Over 40,000 bodies accorded decent burial at the 25th commemoration of Genocide in Rukumberi

Rukumberi, May 19 2019 – Over 40,000 bodies of the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi were on Sunday accorded decent burial at Rukumberi Memorial Centre in Ngoma District, Eastern Province.  The event was part of activities to mark the 25th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Some of the bodies were recovered in recent days while others were removed from a rundown memorial, to get a decent burial.

Addressing thousands of residents who attended the commemoration event, The Speaker of Parliament, Donatille Mukabalisa, condemned the bad leadership that planned and executed the Genocide and called on the youth to fight Genocide ideology.

“I grieve with families whose loved ones were killed and dumped in lakes and rivers.  This is the time to honor our beloved ones as well as reflect on their bravery and acts of kindness.  Rukumberi is an example of how bad leadership planned and executed the Genocide against the Tutsi.  The youth should strive to be resilient and intensify the fight against genocide ideology. There are still deniers who still think that genocide can happen again, the youth should take the lead in uprooting this bad ideology” Speaker Mukabalisa said.

Jean-Damascene Bizimana, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), reiterated that the 1994 Genocide, had been planned beforehand. Tutsis were killed since 1959, while others, in 1960, were isolated and sent to Bugesera where they would be executed.  Bizimana further warned that genocide ideology is still rampant, especially among people living abroad, particularly Genocide perpetrators who are trying to evade justice.

Protais Rutagarama a survivor recounted how Tutsis in Rukumberi were persecuted before and during the Genocide. Ex-FAR soldiers could come in broad daylight and take Tutsi to be killed. Tutsi were arrested and jailed for no reason, he said.

Rukumberi is one of the areas where Genocide was tried before it was committed in 1994.  Now located in Ngoma District, Rukumberi has a long history of Tutsi persecution and killings. Like neighbouring Bugesera, this was one of the areas where the former governments experimented their genocide agenda, having been gazetted to host Tutsi families that were being forcibly uprooted from their ancestral homes elsewhere in the country. The relocations were part of an agenda to exterminate the Tutsi as Rukumberi was at the time heavily infested with tsetse flies; indeed so many of the early arrivals died from tsetse bites.

Nonetheless, the Tutsi of Rukumberi endured and outlived the tsetse flies, something that did not go down well with the fascist governments of the time. Like other Tutsi in other parts of Rwanda, they were persecuted and systematically killed because of who they were, until the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994 when the ‘final solution’ was unleashed by the regime.

Rwandans remember completely wiped out families

Nyanza, 11 May 2019 – Rwandans from across the country on Saturday convened in Nyanza, Southern Province to honor Tutsi families who were totally exterminated during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.  The ceremony was characterized by a night vigil with moving testimonies by survivors.

Addressing the participants, Minister of Justice, Johnston Busingye called for efforts to publish more books on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, mainly by documenting wiped out families as part of efforts to preserve the memory, prevent genocide from ever happening again and to fight its ideology and denial.

“I thank members of GAERG who have so far published books about their testimonies regarding 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Those books are huge contributions to raise knowledge about genocide history and its long-term preservation since there are still people denying it and we must fight them,” he said.

Championed by the association of graduate student survivors of the Genocide (GAERG), the process to document the wiped-out families started 11 years ago, and the research is still ongoing.

A family is said to have been wiped out when the father, mother and all children were all killed.

Preliminary findings indicate that 15,593 families were completely wiped out. Those families were made up of 68,871 members. Karongi District has the highest number of wiped-out families with 2,839 families, composed of 13,371 members, followed by Nyamagabe with 1,535 exterminated families with 5,790 members.

Murambi remembers victims of Genocide against the Tutsi

Murambi 21, April 2019 – Thousands of people from different corners of the country convened at Murambi Genocide Memorial in Nyamagabe District to commemorate the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi and accord a decent burial to 294 Genocide victims.

Murambi Genocide Memorialis located in Murambi Village, Remera Cell, Gasaka Sector, Nyamagabe District in the Southern Province. It serves as the final resting place for over 50,000 victims of the Genocide against Tutsi killed there and surrounding areas.

As part of today’s commemoration event, bodies of 294 genocide victims relocated from Gasaka in line with the consolidation of genocide memorials were laid to rest at the Murambi Genocide Memorial.

Before the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Murambi was located in Nyamagabe commune in Gikongokoro prefecture. This region was characterized by a history of killings and massacres since 1959 mainly in the former Bufundu region when the then prefect Rwasibo Jean Baptiste led the region under the Belgian authority.

A notorious plan was designed and executed to get rid of Tutsi people in that region. Through the plan, Tutsis were relocated to deserted regions of Kibungo and Bugesera which were a breeding area for Tsetse Flies which killed a large proportion of the population. Those who managed to survive settled in the area and started to develop it.

However, due to the continued history of hatred, Tutsi people were continually targeted during the first and second republics and this killing climaxed during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

Murambi Genocide Memorial has a uniqueness: some bodies of the victims of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi, were not reburied but preserved and kept in areas where those who visit the memorial can see them.

Thousands gather at Mwulire to remember victims of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi

Mwulire, 18 April 2019 – Thousands of residents on Thursday gathered at Mwulire memorial site in Rwamagana District to commemorate the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi and accord a decent burial to 52 Genocide victims recovered recently from different parts of Mwulire and Rubona Sectors.

Mwulire Genocide Memorial is located in Rwamagana, District, Eastern province and serves a resting place for over 26,000 victims massacred at Mwulire Hill.

The executive secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, Eastern province governor, Fred Mufuluke other officials joined thousands of residents in the commemoration at Mwulire.

In his presentation on the history of Genocide preparation, Dr Bizimana reiterated that the genocide ideology and the hatred against the Tutsi developed back in 1957 when one Joseph Gitera published 10 Hutu commandments.

Gahurura Joseph, one of the survivors at Mwulire, recounted the ordeal that Tutsi who had gathered at Mwulire went through before they were massacred by the killers.

The Mwulire victims are remembered and honored on April 18 every year, a day the victims were gruesomely killed after resisting several attacks by Interahamwe militia and the then national army.

Commemoration week concludes with a tribute to politicians killed for defiance

Kigali, 13 April 2019 – The official Commemoration Week was concluded today with an event to honour politicians who opposed the genocidal plan and paid the ultimate price for defiance.

The event took place in Kigali at Rebero Genocide Memorial, which serves as the final resting place for over 14,000 victims of the Genocide against Tutsi and 12 politicians who were killed for standing against the genocidal government in 1994.

President of Senate Bernard Makuza was  joined by Christine Mukabunani, the representative of National Forum of Political Organisations,  Amb John Mwangemi, Dean of Diplomatic corps, Justice Minister Johnson Busingye, Executive Secretary of CNLG, Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, Ibuka Association President, Prof Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, and families of the victims in laying wreath on the graves of the 12 politicians and the common burial place for over 14,000 victims of the Genocide. 

In her address Hon. Christine Mukabunani, representative of the National Forum of Political Organisations said that remembering politicians who stood for the truth was an occasion for all Rwandan politicians to renew their commitment to rebuilding the nation and promote good governance.

 In his presentation on the role of the bad politics in the Genocide, Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana demonstrated how the genocidal government led by the ruling party, MRND, used all strategies including meetings and written documents in opposing the Arusha negotiations while mobilising the public for their plan to exterminate the Tutsis. 

Senate President, Bernard Makuza reminded participants that the Genocide was prepared and implemented by the government.

“It is a fact that Genocide cannot be possible without the support of the government. The facts about the government’s involvement in the Genocide against the Tutsi are undeniable. They are everywhere – in testimonies, ICTR judgments” Hon. Makuza said.

Hon. Makuza further noted Rwanda’s impressive recovery 25 years after the Genocide.

“After the Genocide, everything was a priority. The government had to restore unity among Rwandans  rebuild people’s trust. Good governance was the way to go, and a number of homegrown solutions were adopted to address the country’s challenges. The constitution with the principles of equal rights for all was adopted, while Gacaca courts were established to bring justice” Hon Makuza said.

The President of Senate further asked the International Community to stand with Rwanda in the continued battle for justice and against genocide ideology and denial.

“Rwanda is still a member of the International community though it abandoned us. We are committed to giving our contribution to bringing needed changes, especially in preventing genocide and fighting denial. There have been different resolutions about fighting Genocide denial& providing justice to survivors but only a few countries have implemented them. If the international community really acknowledged its failure, it should adopt& implement these resolutions. We commend the countries that have demonstrated a political will by enacting laws against genocide denial. We encourage others to follow the suit” Hon Makuza said.

Although the national Mourning Week concludes today, Kwibuka25 activities will continue until 4 July 2017 – the date Rwanda was liberated from the genocidal regime by then Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA).

The politicians buried at Rebero Genocide Memorial include:

  1. Landouard Ndasingwa (Liberal Party)
  2. Charles Kayiranga (Liberal Party)
  3. Jean de la Croix Rutaremara (Liberal Party)
  4. Augustin Rwayitare (Liberal Party)
  5. Aloys Niyoyita (Liberal Party)
  6. Venantie Kabageni (Liberal Party)
  7. Andre Kameya (Liberal Party)
  8. Frederic Nzamurambaho (PSD President and Agriculture Minister)
  9. Felicien Ngango (PSD)
  10. Jean Pierre Mushimiyimana (PSD)
  11. Faustin Rucogoza (MDR)

The former President of the Constitutional Court, Joseph Kavaruganda, is also buried at the memorial. Former Prime Minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, is buried at the National Heroes Mausoleum at Remera and was also honoured today.

In 1994, Rebero served as a refugee for those who had survived the killings at Nyanza-Kicukiro. This was after the RPA troops had captured the strategic hill of Rebero in order to fight genocidal forces. The survivors were relocated after a few days due to intense fighting in the area.

 

 

Religious and civil society leaders meet to reflect on the Genocide against the Tutsi

Kigali 12 April 2019 – Representatives of civil society and faith-based organisations met on Friday for a reflection session on the Genocide against the Tutsi themed “preserving memory, championing humanity: Genocide and post-genocide reconstruction”.

The reflection day aimed at remembering the victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi who were members of different faith-based and civil society organisations, reflecting on the failure of some members of these organisation during the genocide as well as discussing their role in ensuring that the Genocide never happens again.

According to Mr. Sekanyange Jean Leonard, Representatives of CSOs since 1990, Rwanda saw many civil society organisations that were against the persecution of Tutsi. This led to the killing of many members of our organisations.

In her remarks, the Ag. Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Governance Board, Dr. Usta Kaitesi, paid tribute to members civil society and faith-based organisations who were killed during the genocide against the Tutsi but also mentioned the failure of some members who were involved in the genocide.

“As believers, we share a common belief that we were created in the image of God but people tried to destroy this image. We had many religious leaders who perpetrated the Genocide” Dr Kaitesi said.

Dr Kaitesi further quoted the Bible (Prov.6:16-19) on the “things that God hates”- the hands that shed innocent blood, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a person who stirs up conflict in the community”.

“We witnessed all of these during the Genocide against the Tutsi” Dr Kaitesi said.

The Reflection session saw a panel discussion on “Preserving the memory, Championing Humanity” during which participants discussed among others, the unity of Rwandans and social fabrics destroyed by the Genocide and ideology and divisionism as well as the role of church leaders and civil society organisations in the reconstruction of the society.

In her closing remarks, Minister of State Alivera Mukabaramba underlined that the country cannot develop without strong collaboration between Government, Civil Society and Faith-based organisations.

Rwanda counts over 700 Faith-based organisations, about 1400 non-government organisations, and about 170 international NGOs.

Over 11,000 convene at Nyanza to remember Tutsis abandoned by UN peacekeepers in the hands of Interahamwe.

Kigali, 11 April 2019 – Over 11,000 Rwandans and friends of Rwanda convened on Thursday at Nyanza-Kicukiro Genocide memorial, to honour over 12,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi who were killed at Nyanza and surrounding areas, including those who were abandoned by UN Peacekeepers at the former Kicukiro Technical School.

The night vigil was preceded by a walk to Remember from IPRC Kicukiro (former ETO School) to Nyanza-Kicukiro Genocide memorial to reflect on the painful march the victims were forced to make before they were slaughtered by the killers.

The night vigil was marked with laying wreaths at the burial place, lighting the flame of remembrance, as well as artists performances before listening to the moving testimonies from survivors – Karasira Venuste, Aimable Kaberuka, Speciose Mukayiranga, and Agnes Umwali. The four recounted the terrible killings conducted by Interahamwe and government soldiers at the Nyanza hill until RPA soldiers came and saved a handful of survivors.

In his address, Ibuka Association President, Prof Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, commended continued government efforts to improve the welfare of Genocide survivors. He also thanked different friends of Rwanda for solidarity with Rwandans during the commemoration period and their continued support to Rwanda in the fight for truth, justice, and historical clarity.

In her remarks, Speaker of Parliament, Donatilla Mukabalisa, reiterated that the commemoration at Nyanza-Kicukiro is a reminder of the failure of the International community where UN peacekeepers abandoned civilians in the hands of the killers, adding that remembrance and recounting our dark history will be done forever for Rwanda’s young people to be aware of their country’s history.

“We keep repeating our history for our young people to know what happened in this country. This is not because we want to remain hostage of the history but because out of it, we get the strength to find solutions to our challenges without necessarily waiting for foreign support” Hon. Mukabalisa said.

The speaker further noted that while Rwanda has made remarkable progress and presents a promising future, some people were still trying to promote genocide denial. She commended countries that have enacted laws criminalizing genocide denial, urging others to follow the suit.

Nyanza Genocide Memorial Genocide tells the story of how UN peacekeepers abandoned Tutsis in Rwanda. The victims buried at Nyanza were Tutsis who sought refuge at the Kicukiro Technical School (ETO.

Formerly known as ETO Kicukiro, the Kicukiro Technical School was the base of UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR).   About 4000 Tutsis from different parts of Kicukiro had sought refuge at ETO, seeking for the protection by the UNAMIR troops base.  Following the killing of 10 Belgian peacekeepers; on 11 April, UNAMIR troops were ordered to leave Rwanda. Tutsi refugees asked UNAMIR troops commander to stay on site to protect them from Interahamwe. Their request was declined. Young Tutsis kneeled in front of the vehicles, pleading with them to stay but the forces shot in the air and the young men had to run away.

The departure of the UNAMIR troops was done simultaneously with the entry of Interahamwe and genocidal government soldiers.   Interahamwe threw grenades, fired bullets in the crowd & used machetes/traditional weapons to hack survivors to death.  Tutsi from ETO were taken to Sonatube where the Mayor of the city, Lt Col Renzaho, ordered that they instead be taken to Nyanza.

In heavy rain, about 4000 starved Tutsi were forced to march to Nyanza as they endured all sorts of persecution. Those too weak to march were killed on the way.  Tutsi were taken to Nyanza – which at that time served as a dumping site – to be killed because Sonatube was too visible as it was along the road to the airport. At Nyanza, the militia ensured that no Hutu were among the group by asking everyone to show his ID card.  The militia and soldiers shot/threw grenades at the Tutsi. They used machetes to hack to death those who were still breathing.

The next morning, they attempted to finish the slaughter but were stopped by the RPA who rescued those who had survived. On the night of 11 April 1994, then RPA soldiers from Rebero rescued close to 100 people from Nyanza.

Media fraternity pays tribute to journalists killed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi

Kigali 9 April 2019 – Over 300 journalists and social media influencers in held on Tuesday evening, a Reflection Day on Media and Genocide at the Kigali Conference and Exhibition village (KCEV).

The commemorative event was preceded by a walk to remember from the Kigali Car Free Zone, all in line with the ongoing 25th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Choosing the Kigali Car Free Zone was not only because of its convenient location in the city centre, but also because of its symbolic value: it is where the Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) -also known as Hate Radio- was based.

This commemoration event was therefore an act of defiance where media fraternity as well as social media influencers stood at the exact same spot where 25 years ago messages of hate and destruction were broadcasted from to talk about their role in rebuilding the country and hope for the future.

Through panel discussion, presentations, speeches and spoken word/performances, the evening was an occasion to honor journalists who were killed during the genocide and reflect on the role of the media in today’s society transformation. It was also an opportunity to discuss challenges pertinent to the ever-changing media landscape and the potential impact this can have on our social fabric.

In his address, Minister of Local government, Prof Anastase Shyaka noted that the Genocide was possible party due to the kind of “marriage” between creators of policies and creators of opinion and urged the media practitioners to keep professionalism and serve the people’s interest.

“The journalists we are remembering here today paid the price of defiance. They fought for professional journalism that served the people but they were operating under a government that was not interested in serving the people. What we had in 1990-1994 was a typical context of the convergence of action from two actors that facilitated the execution of the Genocide: Creators of opinion on one hand, and creators of policies on another hand. We lost the logic of checks& balance that lead to a marriage between creators of policies & formers of opinion (media). If that marriage was not there, the Genocide couldn’t have happened to the extent it did. It would haven’t been a “Popular Genocide”. Minister Shyaka stated.

Over 60 journalists were killed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

First phase of ‘Garden of Memory’ inaugurated at Nyanza Memorial

Kigali, 8 April 2019 – The First Lady of Rwanda, Mrs. Jeannette Kagame on Monday presided over the inauguration of the first phase of the ‘Garden of Memory/Jardin de la Mémoire’ at the Nyanza-Kicukiro Genocide Memorial as part of ongoing 25th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

Conceived by Ibuka association and Bruce Clarke, a visual artist, the Garden of Memory symbolizes life, rebirth after the Genocide, and the protection offered by nature during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

In her address, First Lady Jeannette Kagame reiterated that the Garden would serve a favorable place to reflect and keep the memory of the Genocide against the Tutsi while also contributing to fighting Genocide denial.

“Preserving the memory of the Genocide against the Tutsi is very complex. It triggers emotions and leaves many unanswered questions, that require comprehensive support of thought, heart, and spirit. We, therefore, need diverse appropriate and serene places like this garden, which allows us to reflect, and continue to keep the memory of our loved ones” First Lady Jeannette Kagame said.

“Through this process of remembrance, we are also seeking and sharing the truth, about the Genocide against the Tutsi, and making it an intentional act, and a powerful mechanism to share our stories of survival and resilience, while fighting the genocidal ideology” First Lady Jeannette Kagame added.

The foundation stone for the Garden of Memory, which will serve as a link and remain a permanent conversation between the past, the present and the future, was first laid in June 2000, by First Lady, Mrs. Jeannette Kagame.

The Garden is composed of different sections, each one symbolizing a significant step in the journey of remembrance. The flowers, trees, waterways, and trenches, will represent the different places where victims were killed or thrown. Among the key features of the Garden include an original Stone Monument, a Dry Garden, a Forest of Memory, Landscape Terraces, Earth Mounds, a Meditation Corridor, a Se asonal Marshland, an open pit, an open Lawn and an Amphitheatre

Prior to the launch of the first phase of the Garden of Memory, First Lady Jeannette Kagame was joined by distinguished guests to plant trees in the Forest of memory, one of the key features of the Garden of Memory.

 

View photos of the inauguration of the first phase of the Garden of Memory here

10 Belgian peacekeepers killed during the Genocide against the Tutsi remembered

Kigali, 8 April 2019 – A commemoration ceremony to pay tribute to the 10 Belgian Peacekeepers murdered in the first hours of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was held on Monday, 8 April 2019 at Camp Kigali.

Rwanda’s Prime Minister, Dr. Edouard Ngirente, alongside Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel paid tribute to the ten Belgian peacekeepers.  The ceremony was also attended by a large delegation from Belgium, including family members of the peacekeepers.

In his speech, Prime Minister Dr. Eduard Ngirente expressed gratitude to his counterpart for having joined Rwandans for the 25th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi. He also hailed the courage of the 10 Belgian peacekeepers and reiterated that the greatest tribute to pay to them was to always cement strong existing ties between the peoples and the two countries.

“A quarter of a century after the Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda has resolutely chosen to turn the page on the future. We thank Belgium for being on the side of our country on this long journey to reconstruction. The Belgian peacekeepers had come to Rwanda, to contribute to peace, but they were savagely killed. Rwanda will always remember their courage and sacrifice in fighting evil. The greatest tribute to pay to the 10 killed Belgian peacekeepers is to always cement strong existing ties between our peoples and our two countries.” PM Ngirente said.

In his address, the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel stated that, 25 years after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the memory was still fresh and that any form of genocide denial has to be fought.

“25 years ago our 10 peacekeepers were savagely murdered. Twelve of our civilian compatriots were also victims of this murderous insanity.  Even after all this time, their memory is still in our minds and hearts.   Along the Belgian soldiers and civilians, we mourn all the victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. The denial, revisionism, and minimization of crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda have to be fought.   I would like to announce that by the end of this month, the Belgian Parliament will vote on our bill to punish the denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi” PM Michel said.

Shortly after the beginning of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, on 7 April, Rwanda’s Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and the ten Belgian peacekeepers protecting her were brutally murdered by Rwandan Government soldiers.

View photos of the Commemoration Ceremony of 10 Belgian peacekeepers here