Gatsibo: The Face of 1994 Horror

cheap geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>This was the 22nd stop on its nationwide tour of Rwanda. The flame travels next to Kayonza District on 16 March 2014.

Gatsibo District is made up of former Murambi, Gituza, Ngarama, Muhura and Giti communes.

It is an area in which massacres were carried out as early as 1990 in preparation for the genocide in 1994.

Many Tutsi were also killed in the pogroms of 1963-1964.

During the 1994 genocide, Murambi commune was one of the worst affected areas and killings began immediately after the death of President Habyarimana.


Jean-Baptiste Gatete led the massacres in Murambi where he served as mayor from 1987 to 1993. He imprisoned Tutsi, especially teachers, businessmen, nurses and those considered to have positions of responsibility in the community.

He accused them of being accomplices of the Rwandan Patriotic Army. Most of these Tutsi were taken to Byumba military camp and killed. Furthermore, government officials had registered all Tutsi in Murambi before the genocide started.

Under pressure from the international community and opposition politicians who were concerned by the killings in Murambi, the Habyarimana regime replaced Gatete with a staff member in his office. But little changed and the killing of Tutsi continued.

Jean Baptiste Gatete remained highly influential in Murambi and on the morning of 7 April 1994, called a meeting to discuss how to quickly carry out the final plan to kill Tutsi. Many Tutsi fled to the Kiziguro Catholic Parish and while some were killed on their way to the parish, around 3,700 arrived there alive.

A mass grave in Gatsibo

On 11 April 1994, Gatete went to Gabiro military camp and brought back two buses of soldiers to kill the Tutsi who had taken refuge at the parish.

Before these soldiers arrived, militia stationed at the parish day and night prevented Tutsi from escaping.

The militia launched several attacks on the church but were repelled until reinforcements arrived.


When the soldiers arrived, Gatete ordered them to take all Tutsi men out of the parish and to undress them so that Tutsi could be easily identified among the large number of militia there.

The soldiers and militia started killing the Tutsi and forced survivors to take the bodies to a mass grave located 200 meters away.

A group of militia was stationed there to kill the person who had carried the body to the mass grave. Both victims were then thrown in.

After killing all the men at the parish, the militia killed the women and children and dumped them into the mass grave.

Because the killing had been taking place in Gatsibo since 1990, it took only one week for all Tutsi in the area to be exterminated.

The Rwandan Patriotic Army arrived in Kiziguro on 14 April 1994 and rescued 12 people from the mass grave.

The Kiziguro genocide memorial holds more 14,000 victims including the 3,700 who were killed and thrown into the mass grave at the parish.

The event was hosted by Mayor Ambroise Ruboneza and reflected on the events of the 1994 genocide as well as the journey of unity and renewal in Gatsibo and Rwanda since.

The Flame of Remembrance was received from Nyagatare District by two 20-year-old students, Laetitia Kayitesirwa and Cyprien Habimana.

The Flame of Hope reminds Rwandans about the 1994 horror

A children’s choir from Kiramuruzi Primary School sung ‘Urumuri Rutazima’ (Never Ending Flame) to welcome the flame. The special guest was Hon. Protais Mitali, Minister of Sports and Culture.

Pastor William Ndongozi, who is a survivor of the genocide, gave a testimony while Jean Bosco Kadunguli delivered a message of unity.

A poem titled ‘Dusangiye isano’ will be read by Justin Nzabahimana. Father Laurent Rutinduka will give a history of Kiziguro in Gatsibo.


The Kwibuka Flame symbolises remembrance as well as the resilience and courage of Rwandans over the past twenty years.

Carried in a simple lamp, the flame is being used to light other lamps in communities around Rwanda.

To mark twenty years since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, all memorial fires throughout the country are being lit from this single Kwibuka Flame.

President Paul Kagame will use the Kwibuka Flame of Remembrance to light the National Flame of Mourning on April 7 to mark the official beginning of the national mourning period to commemorate the genocide in Rwanda.

The flame will also be the source for lighting candles at a vigil at Amahoro Stadium on the evening of 7 April 2014.

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