Kayonza authorities seek support to exhume over 2,000 Genocide remains

Residents during Umuganda last Saturday exhume remains of Genocide victims buried in the dam. Courtesy.

Remains of 50 victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi have been exhumed from a water dam in Kayonza District 24 years after the tragedy claimed the lives of over one million people in three months.  

The bodies were recently recovered from the vast dam located between the two sectors of Nyamirama and Ruramira.

The dam is thought to contain remains of over 2,000 victims, according to survivors’ accounts who say many people were killed and their bodies thrown into the dam at the height of the killings.  

According to Immaculee Nyirayizeyimana, the executive secretary of Nyamirama sector, nine bodies were exhumed two weeks ago while 41 were exhumed on Saturday during the monthly community service (Umuganda).

The dam, situated in a marshland between the two sectors, was dug around 1985 by Chinese who wanted to build a hydro power plant in the area.

By 1994, the dam was not in use which, according to witness accounts, gave the killers in the former Kibungo prefecture a perfect place to dump bodies of their victims.

Nyirayizeyimana explained that after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the dam was used by rice farmers to irrigate their farms, adding that during every Genocide commemoration, people lay wreaths on its banks in memory of the victims.

“Recently, residents alerted us that they had seen people’s limbs because the dam has started draining out,” she said. “We are calling for rapid intervention to help exhume all the remains that remain buried underneath,” she said.  

The exhumed bodies are kept at Gikaya cell pending a decent burial.

Didace Ndindabahizi, the president of the umbrella organisation of Genocide survivors, Ibuka, in Kayonza District, said they need more support to drain the dam and excavate all the remains so they can be given a decent burial.

“Though the dam is draining out, it is still muddy and some parts still have water. Residents have tried their best but we need extra support. At the stage we are at today, we need the necessary machinery to supplement our efforts,” Ndindabahizi said.

He added that they will organise another community service toward the cause.