At least 10,000 Tutsi, who were fleeing from the Interahamwe militia perished in Lake Muhazi, Genocide survivors in Rwamagana District say.
The survivors made the revelation on Tuesday, during the Genocide commemoration event held on the shores of Lake Muhazi, Muhazi Sector.
“Most of the Tutsi who perished in this lake came from sectors neighbouring the lake. Those who attempted to cross the lake by swimming were shot at by the Interahamwe militia who were riding on speed boats,” said Callixte Rwanamiza, a survivor who managed to cross the lake.
As part of the commemoration activities, residents marched for 3km along the banks of Lake Muhazi.
Addressing the mourners, Rwamagana mayor, Nehemie Uwimana, said the commemoration period serves as a deterent measure to avoid the re-occurrence of genocide.
“Through commemorations we are able to lay down strategies aimed at avoiding its re-occurrence,” he said.
Uwimana urged residents against downplaying the Genocide and insulting survivors.
“Government has made incredible steps in the area of unity and reconciliation, delivering justice for Genocide victims and reviving the economy,” Uwimana added.
He advised survivors to have courage and hope for a better future. Survivors hailed the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) soldiers for their courageous role in stopping the massacre of more Tutsi in the area.
“Many Tutsi during the Genocide were rescued by advancing RPA soldiers,” Jean Muhimana, a survivor recalled.
According to Ibuka, it was a special commemoration because whereas it was possible for other victims to be re-buried decently, those who were drowned never got the chance.
Dativa Murekatete, one of the survivors, said several Tutsi drowned in water bodies.
“I spent days in the waters and drunk water that was mixed with blood to survive. I could see some blood spots floating on water, but I had to drink it to keep alive,”she said, drawing tears among mourners.
She added: “I saw the Interahamwe militia slicing kids and throwing their bodies into the lake. Then the militia left boasting that fish were going to feed on Tutsi fresh.”
Victims were tortured, maimed, tied up and then thrown into rivers and lakes. This was mostly done to make sure that they do not swim out.