Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Massacre of 1991
Bwindi Massacre of 1991; At the dawn (6:45 am) of Tuesday 2 march 1999, a gorilla trekking safari in Bwindi forest National Park turned into a horrific devastating tragedy of killing, kidnaping and raping of women by the Hutu rebels. Bwindi impenetrable national park is very famous for gorilla trekking and in 1991 the park was attacked by Hutu rebels in what is termed as Bwindi impenetrable national park massacre which was a big blow to the gorilla trekking activity in Uganda’s tourism industry. The same rebels were linked to the Rwanda 1994 genocide.
Tourists wake up on sounds of gunshots and grenade blasts while others were preparing for gorilla trekking as stated by the Elizabeth Garland a 30 year old survivor. Rebels emerged from trees in the forests equipped with axes, machetes and rifles. The warden and game rangers were killed on spot with rifles and machetes, buildings were looted and cars set on fire which was so terrifying to the eyes of the travelers.
The nerve wrecking tragedy in Bwindi impenetrable national park summed up with the kidnap of 31 tourists who were led into encampment camps where they were tortured, stripped them off their valuable items like jewelry, money and they were made to walk bare footed in the forest. 8 tourists were killed (one woman raped before being killed), 2 from New Zealand, 2 from united states of America 4 from united kingdom and 4 Ugandan park employees were also killed.
Some of the killed tourists were American citizens Robert Haubner 48 and Susan Miller 42 an Oregon couple who had spent their honeymoon in Africa and had returned with some friends who were executives of Intel Corporation, a computer chip manufacturing company in Oregon for their third tour. Among others was Britain’s Mark Lindgren aged 23 a recent graduate of Nottingham university who was on a 3 months Safari in Africa and Steven Roberts from Edinburgh.
According to state administration and survivors, the rebels were Rwandan Hutus who fled Rwanda during the 1994 genocide after killing more than 500,000 Tutsis. These moderate Hutus had entered Uganda through borders of Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. They later regrouped and attacked tourists in Bwindi impenetrable national park as an act of revenge to Uganda, America and Britain for their support to the minority Tutsi over the majority Hutus as witnessed by the way the rebels hand picked Americans and Briton tourists from the kidnapped group as stated by Hussein Kivumbi the manager of one of the five camps.
Notes reading “we are not happy with Americans and British we don’t want you in our land, you support our enemy Museveni” were left on the massacred bodies by the rebels. French deputy ambassador to Uganda (one of the survivors) Anne Pelter says she was told by kidnappers that they are not happy with Americans and the British because they chose to support the minority Tutsi people over the majority Hutus. Mark Ross an American survivor who witnessed the horror says the tourists he saw had their heads crushed and deep slashed with machetes.
The Bwindi impenetrable national park massacre was referred to as an act of wickedness simply beyond belief by Tony Blair and an abominable crime by the Washington state department spokesman James Foley.
On 16 Jan 2006, the high court in Kampala led by justice John Bosco Katutsi sentenced Jean Paul Bizimana a former interahamwe rebel leader responsible for the Bwindi impenetrable national park massacre to 15 years in prison after being found guilty, in this massacre in which 8 tourists’ lives perished. Paul Bizimana was first arrested in 1999 and detained up to 2001 as a suspect but released under unclear circumstances and he was re-arrested after he voluntarily surrendered himself to the police.
Justice John Bosco Katutsi justifies the 15 year sentence granted to Paul Bizimana over death sentence as fair because he (Paul Bizimana) shows remorse and wouldn’t be sentenced to death and also when he reviewed the constitution where the killed tourists come from that is United States of America, some states abolished death penalties such as well as United Kingdom and in where New Zealand death penalties are only given for treason.