Survivors still ready to forgive remorseful convicts – Busingye

Family members lay wreaths as over 83,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi were accorded a decent burial at Nyanza Genocide memorial on Saturday. / All photos by Sam Ngendahimana

Survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi are ready to forgive remorseful perpetrators who open up and speak the truth about their role in the tragedy and reveal the whereabouts of the remains of their victims.

Those were the words of the Minister for Justice and the Attorney General, Johnston Busingye, yesterday while addressing thousands of mourners who gathered at Nyanza Genocide memorial site to give a decent burial the remains of over 84,000 Genocide victims.

The Minister for Justice, Johnston Busingye, speaks at the event. / Sam Ngendahimana

A total of 84,439 victims were exhumed from various sites in Kigali especially in mass graves located in Rusororo and Masaka sectors of Gasabo and Kicukiro districts respectively.

According to testimonies, there were many notorious roadblocks manned in Kabuga to arrest any Tutsi who wanted to cross mainly from Kigali and other areas around Kabuga.

Those who were stopped were gruesomely killed before they were dumped in the mass graves.

Volunteers try to help a trama victim during the event.

Family members of the victims in a moment of silence to honour the victims at Nyanza Genocide Memorial yesterday.

Members of families of the victims.

According to officials, the mass graves were systematically dug by militiamen with the support of Ex FAR soldiers who provided the excavators and bulldozers.

Tutsis who were arrested in Kabuga were told that they were being taken to safety at “CND”, the current Parliamentary buildings,which was home to the Rwanda Patriotic Front only to be murdered and dumped in the mass graves.

Others were killed around the city and brought to the mass graves, according to testimonies.

Kigali City Mayor Marie-Chantal Rwakazina addresses the event.

Jeannette Sumwiza, a survivor in Kabuga shares testimonies of how she miraculously survived the killing in several instances.

A total of 84439 bodies of genocide victims were laid to rest yesterday.

Pictures of some victims who were buried yesterday

Killers poured acid on some bodies so they could dissolve but the killers also applied salt blocks to completely crush the bones into ash, according to testimonies.

Busingye said Rwanda had chosen restorative justice to promote unity and reconciliation stressing that survivors were prepared to forgive those who killed their relatives, showed remorse and are facilitating the process.

He said however that such sacrifice by survivors to forgive is being hampered by some perpetrators who are still reluctant to open up and tell the truth on the Genocide, show remorse and reveal the whereabouts of the victims who lost lives in their hands.

“These bodies we are giving a decent burial today were found after 24 years and were not found in isolated places such as forests or in farm lands but rather in inhabited areas which means that people knew but kept silent. It is an indication that we can still find more bodies,” he said.

The minister stressed that 25 years after the Genocide, there should not be any victims who haven’t been given a decent burial.

Prof Jean-Pierre Dusingizemungu, the President of Ibuka shares his remarks during the event.

Youth carry bodies of  the victims of the genocide during the event at Nyanza Genocide Memorial.

He further added that despite the progress the country made over the years, the fact that perpetrators and individuals still hide information about Genocide and derailthe unity and reconciliation process.

“Convicts who showed remorse and apologisewere released as early as 2003. Survivors have forgiven perpetrators but some are still waiting for convicts to ask for forgiveness so that they can forgive them,” he added.

Family members of the victims in a moment of silence to honour the victims at Nyanza Genocide Memorial yesterday.

The minister thanked some individuals, including a Genocide convict who opened up and revealed information about the mass graves around Kabuga for bodies to be exhumed and be given a decent burial.

He urged those who have information about the Genocide, especially the whereabouts of the victims, to share such information as both the penal code and the law against the fight against Genocide ideologycriminalise the act of hiding Genocide-related information.

He added that the Genocide ideology was still rampant especially, among Rwandans and other nationals who live outside the country.

Family members of the victims pay respect to the victims.

The decent burial took place at Nyanza Genocide Memorial in Kicukiro District.

The minister promised survivors that the government would do all it could to ensure justice is rendered to all survivors but called for collaboration to address existing challenges.

Jeannette Sumwiza, a survivor from Kabuga, shared a chilling testimony of how she miraculously survived the killingson several occasions, including when she was brought to the mass graves in Kabuga only to survive by the mercy of God.

“Interahamwe came and found me in hiding, they beat me badly and left me almost dead,” she said.

“Days later, I was taken to a mass grave and militiamen asked me to say my last prayers. I was terrified and waited to die, I found trucks packing dead bodies which would be dumped them in the mass graves,” she said.

She called for justice because some of the perpetrators fled to other parts of the country while those in prison are reluctant to share information something that hinders unity and reconciliation.

Some people, especially the youth,became traumatized at the event as testimonies were recounted.

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