Kigali Genocide Memorial

In April 2004, on the 10th Anniversary of the genocide that split Rwanda apart, the Kigali Memorial Centre was inaugurated. The Centre provided an opportunity to offer a place in which the bereaved could bury their families and friends, and over 250,000 victims of the genocide are now buried at the site – a clear reminder of the cost of ignorance.

The Centre exists as a permanent memorial to those who fell victim to the genocide, and also as a place for Rwandans to grieve for those they lost. The Centre includes three permanent exhibitions, the largest of which documents the genocide in 1994. There is also a children’s memorial, and an exhibition on the history of genocidal violence around the world. The Education Centre, Memorial Gardens and National Documentation Centre of the Genocide all contribute to a meaningful tribute to those who perished, and form a powerful educational tool for the next generation.

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Murambi Genocide Memorial centre

The Murambi Technical School, now known as the Murambi Genocide Memorial Centre, is situated in Nyamagabe district in southern Rwanda. It was the site of massacre during the 1994 genocide against Tutsi. When the killings started, Tutsis in the region tried to hide at a local church. However, the Catholic Church bishop Misago and mayor lured them into a trap by sending them to the technical school.

On April 16, 1994, some 65,000 Tutsis ran to the school. After the victims were told to gather there, water was cut off and no food was available, so that the people were too weak to resist. After defending themselves for a few days using stones, the Tutsi were overrun on April 21. Some 45,000 Tutsi were murdered at the school, and almost all of those who managed to escape were killed the next day when they tried to hide in a nearby church.

According to the guide at the memorial, the French brought in heavy equipment to dig several pits where many thousands of bodies were placed. They then placed a volleyball court over the mass graves in an attempt to hide what happened. Among the bodies currently displayed are many children and infants. The school building is now a genocide museum exhibiting the skeletons and mummified bodies of some of the thousands of people killed there.

Nyarubuye Genocide Memorial

The Nyarubuye Genocide Memorial is located about 35 kilometers from the southern town of Kibungo. Located in the Kirehe district, of the Eastern province, this former church and its accompanying school and buildings of the Benebikira Sisters are a reminder of the horrific violence that took place at this site during the Genocide against the Tutsi. More than 20,000 people were killed there during the 14th and 15th of April 1994.

It is internationally known because it was the place that Fergal Keane, a BBC correspondent who was in Rwanda in late May and early June 1994, visited and filmed and for having been visited by dignitaries among those who came were Dr Boutros Ghali, the UN general secretary at the time. In 1995, it was visited by Mr. Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda. The Rhénanie Palatinate Government has contributed to its rehabilitation with 10,000 DM.

In Nyarubuye Genocide Memorial, you can find genocide remains like clothes, thermoses, dishes, and shoes abandoned by victims. These are kept in the nunnery buildings.

Nyamata Genocide Memorial

At the Nymata Catholic Church, located in the Bugesera district, 25 km south of the capital of Kigali, 10,000 people were killed in and around the grounds between April 14 – 19.Other large scale massacres occurred in Catholic Churches throughout the country as priests, nuns, and church officials systematically fled Rwanda after the genocide began. In some cases, priests and other officials were complicit in the killings.

The Bugesera district was one of the areas most devastated by the genocide. From a population of 62,000, only 2,000 survived. People congregated there from all around. To protect themselves they padlocked the iron gate, hoping to keep the Hutu militias and their Interahamwe leaders at bay. Thwarted on the first attempt to take the church, the militias came back with grenades. The hole in the gate shows where one grenade was used to gain entry.

Bisesero Genocide Memorial

Bisesero Genocide memorial site is known so much by Rwandans for its resistance during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis. Between the month of May and June 1994 is when the interahamwe came to carry out the massacres that sent over 40,000 Tutsis dead.

During the month of May 1994, residents from neighboring sectors came to take refuge in Bisesero. As mass killings of the interahamwe increased by the day, people trekked from miles away to take refugee there. As killings drew by, the Bisesero residents had prepared enough to fight rather than succumb to the interahamwe extremists.

Under the orders of a one elder and resident Aminadabu Birara, the Bisesero residents were put to a tactical preparation to fight back anyone who had come to attack their village. Bisesero being a hilly area, the residents were ordered to take strategic cover on top of the hill called Muyira where they could spot their enemies from above. The only allowed fighters were men and boys that were strong enough to resist, while children and women took cover behind the same hill. At that moment the prominent weapon to the Bisesero residents were stones and a few spears.

The Big fight

On 13th May, upon knowledge of the interahamwe that the Bisesero residents were prepared to fight back – Heavy artillery (Mortar 81, 82 and many heavy arms) from all corners of Rwanda and many armed forces inclusive of the Hutu civilians were deployed in Bisesero to finish off the residents.

Upon reaching Bisesero, over 4000 residents had gathered on top of Muyira Hill with stones and spears ready to defend themselves. Mortar 81s and 82s faced the hill letting loose the gigantic bullets as the interahamwe extremists rose up the hill. At the same time the Bisesero Tutsis were aware they had been attacked – upon anyone who tried to go up to the top they would throw stones and spears in defense.

Although many died a few did survive trying until 13th June when the French invaded.

French Invasion

The French invaded Bisesero on 13th June claiming intentions of keeping security and stopping the genocide. Upon their arrival they talked to a one Eric who had been a teacher at the time, he knew French. The situation was still alarming although the residents that where well hidden came out of hiding seeking help from the French army. After which they (French army) denied and claimed they would come back after three days for their rescue.

Not long after the French army’s departure, the interehamwe came back to finish what they started. Initially the Hutu killings went on during the day, but this time round they came to kill day and night to finish off each and everyone before the French did come back 3 days later.

The night of 30th June the French came back and only to find almost everyone slaughtered and just maybe a quarter of the thousands alive but wounded so badly. More than 50000 bodies are buried in Bisesero memorial mass graves.

Kigali - Rwanda
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