RUSIZI - A land mark reconciliation drive that has been registered in Rusizi is set to be used as a model to foster similar moves countrywide by the national body tasked with promoting reconciliation.
During the momentous event, at least 21 genocide perpetrators in Mushaka, Rusizi district last weekend reconciled with relatives of the victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
Genocide perpetrators and survivors in the area have been under pressure to mend relations , after the Mushaka Parish denied them holy sacraments unless they sorted out their differences.
During an open reconciliation ceremony, the seemingly happy reconciled group walked side by side to Mushaka Parish Church, to seek forgiveness from God, for their crimes.
The reconciliation drive has been pushed by Mushaka Parish committee, since 1999.
“We taught them basing on St. Paul’s Gospel, that good should overcome evil. We used a few people who had saved Tutsis as mediators to foster reconciliation,” said Father Ubald Rugirangoga, head of Mushaka Parish, the brain behind the whole reconciliation drives in the area.
“I was in charge of Nyamasheke Parish in 1994 and it haunts me that I couldn’t stop the genocide. This is why I decided to teach love and reconciliation, which lacked during 1994,”he added.
The Archbishop of Cyangugu Catholic Diocese, Jean Damascene Bimenyimana, urged the reconciled group to live in harmony while placing God ahead of everything else.
“A true Christian forgives, seeks forgiveness and lives in harmony with others,” said Bimenyimana.
Dr. Jean Baptist Habyarimana, the Executive Secretary of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, called upon Rwandans to maintain peace and shun false doctrines.
“This act is evident that reconciliation is taking place in society. It shows that we should not give attention to our detractors who are bent on reversing gains that we are making as a country,” said Habyarimana.
Various people who spoke to The New times attested how helpful reconciliation had helped them.
“I feel as if something heavy has been lifted from my heart. Since this man came to me, to ask for forgiveness, I am at peace with him, God and most of all my conscience,” said Domitila Mukayiranga, a survivor.
Mukayiranga reconciled with the person who allegedly killed her husband and entire family. Eldephonse Ntibaziyaremye, a former genocide perpetrator, who allegedly murdered his uncle, cousin and many others in his village, also received the grace of being forgiven for his past crimes against his relatives.
“I am excited to live in harmony with my only surviving uncle once again. I am sorry for having killed his brother,” said Ntibaziyaremye.
The Unity and Reconciliation Commission plans to use Mushaka as a model Parish so as to foster reconciliation in the rest of the churches around the country.