Francois-Xavier Byuma, a prominent civil rights activist, was sentenced for 19 years in prison by a grassroots genocide court for his involvement in the 1994 massacre in Rwanda. On Sunday May 24th, Byuma was convicted of conspiring with criminals and beating a woman during the massacre in 1994. In response, Byuma, a member of the Rwandan League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, a playwright and head of a children’s rights group, claimed the trial and conviction were designed to settle a score between the judge and himself and intends to appeal.
The 1994 mass murder was one of Africa’s worst genocide. During the 100-day killing spree at least 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis, were massacred by extremist members of the Hutu ethnic group. The Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) later regained control of the country, which led to nearly 2 million Hutus migrating to nearby Congo. Some of the fleeing Hutus were participants of the Rwanda massacre.
Although Rwanda signed a peace treaty with eastern Congo in 2002, tension and conflict remains between the ethnic groups within the two countries. On Sunday May 24th Rwandan rebels, based in Congo, attacked a Congolese village with machetes and spears killing 17 and wounding dozens. The rebels are suspected of being Hutu members of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda. The UN commission in Congo has not confirmed the attack, but as of April has launched a military offense to push back Rwandan rebels from eastern Congo.
For more information please see:
Yahoo – Rwandan Rights Activist Sentenced for Genocide Role – 28 May 2007
Yahoo – Rwandan Rebels Kill 17 in Congo Village – 27 May 2007
BBC – Country Profile: Rwanda – 04 May 2007