The article “From Hell to a Happy Life: a Tutsi Survivor’s Escape from Genocide ”, published yesterday by Aljazeera America reminded me of my article “Political Challenges the Church Cannot Afford to Ignore” published by Spectrum fifteen years ago. In 2000 I was researching the involvement of Adventists in the Rwandan massacres in 1994, and their impact on the Adventist community in Rwanda and internationally.
The following is the segment of my article published in 2000 that refers to the church massacre addressed in the recent Aljazeera’s article. There is more than what meets the eye in the whole story, and the consequences lived on and multiplied a long time after the massacre:
“The unprecedented genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994, when members of the Hutu tribe slaughtered almost a million Tutsi people, remains current news within Adventism. At present, the International War Tribunal in Rwanda is pursuing the case against an alleged war criminal, former pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, a Hutu Adventist and a denominational leader at the time of the Rwandan massacres.
The tribunal is charging Ntakirutimana and his son Gerard, also a denominational employee at that time, with genocide and crimes against humanity. According to the charges, both men ‘participated in an attack on the men, women and children”that resulted in the massacre of between five thousand and ten thousand Tutsis, fellow believers and non-Adventists alike, who had sought sanctuary in the denominational compound at the Mugonero church and hospital complex.’
In March 2000, at the time of Ntakirutimana’s extradition from the United States to the United Nations detention facility in Arusha, Northern Tanzania, another Rwanda murder caught the attention of international media. Assiel Kabera, Adventist and adviser to the former Rwandan president Pasteur Bizimunga, was shot dead by an unidentified gunman in the Rwandan capital of Kigali. Kabera’s father was one of the seven Tutsi ministers who had pleaded for the lives of their people in a moving letter submitted to pastor Ntakirutimana one day before the Mugonero massacre. According to well-informed sources, Kabera was shot because he spoke frankly and openly about the events in 1994.”