The woman who was first lady of Rwanda for more than 20 years has gone public 23yrs later affirming that she had no idea there was plan to exterminate Tutsis in 1994. And she went further, telling a Belgian TV station that she only heard about the genocide against Tutsi after she had arrived in France.
In Kigali however, the latest pronouncements by former first lady Agathe Kanziga Habyarimana did not come as a shock. Genocide survivors umbrella IBUKA told KT Press that Kanziga was acting typical of how genocide fugitives and deniers behave.
Alongside her last born Jean-Luc Habyarimana, the former all-powerful Agathe Kanziga last week appeared on a Flemish broadcaster VRT on a program hosted by Peter Verlinden. The program host is no stranger to Rwanda. He has published an endless list of articles and documentaries that question the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
Verlinden is married to Marie Bamutese, a major figure on a platform that claims there was genocide of Hutus in Rwanda, while pointing out that not more than 200,000 Tutsis were massacred in 1994.
In a choreographed appearance in her Paris home, Kanziga defends her husband with strange arguments. But also, either knowingly or unaware, makes shocking revelations. Some of what she says has been in public domain but there has been no documented proof.
“My husband had told me: ‘never ask me anything about national business,…,” she began in the interview, “In the Military, all information is classified; even a spouse can never access it.”
Kanziga confirmed the shocking anti-Tutsi statement that was supposedly made by President Juvenal Habyarimana, but for which no official record was available until now.
“My husband said he could not allow all the Rwandan refugees to repatriate at once with all their cows and everything,” said Kanziga quoting President Habyarimana. “Where would he have put them?”
Habyarimana famously told his inner circle that Rwanda was like a glass full of water. If there was any attempt to add more water, he said, it will overflow. Rwandan refugees could not be allowed to return because the country was densely populated.
Agathe Habyarimana also delivers a confirmation Tutsi were baptized Ibyitso (spies) of RPF Inkotanyi rebels, which became a licence to hunt them. Many disappeared and never returned home.
“There were regular shootings in Kigali which were planned and executed by Inkotanyi that infiltrated. Those shootings were coming from homes of people who hid the enemy – RPF Inkotanyi.”
She added, “They (accomplices) were arrested but released days later, contrary to people kidnapped by Inkotanyi; they were killed.”
To insist on ‘accomplice’ of the Tutsi, Agathe Habyarima went further, “We could not understand why. Not long after Inkotanyi attacked, his school (pointing at her son) was empty; all the Tutsi students had left to RPF.”
“I don’t Know RTLM. What was the Radio About?”
On July 8, 1993, a group of 50 individuals, who included the biggest names in business, established the Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM radio).
Among founding members was billionaire businessman Felicien Kabuga, the son-in-law of Juvénal Habyarimana. Today, he has $5m US government bounty on his head.
“I don’t Know RTLM. What was the Radio About? Did you know I never listened to that radio? My cook once told me that two radios; Milles Collines and Muhabura are constantly exchanging bitter words,” Agathe Habyarimana said.
“For me I never listened to that radio, neither did my husband. I did not have that time. So, I cannot tell you anything about the radio. I was not part of it.”
Kanziga says, she only learnt about the Genocide in Rwanda after she had arrived in France. She was airlifted by French commandos after the plane carrying her husband had fallen right in the presidential compound.
Agathe Habyarimana says she does not know anything about the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, “because I rushed to France, right after death of my husband.”
“We learnt about everything while in France. I cannot tell you anything about the massacre. I only told you if my husband had not been killed all these killings would not have happened,” she said, a statement she repeated several times in the interview, while also referring to the mass slaughter of Tutsis as “the so called genocide”.
Agathe Habyarimana’s behavior during the Genocide, and the crucial role she played in the tragedy, were documented by eye witnesses – some very close.
Marie Jeanne Uwiringira and Marie Claire Uwimbabazi were daughters to one Akingeneye, who was the presidential doctor. He was also on the plane with Habyarimana.
According to a declassified document available on AEGIS Trust website, the two daughters arrived at Habyarimana’s home in Kanombe on April 7, to see the body of their father. It was still in the living room laid next to completely disfigured bodies of all the people on board the plane.
Every child in the family, Agathe Habyarimana, her sisters-in-law who include nuns and military officers who were there, were repeating very frequently a statement: “Tutsi have to pay the price.”
“Give the army enough weapons, get all the Tutsi killed, Oh My God,” – was the prayer Agathe Habyarimana kept saying while looking at the body of her husband, according to the account of the two daughters of the doctor.
Belgians peacekeepers were also on Agathe Habyarimana’s blacklist, and so were Ministers Ndasingwa Landouard, Faustin Rucogoza, and Joseph Kavaruganda – the president of Supreme Court. They were all killed that night.
According to another declassified document, a former Governor of Central Bank and resident of Kimihurura, Kigali, says the then PM Agathe Uwiringiyimana was number one on this list.
“Tell the maids to sleep with the Prime Minister Uwiringiyimana, then kill her,” Agathe Habyarimana ordered soldiers.
The soldiers asked Agathe Habyarimana what should be done with the ten Belgian bodyguards of PM Uwiringiyimana.
“Kill them if you realize they have seen it all. After all they are behind my husband’s death.”
IBUKA is not surprised
A daughter of the late Habyarimana’s doctor adds, “Agathe Habyarimana and family were airlifted to France on April 9. They did not take us with them.”
In the VRT interview, Agathe Habyarimana and her son repeat the line of the deniers.
“Tutsi may have been killed, Hutu were also killed…,” said Habyarimana’s son after hesitantly admitting that the genocide against Tutsi indeed happened.
Despite the complete disregard by Agathe Habyarimana of the facts about the genocide, which left more than a million Tutsi dead, whose names are inscribed on memorial sites across Rwanda, the survivors expect such positions from her.
Naphtali Ahishakiye, the Executive Secretary of Ibuka, an umbrella grouping of Genocide survivors’ associations told KT Press, “Agathe Habyarimana knew all genocide plans. Her physical presence then had no impact, but the spirit she left among Rwandans, the plan she made with her brothers in the inner circle together with the army sunk Rwanda into the apocalypse.”
“Agathe Hayarimana – had a lot of power and no plan in the country could be executed without her knowledge.”
“The family of the president had shares in RTLM radio though not registered as members. You do not need to see Habyarimana on the list of RTLM founder members; you need to see his link with founder members.”
Ahishakiye added, “Agathe Habyarimana is doing what every Genocide denier does. They crafted a denial mechanism during and after the genocide. How can you ask Rwandans to commemorate a genocide that happened and another one that did not happen?”