Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cold Calculation Seems to Motivate Rwanda Butchery

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cold Calculation Seems to Motivate Rwanda Butchery

Article excerpt

The mob ran Venerande Bakashema down like helpless prey. Eight and a half months pregnant, she had no chance. Then they slaughtered her.

Francois Sekayuku, 32, a Tutsi farmer, numbly told the story of his wife's death. He sat under plastic sheeting at this refugee camp in north-central Burundi.

From his family's hilly farm in southern Rwanda, Sekayuku said, he saw spear-carrying Hutu militiamen draw near, followed by soldiers.

Violence and unbridled cruelty had radiated out from the capital of Kigali after Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, was killed in a suspicious plane crash April 6.

Tutsis, the tall, cattle-raising minority who once ruled Rwanda as kings, were being singled out for death by mobs of Hutus, the short, crop-growing majority who have run the Central African nation since independence.

What has happened in Rwanda is not an orgy of ethnic violence but orchestrated political killing, according to refugees, human rights activists, international relief workers and U.S. diplomats.

There is broad agreement that Hutu extremists - fearful of a Tutsi takeover and clinging to their clique's hold on power - are probably behind both the president's death and the bloodshed.

"The slaughter of Tutsi in Rwanda is genocide, a planned campaign to eliminate this minority people," Alison Des Forges of Human Rights Watch/Africa told a U.S. congressional subcommittee last Wednesday. "But the massacres go beyond genocide to target those of the Hutu majority who show a willingness to work with Tutsi in building a more democratic nation."

The Rwandan government attributes the violence to "popular anger" at the president's death, which it blames on the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front. It denies that killing continues in government-held zones - despite widespread reports to the contrary.

A month of horror flows out of Rwanda in the gruesome stories of refugees cast across northern Burundi. …

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