Prisoners from Bugesera prison asked publically for forgiveness the families of victims in Rukumberi sector
Prison Fellowship Rwanda with the support of NURC introduced the project entitled Access to Justice, Human Rights and Peace Consolidation which has the main objective of contributing in strengthening and sustaining a peaceful Rwandan society, through the facilitation of reconciliation dialogues and effective detainee’s reintegration. Therefore, it is in this regard that PFR conducted a community event held at Rukumberi in Ngoma District on 1st August 2019 with the aim of offering a space to 14 genocide perpetrators from Bugesera prison to confess their complicity and crimes committed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi; apologizing to the families they offended and their own family members for deceiving them.
During the time of asking forgiveness in Public, a prisoner called BARARWANIKA Vedaste said that even before Genocide he was evildoer and when genocide started bourgmestre (Mayor) of Sake district (former district) called Rutayisire given him responsibility to eliminate all Tutsi based on shortlist given.
However, after being trained by Prison fellowship Rwanda BARARWANIKA said that he got changed and decided to ask forgiveness and reveal the truth about the crimes he committed during genocide against Tutsi in 1994. Therefore, he asked forgiveness to IRIBAGIZA Epiphanie for killing her parents, brothers and sisters, to MUYOBOKE Stapine for killing his father and mother and all his family called ABAHONDOGO which was composed by more than 200 people.
IRIBAGIZA and MUYOBOKE said that after hearing that BARARWANIKA wrote a letter of asking forgiveness their hearts got relieved and confirmed that they forgive him because he told them all the truth and they asked him to be totally changed and help others in prison to change.
The Son of BARARWANIKA called HAKIZIMANA Jean de Dieu said that his father lied to him and to all his family but he said “me in personal there is only two months that my Dad told me all the truth about his crimes. My Dad do not deserve forgiveness based on what he did and how he lied to us, but after being told the truth and hear my father’s apology I also forgive him” he said.
Emmanuel Habimana, alias Cyasa, from the current Ngoma District on 1st July 2019 confessed to crimes he committed during the 1994 genocide against Tutsi and revealed how it was plotted. He was the head of Interahamwe militia in the former Kibungo Prefecture, a position for which he was nominated by Colonel Pierre Celestin Rwagafilita former head of the national gendarmerie (para-military police).The Interahamwe militia was a paramilitary group that was trained with a specific mission to kill Tutsi during the Genocide. Habimana is serving a life sentence in Bugesera Prison and has spent 20 years and four months in prison. I feel I should not hide the truth about the Genocide given the horrific crimes I carried out. I regret that I did wrong to my country,” he said. “No one should lie that the Genocide was not planned. We planned the Genocide, and I am a witness to that. A person who can say that the Genocide was not planned has Genocide ideology, revisionism and denial,” he said.
Raymond Harerimana, chairperson of Ibuka the umbrella organization of Genocide survivors’ associations in Rukumberi Sector said that seeking forgiveness on the side of convicts and granting it on the side of survivors was a noble action.
CP John Bosco Kabanda, Correction Division Manager at Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS), said that some prisoners have not yet accepted the crimes they committed, while others are making steps to admit and confess to their crimes after 20 years in jail. “Today, there are Rwandans who could not give decent burial to their beloved ones who were killed in the genocide. It is you who have the truth about how they died and the whereabouts of their bodies,” he told prisoners. What Rwandans need is the truth of what happened”
MUGAGA Johnson representative of National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, appreciated prisoners who asked forgiveness and encouraged them to speak all the truth about their crimes committed in 1994 genocide against Tutsi because it’s all Rwandan need. He added “asking forgiveness is a heroic act based on humbleness and forgiving is a heroic action based on integrity”