CNLG to use technology to search for genocide victims’ remains

National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG) Executive Secretary Jean-Damascene Bizimana addresses media in Kigali. / Sam Ngendahimana

The use of technology to search remains of victims of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi is a strategy that the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) is thinking about, its Executive Secretary has said.

“We will include it in the budget [planning] for the next fiscal year (2020/2021),” revealed Jean-Damascène Bizimana, Executive Secretary of CNLG.

Bizimana made the revelation last week as CNLG officials appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Rights to respond to queries that were identified in its 2018/2019 activity report.

The move, he said, could save time and resources through precision before destroying properties such as houses and digging in areas suspected to contain the remains of the Genocide victims.

The Genocide caused the death of over a million people, but the whereabouts of some of the victims are not yet known so that they be accorded proper burial.

“There are radars that can detect where the bodies [of genocide victims] are located,” Bizimana said explaining that the technology works in the same way an echography works to determine the status of the foetus or observe its growth inside a pregnant woman’ body.

“It is set and moved around the targeted zone, and it shows, on a board (screen), where the bodies are located in that zone,” he indicated.

The members of the above mentioned parliamentary committee agreed that it was a move to be endorsed.

Bizimana pointed out that although radars are costly as one costs Rwf200 million, it will help to quickly locate remains of genocide victims.

“For instance, in Nyamagabe District, near Kigeme Hospital, about two months have elapsed since military vehicles began digging in the forest where prisoners revealed that there might be the bodies of genocide victims, but nothing was found there,” he said.

“If we can be able to get one or two of them [the radars], then, they would be deployed in places suspected to contain the bodies of the Genocide victims so that they are retrieved,” he said.

Speaking to Sunday Times, Naphtal Ahishakiye, the Executive Secretary of Ibuka – an umbrella organisation of Genocide survivors’ associations welcomed the move.

“There are still many people [Genocide survivors] who want to know where the bodies of their people [parents, children, relatives and friends] are located,” he said estimating that about 800,000 bodies of Genocide victims have so far been recovered and buried in memorial sites across the country.

Ahishakiye indicated that there are infrastructures including houses in various parts of the country which are damaged as people dig in the wrong places in search of the victims’ bodies because of lack of precision.

“People such as Genocide prisoners give information that there was a mass grave in a given area, but, as they have spent over 20 years since they were at that place, they sometimes forgot the exact location because of the infrastructures that were built there,” Ahishakiye said.

“So, the technology will help expedite the activity, and without causing damage to the infrastructures,” he observed.

entirenganya@newtimesrwanda.com

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