On March 24, 1994, two weeks before the Rwandan genocide began in which more than half a million people were murdered, 70% of the Tutsi population, the missionary Joaquim Vallmajó (Navata, 1941-Rwanda, 1994 ) wrote his last letter to the family, in which he expressed his concern about the situation in the country. “In the capital, the atmosphere is very tense (…) Manipulated and violent demonstrations, danger of civil war, poverty, misery (…)”, he warned in a letter that would arrive at his home after his death, which took place a month after.

He explained that despite everything he was still immersed in his tasks. It cared for orphans and the handicapped, promoted the construction of cabins and primary schools and advanced its horticulture and livestock projects aimed at the local population and the thousands of people displaced by the conflict, which only in the north of Rwanda exceeded 350,000 in the early nineties.

On April 26, 1994, Vallmajó was arrested by a group of soldiers from the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) at the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Good Counsel, in Kageyo, in the diocese of Byumba, in the north of the country. The last image that the nuns had of him was getting into the truck driven by the soldiers making a “broad and visible sign of the cross,” according to the missionary Josep Frigola, who has had access to the diary of the religious community of the last days of Vallmajó’s life. Nobody saw him again.

“Although he had the opportunity to flee, he stayed with his people, with the multitudes of displaced people that he tried to accompany and help,” says Frigola, who has participated since April in several acts of tribute to the missionary in Figueres, Girona or Navata, coinciding with the thirtieth anniversary of his death.

Both belonged to the Society of Missionaries of Africa, the White Fathers, and met at the Girona Seminary. In 1965 they were ordained priests and undertook their mission on the African continent. Vallmajó, to Rwanda, and Frigola, to present-day Burkina Faso and later to Niger. “He was a very humanizing person and very involved in the development of the country, helping the poorest people,” he highlights.

Rwanda was Vallmajó’s home for almost 30 years. In 1985 he settled in the north of the country to intercede on behalf of the Tutsis expelled from Uganda in 1982. And in 1988 he spent two years in the south working in a Hutu refugee camp in Burundi, explains Josep Valls, in Àfrica al cor ( Brau). Starting in 1990, “his work assisting refugees becomes frenetic, and his interventions against power and in favor of respect for rights do not please the authorities that he calls corrupt,” the author summarizes in a book edited this year.

His friend Josep Maria Bonet, a member of Amnesty International of Alt Empordà, received several letters in which Vallmajó asked for his intercession with Amnesty International London and the press. “It was an uncomfortable testimony of what was happening there, a character that was not interesting, that’s why they killed him,” explains Bonet.

Since 2002, this and other organizations have filed a complaint to investigate his death. In 2008, a judge from the National Court issued a search and arrest warrant from the Rwandan government, which is still active.