My name is Sabushimike Mamert, survivor of the tragedies of 1972 in the province of Bururi, in the commune of Vyanda, and a human rights defender who closely followed the history of these tragedies through the human rights defense organization: National Human Rights Observers Network RONADH, of which I was the focal point in the commune of Vyanda.

My testimony begins by recounting that Hutus and Tutsis killed each other with a horror never seen before, using machetes, bamboo sticks, clubs, knives, guns, bayonets, hammers, burying people alive, in addition to burning down houses, confiscating property such as houses, livestock, vehicles, land, bank accounts…

I remind you that the province of Bururi extended to the current provinces of Makama and Rumonge.

The localities particularly affected by these terrible tragedies include: the plain of Imbo and Mumirwa, which are the birthplaces of the rebels, as well as Minago, Rumonge, Mugara, Karonda, Kigwena, Nyanza-Lac, Mabanda, Vugizo, Vyanda, Bururi, Makamba and Burambi.

In this plain of Imbo, some very wealthy Hutu traders lived, whose wealth came from the cultivation of palm oil, coffee, and cassava flour. They also had luxury vehicles of the Peugeot brand and other means of transportation. Those who worked the fields of these Hutus were Tutsi people who came from Songa, Vyanda, Bururi, Matana, Mugamba, and Vugizo. All these Tutsi cultivators who were in the plain of Imbo were massacred by the Hutus except for a few rare survivors of these tragedies.


The Hutu intellectual propagandists of this ideology at the national level were strongly influenced by the Rwandan model, according to which Hutus led by Grégoire Kayibanda overthrew the Tutsi dynasty in Rwanda by exterminating them in 1959.

The ethnic hatred of the Hutus towards the Tutsis in the province of Bururi was spread by saying that Prime Minister Ngendandumwe Pierre was assassinated because he was Hutu, which was followed by massacres of Tutsis in the communes of Busangana and Bugarama. »

The Hutus accused of attempted coups in 1965 and 1969 were sentenced to death and executed, while the attempted coup of 1971 attributed to the Tutsis of Muramvya were also sentenced to death but the sentence was not carried out.

The ideology of exterminating Tutsis by Hutus in the province of Bururi was widely taught by five Hutu deputies and one Hutu senator who were elected in the province of Bururi in 1965. One was from the Uprona party, namely Ezichias Biyorero, elected in Rumonge and the main actor of this ideology, and a senator from the Uprona party, Sylvesre Baribwami. The rest were from the People’s Party (PP), namely Jean Baramburiye elected in Makamba, Simon Ntiyankumwe in Nyanza-Lac, Euphrem Hakiza in Bururi, and Wilson Bavakure elected in Matana.

During this period, some members of the People’s Party were arrested following these teachings of ethnic hatred and divisions in the province of Bururi.

The true ideology of exterminating Tutsis and the preparation of the 1972 war began in 1969 with the release of Ezichias Biyorero from prison, who went into exile directly in Tanzania in the company of Lazare Seheye, Rameck Minani, Musa Tinya, Venant Nzeyimana, a merchant from Matana, Musa Maronko, and Cyprien Mbikiye, the last two of whom had led the commune of Rumonge. A few days later, the students from the University of Burundi, Celius Mpasha, Albert Butoyi, and Ndabiruye, joined Ezichias Biyorero in the bush, and they created an armed movement called « <<ABARWANASHAKA>> » of the People’s Party.

Other individuals who played an active role in the preparation of the war include Abel Tita, Emmanuel Buname, Etienne Kijwari, Barampanganje, Kosani, Karumba, the famous merchant Denis Mafungufungu from Kigwena, Bigega, and a former military officer in the presidential guard, Adolphe Nyandwi.

The main leader of this ABARWANASHAKA rebellion was Commander Donatien Misigaro, who led the gendarmerie camp in Nyanza-Lac.

The main headquarters of the ABARWANASHAKA rebel movement was based in Mugara with Karumba as the leader. Other branches were located in Karonda, Kigwena Nyanza-Lac, Rumonge, Minago… On all the hills, there were ABARWANASHAKA committees, and the meetings preparing for the war were held at night, in the utmost secrecy.

Ezichias Biyorero would come from Tanzania at night to give orders and directives to the branches in a small boat, and in order not to be identified, he changed his name to Ibrahim Yousufu.

The divisive teachings preparing for the war said that the Tutsi were not Burundians, that they came from Egypt, Ethiopia, Somalia, and therefore those who were not killed should return to their country of origin.

By mobilising the Hutus, they were told that the Tutsis were ready to massacre all the Hutus on April 30th, 1972. Therefore, everything had to be done to start before that date. Another reason for choosing the date of April 29th, 1972, is that the planners of these tragedies at the national level knew that military exercises always ended with the end of April, and therefore most of the commanders of military camps took leave and would not have the opportunity to give orders to the soldiers to prevent these tragedies. The example given is Commander Sinduhije Jérôme, who was in charge of the Gitega commando camp and had gone to spend his weekend in his hometown.

The authors of these exterminations had meticulously prepared the coup. Throughout the country, dance parties had been organised to easily control the Tutsis. The preparations were done very discreetly to the point that the secret could not be revealed to anyone, including family members. Catholics were less privileged because they drank alcohol. They feared that they might reveal the secret of the movement if they got drunk. Similarly, Protestants were at the forefront of this movement, particularly at Mugara, the headquarters of Abarwanashaka.


The rebels were supervised by medicine-men who provided them with magical training and immunisation. These medicine-men were Babembe exiles in Kigwena and Nyanza-Lac. Among them, the most famous was a man named Florent. He had a Vignelo rifle, which he used to shoot someone as an example to convince Burundians that their substances could protect them from enemy bullets. The training took place at night in the forest at Karonda, near the Buhinda River, and at Nyagatanga.

The rebels of 1972 trained for years in the Kagunga forest in Tanzania, a border region with Burundi that was very difficult to access and control by Tanzanian authorities. 

In Nyanza-Lac, there were many training locations, but the most well-known were located in Kabo, Riba, Mwigagi, Mugumure, specifically in Mugunda and around the Rwaba river. The commander of the gendarmerie camp in Nyanza-Lac, Donatien Misigaro, who was also from Kigwena, was heavily involved in this movement.

The students Célius Mpasha, Abel Tita, Albert Butoyi, and the deputies Lazare Seheye, Ezéchias Biyorero, and Emmanuel Buname were at the forefront of this movement. Among the dignitaries of the movement were teachers like Etienne Kijwari and Barampangaje. The rebellion was technically supported by Babembe sorcerers and financially by local traders like Gitamira Daniel, Onesme Ndova, Denis Mafungufungu, Zambayembi, Murishi Mayabu. It was through these traders that machetes nicknamed « namba nane » (number 8) were obtained and used during the massacres. The word « Mulele » originates from the Rebel movement of Pierre Mulele, who was the Minister of Education and against the central government of Congo. Burundian rebels had to abide by a code of magical prohibitions imposed by their sorcerer doctors. They underwent body incisions on their backs and chests and received baptism. The combination of these practices was supposed to protect them from bullets. They shouted « Maï-mulele » to kill a person. They gave a single blow with a machete. They did not look back and did not retreat. They were drugged and dressed in palm leaves and leaves from other trees. It was forbidden for them to have sexual intercourse with any woman, including their wives. They were prohibited from shaking hands with anyone who did not adhere to the movement.

When other people gave them something, they would place it on the ground for them to pick up. They didn’t eat on plates, rather they ate on banana leaves. On the day of the attacks, the practices of « baptism » and « incisions » continued respectively at Denis Mafungufungu’s and Miruko’s places in Kigwena.”

It is reported that 1900 machetes were purchased by former Minister of Public Works Marc Ndayiziga in collusion with Budget Director Simvura Boniface. They would have been distributed in the plain by Zacharie Ntiryica, works supervisor of the Bujumbura-Nyanza road. The other machetes would have been forged on site, or would have been sent by former deputies Seheye and Biyorero to Nyanza-Lac, Rumonge, and Gitaza.

The rebels had few firearms. They obtained them after the execution of about ten Tutsi gendarmes. In Vugizo, the former soldier Minani had a pistol. But also in Mabanda, a former soldier Michel Ciza had a rifle. The 1972 insurrectional movement was strongly supported by Protestant merchants from Mugara, Kigwena, Nyanza-Lac, and Mabanda. They were able to provide machetes in collaboration with Venant Nzeyimana, a merchant originally from Matana who had been a refugee in Tanzania since 1969. Many meetings of the movement’s coordinators were often held at his home in Tanzania.

The rumors and flyers distributed abundantly in the plain region reached a climax in 1971. The flyers said the following: (Written for those who go all the way). You who have accepted life or death in defending the common people so that they may have a voice both inside and outside the country.

We applaud your efforts, which laid the groundwork for our victory by demonstrating OBEDIENCE, bravery, and sacrifice in the pursuit of the Tutsi enemy. Stand upright as one man. Take spears, pruning hooks, machetes, and other weapons with you.

wherever he is, kill any Tutsi with arrows and clubs. that everyone who supports us band together to kill every last Tutsi, soldier or leader.

Go after the Tutsi party’s cadres, including the ministers, governors, commissioners, and administrators. Kill them together with their spouses and kids, and don’t be afraid to dismember expectant mothers.

Let’s compete in bravery, discipline, and agility to kill every man, every woman, and every child who belongs to the Tutsi ethnic group, and let’s make sure that we talk about it more in our nation. The Tutsi were not imprisoned or put to trial. His only option is death.

Supporter execute to the letter also, what follows so you will have supported with all your heart, and all your intelligence the party of the workers of Burundi and the power of the agricultural workers. Partisan wherever you are, go with all your brothers,mobilise them and punish all the recalcitrants who refuse or who do not help you to fight the Tutsi, imprison them and we will judge them afterwards.

Rumors say that very soon the country will be attacked by people who come from Tanzania. The circulation of these rumors reinforced the climate of suspicion, which led to the arrest of many peasants and Hutu intellectuals from Nyanza-Lac and Kigwena.

In Lent of 1972, the White Fathers of Kigwena parish warned the people in the area, telling them that if they do not pay attention, Nyanza-Lac could be destroyed within a few days. A few days before, rumors circulated in Commune Vugizo announcing that the attacks against the Tutsi are in progress preparation by people who would come from Tanzania. Tutsis will be eliminated until they disappear throughout the country.

A very striking sign is the appearance of a new quality of double machetes sharp.

At the beginning of April, bands of Hutu, in Vyanda, organized themselves in the form of bandits to attack, at night, the households of the Tutsi administrators to look for fire arms. It was later that we understood that this phenomenon entered into the preparations for attacks.

It is this confused and divided situation that will be the subject of a working meeting. top security officials on April 23, 1972 in Bururi. There was the Minister Interior Albert Shibura, Minister of Information André Yanda, Head of State- Major General of the Burundian Armed Forces Thomas Ndabemeye, Administrator General of Security and Immigration Bernard Bizindavyi and the Camp Commander Bururi. They did not deem the case serious enough. But, they decided all of even to launch a public awareness campaign, starting with Rumonge.

It is in this context that Ministers Shibura and Yanda were in this locality on 29April 1972 the day  of the beginning of the massacres of the Tutsis by the Hutus, to warn the rebels from any attempt to exterminate the Tutsis. All provincial administration of Bururi had gone down to Rumonge in a pacification meeting.

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, around 6 p.m., the massacres of all Tutsis started Almost at the same time, Nyanza-Lac, Rumonge, Vugizo, Vyanda,Mabanda, Minago and Bururi are simultaneously attacked. It’s the same method, all Batutsi men, old people, children and women are systematically killed. THE same day, all the administrative officers of Bururi who had gone to Rumonge were killed, cut into pieces with a machete. On the way back, the team of radio journalists who covered the meeting were massacred, and the transmitting vehicle was burned. Ministers Shibura and Yanda were only saved by going through a circuitous route. Because the road along Lake Tanganyika, from the southern border with the Tanzania to the gates of the capital was full of rebels. In Rumonge, the demonstration of killing a Tutsi with a single blow of a machete after tying him up place at the stadium and the rebels cheered loudly. After kick-off, all Tutsis caught was killed and the rebels chanted cries: Mayi-Mulele, Micombero zii, Bahutu Oyeee.

The rebels had taken control of the field on Sunday and Monday. They had the victory in the localities of Minago, Rumonge, Burambi, Karonda. Mugara,Kigwena Nyanza- Lake, Mabanda, Vugizo and Vyanda. The attackers settled in Matyazo, where they hoisted a green-red-green flag, at the same time as Mugara and Rumonge symbolizing victory. Another flag was on Denis’ Peugeot Mafungufungu who moved the rebels from Nyanza-Lac to Rumonge. They had a one-franc coin made with the rising sun, which signifies a country without Tutsis. A rising sun that we even currently find on the fences constructions belonging to the Hutu in Bujumbura.

Other flags were stored at Diomede Ndegeya in Kigwena, Mugara and in the military camp of Bururi. We also suspected other flags at Kiryama.

The situation began to change with the intervention of the military in Rumonge in Mugara on Tuesday, May 2, 1972 and at Vyanda on Thursday, May 4, 1972. In these localities there are there were clashes between the military and the rebels. soldiers and members of the Hutu Rwagasore Revolutionary Youth who were not involved in this despicable project confused with the Tutsis in turn killed the Hutus caught in the localities mentioned above, burned the houses and looted their property. The Hutus of Vugizo, Nyanza-Lac and Mabanda fled to Tanzania a little later because they awaited at any time a press release on the National radio announcing their victory.

It should be noted that a helicopter intervention was able to save the Tutsis of Vugizo, Vyanda and Mabanda by firing on the rebels who were in Mazinga in Rabiro who shared the meat from a beef from Mbonyingingo.

In my present testimony, I would like to point out that the speeches to the media of the Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission CVR that Mr. Pierre Claver Ndayicariye knowingly done are practically contrary to reality, One day Ndayicariye said that a helicopter fired on the innocent population in the south of the country. The helicopter did not fire at the innocent population at all, the helicopter fired at the rebels who massacred innocent Tutsis in Bururi province.

Pierre Claver Ndayicariye continues to formalize that CVR commission is in the process to investigate the identity of the Mayi-Mulele, their origins and their objectives. Here is the clarity : The Mayi-Mulele did not come from our neighbor contry Congo as they say some people. Let no one doubt: the maii Mulele are real Burundians whom we know very well, who lived in Kigwena, Mugara, Nyanza-Lake, Karonda, Bukanda, Karagara, Kibanda, Mutambara, Gasera Karirimvya, Mugumure ,Rwaba,Nzibwe, Kimwaga Rumonge ,Minago…..

As for the commissioner of the TRC Alois Batungwanayo, he once said on BBC radio that it was the government of Michel Micombero who planned to kill the Tutsi for having a pretext to eliminate the Hutu, on this subject, it would be incomprehensible that this same government begin to seek to cut off the heads of its Minister of the Interior Albert Shibura with Information Minister Andree Yanda in the campaign of pacification in Rumonge who escaped the death of justice.

It would be difficult for me to understand that the Government of President Michel Micombero killed 40 people from his administration in Bururi who had gone down to the pacification meeting in Rumonge. As an example I quote: Nintije François, commander of the gendarmerie in Rumonge, Karenzo Gaspard president of the court in Bururi, Prosecutor Jean Bikamba, Doctor Simbiyara Cyprien, Isidore Zidona, district commissioner Domitien Rungarunga secretary of the uprona party, Barampangaje Melchiade deputy commissioner, Kimaka Antoine administrator of the commune Burambi, Administrator Etienne Njiyobiri, Therence Rubati president of the court in Rumonge, Adolphe Sinaniranye, school inspector, Baranyitondeye Pie Director of schools in Rumonge, Ndarusigiye Isidore, veterinarian in Bururi and other drivers and accountants without forgetting the Arab trader Muhamed Amadan who had refused to give the rebels gasoline to burn down the houses Tutsi, also killing all the people who had taken refuge in the camp of the gendarmerie and at the court of Rumonge.

It is very hard to believe that the same government in Nyanza-Lac kills more of its 10 gendarmes, its own commander Mbonihankuye who had come from Bujumbura to give pay to the gendarmes and continued to massacre all the civil servants of the state gathered at “Daniel” including the administrator of Vugizo Frédéric Niyonizigiye and the deputy district commissioner, Léonidas Basumbwa and all Tutsi being at the gendarmerie camp, at the market and the place where the French. (TSF): Wireless Telephone. And that the same massacres happen from the same way in Vugizo and Mabanda where the Tutsi were crowded together in the chief town. of the communes to be massacred there. I wonder what interest the government of Michel Micombero could benefit by killing Vyanda the Counselor Siboniyo Sylver, Kivuvu Alphonse, zone chief, policeman Majugu Jean and others simple Tutsi peasants. What interest also for this government to kill its own soldiers from the Bururi camp who came to prevent the massacres of the Tutsi in Myugaro?

Commissioner Alois Batungwanayo of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission continues to lie that the first victim killed in Rumonge was Hutu and that this is proof that it was the government who had prepared these massacres. It’s not true because Madame Pascasie was not killed first, the rebels took her for Tutsi when she was Hutu. On the other hand in Nyanza-Lac The first person killed was a Hutu from Nyabutare named Kebumpa. He was the victim of having denounced the movement in preparation for administration. vyanda the nurse Ntirandekura jean Hutu strongly implicated in these despicable acts was killed by his rebel friends believing that it was Commander Jérôme Sinduhije who had the vehicle similar to that of the nurse, A Nyanza-Lac Rukanka was killed because of his slender size like the Tutsi according to the rebels while he was Hutu, The list is not exhaustive.

The same commissioner Alois Batungwanayo mentions that there were Hutus to be executed on the basis of pre-established lists before the outbreak of tragedies. Note that during the broadcast of teachings of the rebellion, the lists of members were circulated and everyone had to affix the signature in front of his name. These lists were kept in the office commune of Rumonge which was headed by Mussa Maronko. After the attacks, the soldiers carried out selective arrests at the homes of Hutu on the basis of these lists. Very often, the presence of leaflets and lists of adherents found on the rebels. It is under these circumstances that the Normal School of Kiremba was among the most affected and above all that almost all the victims of this school were natives of Mugara, the seat of the rebellion.

The same commissioner Alois Batungwanayo mentions that there were Hutus to be executed on the basis of pre-established lists before the outbreak of tragedies. Note that during the broadcast of teachings of the rebellion, the lists of members were circulated and everyone had to affix the signature in front of his name. These lists were kept in the office commune of Rumonge which was headed by Mussa Maronko. After the attacks, the soldiers carried out selective arrests at the homes of Hutu on the basis of these lists. Very often, the presence of leaflets and lists of adherents found on the rebels. It is under these circumstances that the Normal School of Kiremba was among the most affected and above all that almost all the victims of this school were natives of Mugara, the seat of the rebellion.

Other localities where Hutu were killed based on lists, especially teachers and traders are in Songa Mugamba, Matana and Rutovu. Involvement of the Church * Pentecost of Mugara and Mabanda. 

This mission has been suspended for two months because he was accused of being involved in the preparations for the attacks. Almost all the Protestant merchants of the Mabanda trading center in namely Nathanaël Mazobe, Gihoro, Joël Mujondora, Thomas Ndikumagenge, Jean Nkwakuzi, were involved. They were piloted by Joël Nikoruza. The latter exercised his business in Nyanza-Lac but he was a native of Mabanda. The people of Nkondo, “ a predominantly Hutu Pentecostal locality” had taken part in the insurrection. Even catechists and pastors were involved.

Following the events that plunged the country into mourning on the night of April 29, 1972, the interventions of the Bishops of the Catholic Church have been appreciable by sending messages of appeasement to the Christians. Other parishes like Bururi, Matyazo and Kigwena offered shelter to displaced. Other parish priests like Makamba and Rumeza have saved teachers and Headmasters already tied up and ready to be killed. The priest of the Murago parish in Burambi Decuria Joseph gave fuel oils mixed with water to the rebels who wanted to burn alive the Tutsi who had taken refuge in the Church. It is as well as these people were saved because the product could not produce a flame.

Unlike previous priests. The parish priest of Kigwena Mario Bragania seems to approve of dealings with supporters of the insurrectionary movement. He was aware of the preparations. But the fact that members of this movement have no could not take advantage of the presence of Micombero in Kigwena on April 24, 1972, to eliminate him disappointed the priest:

The priest Mario Bragania had shown the rebels with the help of a sign that the rebels interpreted correctly, that Micombero came to the parish of Kigwena in his helicopter. Now is the time to kill him. After Micombero left for Bujumbura, the priest got angry saying that they have just suffered a heavy setback. After what, he revealed that this is not the way to seek a revolution.

I cannot pass over in silence the values ​​of certain heroes among the Hutu and the Tutsi who hid and protected either of the different ethnicity when if caught they risked their lives.

The Hutu and Tutsi who perished in these tragedies of 1972, most were not buried with dignity because their bodies were decomposed in forests and mountains, their pieces of flesh devoured by animals and birds, others were thrown in rivers like Siguvyaye, Murembwe and Jiji and in mass  graves.

With regard to mass graves in the country, I reproach the members of the CVR for making a ethnic segregation in different localities, exhuming only human remains so-called Hutus. I remind these members of the TRC that the same must be done to the mass graves of the Tutsis which  are located respectively at the Rumonge market, where we built the Management and Financing Bank, the ecobank, at the stage of football, at Mungerangabo station, in Mutambara without forgetting around the court and around the hospital.

In Kigwena, the mass grave of the Tutsi is located very close to the Rumonge- Nyanza-Lac beside the Mukunde River.

There are two mass graves of Tutsi at Nyanza-Lac next to where should be hold the famous dance evening “chez Daniel”

In Mabanda, there are two of them. The mass grave of Tutsi victims killed by rebels as well as some of their executioners machine-gunned by the helicopter are at the vicinity of the capital of the municipality.

In Vugizo, they are found in the former capital of the commune, very close to the dispensary of Vugizo that of the Tutsi and the rebels machine-gunned by the helicopter.

The repeated attacks of 1972-173-174-1975-1976: Nyanza-Lac communes, Mabanda,Vugizo and  Bukemba were repeatedly attacked by refugees. The first one incursion was carried out at the end of 1972 in October in Nyanza-Lac and in Vugizo. : the rebels came from Tanzania in the refugee camps Burundians namely Gatumba, Ulyankulu and Mishamo. Biyorero, Samiye and  others ceased to support them ideologically, financially and materially.

Some Hutu circles say that they were not allowed to cry or raise their heads. parcel or final mourning of theirs. In my work, I could not have a law or a decree-law at the national level prohibiting these mores. On the other hand, in the municipality of Vyanda, I saw with my own eyes the Hutu and Tutsi side of the people who were crying and who have not been criminally or civilly prosecuted. On the Tutsi side, I saw those who have proceeded to the final lifting of mourning while on the Hutu side, they were in exile in Tanzania.

Currently, as a solution, I propose the cessation of the activities of the Truth Commission and Reconciliation while waiting for the return of peace in Burundi. Today daily there is people who are murdered, disappeared, tortured, arbitrarily imprisoned, abducted and raped without the heights being identified and punished.

This is therefore not the appropriate time to do Truth-Reconciliation activities. Make a census of all the victims of these 1972 hill tragedies by hill. It’s very easy because I already have the names of all the victims. in Vyanda commune. I invite other Burundians to have the courage to bear witness to everyone they know in this crisis of 1972. For the moment the Burundians are divergent on the qualification of these tragedies, some qualify them as a genocide against the Tutsi, the others a genocide against the Hutu. I propose the qualification of what happened passed by an independent group and expert in the field. 

Finally, I suggest  » NEVER AGAIN « 

Done on April 21, 2023



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