AUGUST 27, 1994

Associated Press

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) -- To the jangle of cymbals and the urgent rhythmic clapping of nearly 2,000 hands, they sing Christian hymns about forgiveness, hope and brotherly love.

Morning sunlight streams through a gaping hole above the altar, pierced by a mortar shell.

Elbow to elbow, members of two ethnic groups whose members have slaughtered one another for decades sit together to celebrate Mass in the bullet-scarred Church of the Holy Family on Saturday.

Lean-faced Tutsis -- some as tall as basketball players, migrants from the Horn of Africa -- mingle with Hutus, a shorter people from the southern reaches of the continent.

"Look. We are brothers because now we must face the same problems together," says Joseph Masango, a 64-year-old Tutsi banker and devout Roman Catholic. "Religion will help heal the hatreds of the past."

Perhaps. There are those who say the Roman Catholics, Rwanda's largest religious denomination, must share blame for the massacres. Some even believe Catholic clergy may have been involved in the killings.

They say the church's cardinal sin was one of virtual silence when, as a prelude to the blood bath, the Hutu government stoked ethnic hatred through propaganda and selective killings.

Archbishop Vincent Nsengiyaunva of Kigali had served on the committee of the ruling party, and was a friend of President Juvenal Habyarimana, whose death on April 6 sparked the systematic killings and downfall of his regime.

Allison L. Des Forges, currently in Kigali as a consultant to the New York-based Human Rights Watch Africa, says other Hutu prelates were closely associtaed with the fallen government. The archbishop himself liked to wear a pin with the president's portrait while saying Mass, she said.

"You can say the church has a great responsibility because it claimed moral leadership," Des Forges said. "But the responsibility is a shared one because there were many institutions in society that did not speak out, that failed."

The Catholic Church plays a vital role in Rwandan society, with some 60 percent of the population adherents of Christianity and most of the rest believers in the traditional Kubandwa religion.

At the turn of the century, French, German and later Belgian missionaries alternately targeted Tutsis and Hutus for Christian conversion, imparting power to one ethnic group and then the other. That caused a split along ethnic lines inside the church, with the Hutus dominant in recent years.

When the massacres erupted, priests and other clergy, most of them Tutsis or moderate Hutus, were among the selected victims. Tens of thousands of the faithful fled to churches for sanctuary, but these instead were turned into some of the most vicious killing chambers.

The Rev. Guy Theunis, a Catholic missionary in Rwanda during the 1980s, said a list of the dead clergy now being compiled includes at least 100 priests, 50 brothers and more than 60 nuns or novitiates.

About 100 priests, he said, fled the country. Also killed were about 20 Presbyterian pastors, along with many members of their families.

In an interview in Nairobi, Kenya, Theunis said killings took place in up to 60 churches, with as many as 4,000 people butchered in and around them.

Among those killed were the Kigali archbishop and four bishops, slain by the victorious Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front last June near the Immaculate Virgin Church in Kabgayi, southwest of the capital, Kigali.

Black blotches still ring the Church of the Holy Family where people have attempted to rub out pools of blood. Some witnesses there at the time of the killings say they saw a priest pointing out individuals for execution.

These and other reports, Des Forges says, are being investigated by her and other human rights organizations.

There are other stories of Hutu priests and nuns trying to protect Tutsis from the rampaging, frenzied militia, and sometimes paying for it with their lives.

How this mix of heroism by some and the collusion of others is perceived by Rwandans likely will determine if the church can help forge a reconciliation between Tutsi and Hutu.

"I used to think the church was a moderating force. But the sanctity and dignity of the church was violated," said Abdul Kabia, the deputy chief of the U.N. mission in Rwanda.

"The man in the street does not have faith in the church. This will take a long time to repair."

AUGUST 27, 1994

Associated Press

BUKAVU, Zaire (AP) -- During Rwanda's three-month civil war hundreds of children attached themselves to the Hutu army. When the army was defeated, they followed the soldiers into exile in a grim refugee camp.

Now they are guilty by association, and because no major aid group wants to feed the soldiers, children are going hungry, too.

"Only two organizations have understood clearly the ethical considerations involved in providing aid to the refugees," said Peter Romanovsky of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. "Everyone else is playing with word games and prejudice."

Aid workers privately admit they are unwilling to help the 10,000 Hutu soldiers and militiamen exiled in Panzi camp on the edge of Bukavu. The fighters are accused of massacres that left up to 500,000 people dead, mostly minority Tutsis.

Many aid workers believe their 6,000 family members and the orphans who helped them are also unworthy of help or sympathy.

The two exceptions are the Catholic aid agency, CARITAS, which has provided emergency medical kits and some food, and the Asia Volunteer Network, which has sent a doctor and a coordinator from Japan.

"It is getting better," said Kjosse Banhwezi, chief of the health clinic at the camp. "Before everyone slept outside, now there are some tents. Now we have medicines to treat the sick, and fewer people are dying."

Two weeks ago, the defeated soldiers were dying of their wounds at a rate of four or five a day.

Unlike at the other camps, rations are not distributed. At least 17,000 rations are needed per day to meet the need, Romanovsky said.

The 833 orphans get one small meal a day of porridge, rice or maize.

"When they eat, they are not full. They sleep on the ground with no blankets. They have no clothes but the ones they wear," said Charlotte Sekera, a Zairian woman who helps to care for them.

The orphans split in two groups, and the older ones who ran with the soldiers are clearly in charge. Many wear the remnants of fatigues -- a camouflage cap, a jacket or a pair of pants. One boy wore a broken helmet.

"I went with the soldiers because no one else needed me," said Jean Claude Nzagisenga, 15, whose family was killed in Kibuye. "We are still friends. They look after us."

But Augustin Assani, 18, was disillusioned.

"We were following the soldiers, and then they lost the war and they came here. They said they didn't need us anymore. We have nothing and no one," the Cyangugu teen-ager said.

"Why is the international community discriminating against us?" asked Brig. Gen. Gratien Kabiligi, commander of the defeated Hutu troops.

"We have not been tried for any crimes, we have not been convicted of any crimes," he said. "We were soldiers, doing our duty to our country."

Kabiligi was the commander of the Kigali Brigade whose soldiers were accused of participating in the massacres, along with the civilian militias.

When asked about reports that his soldiers continue to train in a forest near the camp, his answer was terse: "Refugees do not train."

In a small building at the edge of the camp, two Japanese woman have worked for the past week to provide medical care to the soldiers and their families. They treat 50 children and 30 adults a day.

"Yes, they are soldiers, but they are refugees first," said Dr. Mariko Fujitsuka of the Asia Volunteer Network. "We are glad to work here."

She expressed frustration, however, that the French groups Doctors Without Borders and Pharmacists Without Borders have rejected her pleas for help.

Soon, the Japanese will leave the Panzi camp because their superiors have decided it is too dangerous for them.

Aid workers were threatened at two other Bukavu camps Thursday. They left the camps briefly until tension eased. No one was hurt.

Anne Guibert, spokeswoman for Doctors Without Borders, blamed the hostilities on refugees' frustration at poor organization. Because the terrain is both hilly and heavily cultivated in southeast Zaire, international aid agencies have had difficulty finding space for camps.

"They know that the food is here but they can't have it because the distribution is not well-organized," Guibert said.