A Rwandan woman in a terrorism trial has given a damning testimony of how she managed to use her elite influence to mobilise and recruit female combatants inside the Rusesabagina’s MRCD-FLN terror group.
The 70-years old Angelina Mukandutiye, a former teacher and schools inspector in Nyarugenge district before the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, is the only women among the 21 suspects accused of working with FLN, a militia outfit under MRCD party, to launch attacks in different districts in Southern Rwanda.
Appearing before court to answer one charge of working with a terror group, the suspect said that it is true she worked with the FLN forces driven by a desire for democracy and unity among Rwandans but “didn’t know it was seen (in Rwanda) as a terror group.”
Narrating how she ended up with the FLN forces, Mukandutiye said that as a member of the MRND party (accused of executing genocide in Rwanda), she shortly after the genocide managed to escape to DR Congo as a refugee and while there she joined the FDLR rebel group that had plans of returning to Rwanda to share power with the current government.
Just like other suspects testimonies in this case, Mukandutiye said that the FDLR group was sooner divided into small groups as part of them wanted to use armed forces (FDLR-Foca), while another group wanted to return through negotiations mediated by the UN-the latter group being the CRND-Ubwiyunge- lead by Wilson Irategeka.
“I decided to join the CRND-ubwiyunge group because I was driven by a sense of empowering women, just as before leaving the country when I was a schools inspector. The party offered me a chance to do so by appointing me as commissioner for women affairs,” Mukandutiye said.
With this opportunity, Mukandutiye revealed that she used her experience as a teacher and her denied-childhood dream of becoming a soldier while in Rwanda, to propose formation of the first female group of combatants in the force.
“I found that this was a chance for me to achieve my childhood wish- to form a group of females who would solve our security issues of being under attack all the time. So I told the commander (Wilson Irategeka) that we should train our women so that they can guard others when men are away in battle,” she narrated.
The suspect said that even as a civilian, she managed to form the female aftegroupr getting a green light from her commanders, but when court inquired how many she recruited, she said;
“They were so many I don’t even remember the numbers at this age as you will release if you (judge) get to this age.”
She told court that the aim of forming the female force was to prove that ‘Women Can”.
“This inner drive is to prove myself, is how I managed to mobilise the women into CNRD, and thanks be to God I proved that women can become soldiers,” Mukandutiye said noting that at this period the FLN force was solely one run by her party- CRND-Ubwiyunge and none of the recruits was forced to join, contrary to earlier suspects testimonies which stated that some were recruited as minors.
Rusesabagina, Twagiramungu and Nsabimana On-Board
In her testimony, the elderly suspect set the record straight when she informed court how the MRCD-FLN coalition, of which she stands trial for, was formed and how the parties behind it came to play.
She started by revealing dates of how each party in the MRCD-FLN coalition was formed saying that Callixte Nsabimana “party (NRM) came to force on March 18, 2018, while the PDR-Ihumure of Paul Rusesabagina was launched on 4th July 2018.
The party of dissident politician Faustin Twagiramungu came in June 2019, while her party (CRND-Ubwiyunge) was formed on 31st May 2016.
With each party having its own leadership, Mukandutiye said that the only reason they (CRND-ubwiyunge) joined the coalition was because Rusesabagina and Nsabimana had the same objective of democratic, unity to return to Rwanda, but this was changed later with terror activities.
The Court Judge asked her how she knew all this information and Mukandutiye replied that she was an elite and a teacher who had influence and insider friends who fed her with updated info.
Mukandutiye confessed working for FLN and through her lawyer, asked for forgiveness from victims of FLN terror attacks and Rwandans and asked court to exonerate her since she didn’t participate in terror attacks.