A water reservoir constructed to facilitate rice irrigation in Ruramira and Nyamirama sectors of Kayonza District became a curse after thousands of victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi were dumped in it.
Residents who gathered at a place locally known as ‘Barage’ to pay tribute to the victims, on Sunday, appealed to the government to build a monument at the reservoir, where over 6,000 Tutsi are said to have been dumped during the Genocide.
The water reservoir was built in 1985 to help farmers access water to irrigate rice fields.
Survivors of the cruel massacres said they were concerned that they could not retrieve the remains for decent burial.
Augustine Ntazinda, a survivor who lost all his family members, decried lack of a memorial sign at the place.
“It’s been heart-breaking for the last 22 years. I survived just here. It was horrible, the water reservoir that was supposed to be a blessing turned into a curse. I can’t even trace how I escaped death, it was God’s mercy,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate that we can’t honour our loved ones. We helplessly look into the water with little hope of seeing any sign of remains of our people. It hurts that in days of commemorations like now, we don’t have anything to look at and mourn our dear ones.”
Elias Nziyoroshya, an official from the umbrella for Genocide survivors associations, Ibuka, said the need to put up a monument was crucial.
“It has been tricky to set up a monument because of the nature of the swamp, often full of water. But it can be done. Stakeholders should give the monument the importance it deserves,” he said.
The road leading to ‘Barage’ is almost inaccessible due to poor maintenance.
MP Theoneste Safari, who was at the commemoration, assured the survivors of the government’s support toward setting up of a monument.
“I can assure you that the authorities will do everything to set up the monument. Survivors here just like others elsewhere and the country, have a right to remember. However, you have to use the monthly community work (Umuganda) to work on the road leading to the area where the Tutsi died. The road must be accessible to allow future construction of such monument,” Safari said.