Women and children killed in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi were, on Sunday, remembered in all sectors across the country in an event organised by the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion and other partners.
At the national level, the main event was held in Kibirizi Sector in Nyanza District, and was graced by the Speaker of Parliament among other national leaders.
Here, the occasion was to commemorate more than 430 women and children killed in the area.
Victims were killed and thrown in a mass grave by Interahamwe militia with support from Burundian refugees who lived in the area at the time.
“Men were killed in the beginning and killers fooled victims that women and children would be spared. They even started lying to us that they would renovate our houses they had burnt but this was never to happen,” said Judith Uwingabire who survived the Genocide in Kibirizi.
Uwingabire said killers had earlier told victims not to flee; promising that nobody would be harmed.
“Many got out of their hideouts and killers gathered them at a church and ensured they had amassed a significant number before killing them.”
She recalled how killers relentlessly searched and burnt bushes to ensure no Tutsi was left alive.
Her harrowing accounts of the Genocide were followed by the testmony of Faustin Nyakazungu, an old man credited with saving lives of many victims.
Nyakazungu often times received death threats and was detained by the former government forces but fortunately survived. He is now Umurinzi w’Igihango or ‘protector of friendship pact’.
Survivors appealed to government to construct a memorial site in Kibirizi because the current resting place for the victims is not decent, according to Janvier Forongo, their representative.
Esperance Nyirasafari, the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, condemned brutal killings that were, often times, preceded by rape, saying “what happened here is beyond understanding.”
She emphasised that doing bad never benefits anyone and urged those habouring genocide ideology to abandon it.
Donatile Mukabalisa, the Speaker of the Lower House, commended the bravery of those who refused to join the killing bandwagon and rather shielded victims.
“For the genocide to be possible, the genocidal regime brainwashed people. Killers destroyed our culture and values and lost humanity. Even compassion, an instinct in women, was destroyed and women killed other women and children,” she said
She explained that the government has restored unity and dignity in the country and called upon the youth to borrow a leaf from those who stopped the Genocide and uphold unity of Rwandans, be ready to resist whoever may want to teach them hatred or divide them as well as embrace the truth.