Kayonza upgrades main Genocide memorial site

Inside the new Genocide memorial in Kayonza. Courtesy

Preparations to rebury victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Kayonza District is well underway as upgrading of Mukarange Genocide Memorial nears completion.

According to the district mayor, Jean Claude Murenzi, the site, which will have the capacity to hold the remains of 40,000 victims, cost more than Rwf234 million.

Murenzi said upgrading the memorial site was in last fiscal year’s targets, but bringing in other necessary things was planned for the current year.

“We have finished preparing bodies for reburial, we are now in the process of buying coffins, and reburying the bodies in the new site,” he explained.

Didace Ndindabahizi, chairperson of Ibuka, an umbrella organisation of Genocide survivors’ associations in the district, told The New Times that the works are in three phases, the first being construction of the site’s main building where victims will be reburied.

The second phase is construction the fence, while the third phase will be the establishment of other buildings which include the ones where history of the Genocide will be documented.

“The first phase, which involved new graves for the victims, was completed in November last year, this was done with the district’s budget. But the second phase will be executed by the survivors ourselves,” he said.

“We are going to mobilise money to complete the fence before we start the commemoration week,” he declared.

Ndindabahizi recalled that the Government has a plan to ensure that each district will have one main memorial site were all its Genocide victims will be relocated.

He said that Mukarange memorial is large enough to be home to all victims from all sites across 12 sectors of Kayonza.

“In Kayonza, we have about 40,000 victims buried in all the sites combined, and the new Mukarange site is large enough for them,” he explained.

Unknown, known whereabouts

He said more remains are still being recovered.

There are also particular places like water reservoir in Gikaya, between Nyamirama and Ruramira sectors, where more than 2,000 Tutsi are thought to have been dumped.

Last year, some 51 victims were exhumed from the water body and given a decent burial, but the exercise to exhume more victims was interrupted by rains ever since. There has also been joint efforts to empty the reservoir but it could not work due to prolonged rainy season.

Dozens of Tutsi were also dumped in mining shafts in Rwinkwavu but it became impossible to retrieve them, and a monument was instead installed at the place to honour them.

“At Midiho protestant church in Nyagatovu Cell, Mukarange Sector, witnesses say that at least 400 or 500 Tutsi were killed there but we still don’t know the whereabouts of their remains,” Ndindabahizi said.

In any case, he insisted, “We cannot lose hope, though, we are still hoping that those who have information can share,” adding that they are always prepared to accord decent burials to Genocide victims they find.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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