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Genocide Nun
by Amin George Forji
2006-11-16 09:40:32
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A popular Biblical verse warns: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves (Matthew 7:15).

During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Sister Theophister Mukakibibi, a Catholic nun, worked at the National University Hospital in the town of Butare as an official in charge of stocks. She used her position in immaculate dressing to betray any Tutsis hiding in the hospital to the ethnic Hutus militiamen, who then killed them accordingly.

A local Gacaca court in Butare recently announced that it had found her guilty of all the charges levied against her and sentenced her to 30 years in prison. Her trial lasted one year with 20 witnesses testifying against her.

Jean Baptiste Ndahumba, president of the Butare court, was quoted by Reuters News agency as saying, "She would select Tutsi and throw them out of the hospital for the militia to kill. She did not even spare pregnant mothers," said Ndahumba, "This nun was organizing people to be killed."

Reuters further reported that her hatred was so great that she personally threw a Tutsi baby into a latrine. She not only aided, but also was an active part in the genocide. Conscious of her wrongdoing, she had an army officer as an escort during the killings, and held regular meetings with the militiamen. She denied all Tutsis, who took refuge in the hospital, food, before handing them over.

Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Rwanda, as well as the Protestant churches, have been accused of facilitating the genocide in 1994, when thousands of people crowded their church buildings for sanctuary. In most cases, the Hutu priests betrayed them to the extremist militiamen to kill.

In 2001, a Belgian court convicted two nuns for conspiracies to kill. A Belgian male priest last year also appeared before the Gacaca court, becoming the first foreigner to do so. Another Roman Catholic priest is presently on trial in the UN tribunal based in Tanzania for directly ordering the massacre of 2,000 people who took shelter in his church.

An estimated 800,000-1,071,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by radical Hutus between April and July of 1994, with the backing of the government in power and the army. Up to 100,000 people were killed in the southeast prefecture of Butare alone.

The Rwandan genocide has gone down in history for the dramatic number of atrocities committed within that short period of time and, more particularly, for the failure of the United Nations and the international community to respond in any way. Instead of assisting, western countries particularly sent planes to Kigali to carry out their nationals, and reportedly refused any Rwandese from boarding.

With the decaying country left to its own destiny, the Tutsi rebels, led by the current president, Paul Kagame decisively led a counterrevolution that succeeded in overthrowing the barbaric regime in power.

In 2001, the Kagame government instituted a community justice system, known as Gacaca, to try the perpetrators of the genocide. At the time, there were up to 130,000 prisoners in Rwandan prisons, and it is estimated that it could take up to 200 years to judge all of them. The Gacaca was created to speed up the process. The courts are inspired by tradition, requiring prison terms be reduced for those who confess their acts, while those who remain defiant serve their natural prison terms.

There are still up to 63,000 genocide suspects in detention across Rwanda.

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