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Some Hutus Aided Their Countrymen

By Robert M. PressStaff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / November 14, 1994



NAIROBI, KENYA

Some Hutus were heroes, not killers. They risked their lives to save Tutsis who were being hunted down in the genocidal frenzy that swept Rwanda for three months this year.

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When Tutsi Marie Claire Kayigabwa, a 22-year-old student in Gitarama, fled a Hutu mob, she ran to the home of a Hutu friend, Francoise Rwimabera, who hid her for two weeks. She survived.

Other Tutsis were saved by Hutus they had never met.

In Kigali, the capital, Therese Mukarusagara's husband and two teenage sons were killed, and her house was burned. She escaped with an uncle and two of her children.

A Hutu shopkeeper hid them above the ceiling of a house that he was building.

``He was wonderful,'' she says. ``He brought us food twice a day.'' They emerged safely when the Tutsi rebels seized the city.

These and other examples of Hutus saving Tutsis are described in a Sept. 29 report on Rwanda by African Rights, a London-based human rights group.

The report states that other Tutsis were saved by Hutu friends in the Army, the police, the presidential guard, and even by Hutus involved in the death squads. Some acted under threat of their own lives. A few openly confronted mobs bent on murdering Tutsis.

A number of Tutsis in Kigali told how Hutus had saved them during the massacres earlier this year.

``The extremists aimed to create just two categories of people in Rwanda: killers and the killed,'' the African Rights report states.

``They have not succeeded,'' it concludes. ``A third category exists of those people who resisted the slaughter, in a variety of ways.''