Athanasie Mukamana was thrown into River Nyabarongo three times during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Surviving, she said, was nothing short of a miracle. “When I was thrown into the river the first time, I was with my grandfather, grandmother, my brothers and sisters. Interahamwe militia tied us together and threw us into the river. “All died but I survived as the water washed me away to the brink. I held onto the grass and another woman who had also been thrown into the river took my hand and carried me to land because she was able to swim,” she recalled. ALSO READ: Ruhuha honours Genocide victims dumped in Nyabarongo. Mukamana was thrown into the river a second time by soldiers of the government that was committing genocide, who also raped them. “After raping the women, the soldiers threw us into the river again. Waters washed me to the brink again, and then I crawled and reached the land. I survived but my colleague died,” she narrated. ALSO READ: Genocidal rape: How Rwanda set an international precedent She then went to her aunt’s home but unfortunately, Interahamwe militia found them there and took them back to the river where they were thrown in again. “The waters still rejected me a third time and I survived until the Inkotanyi fighters rescued me,” she said. Mukamana is among thousands of Tutsi who survived the ordeal, and continue to commemorate their loved ones who were thrown into rivers and lakes to drown. Over the weekend, Genocide survivors from Nzove cell, Kanyinya sector of Nyarugenge District, remembered victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi who were thrown into River Nyabarongo. ALSO READ: EAC students honour Tutsi drowned Nyabarongo River The survivors took their own initiative to organise the tribute to relatives and neighbours as part of the 29th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The home of a genocide architect Boniface Kawonawo, a survivor, said the Genocide had been tried in an area along River Nyabarongo. The area was the residence of Bonaventure Habimana who was the Secretary General of the National Revolutionary Movement for Development, known in French as Mouvement révolutionaire national pour le développement (MRND), the then ruling political party of Rwanda from 1975 to 1994 under President Juvénal Habyarimana. The genocide instigator died in 2015 in Belgium where he was on the run. “Bonaventure who was a neighbour living 300 metres from our home was a key perpetrator in exterminating Tutsi in this area. Most Genocide survivors never got a decent burial for their loved ones because they were thrown in River Nyabarongo. We only lay wreaths on the waters of the river as a way of remembering them,” Kawonawo says, adding that persecution of Tutsi started before 1994. “Our house was pulled down in 1991 and we fled the area. I remember the neighbouring families of Gabriel Gasamagera, Nkubito and many others were also expelled and properties were looted,” he says. Kawonawo says that the commemoration organised by bereaved families aims to educate the young generation about genocide history and the role of remembrance in fighting against genocide denial and its ideology to ensure it never happens again. Beata Mujamariya, another Genocide survivor in Kanyinya sector, said Tutsi were killed by their neighbours and thrown in River Nyabarongo. “Others fled to a hill and were later killed,” she said. Reports show that over 5,000 Tutsi were killed at Mu Kana hill. On April 13, 1994, authorities pledged refuge, food and protection for Tutsi in the valley around Mu Kana hill. When they were taken there, authorities instead called Interahamwe militia and killed them in the evening. Vianney Nzabandora, the representative of over 100 families whose relatives were thrown into River Nyabarongo, said that although Rwanda is marking the 29th commemoration of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, this is their 15th year having started their own initiative to commemorate those thrown into the river. “Some families including that of my uncle with eight members were wiped out,” he said. Denise Nduwawe, the vice president of Ibuka, an umbrella organisation of associations of Genocide survivors, commended the Genocide survivors’ initiative in commemoration. “The young generation should learn from such an initiative which is a weapon to fight against genocide deniers and those sowing genocide ideologies,” she said. She urged genocide perpetrators to disclose the whereabouts of victims that are yet to get a decent burial. “More effort is needed to bring to book Genocide fugitives who are still on the run,” she added.