Kwibuka25: Agric sector workers pay tribute to slain employees

Mourners at the commemoration event observe a minute of silence to remember the victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi. Hudson Kuteesa.

Workers of different national agriculture institutions who were killed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi were remembered on Saturday.

In an event organised in Rubona sector in Huye District, Rwanda Agriculture Board, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, and the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) participated in a day-long commemoration and were joined by survivors as well as locals.

The 228 slain workers used to be employees of ISAR –former national agricultural board—and institutions like the national veterinary laboratory and artificial insemination among others.

According to Patrick Karangwa, Director General of RAB, Rubona Agriculture Station was one of the ten main agriculture centres in the country by the time of the Genocide in 1994 and it had experts in the profession who should not have participated in the killings.

“Despite being learned, they failed to have humanity, so they killed innocent people, including their colleagues with whom they worked, as well as neighbours of the institution,” he said.

The role of elites

Jean Damascene Bizimana, the Executive Secretary of CNLG, said: “We chose some sites to help people think about the history, and see how different institutions can do more in protecting and building a better country.”

Bizimana said that leaders of the Rubona Agriculture Centre took part in the genocide yet they ought to have been exemplary figures.

“They were called ‘learned,’ yet they were at the forefront of the Genocide. Even some top leaders of this agriculture centre took part in the slaughter,” he said.

“In organising the Genocide, the role of the elites is seen at all levels.”

He cited the example of the Catholic priests who wrote to schools and seminaries in 1973, asking them to limit the number of Tutsi in these institutions to only 20 per cent.

“This instilled a bad spirit in schools, and Hutu students started harrassing Tutsi counterparts; chasing them out of school, mistreating them, and killing them,” Bizimana said.

Beatrice Murekatete, a Genocide survivor who was an employee at ISAR, gave a testimony of how her husband was killed and how she survived.

She emphasised the tragic disadvantage of divisionism and thanked the Government for its efforts to foster unity as well as nation-building.