The decision by the Ugandan government last week to allow the remains of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi to be accorded a decent burial is a positive gesture.
During 100 days of bloodletting, thousands of dead bodies of Genocide victims were thrown into Akagera and Nyabarongo rivers — both tributaries of Lake Victoria and ended up in Uganda and beyond.
Their dead bodies were washed down and landed at different shores of East Africa’s biggest lake. They were later buried at six different mass graves in Uganda.
There have been media reports that that some of the remains had been dug up and used for witchcraft purposes and the graves turned into occult shrines.
For the last 15 years, Ugandan officials had turned down Rwanda’s proposal to exhume the bodies and give them decent burial citing cultural reasons.
These are Genocide-related graves, not ordinary death. Some graves had been dug up and the bones reportedly stolen since they had been left in the bushes unattended and one had to literally crawl to reach some of the tombstones!
The desecration of graves for Genocide remains is heartless and ultimate sign of disrespect for the dead. All Ugandans who buried those who died in the Genocide are regarded highly by the government of Rwanda.
Mohamood Thobani, who generously donated his land to be the resting ground for the fallen victims, is among many who cared for the bodies of the dead.
Let’s make the graves visitor-friendly as they are our past and it needs to be remembered and respected.