Genocide memorial sites in sorry state, says report

Several genocide memorial centres in the country are still in a poor state, a new report shows.
Some of the mass graves at Nyange memorial site. MPs are concerned by the state of some memorial centres. T. Kisambira.
Some of the mass graves at Nyange memorial site. MPs are concerned by the state of some memorial centres. T. Kisambira.

Several genocide memorial centres in the country are still in a poor state, a new report shows.

The 2012-2013 report by the National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide (CNLG), presented to a joint parliamentary session on Monday, says some of the memorial centres are either unfinished or were not well built, while others experience flooding whenever it rains, and some are not effectively managed. 

The Genocide memorial centres in question include Gisenyi, Kanzenze and Nyundo memorial site in Rubavu District; and Muhoza memorial site in Musanze District.

Others are Nyakarambi and Nyarubuye memorial sites in Kirehe District, Rukara memorial site in Kayonza District, Nyarushishi memorial site in Rusizi District, and Nyange memorial site in Ngororero District.

“At Nyarushishi memorial site, construction started in 2009, but up to date, commendable work is yet to be seen. Instead of finishing up the memorial centre, the authorities in charge opted to begin with a shed, used during commemoration period,” said MP François Byabarumwanzi, the chairperson of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Unity, Human Rights and Fight against Genocide. 

 According to the report, Nyarushishi memorial centre, which is still under construction, has so far consumed Rwf45 million funded by Rusizi local government budget. 

 However, the facility does not provide for proper ventilation system, it is not fenced, and running water floods into the mass grave during rainy seasons. 

In 2012, flood water from River Sebeya gushed into Nyundo Genocide Memorial Centre in Rubavu, causing considerable damage. 

Remains of victims had to be relocated to Nyundo Cathedral, while a better site to construct a new memorial was being sought.

Funds...

Jean de Dieu Mucyo, CNLG executive secretary, said Nyundo Diocese allocated a plot of land where the new memorial centre would be built, but the commission is still looking for finances to fund the construction.

Lawmakers also expressed concern over Muhoza memorial centre in Musanze District, which, according to the report, the number of bodies buried there is unknown.

“How can this happen? Don’t you think there is a problem of poor management and documentation? This is a big problem,“ MP Evariste Kalisa said. 

Caretakers of the Muhoza site reportedly told lawmakers during their countrywide tour that the remains of Genocide victims in Muhoza  are to be transferred to Busogo memorial centre. 

Insufficient budget

In the report, Mucyo expressed concern of insufficient budget allocated to the Commission, in relation to the activities undertaken, an argument acknowledged by MP Byabarumwanzi.

“The executive secretary showed us the commission’s annual action plan and the budget. It is true that the money allocated to CNLG is insufficient,” said Byabarumwanzi.

“It is in this regard that the Commission asked for an improved budget, which will also fund the renovation of damaged Genocide memorial sites.” 

There are about 300 Genocide memorial sites in the country.

In the 2012/13 budget, CNLG was allocated Rwf1.6 billion, with a 95 per cent absorption rate. 

The Commission has, among other issues; Genocide denial, and trauma cases which it has to tackle.

It outlined continued advocacy for an increased budgetary allocation, campaign against genocide denial and advocacy to help improve the welfare of Genocide survivors among its other priorities. 

 

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