How RPF Soldiers Rescued 2000 Tutsi at Saint Paul Church

Twenty two years later, Gilbert Masengo(R) greets rtd Col. Jacob Tumwine(L) that commanded the RPF/A rebels in a daring operation that rescued 2000 Tutsi hiding at Saint Paul church. 
Twenty two years later, Gilbert Masengo(R) greets rtd Col. Jacob Tumwine(L) that commanded the RPF/A rebels in a daring operation that rescued 2000 Tutsi hiding at Saint Paul church.

Gilbert Masengo survived the 1994 genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda. When the killings started on April 7, he fled from his parents home and sought refuge at Saint Paul church just a kilometer away.

When the news spread that the plane carrying president Juvenal Habyarimana had been shot down on April 7, Masengo panicked after interahamwe murdered 20 girls at nearby JOC, a hostel in the compound of Saint Famille Roman Catholic church, Kigali.

Three days later, Interahamwe started bringing bodies of Tutsi from all over the city, to throw them in four mass graves nearby Masengo’s home.

By the time of Genocide, Masengo was aged 22, his family lived at Rugenge cell in Kigali city. He was then a member of the opposition Liberal Party which was accused of collaborating with Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) Inkotanyi rebels.

He started hiding around home until April 13 when he realized he would be soon discovered. He walked to Saint Paul, a training center owned by Sainte Famille catholic church. It was a challenging journey.

“Our home is 1km from Saint Paul, but I used eight hours to reach the compound; there were many roadblocks, and I had to be very watchful not to be apprehended,” he told KT Press.

The situation inside Saint Paul

Saint Paul Center was first a safe haven to more than five thousand Tutsi who fell in the hands of Father Celestin Hakizimana, currently bishop of Gikongoro Roman Catholic Diocese.

“He opened all the stores containing food supplies that were destined to trainees for us to eat and drink. He fed more than 5000 people for more than a month,” Masengo said in a testimony on Friday.

Masengo remembers that all hostel facilities like; bathrooms, water and other necessities were given to them.

But father Hakizimana could not guarantee security for Tutsi in front of Interahamwe who had sworn to leave no Tutsi alive.

Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho the Prefect of Kigali City, in collaboration with Angeline Mukandutiye inspector of education in Nyarugenge Commune came with a list of Tutsi to be killed.

Since April 14, 1994 Interahamwe and government soldiers came with this list and picked Tutsi to kill after torturing them.

Masengo remembers that Mukandutiye  was their neighbour and an Interahamwe trainer during the genocide.

He says Odette Nyirabegenzi, then conseiller of Muhima sector and most importantly, Father Wenceslas Munyeshayaka of Saint Famille were also instrumental at organising killings.

As the killings continued, the RPA rebels already in vicinity at Gisozi hill outside Kigali were planning rescue operations.

In a daring rescue operation on June16, few RPA soldiers of the Bravo Battalion, left Gisozi at 8pm and arrived at Saint Paul church at 3am.

They had planned to rescue people trapped at Saint Paul church, Rugenge, Poids Lourds, Kacyiru, UTEXRWA, Kagugu and Kabuye.

When RPA soldiers arrived at Saint Paul church, the first person to come out of hiding was Gerard Masengo. He guided the RPA soldiers showing them where several people were hiding and about 2000 Tutsi were liberated.

The operation started at 1am and ended at 4am because it was not easy as people were in separate rooms and feared to open.

People wounded during the rescue operation were taken to Byumba and others to Kabuga. All this had to be done before the break of dawn.

At Sainte Famille Parish, the rescue operation failed because people hiding inside refused to open thinking their rescuers were Interahamwe.

As fate would have it, the following morning, Interahamwe militia led by Prefect of Kigali killed more than 100 people hiding at Sainte Famille Parish in retaliation against the Saint Paul church operation. It’s on this day that the Chief Editor of Rwanda Rushya tabloid, Andre Kameya was killed denounced by Father Wenscelas Munyeshyaka.

 Rtd Col. Jacob Tumwine shares how the RPF/A rebels conducted a daring rescue operation
Rtd Col. Jacob Tumwine shares how the RPF/A rebels conducted a daring rescue operation

Rescue Operation  

As killings at Saint Paul escalated, an unidentified person escaped and he surprisingly fell into the RPF Inkotanyi controlled area and met Major Jacob Tumwine who was a commanding officer in Bravo battalion (now a retired Colonel.)

“He told me Interahamwe are fiercely slaughtering Tutsi in Saint Paul, and without delay, we started preparing a difficult but crucial rescue,” he told KT Press.

“It was a risky decision; government soldiers had surrounded us with heavy tanks; one at Kigali main round-about, another at Kabuga building and several others in Kacyiru and Kimihurura respectively.”

Tumwine recalls that the government had deployed elite fighters, to curb any maneuver by the RPF rebels.

“Patriotism was at play; we were left with no option but to give our lives for the rescue of innocent civilians,” he said.

Tumwine and his fellow commander decided to divide the fighters into two; one part came to face the government soldiers, while another sneaked inside the neighborhood until they reached Sainte Famille at 3am on June 16, 1994.

Once at Sainte Famille, Interahamwe militia had closed the Tutsi inside the church, ready to exterminate them.

“We tried all prudent means to get inside; the victims that were inside couldn’t believe we were saviours. For about two hours we tried all means in vain,” said Tumwine.

Forcing the doors to get inside, said Tumwine, was risky because Interahamwe inside the church could sabotage rescue effort.

Tumwine said, towards 3am, they decided to proceed to the Saint Paul, which is in the very compound of Saint Famille.

Luckily, the Tutsi at Saint Paul accepted to open for RPF rebels. Over 2000 Tutsi in Saint Paul, including Masengo walked through a small street in Kiyovu cy’Abakene, reached Kinamba and crossed to Gisozi escorted by RPF fighters before sunrise.

“June 17 is a day where we felt we were in heaven; being in the hands of RPF was for us the joy one would ever expect,” said Masengo.

The day after the rescue, government soldiers came to Saint Paul on invitation by Kantano who told them to “revenge because Inkotanyi had taken their fellow inyenzi.”

They killed 20 Tutsi  that had remained at Saint Paul.

Sainte Famille church in which more than 200 Tutsi were killed
Sainte Famille church in which more than 200 Tutsi were killed

Meanwhile, on June 17, 1994 will also be memorable. On this date, France announced plans to deploy troops to Rwanda as an interim peacekeeping force. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and the US Government supported the plan.

French Foreign Minister, Alain Jupe said that between 1000 and 2000 French troops would be sent to Rwanda. France asked other Western and African countries to contribute troops to accompany the French contingent.

France did not do much to protect civilians, if not aiding genocidal government to cross to former Zaire since June 18.

Among those responsible for the killings at Saint Paul and Saint Famille was Col. Tharcisse Renzaho arrested later in 2002 in DR Congo and transferred to ICTR.

The tribunal convicted the former city mayor for aiding the Genocide and abetting killings of Tutsi at roadblocks in Kigali and at several other gatherings and hideouts.

Gervais Dusabemungu, who served as an officer in charge of social affairs and enforcement of rulings in the Nyarugenge urban commune from December 1988 until 1992 when he was dismissed by Renzaho, told KT Press that indeed the colonel deserved his sentence.

During the Genocide, Dusabemungu who was in hiding, heard communication from the mayor, calling on people with trucks to bring them to help remove the ‘trash’ (Tutsi bodies scattered in neighbourhoods) and asking people “working” (killing Tutsi) to make sure they do not expose their “work” on the roadside.

Munyeshyaka was pursued by the French courts but in October 2015 his case was not continued. The courts decried “poor quality of evidences.” Munyeshyaka is still a serving priest in France.

 Father Wenscelas Munyeshyaka(L) surrounded by Rwandan soldiers  
Father Wenscelas Munyeshyaka(L)

Leave a Comment

adana escort adapazarı escort adıyaman escort afşin escort afyon escort ağrı escort ahlat escort akçaabat escort akçakale escort akçakoca escort akdeniz escort akhisar escort aksaray escort akşehir escort aksu escort akyazı escort alanya escort alaşehir escort aliağa escort altıeylül escort altınordu escort amasya escort anamur escort ankara escort antakya escort antalya escort araklı escort ardahan escort ardeşen escort arnavutköy escort atakum escort avanos escort avcılar escort aydın escort ayvacık escort ayvalık escort aziziye escort babaeski escort bafra escort bağcılar escort bağlar escort balıkesir escort bandırma escort bartın escort batıkent escort batman escort battalgazi escort bayburt escort belek escort besni escort beylikdüzü escort beyşehir escort biga escort bilecik escort bingöl escort birecik escort bismil escort bitlis escort bodrum escort bolu escort bor escort bornova escort boyabat escort bozüyük escort buca escort bucak escort bulancak escort bulanık escort bünyan escort burdur escort bursa escort çan escort çanakkale escort canik escort çankaya escort çankırı escort çarşamba escort çayeli escort çekmeköy escort çerkeş escort çerkezköy escort çeşme escort ceyhan escort çivril escort çorlu escort çorum escort çubuk escort çukurova escort çumra escort dalaman escort darıca escort datça escort davutlar escort defne escort denizli escort derince escort develi escort didim escort digor escort dinar escort diyadin escort diyarbakır escort doğanşehir escort doğubayazıt escort dörtyol escort dulkadiroğlu escort düzce escort edirne escort edremit escort efeler escort elazığ escort elbistan escort emirdağ escort erbaa escort erdemli escort ereğli escort erenler escort ergani escort ergene escort erzincan escort erzurum escort escort esenler escort eskil escort eskişehir escort espiye escort eyyübiye escort fatih escort fatsa escort fethiye escort finike escort fındıklı escort gaziantep escort gaziemir escort gebze escort gediz escort gelibolu escort gemerek escort gemlik escort gerede escort giresun escort gölbaşı escort gölcük escort görele escort görükle escort göynük escort gümbet escort gümüşhane escort güngören escort güroymak escort gürsu escort hakkari escort haliliye escort hatay escort haymana escort horasan escort iğdır escort ilgaz escort i̇lkadım escort i̇negöl escort i̇skenderun escort isparta escort i̇stanbul escort i̇zmir escort i̇zmit escort i̇znik escort kadirli escort kadıköy escort kağıthane escort kağızman escort kahta escort kaman escort kangal escort kapaklı escort karabük escort karacabey escort karahayıt escort karaköprü escort karaman escort karatay escort karesi escort kars escort karşıyaka escort kartal escort kaş escort kastamonu escort kaynaşlı escort kayseri escort keçiören escort kemer escort kepez escort keşan escort keskin escort kestel escort kilis escort kırıkhan escort kırıkkale escort kırkağaç escort kırklareli escort kırşehir escort kızıltepe escort kocaeli escort kocasinan escort konak escort konya escort konyaaltı escort körfez escort korkuteli escort köyceğiz escort kozan escort kumluca escort kumru escort kuşadası escort kütahya escort lara escort lüleburgaz escort malatya escort malazgirt escort malkara escort maltepe escort mamak escort manavgat escort manisa escort maraş escort mardin escort marmaris escort melikgazi escort menemen escort menteşe escort meram escort mersin escort merzifon escort mezitli escort milas escort mucur escort mudanya escort mudurnu escort muğla escort muratpaşa escort muş escort mut escort nazilli escort nevşehir escort niğde escort niksar escort nilüfer escort nizip escort nurdağı escort ödemiş escort of escort oltu escort onikişubat escort ordu escort orhangazi escort ortahisar escort ortaköy escort osmancık escort osmangazi escort osmaniye escort palandöken escort pamukkale escort pamukova escort patnos escort payas escort pazar escort pazarcık escort pendik escort polatlı escort rize escort safranbolu escort şahinbey escort sakarya escort salihli escort samandağ escort samsun escort sandıklı escort şanlıurfa escort sapanca escort sarıçam escort sarıkamış escort sarıyer escort şarkışla escort şehitkamil escort selçuklu escort selim escort serdivan escort serik escort seyhan escort siirt escort silifke escort simav escort sincan escort sinop escort şişli escort sivas escort siverek escort şırnak escort söğüt escort söke escort soma escort sultangazi escort suluova escort sungurlu escort sur escort suruç escort suşehri escort susurluk escort talas escort tarsus escort taşova escort tavşanlı escort tekirdağ escort terme escort tire escort tirebolu escort tokat escort torbalı escort toroslar escort trabzon escort turgutlu escort turhal escort türkoğlu escort tuzla escort ulus escort ümraniye escort ünye escort ürgüp escort urla escort uşak escort üsküdar escort üzümlü escort van escort varto escort viranşehir escort yahşihan escort yahyalı escort yakutiye escort yalova escort yatağan escort yenişehir escort yeşilyurt escort yıldırım escort yıldızeli escort yomra escort yozgat escort yunusemre escort yüreğir escort zara escort zeytinburnu escort zile escort zonguldak escort Aydın escort muğla escort tekirdağ escort manisa escort balıkesir escort manavgat escort alanya escort fethiye escort didim escort trabzon escort elazığ escort ordu escort kütahya escort ısparta escort rize escort maraş escort yalova escort giresun escort yozgat escort tokat escort şanlıurfa escort sivas escort batman escort erzurum escort sinop escort kırşehir escort karaman escort kırıkkale escort bolu escort amasya escort niğde escort uşak escort edirne escort çorum escort osmaniye escort zonguldak escort van escort erzincan escort söke escort nazilli escort kuşadası escort efeler escort didim escort çine escort bodrum escort fethiye escort marmaris escort dalaman escort menteşe escort milas escort ortaca escort seydikemer escort çerkezköy escort çorlu escort ergene escort kapaklı escort malkara escort süleymanpaşa escort akhisar escort alaşehir escort salihli escort şehzadeler escort soma escort turgutlu escort yunusemre escort bandırma escort altıeylül escort ayvalık escort bigadiç escort burhaniye escort gönen escort karesi escort susurluk escort ayvacık escort biga escort çan escort gelibolu escort yenice escort akçaabat escort araklı escort of escort ortahisar escort yomra escort karakoçan escort kovancılar escort altınordu escort fatsa escort perşembe escort ünye escort tavşanlı escort simav escort domaniç escort eğirdir escort yalvaç escort ardeşen escort cayeli escort fındıklı escort pazar escort afşin escort dulkadiroğlu escort Elbistan escort onikişubat escort pazarcık escort türkoğlu escort altınova escort çiftlikköy escort çınarcık escort bulancak escort espiye escort eynesil escort görele escort piraziz escort tirebolu escort yağlıdere escort sorgun escort sarıkaya escort çayıralan escort boğazlıyan escort akdağmadeni escort erbaa escort niksar escort turhal escort zile escort viranşehir escort suruç escort siverek escort karaköprü escort haliliye escort eyyübiye escort akçakale escort zara escort Yıldızeli escort suşehri escort şarkışla escort gemerek escort kozluk escort sason escort aziziye escort horasan escort oltu escort palandöken escort yakutiye escort ayancık escort boyabat escort gerze escort kaman escort mucur escort ermenek escort sarıveliler escort keskin escort yahşihan escort gerede escort göynük escort mengen escort mudurnu escort göynücek escort gümüşhacıköy escort merzifon escort suluova escort taşova escort bor escort çamardı escort ulukışla escort banaz escort eşme escort sivaslı escort havsa escort ipsala escort keşan escort osmancık escort sungurlu escort bahçe escort hasanbeyli escort kadirli escort toprakkale escort alaplı escort çaycuma escort ereğli escort kilimli escort başkale escort ipekyolu escort özalp escort tuşba escort kemah escort refahiye escort tercan escort üzümlü escort Antalya escort Bursa escort Mersin escort Aydın escort Balıkesir escort Çanakkale escort Kıbrıs escort Kütahya escort Manisa escort Muğla escort Tekirdağ escort Trabzon escort Yalova escort Isparta escort Maraş escort Ordu escort Rize escort Sivas escort Afyon escort Aksaray escort Giresun escort Şanlıurfa escort Yozgat escort Erzurum escort Amasya escort Çorum escort Tokat escort Uşak escort Van escort Bolu escort Burdur escort Kırşehir escort Niğde escort Osmaniye escort Zonguldak escort Düzce escort Edirne escort Erzincan escort Karabük escort Karaman escort Kastamonu escort Kırıkkale escort Kırklareli escort manavgat escort alanya escort belek escort aksu escort finike escort gazipaşa escort güllük escort kaş escort kemer escort kepez escort konyaaltı escort korkuteli escort kumluca escort lara escort muratpaşa escort serik escort gemlik escort gürsu escort inegöl escort iznik escort mudanya escort nilüfer escort orhangazi escort osmangazi escort yıldırım escort kuşadası escort didim escort nazilli escort söke escort efeler escort bandırma escort altıeylül escort edremit escort karesi escort susurluk escort bodrum escort gümbet escort turgutreis escort dalaman escort fethiye escort köyceğiz escort marmaris escort çerkezköy escort çorlu escort kapaklı escort süleymanpaşa escort meram escort anamur escort erdemli escort mezitli escort silifke escort tarsus escort akhisar escort salihli escort soma escort turgutlu escort girne escort lefkoşa escort biga escort çan escort gelibolu escort dinar escort emirdağ escort sandıklı escort merzifon escort suluova escort taşova escort yeşilyurt escort gerede escort mengen escort bucak escort kadirli escort osmancık escort sungurlu escort akçakoca escort ipsala escort keşan escort kilimli escort üzümlü escort aziziye escort palandöken escort yakutiye escort bulancak escort espiye escort tirebolu escort safranbolu escort lüleburgaz escort gediz escort simav escort tavşanlı escort elbistan escort fatsa escort ünye escort ardeşen escort çayeli escort birecik escort eyyübiye escort haliliye escort siverek escort suruç escort viranşehir escort kangal escort şarkışla escort suşehri escort yıldızeli escort erbaa escort niksar escort turhal escort akçaabat escort araklı escort of escort ortahisar escort sorgun escort istanbul masaj salonu ankara masaj salonu izmir masaj salonu bursa masaj salonu antalya masaj salonu adana masaj salonu konya masaj salonu şanlıurfa masaj salonu gaziantep masaj salonu kocaeli masaj salonu mersin masaj salonu diyarbakır masaj salonu hatay masaj salonu manisa masaj salonu kayseri masaj salonu samsun masaj salonu balıkesir masaj salonu maraş masaj salonu van masaj salonu aydın masaj salonu tekirdağ masaj salonu sakarya masaj salonu denizli masaj salonu muğla masaj salonu bağcılar masaj salonu bahçelievler masaj salonu esenler masaj salonu esenyurt masaj salonu kadıköy masaj salonu kağıthane masaj salonu kartal masaj salonu küçükçekmece masaj salonu maltepe masaj salonu pendik masaj salonu sultangazi masaj salonu ümraniye masaj salonu üsküdar masaj salonu aliağa masaj salonu alsancak masaj salonu bayraklı masaj salonu bornova masaj salonu buca masaj salonu çeşme masaj salonu çiğli masaj salonu gaziemir masaj salonu karşıyaka masaj salonu konak masaj salonu menemen masaj salonu ödemiş masaj salonu torbalı masaj salonu çankaya masaj salonu keçiören masaj salonu mamak masaj salonu polatlı masaj salonu sincan masaj salonu alanya masaj salonu belek masaj salonu kaş masaj salonu kemer masaj salonu korkuteli masaj salonu lara masaj salonu manavgat masaj salonu serik masaj salonu side masaj salonu didim masaj salonu efeler masaj salonu kuşadası masaj salonu nazilli masaj salonu altıeylül masaj salonu bandırma masaj salonu edremit masaj salonu karesi masaj salonu susurluk masaj salonu gemlik masaj salonu gürsu masaj salonu inegöl masaj salonu mudanya masaj salonu nilüfer masaj salonu osmangazi masaj salonu yıldırım masaj salonu biga masaj salonu çan masaj salonu gelibolu masaj salonu adıyaman masaj salonu afyon masaj salonu ağrı masaj salonu aksaray masaj salonu amasya masaj salonu ardahan masaj salonu artvin masaj salonu bartın masaj salonu batman masaj salonu bayburt masaj salonu bilecik masaj salonu bingöl masaj salonu bitlis masaj salonu bolu masaj salonu burdur masaj salonu çanakkale masaj salonu çankırı masaj salonu çorum masaj salonu düzce masaj salonu edirne masaj salonu elazığ masaj salonu erzincan masaj salonu erzurum masaj salonu eskişehir masaj salonu giresun masaj salonu gümüşhane masaj salonu ığdır masaj salonu ısparta masaj salonu karabük masaj salonu karaman masaj salonu kastamonu masaj salonu kilis masaj salonu kırıkkale masaj salonu kırklareli masaj salonu kırşehir masaj salonu uşak masaj salonu kütahya masaj salonu malatya masaj salonu mardin masaj salonu nevşehir masaj salonu niğde masaj salonu ordu masaj salonu trabzon masaj salonu osmaniye masaj salonu rize masaj salonu siirt masaj salonu sinop masaj salonu sivas masaj salonu tokat masaj salonu karahayıt masaj salonu pamukkale masaj salonu nizip masaj salonu şahinbey masaj salonu şehitkamil masaj salonu antakya masaj salonu defne masaj salonu iskenderun masaj salonu darıca masaj salonu gebze masaj salonu gölcük masaj salonu izmit masaj salonu körfez masaj salonu akşehir masaj salonu beyşehir masaj salonu ereğli masaj salonu karatay masaj salonu meram masaj salonu selçuklu masaj salonu akhisar masaj salonu alaşehir masaj salonu soma masaj salonu turgutlu masaj salonu akdeniz masaj salonu anamur masaj salonu erdemli masaj salonu mezitli masaj salonu silifke masaj salonu tarsus masaj salonu toroslar masaj salonu yenişehir masaj salonu bodrum masaj salonu dalaman masaj salonu fethiye masaj salonu köyceğiz masaj salonu marmaris masaj salonu menteşe masaj salonu milas masaj salonu adapazarı masaj salonu serdivan masaj salonu atakum masaj salonu çarşamba masaj salonu ilkadım masaj salonu eyyübiye masaj salonu siverek masaj salonu viranşehir masaj salonu çerkezköy masaj salonu çorlu masaj salonu erbaa masaj salonu