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Ethnic Conflict in Burundi
 
"In one commune after another, scores of men, women and children were hacked to pieces with machetes, speared or clubbed to death, or doused with kerosene and burned alive." The 1993 crisis
As soon as news of President Ndadaye's murder reached them, furious Hutu proceeded to kill almost every Tutsi in sight, in many provinces. "People behaved like animals," said Georgette Mahwera who witnessed the carnege in Kinama. "They were very angry. They felt like chopping the Tutsi to pieces." [16] Citing the report of the International Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations in Burundi, Lemarchand comments: "the picture that emerges is one of unadulterated savagery. In one commune after another, scores of men, women and children were hacked to pieces with machetes, speared or clubbed to death, or doused with kerosene and burned alive." Of the active involvement of some communal and provincial authorities in the massacres, there can be no doubt." [17]

More often than not, it was fear of impending genocide that propelled the violence. According to a Hutu clergyman: "When we told them [les excités] not to spill blood, they said 'Look, since 1972 it is our blood that's being spilled! Now we hear that President Ndadaye has been killed. If they did that, that means we are next...'"[18] Trees were felled to bar Tutsi army vehicles access to the communes. According to the Commission's report: "[The Hutu] knew that in 1972 vehicles drove in and picked up people in the commune. 'That's how my father was picked up. He was a modest cultivator...' This has remained etched in the people's memory; the vehicles have got to be stopped." [19]

The response by the Tutsi-controlled army was fierce and indiscriminate. "They took revenge on the Hutu population," said Georgette Mahwera who fled Kinama with other Hutu neighbours, "they killed every Hutu they found without analyzing if he was a criminal or not. If you didnít get away from them, it was very dangerous." [20] In just one example cited in the Commission Report: "the military came in lorries, armoured cars and pick-up trucks [into Karemba]. They summoned all the inhabitants into a meeting. They told the people to lie down on the ground. Then they threw a hand grenade into the group, and finished them off with their bayonets." [21] The army attacked Hutu even in communities where there was no previous disorder. Within two months over 50,000 Barundi were killed. [22]
 



© Burundi Voices Project, 2006.