"I feel saddened by the bones on the various hills that were gathered just five metres from my house. Before the genocide, each time I left my house, I would see many cows on the hills, and children playing on the hills too. Now all I see are bushes which shelter wild animals and bones in practically every corner of the village."

Narcisse Nkusi, 38, who lost his wife and three young children, as quoted by African Rights. Photo: Jenny Matthews, African Rights
Butare   Kigali   Kibuye   Bisesero

Facing their attackers
April 8-July 1, 1994

In early April of 1994, when the killing began, thousands of Tutsis in a place called Bisesero in the Kibuye Prefecture of northwestern Rwanda fled to a steep forested hillside dotted with caves. There, they resisted Hutu attacks for three months.

The Hutu militia, drawn from surrounding communes, would attack during the day and then withdraw in the late afternoon. Then they'd wait till the next morning to resume the attacks. According to reports gathered by Human Rights Watch, the Tutsis of Bisesero used a defensive tactic called "kwiunga" or merging. They would lie on the ground, waiting until the Hutu were close. They would then rise and face their attackers in hand-to-hand combat.

Eventually, the local militia called for reinforcements from the Presidential Guard, the army and the National Police. They needed help to finish off the remaining Tutsis. Once reinforced, they charged the hill. According to one survivor, the attackers "speared women through the vagina to their heads, saying 'May you give birth to a child.'" More than 5,000 Tutsis died at Bisesero.

African Rights, "Resisting Genocide", Bisesero, April-June 1994;
Human Rights Watch: "Leave None to Tell the Story", March 1999;
Interview with survivors at memorial conducted by ARW correspondents Michael Montgomery and Deborah George.
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