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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
Domina Nyirandayambaje portraits pacifique mukeshimana Domina Nyirandayambaje Aloys Habimana
Domina Nyirandayambaje
Domina Nyirandayambaje lost her husband and three children during the genocide.
Domina Nyirandayambaje, 53, lost her husband and three of her children during the genocide. Her husband's killer, Pacifique Mukeshima, was recently released from prison and now lives only a short walk from her own hut. Nyirandayambaje says that she hopes to use the compensation for genocide victims promised by the government to pay her children's school fees.

THE VICTIM:
The genocide started in April 1994. My husband and I were hiding, but we were discovered and brought back to our house. We were here three or four weeks and then they killed him on May 19, 1994, with our children. Three of our children died with my husband, and I remained with the other five. Another one fled and we still don't know if he was killed.

We had a lot of problems. One day, I was even raped. After the genocide ended, I continued to think about my life, wondering about my physical situation. I went to take an HIV test to make sure that I wasn't infected and I realized things weren't good on that point. The men who raped me died in prison.

When I heard about this reconciliation program, I was convinced I had to forgive because the perpetrators were used by Lucifer. This young man you talked to [the killer of her husband] was strengthened by God and confessed his crimes, and I was no longer doubtful about who killed my husband and I forgave him from my heart. It's time for reconciliation. We can't want to take revenge. I can't wish for them to die.

context
Rwanda
Rwanda's Neighborhood
Gacaca
United Nations Involvement
Hutus
Root of Hutu/Tutsi Tension
Tutsis
Rwandan Civil War, 1990-1994
Rwanda's 1994 Genocide
Rwandan Patriotic Front
Paul Kagame
I really pray to God to make it possible for me to live with (the killers), because when I see them and think about my husband and my beloved children that I lost, I ask God to protect me from bad thoughts and for strength so that I can keep on living.

My husband's killer appeared before the gacaca and confessed. Before that, he'd already done it in front of the public prosecutors. He's not the only person who killed (my family members). He's the only one who confessed. Some of the others are still in prison, and others have been released. One was released and moved to (another town in Rwanda), where he's working. He was released because there wasn't enough evidence, but the prisoner who confessed named him as helping him with the killing.

I don't know about the gacaca courts. Except for the man who confessed, the other (people in the community) don't take gacaca that seriously. Maybe some will be willing to participate. But a number of people, when they're asked about what happened, they just say they don't know.

Maybe if the people who don't want the gacaca realize that peace is coming again, they'll change and will become honest and confess. And then by God's power, gacaca will reach this goal of reconciliation.

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