Officials from the Southern Province and the Umbrella organisation of Genocide survivors’ associations (Ibuka) have requested a special genocide memorial centre to be built in the former Butare Prefecture to highlight the responsibility of the then local leaders in the planning and execution of the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.
The memorial would also warn people against the misuse of the university and its premises , which was the case in the former regime as university graduates were largely involved in the realisation of the genocide, Ibuka President, Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu told Sunday Times.
Huye District Mayor Eugène Kayiranga Muzuka said that the area needs a special Genocide memorial centre, stating that it is where the measurement of Rwandans’ noses and heights by the white colonisers [something that was used divide Rwandans along ethnic lines] and this was done at the former Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (IRST].
Butare is also the place which had the country’s only university at the time.
Dusingizemungu said that people who studied at the National University of Rwanda were considered elite and intelligent and were involved in the planning of the Genocide and mobilizing others because the general public followed what they said.
Théodore Sindikubwabo, who became the interim President of Rwanda during the Genocide against the Tutsi; former Prime Minister Jean Kambanda; Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, Minister of Family and Women’s Development all hail from Butare.
Also from Butare was Joseph Habyarimana Gitera who promoted the 10 commandments of Bahutu which incited hatred of Hutu against Tutsi.
Kambanda and Nyiramasuhuko were convicted by International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for their role in the Genocide and are serving life sentences.
“We think that all that history of bad governance at national level, can be documented from there (former Butare) because we consider that the knot or the cradle of the Genocide,” Mayor Muzuka said.
Based on that, Dusingizemungu said “we realised that such areas need a particular Genocide memorial centre like other places which had particular history that has lessons to offer,” he said, referring to Nyange Genocide Memorial Centre which was recently turned into a national level memorial to remind people of the former p,riest Athanse Seromba, who ordered the use of a bulldozer to demolish a church building in Ngororero District, killing about 2,000 Tutsi who had taken refuge inside.
“The special memorial centre in Huye will serve as a place where people can come and learn about what happened in the area and the officials who partook in the establishment of genocide ideology and disseminating it, and warn them against its recurrence,” Dusingizemungu.
‘Gukora’ as a euphemism for ‘killing’, which left many Tutsi dead
Dusingizemungu said that it is in Huye’s Imberabyombi Hall (multipurpose hall) where the first speech of the then so-called ‘caretaker government’ was delivered whereby ‘Gukora,’ a Kinyarwanda word meaning ‘work’ was first used as euphemism for ‘killing’, as a means to incite Hutu to kill Tutsi and justifying the slaughter as ‘worthy work’ during the Genocide.
MP Evariste Kalisa said that the Southern Province has substantial history about the Genocide against the Tutsi, starting from the [first] arrival of missionaries [in Save], the speeches of Gitera, Sindikubwabo, Kayibanda, and the schools that were there.
Memorial for children and women killed during the genocide
Meanwhile, Governor Mureshyankwano said that the Province also need advocacy to get budget to construct a genocide memorial centre at Kibilizi in Nyanza District where children and women were killed during the genocide against the Tutsi.
According to information from Nyanza District, over 350 women and children were killed during the 1994 Genocide at Bambiro Mountain in Kibilizi Sector, Nyanza District.
Interahamwe militia first raped women victims before ruthlessly killing them, together with the children.
“That is the particularity of the genocide on how children and women were killed. Indeed, if we can get the budget, it can help us set up such a memorial centre so that we give due significance to the victims,” she said.