The Butare Stadium site is located in Southern Province. Click on the image for a slideshow of photographs. All photographs © 2002-2008 Jens Meierhenrich.

The stadium of Butare, or Stade Huye, as it is officially called now, sits on the city limits of this university town, not far from the National Museum of Rwanda. It is an ominous reminder not just of the genocidal violence that was meted out here in 1994, but also of the cunning and deception deployed by those who aimed—and nearly succeeded—at destroying Rwanda’s Tutsi population. For it was here, in Stade Huye, that the International Committee of the Red Cross in late April of that year was said to be providing food and shelter and security to the frightened Tutsi of Butare. Several thousand townspeople heeded the call. But neither food nor shelter nor security was to be had in Stade Huye, sixteen years ago. Far from it. Apparently under the aegis of Pauline Nyiramasuhuko—then the Interim Government’s Minister of Family and Women’s Development and today a defendant before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda—the assembled Tutsi were readied for death.

The New York Times tells of one confessed perpetrator, Foster Mivumbi, who claims that “Pauline waved her arms and then observed in silence as Interahamwe militia rained gun-fire and hand grenades down upon [everyone in the stadium]. The Hutus finished off survivors with machetes. It took about an hour, ending at noon.” Pauline did not leave the stadium, according to Mivumbi, “until a bulldozer began piling bodies for burial in a nearby pit.”

Copyright © 2010 Jens Meierhenrich. All rights reserved.