Officials: Kabuga mass graves may contain up to 5,000 Genocide victims

Exhuming remains of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi victims from the recently discovered mass graves in Gasabo District is getting complicated and officials say they are now going to deploy excavators.

Houses in Kabuga town were found recently to have been built on mass graves and it required demolishing them to pave way for activities to exhume remains of those victims from the graves where they were dumped 24 years ago.

Four mass graves holding an estimated 3,000 of Genocide victims were discovered early last month but officials said on Wednesday that two more graves have been discovered bringing the number to six.

This, officials say, may raise the number of Genocide victims believed to be buried here to anywhere between 3,000 and 5,000.

The victims are believed to have been from Kabuga area and surrounding districts that were part of Kigali Rural prefecture.

They say it is now difficult to exhume them, partly because of the depth of the graves.

The graves were discovered in Kabeza village, Kabuga I cell in Rusororo Sector, Gasabo District.

A joint information centre was set up near the mass graves to provide real-time information about the exercise that started about two weeks ago.

So far, remains of 209 victims have been recovered from as deep as 25 metres.

According to local sources, the graves were dug in 1992 by then leaders with plans to use them as dumping site for Tutsis whom they were planning to kill, a fact that goes further to show how much the leadership of the day had done to prepare for the Genocide against the Tutsi.

Officials from Ibuka, the umbrella organisation for Genocide survivors, say it is inconceivable that the mass graves have been there for years but local residents had kept silent about them.

“We are considering to bring in an excavator that can help us exhume the remains as they were dumped deep in the mass graves which was complex for people who have been using traditional tools,” said Langwida Nyirabahire, Gasabo District vice mayor in charge of social affairs.

She added that it was unfathomable that people kept information about these mass graves for all this time, urging people who may have information about other whereabouts of victims to come forth with it.

“We have appealed to area residents and other people who might know the whereabouts of other mass graves or individual victims who have not been given a decent burial to reveal such; we advised that in case they fear to reveal it publicly, they can mark the spot by leaving a red piece of cloth at night for us to easily identify the spots,” she added.

Another mass grave from which over 150 bodies were exhumed was recently found within just metres from the place where mass graves in question were discovered, according to Claude Runihangabo, the Ibuka head in Gasabo District.

“Government has already offered the excavators which will help us exhume the remains of our people and we are optimistic that we will get all of them out of the mass graves and accord them a decent burial, it is still a burden for survivors who do not know the whereabouts of their loved 24 years later,” he said.

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