Thirty-one Genocide perpetrators who have served their sentences handed down by Gacaca courts have reconciled with their communities in Bugesera District.
This was during a ceremony held on Sunday at Nyamata Catholic Church.
The Church has been instrumental in bringing such offenders who are willing to reconcile to the social fabrics of communities and be given privileges that other church members enjoy.
The vice president at National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), Xaverine Uwimana, Governor Fred Mufulukye of Eastern Province, Bugesera District, Ibuka and other authorities were present.
After one-year teachings on reconciliation and asking for forgiveness, Nyamata Catholic Church presented the men before the congregation. The 31 publicly asked for forgiveness to the surviving relatives of those they killed.
According to Uwimana, the church system of reconciling people is one of the effective strategies of achieving total unity and reconciliation in the country.
“Christianity of the past had no value to this country which is a challenge that has to be addressed. We believe when churches continue with the trend, we shall reach a better level of unity than we had during the genocidal governments,” Uwimana said.
Governor Mufulukye called upon all forgiven ex-convicts to encourage others to seek forgiveness in their communities as a way of restoring harmony between them and the community.
“The Church still has a big task because there are many who are still adamant in seeking forgiveness,” he said.
The Vicar of Nyamata Parish Emmanuel Nsengiyumva explained the rationale of the initiative in their parish citing that Nyamata reached extremes during the Genocide.
“There’re two major Genocide memorials within our parish jurisdiction where over 50,000 bodies are buried. Therefore, we have a large number of Genocide perpetrators,” he observed.
He added that at the beginning, the church managed to reconcile 218 perpetrators with their communities and are now enjoying church services.
According to NURC, hundreds have already been reconciled by the Catholic Church, besides thousands who have been reconciled by Prison Fellowship programme.
Recently, 14 Genocide perpetrators at Simbi Parish in Huye District in Southern Province were also reconciled with their communities.
Bugesera District, with six Genocide memorial sites, is one of the districts with the highest number of Genocide victims.