MPs push for improved preservation of memorial sites

Genocide Memorial in Nyakabuye Sector Rusizi District. MPs push for improved preservation of memorial sites . Sam Ngendahimana.

Most genocide memorial sites are not well preserved, posing a risk of losing valuable information related to the country’s tragic history, parliament has established.

Besides poor and insufficient infrastructure, there’s lack of archives in most memorial sites which leaves them short of key features like names of victims laid to rest, describing of the history of the area where the site is located and the type of weapons that were used in the killing.

These are some of the problems confirmed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Unity, Human Rights and fight against Genocide during field trips across the country to ascertain the accuracy of the content of annual reports from two institutions.

The reports were published by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as well as the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG).

“We are evaluating different things, including assessing memorial sites because we are heading into the commemoration period in April; how are they preserved? How are they managed? Will they still be well preserved in the commemoration period?” explained MP Francis Karemera, the Deputy Chairperson of the committee.

Karemera was accompanied by MPs Annoncée Manirarora and Winnifred Niyitegeka.

“We were shown how the memorial sites in Rwamagana district are preserved,” Karemera said.

For example, he added, the memorial sites in Rwamagana are below standard yet government officials say these are well preserved sites.

Before vising Rwamagana, MPs toured genocide memorial sites in Nyagatare and Gatsibo districts.

“In Gatsibo, Kiziguro memorial site is fine albeit with lack of some requirements,” said Karemera, adding that authorities there had already carried out a study, which revealed the gaps.

“They are about to start phase one to construct it in a proper way,” he said.

Survivors’ accommodation

Meanwhile, the MPs are also assessing whether responsible authorities have renovated dilapidated houses of genocide survivors.

They also want to find out if the districts have plans to renovate survivors’ homes.

Throughout their tour, the MPs offered advice to local government authorities on how to address the problems that were raised.

Districts authorities largely cited financial constraints as the main challenge undermining their efforts to improve the standards of the memorial sites.

 “The role of parliament is to do advocacy for them so that they get enough budget to implement their plan,” he noted.

He also called for local leaders and stakeholders to give special attention to vulnerable families, especially the survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

“There are children who need to go to school. There are survivors with disability who have no capacity to get medical services, they should check on them and help them, and whenever they get it difficult, they should tell us so we do advocacy for them,” he said.

Dorothea Mukanjishi, 53, lives in the same house with her mother. They are both genocide survivors.

“When they gave us houses we thought that was all, but when we see them like we did today reminds us that in case we get a problem they will be there for us,” she explained.