Government officials have called for a quick intervention in offering a decent burial to remains of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that are currently lying in mass graves in Uganda.
The officials were reacting to a recent parliamentary report that indicates that witchcraft practices were being carried out on some mass graves in the neighbouring country.
During the Genocide, victims were dumped in the Akagera and Nyabarongo rivers — both tributaries of Lake Victoria — and were washed down and landed at different shores of East Africa’s biggest lake.
The bodies were later buried at six different sites in Uganda. Speaking during a public talk-show broadcast on the National Television and Radio, the Minister of Culture and Sports, Joseph Habineza, strongly condemned the witchcraft practices on the mass graves.
“It is very unfortunate that bodies of our people are being abused, this calls for quick intervention in ensuring that they get a decent burial,” said Habineza whose ministry is in charge of Genocide memorials sites. He also dismissed claims by some Genocide revisionists that the bodies belonged to people who were trying to flee the war in Rwanda.
“These were people who were thrown in the water alive or bodies of those people who were killed and later thrown in the rivers on claims that they were being sent to their place of origin in Abyssinia (the current Ethiopia),” said Habineza. He also called on the Ugandan government to cooperate and offer a decent place where the bodies can be laid to rest.
According to Theodore Simburudari, the President of Ibuka, throwing the bodies into River Nyabarongo started way back in the 1960s. Ibuka is the umbrella body of genocide survivors associations.
Simburudari proposed that the bodies be exhumed and brought back to Rwanda. Some local authorities in Uganda have blocked the exhumation of the bodies for a decent burial claiming that it is taboo in their cultures, but according to Simburudare, Rwanda also does not allow exhumation in its culture.
“We also never had a culture of exhuming bodies… we only did it because of the situation. Ugandan authorities should support us in this,” he said.
He also called upon the National Commission against Genocide (CNLG) to ensure that everything possible is done to solve the issue.
However, the Executive Secretary of CNLG, Jean de Dieu Mucyo, proposed that the bodies be exhumed and offered a decent burial in Uganda but not transported back to Rwanda.
Meanwhile, Minister Habineza will on Tuesday afternoon respond to the summons by Members of Parliament to inform them about the progress in offering a decent burial to the remains.