Rwanda memorial sites target World Heritage list by 2018

THE Government hopes to have met all requirements needed to include four Genocide Memorial Sites on the list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites by 2018.
Uwacu (L) chats with Dr Diogene Bideri, a senior research consultant at CNLG (C), and Mechtild Rossler, director of heritage at UNESCO, in Kigali yesterday. / Timothy Kisambira
Uwacu (L) chats with Dr Diogene Bideri, a senior research consultant at CNLG (C), and Mechtild Rossler, director of heritage at UNESCO, in Kigali yesterday. / Timothy Kisambira

THE Government hopes to have met all requirements needed to include four Genocide Memorial Sites on the list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites by 2018.

This is highlighted in a concept note presented at a meeting in Kigali, yesterday, to discuss the modalities.

The sites are Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Gisozi, Ntarama Genocide Memorial site in Bugesera District, Murambi memorial centre in Nyamagabe District, and Bisesero Genocide Memorial site in Karongi District.

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Mechtild Rössler, Director of the Division for Heritage and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, speaks to media in Kigali. / Timothy Kisambira

Participants at the ongoing meeting, who include members from the International Council of Monuments and Sites, African World Heritage Fund, Mali, Senegal, South Africa, lecturers and researchers, are assessing the primary requirements set by UNESCO in a long process before the sites are added to the crucial list.

The Minister for Sports and Culture, Julienne Uwacu, told journalists that the Government was learning from experts, researchers and other people whose countries have sites listed.

Should the four memorial sites be registered, Uwacu said, it will be an opportunity for the world to know the truth about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and a constant reminder that what happened in Rwanda should never happen anywhere else again.

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The Minister of Sports and Culture Julienne Uwacu speaks to media during tea break. / Timothy Kisambira

“It’s an opportunity to help others to know the truth and to pick lessons as basis of ‘Never Again.’ The world had said ‘never again’ but it happened again, adding these Genocide sites(to the list) would be a constant reminder that we should never let something like that happen ever again,” she said.

The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG), Dr Jean-Damascene Bizimana, said the three-day meeting will assess the value and uniqueness of each memorial site on an international level.

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Jean-Damascene Bizimana

“We are required to indicate the core values of each site and their role in educating the world about the past, present and the future,” Bizimana said.

On Monday, the team visited Murambi site and travelled to Nyamata yesterday to establish if the sites there meet the requirements.

“We are required to explain in detail, the uniqueness of each site. There are requirements, some complicated that we have to fulfill before we are considered. Some countries applied and were rejected but we are optimistic,” he added.

Bizimana said being listed means that the Genocide against the Tutsi will be known by more people internationally while the history of the Genocide will be included in education courses all over the world among other advantages.

“It will also be an opportunity to expose people who continue to deny that the Genocide happened since listing means that it is no longer Rwanda’s sole responsibility but the world’s too,” he said.

Among the requirements, the government is expected to collect testimonies, demographic and topographic data about the sites, among other things.

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The Minister of Sports and Culture Julienne Uwacu chats with MP Evariste Kalisa during tea break. / Timothy Kisambira

A book of hundreds of pages that describe the memorials in order to allow every citizen of the world to identify what kind of heritage they will be acquiring will also be required.

Sites under world heritage have to be exceptional, involve a universal application and are relied upon to provide the world with cultural or physical education.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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