MUHANGA- survivors of the 1994 Tutsi genocide that took place in Kabgayi, Nyamabuye sector are demanding district authorities to respect the date and to correctly interpret this day in which survivors were liberated by the RPF.
Survivors made the remarks during a genocide memorial vigil which was held on the evening of July 17 through the morning of July 18 at the Kabgayi catholic diocese. The survivors further stated that the importance of rescue day by RPF forces has instead been turned into ‘a party’ day negating the essence of this fateful day contrary to the desires of survivors .
The survivors raised similar concerns on June 2, this year, after the district held its liberation day at Gitarama stadium. They had stated that the day should have been solemn and set up with activities of paying tribute to victims rather than having celebrations and ‘partying’.
The survivors expressed dissatisfaction after such celebrations were held and they thus resorted to scheduling another day in which they intended to have a comprehensive memorial.
This time, under the Umbrella Association of Genocide Survivors (IBUKA) in Muhanga district, the survivors reiterated that June 2, should be strictly observed as a day for Kabgayi survivors.
“June 2 should be a time to respect the genocide victims, since it has more meaning to survivors of genocide in Kabgayi-who remember the day when RPF-soldiers rescued them from killers at Kabgayi specifically.
We want the district and other residents to recognize this fact,” said Eugene Karangwa, the Ibuka-Muhanga chairman.
The survivors noted that the district authorities have combined the liberation of ex-Gitarama province with that of the rescue of survivors. They countered that there is only one official national liberation day which is June 4 (which is the official day on which all Rwandans commemorate the liberation day).
“The underlying fact is that we have been celebrating this day for 14 years. However we need to remind ourselves about that fateful day on the 2nd June when we were rescued from the jaws of death,” Karangwa added.
During the vigil, Mayor Yvonne Mutakwasuku, responded by saying that the previous memorial was conducted in that way after consultation from some of the elders. She however added that there is need to hold a fresh consultative meeting in order to address this emerging concern.
Part of the memorial celebrations, saw survivors and local and religious leaders paying tribute to than 50,000 victims who were brutally killed by Interahamwe militia. The event was attended by hundreds of survivors from Kigali city, Ruhango, Kamonyi , Nyanza and Huye districts.
Survivors condemned Catholic Church leaders for negligence and abandonment of their flocks during this period. They further condemned the played a significant role some members of the clergy played in executing the Genocide.
On behalf of the church, Abbe Annaclet confessed that the church was remorseful about its role in the Genocide.
Survivors asked that the genocide memorial site be reconstructed afresh.
They also resolved on the need to create an umbrella association of Kabgayi genocide survivors in order to document the memories and testimonies of this terrible event.