Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Today we post the first of our testimonies from survivors of the genocide. This account of the massacre and her survival from Anne Marie Bucyana is a testimony to her great strength and courage.

I grew up in a loving home with my parents, two brothers and five sisters. In 1990, I married. My husband Jean-Marie and I had our first child, Patrick. After his birth, the authorities started persecuting the Tutsis. They arrested my husband, accusing him of being an RPF accomplice. He was jailed for two weeks, and after his release, fled to Kibuye. Me and my son followed after the interahamwe came looking for him. In 1993, I gave birth to my second child, a boy we named Iradukunda, meaning ‘God loves us’. This was where we were in April 1994 when Habyarimana’s plane was shot down.

When the killings began they came and took my husband away. Shortly after, I could hear those who took him away singing that they had killed a cockroach, and I knew he was dead. One soldier came up to the house. I was sitting with my baby boy on my lap. He grabbed the child and threw him against the wall. He died from the impact. I ran to pick up my baby’s body, but the soldier threatened me and told me to lie down. And there he raped me. I don’t really have the words to explain all that he did to me. At some point he heard a commotion, and ran off.

When he heard that I was still alive, Zacharya, a colleague of my husband’s came on a motorbike to take me away. I did not know that he had been involved in my husband’s murder, and thought that I would be safe with him. I took my son with me. Zacharya had taken many houses from Tutsis, and he took us to one of them in Safi Cyumbati, putting us in a room with Interahamwe. I remained at this house for six days, and was raped every night. At any time one of the Interahamwe wanted me, he took me – even in front of my son, who was with me.

At dusk on the sixth day, I was raped by two gangs of interahamwe. A third gang gave me a hoe and ordered me to dig my grave; they couldn’t be bothered to do it themselves. I was naked; they had already taken my sarong. I started pleading with them to shoot me, and not to kill me with a spiked club. They asked me if I knew the price of a bullet. While they were deliberating, another gang of interahamwe came. Because I was claiming to be a Hutu, their leader ordered the group to take me back to the house, and check my tribe in the morning.

As they were taking me back to the house, someone went and told an old lady whom I had helped in the past. Later that night she stole me away to her house and hid me and my son.

We started hearing rumours that the RPF were advancing and killing. Everyone started fleeing. I asked myself, why leave? But I had no reason to stay; so I decided to leave with them. But once we reached the Rusizi River, where we would cross into Zaire, I felt that they all had something in common, and I was on my own. I decided to stay in Rwanda.

When I learned I was infected with HIV/AIDS, I was shocked, confused, in denial. I felt worthless, I felt I was finished. That’s when I started to feel the trauma. I looked for something with which to commit suicide, but I couldn’t find anything. Ever since I found out I was ill I have never received any medication for my illness, not once.

I only half survived. I am still carrying death in me; not only the death that AIDS will bring. Others say they escaped from the sword, but the sword is still in my heart. Even in death, I do not believe I will find rest. Only my son gives me the strength to live. It is a miracle that I am still alive after ten years. If I can survive another two years, he will be a little older, and maybe he will have a chance in life; maybe he will not become a street child.

A longer version of this account is published by the Aegis Trust in ‘A Time to Remember: Rwanda, ten years after the genocide’.


At 7:02 AM, Anonymous Uwera said...

What a horrible story!!!!!!
May God strengthen her heart and give her a meaningful life.
She needs to be counselled to feel the meaning of life.


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