SEGMENT

There’s this one killer who came back

Like the Balkan conflict that preceded it, the genocide in Rwanda confronted the international community with its obligations under international and humanitarian law. But instead of intervention, there was inertia. The slaughter by the Hutu majority against the minority Tutsi and political moderates lasted one hundred days. At the end of it ten percent of the population was dead.

AIRED: 3/28/2017 | 00:02:51
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Like the Balkan conflict that preceded it, the genocide in Rwanda confronted the international community with its obligations under international and humanitarian law. But instead of intervention, there was inertia. The slaughter by the Hutu majority against the minority Tutsi and political moderates lasted one hundred days. At the end of it ten percent of the population was dead.

The genocide in Rwanda was fast. It took place in front of the world's eyes under the presence of a UN peace-keeping force and it was very poorly understood at the time. I went a year later because I'd been trying to understand what on earth happened here. What happened, what does it tell us about humankind? And also how on earth does one live in the aftermath of this?

Journalist Philip Gourevitch has probed the factual and philosophic depths of the Rwandan genocide for over two decades. In that time, he's often explored the commune of Taba, which occupies a unique place in the genocide's annals.

I went to Taba because in 1996 after the mass return from the refuge camps brought a lot of people home, I was asking people around there how's the return going. And people said, well there's this one killer who came back a group of survivors I found, who at that point were basically homeless and living in the ruins, having had their houses destroyed and everything by this man. And they said, this man is the man who terrorized our hill. This man is the man who knew us each family by family and hunted us down day and night.

The man is known by his nickname Gasumari. During the genocide he lead a gang that committed mass murders in Taba.

The Rwandan genocide's very different from other incidents of mass communal killing in that it was done not just by, in many cases, civilian executioners, but that it was done locally. It was done extremely intimately and personally, within a community by people who knew one another. In many, many, many of the cases the killers knew their victims personally. They were the teacher, killing their students. The doctor killing his patients. The priest killing his parishioners. They were a neighbor killing people his family had inter-married with or had lived side-by-side with, decades without any overt conflict for decades.