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Let the Devil Sleep (Video transcript)

A Trócaire Production

Let the Devil Sleep: Rwanda 20 years after genocide

In this village there are only two types of people. The people whose families were killed and the people who killed them.

Marie: Husband and two children murdered in Cyanika massacre.

Juvenal: Took part in Cyanika massacre.

Voice of Juvenal Moudenge

I can’t find words to describe what it was like. I was like an animal. Doing something an animal would normally do.

Voice of Marie Mukagasana

I took a bedsheet and I covered all of us. I was just waiting there for us to die.

Frida: Fled her village to escape militia.

Jean Baptiste: Hunted Frida and her family.

Voice of Jean Baptiste Gatera

In all cases, we had to kill them and they really died. All the houses you see in ruins, the people who lived there are dead.

Voice of Frida Kamuzima

They were talking about how many people they had killed. Saying things like 'I still need one more to make a hundred’.

Let the Devil Sleep

Voice of Eoghan Rice, Trócaire

The 1994 genocide against the Tutsi people in Rwanda was one of the most horrific chapters of the 20th century. In just 100 days, up to one million people were killed, mostly members of the minority Tutsi ethnic group. 20 years after the genocide survivors and perpetrators are coming together to form unlikely friendships as part of a national move towards reconciliation.

Marie Mukagasana and Juvenal Moudenge are two such people.

When the killing began in her village Marie fled to the local catholic church with her family. On April 21st however, armed militia arrived at the church and began indiscriminately killing those seeking refuge inside.

30,000 people were killed that night, including Marie’s husband and two children. Amongst those taking part in the killing was Juvenal.

Voice of Marie Mukagasana

On the evening of April 21 we saw a truck pull up outside the church. It was full of soldiers and guns. The soldiers and militia entered the church and threw grenades and tear gas and people started sneezing and coughing. They would shoot wherever they say people were still alive. This went on the whole day but I was still alive. I was sitting there in the bloodbath waiting for someone to kill me.

Voice of Juvenal Moudenge

I knew most of the people that were killed that day, if not all of them, because we were neighbours. I knew them. Our objective was just to kill people. There was nothing to think about, whether we knew each other or not. The objective was to exterminate them.

Voice of Marie Mukagasana

One of the army commanders then said ‘let’s not use our bullets, let people enter now and user their other weapons’. This went on the whole day but I was still alive. Some of them had machetes, some had clubs, others had spears. Then they started killing everywhere inside the church. I was still alive and my children were still alive. The children were upset. They were crying at me. So then I put my youngest child on my lap. I started breastfeeding her. I took my other child and put her beside me as well. And I put her head in my lap as well. I took a bedsheet and I covered all of us. I was just waiting there for us to die. Then I was hit on the head. You can see the scars, I have the scars on my neck and on my head. And my arm. You can see them. Then I fell over and fainted. That is the very last time I saw my children alive. It is my last memory I have with my children.

Then I saw more attackers enter the church. I saw one of the women who had been killed by a grenade. I put my hand in the blood around her and put it on my face and pretended I was dead.

Voice of Eoghan Rice, Trócaire

The genocide was not spontaneous. It had been planned years in advance by political leaders who toured the country, drawing up plans for mass killing. Jean Baptiste Guterra was one of the people forced to attend these political meetings. Relentless propaganda turned him against people he had once called friends. One of them was Frida Camazina who he had known since childhood.

Voice of Jean Baptiste Gatera

In the meetings organised by the government, they told us the Tutsis had been attacking us since 1959 and 1962. Those who have left want to come back and take the country by force. They will start a war in Rwanda so you must look at them as enemies. They must be exterminated.

In each community they would call young people and the police and the army would train them. The trainings were about drills, including shooting. They also trained us how to use clubs and machetes. They told us when guns became scarce we should use machetes. They told us we should fight and use whatever we have.

Voice of Frida Kamuzima

On the 8th it was calm, nothing happened that day. But on the 9th they started burning the houses all around. So then we knew those who could flee should flee. People ran in all directions. I heard a neighbour screaming. Then I heard someone being killed and people cheering. Then I thought, next it’s going to be our time. But God made sure they didn’t arrive. I left with my children. And my husband left soon after.

Voice of Jean Baptiste Gatera

I was arrested because I’d been seen searching houses with militia. I was seen as a leader in the community. The military brought guns. My role was to search for Tutsis. I searched almost every house to find where Tutsis were hiding. People thought I had killed because I was seen going into the houses. But honestly, I did not kill anybody with my hands.

Voice of Frida Kamuzima

When I was in hiding I knew John Baptiste was involved. Because when the killers would move back and forth I could hear them talking. They were talking about how many people they had killed. Saying things like ‘I still need one more to make a hundred’.

Voice of Eoghan Rice, Trócaire

The genocide left Rwanda traumatised and divided. People wondered how this tiny country could every recover. Remarkably that recovery is being led by survivors through a national reconciliation programme. In the gtongoro region the Commission for Justice and Peace has encouraged perpetrators and survivors of the genocide to come together in a spirit of confession and forgiveness. The results have been incredible.

Voice of Marie Mukagasana

I used to cry when I heard the stories and I didn’t think it was possible to reconcile with people who had killed my family but thanks to the Commission, well first of all they started by asking us to help each other farming, in cultivating our plots. But at the beginning, I would tell myself ‘if I go out working with somebody who killed my people, he might also kill me if there are no other people around’. That’s how it started. But we tried hard though and ended up as one.

When they started to talk about the past, we started to cry, but they comforted us. They talked to us and slowly we were able to stop crying and talk about the past. We felt strong enough to get some training. After the training, things changed. When we met, we started to talk, to say hello, how are you? We created an association of unity and reconciliation in our village. And then we planted a tree of unity and reconciliation together. It was made possible by the Commission and their help. I felt relieved then. The inner grief and hatred I had started to thaw. And I felt I wanted to reach out to the other. I felt there had to be some sort of reconciliation for life to continue. Before it was not possible. There was something blocking it.

This man has confessed. He has asked for forgiveness. He recognises the circumstances which led him to what he did. He has accepted his crimes. When you ask for forgiveness you are humbled.

We created an association of survivors and perpetrators. And they showed to us that they wanted to change. Life continues. We are living together. But it won’t stop us remembering our loved ones who died brutally.

We had meetings where we talked about rebuilding the country, and reconciling. I came to agree that, yes, we can’t reverse things. If you live in the past with all that hatred, how can you rebuild the country?

Voice of Juvenal Moudenge

To be honest to stand in front of a big group of people in public and then to confess I’ve killed, it is not easy. Sometimes I would stand and confess I’d killed and then I’d cry. Then I would put myself in the hands of God. I would tell the story, the true story, the way things happened, with no lies. It was hard for both the victims and the perpetrators. And the families.

After the genocide, whenever I met her, I couldn’t face her. I would look down. It was a problem to meet her. It was difficult for me to face the truth. It was a problem for me to tell them in public, what happened, what I had done, everytime I saw them crying I felt the same thing. It was heavy. Then we got the training and it helped. Slowly I came to accept what I had done and I’ve been accepted. Now we meet and talk. There is no problem. But it has been a long and hard journey.

Voice of Jean Baptiste Gatera

There was a divide between perpetrators and victms. We wondered how we would talk to each other, how we would live together. Everything started when the Commission brought us together. We took the initiative to start a group. We would get closer, talk together, eat together.

Voice of Frida Kamuzima

I went out to the road and I saw him coming back from exile. I was with my first child. She said to me “that’s the killer, let’s go back, he’s going to kill us as well”. We were going to the market and she ran away from me. Even myself, I couldn’t face him. This was before the Commission for Peace and Justice started working with us. After the training with them, I felt I could forgive him. I remember coming back from one training session and telling my children I’m going to go to his wife and ask her to tell him to confess to his crimes. I felt inside I had forgiven him

Voice of Jean Baptiste Gatera

I asked for forgiveness. I was totally convinced that no Tutsi should live. Everyone was so obedient. Every instruction that came from above was executed. I had started to have those thoughts after 1990 when the war was started. I have asked for forgiveness for the crimes I have committed. I asked with an open heart. I recognise my responsibility. I realise how serious the crime I committed was.

Voice of Eoghan Rice, Trócaire

As well as building reconciliation the Commission for Justice and Peace is working with local organisations in Rwanda to equip and encourage citizens to engage in decision making processes that affect their daily lives. By doing so, it is hoped that people like Jean Baptiste and Juvenal will not be so easily led in the future to commit horrific acts they later deeply regret.

Voice of Jean Baptiste Gatera

I still feel remorse and regret. We were brainwashed by those on top, the planners. We didn't know what we were doing. It was killing the people of your community. If it was going to happen again, I wouldn't take part. If it happened again, I would die with them, protecting them. We should have shown some compassion to those fleeing. There is a book there, I can go and get it. I am part of a committee now that is involved with the 'I am Rwandan' project which helps to make people feel that they are Rwandan, not Tutsi or Hutu.

Voice of Juvenal Moudenge

I have good relationships with the survivors. We meet, we hug and talk to each other and if anybody comes from anywhere wanting information about what happened here, I just give it to them. Yes, I still feel the consequences. Sometimes I cry and feel traumatised as if something has hit me. When it happens I sit down or lie down for a while. It happens from time to time. I find it is a miracle where we are now. I am now 64 and I wonder where we would be if things had always been like this. Taking a killer and a survivor and putting them together.  I find it so strange. It is like a miracle

Voice of Marie Mukagasana

Now we are not suspicious of each other. We talk to each other. They are good to us and I just say the past is past, we'll leave it there. We are very hopeful and optimistic about the future. For us, the only real problem is just poverty. That is something that makes you feel bad when you look around. But otherwise, the meetings and training we have to talk about peace and reconciliation make me think things will be better.

Voice of Eoghan Rice, Trócaire

20 years after the genocide Rwanda is beginning to heal. Many scars remain but there is a sense that the country is ready to move on from the past. People in Rwanda will never forget what happened here 20 years ago but there is also a determination that they will never let it happen again.

Voice of Marie Mukagasana

I hope for a Rwanda without any more war, any more genocide, a Rwanda with peace.

Trócaire continues to work with the Justice and Peace Commission supporting citizens to effectively participate in local development.

Filmed on location in Gikongoro and Kigali, Rwanda, January and February 2014.

Directed by
Alan Whelan, Eoghan Rice and Elena Hermosa

Filmed by
Elena Hermosa and  Alan Whelan

Research, scripting, interviews, voiceover
Eoghan Rice

Editing
Alan Whelan

Still photography
Elena Hermosa

Translation
Lambert Havugintwali and Colette Nkunda

Pre-production, research, logistics, planning
Christine Murekatete, Modeste Sibomana, Paul Watson and Désiré Nibagwire

Voiceover recording
Donal Norton/Kairos

Music
Silent Mourning by Peter McIssac Music

Special thanks to
Staff of the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission of Gikongoro
Jean Baptiste Ruzigamanzi, Emmanuel Ntakirutimana and Father Ndagijimana Jean
Marie Mukagasana
Juvenal Moudenge
Jean Baptiste Gatera
Frida Kamuzima

Video: Let the Devil Sleep