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Pauline Nyiramasuhuko (Born April 1946) is a former Rwandan politician and the first woman to be convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). She was involved in the Rwandan Genocide and in particular the actions of the Butare Interahamwe.
Pauline Nyiramasuhuko was born in the small farming community of Ndora, in the province of Butare, to a poor Hutu family. She attended high school at the Ecole sociale de Karubanda. There, she became friends with Agathe Habyarimana, the future wife of Juvénal Habyarimana, who became President of Rwanda in 1973.
Nyiramasuhuko trained and worked as a social worker. In 1968 she married Maurice Ntahobali, with whom she had four children. One of their children, Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, would later be sentenced by the ICTR for a role in the genocide. Nyiramasuhuko worked for the government's Ministry for Social Affairs, educating women about health and childcare. In 1986, she attended the National University of Rwanda to study law. She was Minister for Family Welfare and the Advancement of Women in Habyarimana's government from 1992.
Role in the genocide
In response to the citizens of Butare refusing to participate in the genocide, the government sent Nyiramasuhuko to the area to deal with it. When the local governor (who was a Tutsi, the victims of the genocide) refused to organize the killings in Butare, Nyiramasuhuko had him killed before calling in the Kigali branch of the Interahamwe.
On 25 April 1994, the Butare stadium was home to a massacre when the Red Cross began handing out food to Tutsi refugees. However, Nyiramasuhuko's son, Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, had organized an ambush, during which Nyiramasuhuko told the troops "before you kill the women, you need to rape them". She also ordered several men to burn a group of women to death using petrol from her car.
After the genocide, Nyiramasuhuko fled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and later to Kenya, where she was arrested in 1997 along with her son, Prime Minister Jean Kambanda and eight other perpetrators.
Nyiramasuhuko was charged with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, crimes against humanity, violations of the Geneva Conventions and incitement to rape. She was convicted on all charges and is currently serving a twenty-five years to life prison sentence in Rwanda. Ntahobali received a whole-life sentence and Nyiramasuhuko's daughter-in-law Beatrice Munyenyezi recieved a ten year sentence.