The Minister for Justice warned on Sunday that government was moving to take serious measures against those with information about the whereabouts of the remains of Genocide victims who remain unaccounted for 25 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, but remain uncooperative.
The fact that remains of thousands of victims are yet to be retrieved and accorded dignified burial constitutes one of the major stumbling blocks to healing and reconciliation because giving your loved one decent farewell is the first step toward coming to terms with tragedy and seeking new beginnings.
It is sad that a quarter a century later, survivors continue to beg those with information on the fate of slain loved ones and location of their remains in vain. This even when people have been encouraged to secretly leave a sign at spots where victims were thrown.
Nonetheless, efforts to recover remains of all Genocide victims should and must not be derailed by those who continue to hide information that could lead to their retrieval. The architects of the Genocide against the Tutsi did not envision a situation where the victims would be retrieved from wherever they had been dumped – including in secret mass graves, toilets and water bodies. Yet they never achieved their objective as remains of the vast majority of victims were not only recovered but have since been accorded decent burial and continue to be honoured at memorial sites across the country.
The recent discovery of large mass graves in and around Kabuga trading centre in the capital Kigali with remains of thousands of victims – including underneath buildings – and similar finds in different parts of the country goes to explain the gravity of the problem, but it also shows that there is need to sustain and scale up search effort no matter how long it takes.
Needless to say, recovery efforts are not the sole responsibility of survivors and/or government. This is a collective responsibility and anyone with valuable information must come forward.
We welcome renewed vigour on the part of the Government to ensure that the exercise gets the attention it deserves.