Residents of Rwamagana District and surrounding communities on Sunday gathered in Gishali Sector to accord decent burial to 16 victims of Genocide against Tutsi. Fifteen of them were found in Lake Muhazi while one was found on the shores.
April 15 and 16 are days that survivors from the area commemorate massacres that took place there in 1994.
Here, over 10,000 Genocide victims were killed through drowning, while a similar number died on mainland.
Emmanuel Nyemazi, a survivor, says many were killed and thrown into the water body, mostly by Interahamwe militiamen who were coming from across the lake in Murambi Commune.
“Across the lake were Interahamwe roadblocks that worked in shifts to make sure no Tutsi escaped to the other side of the lake,” he said.
Though he was shot and after survived multiple grenades attacks at the commune headquarters, Nyemazi and a few others managed to get to the lake, with Interahamwe militia in pursuit.
He said that when they waded into the water, the Interahamwe called fellow militiamen from across the lake to wait for those running away and kill them before they can escape.
As soon as they got to the shores, militiamen were waiting and they were immediately surrounded and the killing machine went into motion once again.
Nyemazi recalls one particular killer, an agemate of his who told him at the shore, “I can’t kill you with my machete; we were once classmates, but get into water so I can see you dying”.
He, however, managed to pull himself out of the water when the militiamen got distracted.
Nyemazi has since lived with a bullet right next to his kidney and all medics have failed to extricate it.
More than 14,000 still missing
“More than 20,000 Tutsi were killed here at the former commune offices, most on their way to the lake, and in water. But only 6,000 have been given a decent burial,” said Marc Rushimisha, the Executive Secretary of Gishali Sector.
This implies that more than 14,000 victims have never been accorded a decent burial.
“Every year when we gather for commemoration events, we always raise this concern, we need those who have any information on the whereabouts of our people to come forth with it”.
The Mayor of Rwamagana, Rajab Mbonyumuvunyi, said people know where bodies are but just do not come forth with the information, giving an example of a woman who knew the whereabouts of over 50 bodies but had for years remained silent because her husband refused her to speak.
Rwamagana District has two lakes, Mugesera and Muhazi, and it has been decided that the district will be holding an even on on April 22 to specially commemorate Genocide victims who died in the lakes.