Frontline World

RWANDA - After the Genocide, December 2003
a FRONTLINE/World Fellows project
7/3/03 7/7/03 7/11/03 7/15/03 7/19/03 7/19/03 7/20/03 7/23/03
Pacifique Mukeshimana portraits pacifique mukeshimana Domina Nyirandayambaje Aloys Habimana
Pacifique Mukeshima
Pacifique Mukeshimana, who has admitted to participating in the murder of two people during the genocide, fixes his family's fence.
Pacifique Mukeshima, 20 years old during the 1994 genocide, admits that he killed two people during the bloodletting. After spending seven years in prison, he returned home to his village in May 2003 as part of a program that granted early release to prisoners who have confessed their crimes.

I participated in the genocide. I killed a man's wife -- named Karuganda -- with one other person. I hit her with a club and the other one finished her with a knife.

I also killed a man named Muzigura. I joined a crowd of people at around 2 p.m. These people were shouting loudly, and when I got there I realized they were holding Muzigura. I got a machete from one of the men who were there and then I hit Muzigura, cutting him on the thigh. Another man finally hit Muzigura on the head with a pickaxe and he died.

I knew the people I killed. They weren't hidden. One was caught by a crowd of people and the other was sitting outside her house.

I got involved, first of all, because of ignorance. Second, people got involved because of the temptation to loot the victims' belongings. Then finally, there were bad authorities who were teaching people that they had to kill their [Tutsi] enemies. People got involved because they believed in it. Most people participated massively. I believe it was because the government kept on encouraging people to kill. Most of my friends were involved.

At the end of the genocide, I fled to Congo. I came back with the help of the U.N. High Commission for Refugees. They brought me back to Kigali and I was arrested there. There were people who knew me and they denounced me.

I was in prison for seven years. I want to thank the organizations, such as the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, which taught us the importance of confessing. I was convinced that it was important to confess because I became a Christian.

Rwanda's Neighborhood
United Nations Involvement
Root of Hutu/Tutsi Tension
Rwandan Civil War, 1990-1994
Rwanda's 1994 Genocide
Rwandan Patriotic Front
Paul Kagame
Reconciliation is not possible if there is no truth. Rwandans were the source of this genocide. I killed my fellow Rwandans and so the solution has to come from Rwandans. On April 15, 2000, I decided to confess and apologize for what I did.

I was released and sent to the solidarity camp in January this year. What they taught us in the camp was wonderful. We were taught how one should behave with those he hurt. One has to go and apologize for the things he did. One has to know how to behave in the presence of survivors. Some don't want to forgive, others forgive easily, and others are still angry. One has to know how to behave in front of these different kinds of people and show in his behavior that he's completely changed.

I came home in May, two months ago. I appeared before the gacaca court, confessed and asked pardon from the victims' relatives. They forgave me. I encouraged other people to (confess) because reconciliation will not be possible without recognizing one's crimes. Some people claimed reparations for their things, and my parents sold part of our farm in order to pay back what I destroyed.

I have no vision for the future. To prepare for the future, you need a foundation or a base. We can ask for aid from the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission to restart our lives. I really hope for nothing.

portraits NEXT: Portrait - Domina Nyirandajambaje

PREVIOUS: 7/23/03 - A House on the Hill