the Central Prison in Mpimba. Some were brought there by military means at the wheel of their own cars. These vehicles remained parked there until 1973 and were « sold » later, corroborating sources say.
In the neighbourhoods of Bujumbura, in secondary schools and on campuses, in urban centres and on the hills of the whole country, many Hutu, traders, officials, pupils and students, soldiers and even simple peasants were arrested and killed, without judgement.
In Bujumbura as in the interior of the country, Tutsis were also arrested and executed, within the framework of regionalist settling of scores. Other Tutsis were executed only to seize either their homes or other valuables, or their wives
The repression was therefore « severe, very severe » as President Michel Micombero would have admitted to a Belgian journalist
URN HITAMWONEZA shares the pain with all the families who have lost theirs, both Hutu and Tutsi. We condemn with the last energy all the killers, the planners and executors of the genocide of the Tutsis like those who killed, Hutus and Tutsis without any judgment during the famous indiscriminate repression. We regret that no government has so far had the courage to carry out investigations to tell the Burundians and the international community how things went, who did what, and establish the responsibilities of each other. This would have to know the truth, punish the culprits and prevent such actions from happening again in our country.
Burundi: What is the truth about the 1972 killings? (Part Five)