Months After Massacres, Relatives of Victims Make Sad Homecoming to Rwandan Villages
MUYUMBU, RWANDA — ANNE MARIE KABATENDE stares through an open door of a partially destroyed house here at the skeletal remains of her family, victims of the genocide that engulfed the country earlier this year.
A child's notebook, an empty purse, remains of clothing, a twisted metal bed frame, and apparent machete-inflicted gashes in some of the skulls testify to the horrible murders that occurred here. Gaps in the walls and twisted tin roofing indicate grenades may have been tossed in.
``My parents and my sister are in here,'' Ms. Kabatende says quietly. Another sister, Patricia peers in through a hole in one wall.
The remains of at least a dozen victims are evident. Others were dumped in a now-covered hole in the earth, a few feet from the house.
``They were [throwing in] people still alive with dead bodies,'' says Kabatende, based on accounts she'd heard from a few survivors.
According to one account, a local Hutu official ordered the Tutsi rounded up and put in the house for their ``protection'' as the country erupted in genocide. Then the Tutsi were attacked.
The killing site was only recently discovered. Hutu militia ``death squads'' suspected of still being in the area had deterred visitors. Kabatende's visit to this rural farming area, just 15 miles east of the capital Kigali, was made with a Rwandan military escort.
``There are many places like this,'' some still undetected, she says.
OW she and other surviving Tutsi - and moderate Hutus who escaped the hard-line Hutu killers - must decide what punishment they want for the guilty.
The United Nations-approved international tribunal that is expected to judge a handful of top organizers is not good enough for her, she says.
People such as the local official who rounded up the victims ``should be judged'' as well, she says.
Courtroom trials of the estimated 30,000 or more Hutus suspected of participating in the killings, if they can be apprehended, may take ``five to six years,'' says Tito Rutaremara, president of the Human Rights Commission of Rwanda, which is investigating the genocide. ``You can never think of judging all these people.''