SHE WILL NEVER FORGET HIDING FOR HER LIFE AND THE KILLING OF HER FAMILY DURING THE RWANDAN GENOCIDE, BUT IMMACULEE ILIBAGIZA CAN STILL FORGIVE -- "60 MINUTES," SUNDAY, DEC. 3, 7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT
Her family and entire village were killed, along with 800,000 members of her Tutsi tribe. To escape the same fate, she hid for three months with six others in a tiny bathroom in a minister's house. Yet, Immaculee Ilibagiza can forgive the man who killed two of her relatives and would have killed her had he found her. Ilibagiza survived the Rwandan genocide to tell her incredible story of redemption and forgiveness to Bob Simon for a 60 MINUTES report to be broadcast Sunday, Dec. 3 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Ilibagiza forgives the man who spent 11 years in prison for murdering two of her relatives. She says she wasn't even angry when she saw him. "No, completely in my heart, I was aware that [anger] won't change anything," she tells an incredulous Simon. "It won't change his heart. It won't bring back people he killed."
Forgiving the Hutus, the majority tribe in Rwanda that carried out the massacre, is the only way, believes Ilibagiza, because revenge only prolongs the pain. "I don't want it. I don't want them, after killing my family, to give me this luggage in my heart, in my belly...to hold this anger," she says.
Ilibagiza has been through enough. Confined in a 4-by-3-foot bathroom for three months, un-bathed and barely fed, she and the others could sometimes hear their would-be killers and even see their weapons through a small window. "And we heard them, I can see the spears," she tells Simon. "I've never been so scared in my life. I remember it was like life was swept out of your body in a second....I couldn't even find saliva to swallow." Their thoughts were equally horrific but present all the time, even when their attackers were not. "How are they going to catch us? Where they will start cutting you, if they will rape you," remembers Ilibagiza.
She is now on a mission to keep the memory of the massacre alive in the world to counter the revisionists' claims that it never happened. "You start to hear on the radios, people denying that it was genocide, and that almost takes your breath away," says Ilibagiza. "Like, what I have lived isn't genocide? Every child, every woman, every...Tutsi, at least in my village as I have seen, is dead."