Kangura No. 3

He Who Lives by the Sword Will Die by the Sword

After the infamous massacres of Hutus in 1965, 1972–1973 and 1988 by minority Tutsi regimes in Burundi, the Hutu people are today, more than ever before, threatened with extermination.

The situation is all the more worrying because the popular “Simbananiye plan” is still being implemented in Burundi. According to that plan drawn up in 1968 by Arthémon Simbananiye, a Tutsi extremist, former minister of the interior from Micombera and current adviser to President Buyoya, the Tutsis were to massacre the Hutus (85%) thereby reducing them to the same number as the Tutsis (14%). Only Hutus reduced to absolute slavery should be spared.

In spite of their honeyed speeches on unity and peace, one notices that all the Tutsi regimes approved the plan to exterminate Hutus. The massacre, arrest and arbitrary imprisonment of Hutus on the consecutive nights of 20–24 November 1991 in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, and its environs as well as in the southern provinces of Kayanza, Ngozi and Cibitoki fall within the scope of this plan. The massacres were like those of Sharpeville in South Africa in 1960. They were carefully planned by the Burundian army made up exclusively of Tutsis, from the senior officers to the soldiers. For these killings, the Tutsi army was assisted by Somali, Ethiopian and Ugandan mercenaries and Inyenzi-Inkotanyi (Rwandan refugees) recruited by the Burundian government. The “Jeunesse Révolutionaire Rwagasore” militia of the single party, Uprona, also participated in the killings. The death toll from these massacres was very high, though the Burundian government persists in playing it down. As of 1 December 1991, it stood at 3,562 dead and several thousand wounded, 5,000 refugees in Rwanda, 18,600 refugees in Zaïre and 259 houses set ablaze, The influx of refugees into Rwanda is a reflection of these atrocities. The Burundian ambassador in Kigali, Marc Nteturuye, also a Tutsi, saw them during a visit to his “compatriots” in Kivu commune, Gikongoro. Most of these refugees, all Hutus, had knife wounds, bullet scars,…

The Burundian Army was even preparing to drop napalm bombs into the bushes and forest in Bubazna, Cibitoki and Kayanza as Saddam Hussein did to the Kurds. Ambassador Nteturuye, who was scared of approaching his “fellow” refugees (even with escorts), confided in one foreign radio correspondent that the number of Burundians in Rwanda stood at 5,000 and that more were still coming in, which proved that calm was far from being restored in spite of official speeches. Besides, Ambassador Nteturuye admitted that all the refugees were Hutus and mostly women (and children) as their husbands had been exterminated.

This does not come as a surprise as one knows that since its 1966 coup, the main task of the Burundian Army has been to exterminate the opposition without saddling themselves with political prisoners who would tarnish the image of the ruling government. The fear was that most of the people arrested because they were known to have opposed the only party (Uprona) were physically eliminated.

The Burundian government must

  • stop the massacre, arrest and torture of the Hutus immediately;
  • order the immediate return of the soldiers to their barracks;
  • unconditionally release all political prisoners;
  • open dialogue with the opposition with a view to convening a national conference to examine the problems of Burundi together.

The international community should impose economic sanctions against Burundi and cut off military aid to this minority government. The Government of Burundi must understand that the voice of the people is the voice of God (Vox populi, vox Dei) and also remember that he who lives by the sword will die by the sword.