Thousands of mourners gathered yesterday at Ruhanga memorial site in Gasabo District to accord a decent burial to 157 Genocide victims recovered recently from different parts of Rusororo Sector.
Ruhanga Genocide Memorial is located at the former Ruhanga Episcopal Anglican Church (EAR Ruhanga) and has a mass grave inside the former church.
This is the only Anglican Church parish in the country which was converted into a Genocide memorial site.
Currently over 36,700 victims massacred from both inside the church and from surrounding areas are buried at the memorial site.
Over 25,000 were killed at the church compound where they sought refuge, according to accounts by witnesses.
The Ruhanga victims are remembered and honoured on April 15 every year, a day the victims were gruesomely killed after resisting several attacks by Interahamwe militia and the then national army.
For survivors, not knowing the whereabouts of the remains of their slain relatives to accord them decent burial has been constantly haunting them for the past 24 years.
“It was always a challenge that our people could not get a decent burial, we have been searching for them. Now that we found them, we pray that they rest in peace and we will continue to push so we get the remains of other relatives as well,” said Gerard Mudahemuka, whose parents and relatives perished from the church.
He hailed the government and other partners for the continuous efforts to encourage the members of the public especially those who played a role in the Genocide ,to reveal the whereabouts of victims so that they can be laid to rest.
During the event, survivors shared chilling testimonies on how Interahamwe and the then government soldiers attacked and gruesomely killed the Tutsi who had sought refuge at the church and the stories of resistance.
Claudine Uwizeyimana was in her teens when the Genocide started and, together with her family and neighbours, sought refuge at the church believing they would be protected.
“On the 14th April, Interahamwe militia attacked us but people resisted, the next day they came equipped, at around 10a.m, they came, there was initially some resistance but the killers were ready and well-armed. They shot people from outside the church before breaking the doors and windows and entered, many were killed including my brother,” she said.
Uwizeyimana says she was all covered in blood from a gushing wound on the head.
She miraculously survived various attacks including the one that killed her own father and she managed to escape to a nearby forest where life was hard to an extent that she wished the militia would find and kill her.
She was later saved by Rwanda Patriotic Army soldiers who found her in a sorghum plantation who later treated her.
She is now a mother of two and a manager of a Saving and Credit Cooperative (SACCO) in Kamonyi District.
Senator Tito Rutaremara, who attended the event, talked about the uniqueness of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, saying it was meticulously planned and executed by the government of the day.
“People killed neighbours they had lived and shared with for generations, husbands killed their wives and children, men killed their in-laws and vice versa,” he said.
Marie-Solange Kayisire, the Minister for Cabinet Affairs said it was sad that many more people are yet to get decent burial while those who killed them and other members of the public may have information of their whereabouts.
She assured vulnerable Genocide survivors a continuous government support to ensure a better future.