Commemoration activities should not be seen as a preserve for Genocide survivors, but rather should involve every Rwandan because the Genocide affected the entire national fabric.
This was the message from officials as Rwandans in different parts of the country met in their villages for the launch of the 22nd commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Pastor Antoine Rutayisire of the Anglican Church, speaking in Gasabo, said as long as commemoration is left to the survivors, true reconciliation will not be achieved.
He said that participating in commemoration events is a good occasion for those who were in position to get information during the Genocide to come forth and share it – say the whereabouts of the bodies of the victims or the manner in which they died.
Rutayisire was speaking at the commemoration event held at CARAES Genocide memorial site in Ndera Sector, where over 25,000 victims of the Genocide are buried.
“Every time we call upon people to come forth and give testimonies during commemoration activities, only the Genocide survivors come forward, that should not be the case,” he said.
“What did the survivors really see when they were hiding in bushes? Why haven’t I seen a person who, perhaps, participated in attacks (against the Tutsi), come forward and tell the story about what happened?” he wondered.
He said the government had done a great job by letting Rwandans to commemorate, but also foster unity and reconciliation.
Telesphore Murenzi, the manager of CARAES Genocide memorial site, recalled that about 80,000 Tutsi who had fled to the neuro-psychiatric hospital (CARAES Ndera) expecting to get refuge there had been cruelly killed, with just about 300 surviving.
He said apart from the soldiers who came from Kanombe Barracks to participate in the massacre, those who killed the people fleeing in the area were their neighbours.
“No one has come forward to say he killed one’s relatives or parents and indicated where their bodies are,” he said.
However, survivors say that over the years, there has been a growing change of attitude.
Josephine Murebwayire, 63, said she was the only survivor from Petit Seminaire de Ndera among over 450 who had fled there. Those who were killed included her six children, she said.
Murebwayire noted that before 2000, survivors would commemorate in solitude, adding that she was happy that currently more and more people attend commemoration-related activities, which she said was a good step towards healing.
The chief executive of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Francis Gatare, who participated in the commemoration event in Gasabo, said Rwandans have to fight genocide ideology at all cost and support the leadership to achieve sustainable development.
Meanwhile, in Nyarugenge District, residents of Muhima Sector met at St Famille Catholic church where they held a commemoration mass in memory of the victims of the Genocide, specifically those who were killed after seeking refuge at the church.
Speaking to The New Times, Rutayisire Masengo, the head of Ibuka, the umbrella of Genocide survivors’ associations, in Nyarugenge, said nearly 300 people were killed at St Famille and their death is largely blamed on Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, a catholic priest who remains at large in France.