The Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) church has announced plans to construct a new Genocide memorial at Mugonero, Gishyita Sector in Karongi District.
Mugonero complex is a former Adventist establishment where over 12,000 Tutsi were killed on April 16, 1994 during the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Their remains are currently at a makeshift memorial.
While paying tribute to the victims of the Genocide, SDA’s treasurer for East and Central Africa Division, Jérôme Habimana, promised the religious organisation will also re-build a church that was destroyed and turn it into a Genocide memorial.
“In the whole world, this is the only place where Seventh-Day Adventist leaders killed fellow faithful on church premises,” Habimana said, adding that the church has set aside Rwf75 million for works on the memorial.
In 1994, Mugonero was a major Adventist establishment that housed a church, a hospital, and a branch of the Adventist University of Central Africa (AUCA), commonly known as Mudende.
The same amenities remain but AUCA has since moved its headquarters to Kigali.
He added: “This is why we will also put in place a granite monument with inscription of all the names of the victims who were killed in the church”.
Habimana asked the district to partner with them in the noble cause.
Karongi District mayor François Ndayisaba said that local government is eager to partner with the church but also mentioned having recorded testimony of the killings that happened in the area.
“We want all testimonies to be recorded for future generations to have a vivid description of the Genocide against the Tutsi,” said Ndayisaba.
On April 15, 1994, a day before the massacre at the Mugonero church, six Tutsi pastors of different religious sects affiliated to the sub-headquarters at Mugonero, wrote to the head pastor, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, asking him to intervene.
“We wish to inform you that we have heard that tomorrow we will be killed with our families. We, therefore, request you to intervene on our behalf and talk with the Bourgemestre (mayor). Your intervention will be highly appreciated, the same way as the Jews were saved by Esther,” the letter stated.
Ntakirutima, who was a close ally to the notorious Prefect of Kibuye Clément Kayishema, indifferently replied: “There is nothing I can do for you. All you can do is to prepare yourselves to die, for your time has come”.
In 2003, Ntakirutimana and his son, who also worked at Mugonero Adventist Hospital, were convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for genocide and crimes against humanity in relation to the Mugonero and Bisesero massacres.
The UN court sentenced him to 10 years of imprisonment while his son got 25 years in incarceration.
Ntakirutimana died on January 22, 2007, aged 82, a month after completing his sentence.