PRIME MINISTER Pierre Damien Habumuremyi has hailed the courage, bravery and heroism of the people in Bisesero who put up one of the toughest resistance against interahamwe during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
The Premier was speaking on Friday in Karongi District as survivors and residents came together to honour the memories of about 50,000 Tutsi killed in Bisesero. Their remains were given a decent burial in a new tomb inside a memorial erected at the hill.
During the Genocide, Bisesero literary became a battlefield as Tutsis tried to defend themselves against the Interahamwe militia.
Armed with mainly stones and some traditional weapons—some of which were grabbed from the attackers—the victims managed to hold back their killers for several months until the Interahamwe received reinforcement.
Reinforcement by soldiers, gendarmes, policemen and more militias from other parts of the country such as Cyangugu, Ruhengeri and Gisenyi finally quelled their fighting spirit, Vincent Kayigema, a survivor testified.
On May 13 and 14 a mega-attack was launched that left thousands dead, but survivors kept fighting for their lives. Between May 27 and 30, more attacks were carried out claiming thousands more.
The tale of the Bisesero resistance has become a symbol of fearlessness, determination and heroism of the people who used stones and sticks against guns and machetes.
A memorial that stands at the hill depicts the ‘perilous walk that Tutsi underwent in their battle for survival. A wing that will house records of the heroic resistance and massacres will be added to the existing memorial.
Habumuremyi paid tribute to those who were killed and said the memorial site would be developed to recreate what happened there.
“Bisesero memorial site is an indelible symbol of the massacres of Tutsi there and will remain as an everlasting reminder of the heroism and resistance that occurred there,” Habumuremyi said.
He said commemorating the Genocide was an occasion to pay respect to its victims and an opportunity “to look back at where Rwanda came from, where it stands today and where it is heading and reflected on what is needed to keep it peaceful, unified, growing and free from any kind of discrimination.”
“It is also time to recognise that those who planned the Genocide were defeated by courageous Rwandans who fearlessly stood to build a new Rwanda,” Habumuremyi said.
He pledged continued support to survivors in order to help them live better lives and called for concerted efforts in fighting Genocide denial.
The Minister for Sports and Culture, Protais Mitali encouraged genocide perpetrators to seek forgiveness saying: “Those who took part in the Genocide should know that the journey to unity and reconciliation goes hand-in-hand with expressing sincere apologies to survivors.”