Rwanda: 34 Years of Curfew Ended


April 15, 2006: Burundi lifted its national curfew (from midnight to 6 AM). The curfew has been in effect for 34 years. A "temporary curfew" was imposed during the Hutu-Tutsi civil war of 1972. The curfew was made permanent in 1993. The national unity government believes that the curfew can now end. Though the Forces for National Liberation (FLN) continue to fight a guerrilla war, most FLN attacks occur in one province ( Bubanza) where the FLN operates out of the Kibira forest area.

April 14, 2006: Burundi's National Defense Force (the Burundian Army) has opened a "demobilization camp" for FLN guerrillas who agree to end their rebellion. The Burundian government also said that it is currently conducting peace negotiations with two separate FLN factions. The negotiations are being held in Tanzania. (South Africa, Uganda, and Tanzania are helping facilitate the negotiations.) The negotiations are being conducted separately (ie, the two FLN factions are involved in separate negotiations). The FLN has always been "faction ridden". Even if the two main factions agree to join the government small, holdout elements may continue to fight. Hutu distrust of the Tutsis is one reason, but there is often a more practical reason in play. Guerrillas survive by banditry and smuggling. Banditry and smuggling may be an easier way to make a living than subsistence farming. Demobilization camps -- in principle-- are supposed to do more than disarm guerrillas. The camps are supposed to help them develop (or re-learn) civilian skills.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) sentenced the former mayor of the town of Gikoro to 15 years in prison. According to the court, the former mayor, Paul Bisengimana, had reached a plea bargain with the prosecution. The ICTR is focusing on leaders and "masterminds" who directed the genocidal attacks. Bisengimana is in that category. He pled guilty to "murder and extermination." Bisengimana was involved in the murder of over one thousand people. Because of the plea bargain, Bisengimana received a sentence on the "extermination" charge only. --Austin Bay

April 10, 2006: Rwanda and Burundi have been discussing the 19,000 Rwandans now currently living in Burundi. The Rwandans are variously described as "illegal immigrants" or "asylum seekers" or "refugees." Many of the Rwandans are Hutus who fled Rwanda in 1994 after the Hutus genocidal attacks on Rwandan Tutsis. Burundi has tried to review some cases. The Burundian government said that of 450 asylum cases reviewed, 52 were judged as valid asylum cases. Burundi has said that most of the Rwandans will be sent home. The Rwandan government will then decides if the returnees will face prosecution.

April 10, 2006: The Burundian government confirmed that it will begin peace negotiations with representatives of the rebel Forces for National Liberation (FLN). Tanzania had reported on April 7 that an FLN negotiating "delegation" was in Tanzania.

April 9, 2006: The Burundian government claimed that it had evidence that the FLN was seeking one million dollars to buy new weapons.

April 7, 2006: Germany arrested Rwandan rebel Ignace Murwanashyaka. Murwanashyaka is accused of helping lead the 1994 anti-Tutsi genocide, He is also a senior leader in the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (DLFR). Murwanashyaka had reportedly been living in Germany for several years. In November 2005 the UN named Murwanashyaka as a war crimes suspect. He may also be involved in war crimes committed in the Congo.


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