RWANDA GENOCIDE, HOW IT HAPPENED
The Rwanda genocide, also known as the genocide against the Tutsi, was a mass slaughter of Tutsi in Rwanda during the Rwandan Civil War, which had started in 1990. It was directed by members of the Hutu majority government during the 100-day period from 7 April to mid-July 1994. It is estimated that around 500,000 to 1,000,000 Rwandans were killed, constituting an estimated 70% of the Tutsi population. Additionally, 30% of the Pygmy Batwa were killed. An estimated 2,000,000 Rwandans, mostly Hutu, were displaced and became refugees.
Rwanda Genocide Begins
On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying Habyarimana and Burundi’s president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down over the capital city of Kigali, leaving no survivors. Within an hour, the Presidential Guard, together with members of the Rwandan armed forces (FAR) and Hutu militia groups known as the Interahamwe (“Those Who Attack Together”) and Impuzamugambi (“Those Who Have the Same Goal”), set up roadblocks and barricades and began slaughtering Tutsis and moderate Hutus with impunity. The genocide and widespread slaughter of Rwandans ended after the Tutsi-backed and heavily armed Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), led by Paul Kagame, took control of the capital, Kigali, and the country.
RWANDA GENOCIDE MEMORIAL SITES
The 1994 Rwanda genocide is known to have given birth to about 8 Genocide Memorial sites, and these were put in place for commemoration of hazardous Genocide war. About a million people lost their lives and it’s believed that the war took place for about 100 days. The most common Rwanda Genocide memorial sites today have turned into a hub of tourism attraction in Rwanda and these include;
Nyamata Genocide Memorial Site
Located about 30km to the south of Kigali Capital
Before the genocide happening, Nyamata was a church where Rwandan people always went for worship. However, during the genocide, most people had gone there to take refuge, but unfortunately; they were killed from here. The Tutsi’s had locked themselves up in the church seeking safety but were shocked when Hutu militias forced open the doors open with hand grenades and reigned on them with machetes. You will find clothes and national ID cards of the dead victims on the church pews with blood spread all over the place. The alter cloth is still stained with blood from the massacre of the several victims. Outside the church are mass graves for your visits.
Ntarama Genocide Memorial Center
Ntarama was a former catholic now turned into a genocide memorial site and is located in Kigali District. It is an hour’s drive south of Kigali, the national capital and the largest city in the country. It is estimated that about 5000 people were massacred here. It is much smaller than the other church genocide memorial sites because it was a small village parish. Just like the others, the Tutsi’s came here for refuge assuming that it would be safe but were shocked by attacks from the Hutu militias, who in some place accessed the building by removing bricks one by one.
Bisesero Genocide Memorial Site
The Bisesero memorial site is located in Karongi district in the foothills of Kibuye region of western Rwanda. It’s alleged that nearly 30,000 people were slaughtered in this area. They were handed over by the French soldiers due to their bravery and resistance they displayed. It was point for the Tutsis as they arranged to resist the Massacre. Because of their weak weapons, they were killed by the Hutus. Bisesero Memorial site is made up of 9 small structures that symbolize the 9 communities that originally formed the area of kibuye. Currently the site is known as the Hill of Resistance due to the brave resistance showed by the people of Bisesero against their enemies.
Nyanza Genocide Memorial Site
When the Rwanda genocide started, of the people were Tutsis and the few Hutus were taken away from this school to be assassinated. It holds the graves of more than 10,000 genocide victims abandoned by the Belgian UN peacekeeping forces as the genocide intensified. The UN forces left these Tutsi’s in the hands of their massacres by not airlifting them to the safety they themselves were going, a sad story of bureaucracy. The memorial site often acts as the grounds for the genocide anniversary commemorations “Kwibuka” which happen yearly on April 7th.
The Kigali Genocide Memorial Center
Also Known as Gisozi Genocide memorial site
This Rwanda genocide memorial site is located in Gasabo district very close 10 minutes drive to Kigali city. The memorial site is recognized to be where most of skeletonthe Tutsi victims were actually slaughtered by Hutus, however in 2000; the victims from both tribes were buried within the same area. Later in 2004, Gisozi turned into a tourism center with approximately 300,000 people buried there. This Gisozi Memorial site features a display house, a library, a cemetery and a photo gallery. The gisozi memorial site is run by AEGIS, a UK Non Governmental Organisation committed to stop genocides from happening around the world. A visit to this site will provide you insights and additional history about Rwanda.
Murambi Genocide Memorial Centre
Also known as Murambi Technical School in the south
This memorial centre is one of six major centres in Rwanda that commemorate the Rwanda genocide. The Murambi Genocide Memorial was created on 21st April 1995. During the genocide, the Tutsis of this region sought sanctuary at Murambi, where a technical school was being constructed. Today Murambi serves as one of six National Genocide Memorial Sites, and contains the remains of approximately 50,000 victims killed at the technical school, including some remains exhumed from the surrounding area. Only 34 people from this site are believed to have survived the genocide. The 21st of April every year is dedicated to the commemoration of the victims of Murambi.
Gisenyi Genocide Memorial Site
Over 12,000 victims were murdered in the neighborhoods of Corniche and Nyundo were collected and buried here at the Gisenyi Memorial Site, within an otherwise ordinary cemetery. The site was the first to be established in the country by both the Rwandan Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture and IBUKA, a Kigali-based organization dedicated to ensuring justice for survivors of the genocide and preventing further violence. Although the site was the first to be established, residents have remarked that more distinction must be made to separate the graves of genocide victims from the others buried in the cemetery.
Nyarabuye Genocide Memorial Site
Nyarabuye is former Catholic church is a reminder of the horrific violence that took place at this site during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. This memorial site was acknowledged to be a convent and a school where close to 20000 people were slaughtered and buried. The Tutsis were seriously killed as they tried to flee to Tanzania. Remains were stored in the convent for remembrance and the school in 2003 was renovated and currently operating with students.