Efforts to exhume bodies of victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in the Kigali suburb of Kabuga will soon resume after officials received information about the location of other mass graves believed to contain bodies.
This comes after 41 mass graves were unearthed in Kabuga town in Rusororo and Masaka sectors in Gasabo and Kicukiro districts, respectively.
The exhumation exercise started in April this year. More than 30,000 bodies have since been exhumed, according to officials.
Most of these mass graves were found beneath houses in residential neighbourhoods.
According to local sources, the mass graves in Rusororo were dug in 1992 by then leaders with plans to dump there Tutsi during the Genocide.
According to officials, some victims from the mass graves had fled to Kabuga from neighbouring villages and ended up being killed in thousands. They were then dumped in the mass graves.
According to Ibuka, the umbrella organisation of Genocide survivors, they and local leaders have been looking for information on new mass graves until they landed somewhere they believe to be mass graves.
“These identified mass graves are beneath houses and we should start working on them to exhume bodies soon,” Naphtal Ahishakiye, Ibuka Executive Secretary, told The New Times on Wednesday.
He said that five houses believed to cover more than five mass graves will be affected. Local leaders are in the process of valuation to ascertain the property cost and compensate the owners.
“It is an ongoing exercise but it requires caution so that we do not destroy houses before we are sure that there are mass graves beneath,” Ahishakiye added.
Bodies which were exhumed from the area previously were taken to Nyanza memorial site in Kicukoro pending a decent burial, Ahishakiye said.
He said that the exercise to work on the newly identified mass graves would start next week and the bodies which will be exhumed will also be taken to Nyanza memorial site.
“Given the number of bodies we had exhumed and lack of security, we decided to move the bodies to Nyanze memorial site where we are sure of their security. Others which will be exhumed will as well be taken there as we decide on when to offer the victims a decent burial at the same memorial site,” Ahishakiye said
He said that, once the exercise is complete, Ibuka will take a month to inform the public, especially those who believe their perished family members were dumped in mass graves around Kabuga before the bodies are laid to rest.
The area in Rusororo had been known to contain bodies of Genocide victims and at one point government availed a tractor to help in the search but nothing could be found because the indicated spot was not the right one, according to the officials.
No one had conclusive information on where exactly the mass graves were.
Ibuka officials say it’s a pity that some people can’t still reveal the whereabouts of the victims, 24 years since Genocide took place.
They urged the public, including the perpetrators, to help reveal the whereabouts of the victims to relieve the survivors of pain, and help the victims get a decent burial. This can also promote unity and reconciliation, Ibuka says.
Over a million people lost their lives during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.