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Hiding During the Burundi Genocide

Apollinaire Ndayizeye, Burundi Survivor

Oh, of course, living in the capital city helped save me and those who were living in the capital city by that time, because the genocide that sparked actually all over the country did not happen the first days, the very first days, in the capital city. The reason: because first of all, the capital city has a mixed population of Hutus and Tutsis, and it was really difficult to mobilize the Hutu killers in order to kill their neighbor Tutsis. The other reason is because in the capital city is gathered most of army and gendarmerie camps. So, the city was well protected.

Oh, this is another -- another big, big problem, a big matter that causes me a lot of trouble when I think about it. Actually, all our belongings were taken away; all our houses were burnt down. And as a matter of fact, the then-governor of the province, my hometown province, which is called Bujumbura Rural, ordered himself the killing -- the killers -- to start by my family, to start by my family because my family was the most in evidence, like we had -- we were like at the top richest of the region, the area, the village. And my father used to be a ruler of that area.

The other thing is that when he ordered those killers to start by my family, he also added that not only that everyone would have to be cleaned up -- killed, I mean -- that all the houses, starting by the nicest house, which was for my biggest brother who used to be -- who is ambassador, and another one who is -- how would I say that? A businessman. And those had the very nice, beautiful houses, and they were burnt down.

After that, all the properties were shared among the neighbors and those killers, and they were occupied. The burning of the houses is one of the general means and methods that was used during that genocide. It was due -- it was intended to prevent all the survivors from coming back to that place. Since then, all the survivors who remained in the country actually are still now -- today that we are talking; they are still in camps, survivor camps.