Sunday, July 02, 2006

We cannot leave these Christians (Five Rwandan Nuns)

Five nuns from the congregation of the Daughters of Resurrection were killed in their convent in Busasamana, near the Rwanda-Congo border on January 7, 1998. A convent watchman and the wife of a lay-Catholic leader were also killed. Two sisters survived the massacre, but one nun, Sr. Devota, died after suffering from a coma. The identities of the attackers were not known.

In December, 1997, a bishop advised the nuns to leave the convent for another in a safer region. But the mother superior, after consulting the other sisters, said, “We are united among ourselves and with the people. We are afraid, but do not feel that there is any danger as yet. You know that in Rwanda lay people are not allowed to distribute communion. We cannot leave these Christians without communion and abandon them unless the danger is great. Our work has nothing to do with politics and harms no one. We hope that nothing serious will happen.”

On the night of January 7, 1998, attackers surrounded their house around midnight and broke through an iron door. They immediately dragged down four nuns and hacked them to death. A fifth, who threw herself down at the assassins' feet pleading for mercy, was also murdered.

One possible explanation for why they were targeted may be that they had reportedly provided lodging at the convent to people whose houses had been burned by RPA soldiers.

According to Rwandan Bishops, the ethnicity of the nuns doesn’t matter as there were both Tutsi and Hutu sisters among those killed at the convent. “The sisters were living together, and they were of all ethnic groups,” they said, adding that it was not an attack against the church itself. Anyone living in the region where the nuns lived are already facing the risk of death.


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