Places that witnessed wanton killings during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi should not only be defined by genocide alone but also a story of resilience.
The Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, made the remarks while addressing members of the Association of Student Survivors of the Genocide (AERG) and Association of former Student Survivors of Genocide (GAERG) on Saturday.
The group was in Bisesero to support survivors as part of AERG & GAERG Week.
“Let each one of you tell a new story, a story of resilience, national unity, self reliance and hope after devastation,” Nsengimana said.
“The policy of divide and rule that led to the Genocide is now history,” he added.
Dr Jean Damascène Bizimana, the executive secretary of the National Commission for the fight against Genocide (CNLG), urged the youth and Rwandans in general to denounce genocide deniers and their allies.
“Many genocidaires and genocide deniers want to rewrite Rwanda’s history. It is upon us to preserve our true history by countering revisionist theories,” he said.
Bisesero, a hilly village in current day Karongi District, Western Province, is known for its Tutsis’ successful resistance to attacks from Interahamwe militias during the Genocide until coordinated efforts from the fleeing génocidaires defeated them.
It was in 1994 that a major attack was launched on the resistance hill of Muyira in Bisesero, leading to the massacre of more than 40,000 Tutsi.
Narcisse Gasimba, a resident of Bisesero, recalled: “We had successfully repelled multiple attacks using stones and spears. When the French arrived on May 23, we hoped they had come to save us and we called upon even those who were hidden in bushes to come out.”
“But after gathering around the Muyira hill, French soldiers retreated leaving us at the mercy of the Interahamwe militia.”
The AERG & GAERG Bisesero week featured different activities, including cleaning up at Bisesero Genocide memorial site, renovating vulnerable Genocide survivors’ houses in Rwankuba Sector, and recognising people who saved Tutsi through a programme dubbed ‘Shima.’
At the occasion, members of the two associations donated cows to Zephirin Hategeka, an ex-combatant who reportedly helped to hide some people during the Genocide, and Elinah Barayaretse, a widow whose husband was killed in the Genocide alongside Tutsi he had given refuge at his home.