Thirteen bodies of victims of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi have this Sunday been laid to rest with dignity at Nyarubuye Genocide Memorial site in Kirehe district.
Mukabaramba Alvera Minister of State for Social Affairs in the Ministry of Local Government accompanied by government officials joined thousands of residents at the memorial site as part of the 25th commemoration of the genocide against Tutsi.
Nyarubuye Genocide Memorial site is a resting place of another 58,000 victims.
According to Gerald Muzungu, Kirehe district Mayor, “the victims of the Genocide against Tutsi at Nyarubuye parish were from different places of Eastern Province, as they were looking for a way to escape killers to Tanzania through Migera crossing point.”
Kirehe which was part of former Rusumo Commune experienced brutal murders of Tutsis leading to deaths in large numbers.
The ruthless mayor of Rusumo Commune, Gacumbitsi Sylivestre, personally led the attacks on the church, distributed arms, and urged the mob to rape and kill, both in the run-up to the event as well as during it – using a megaphone.
The only survivors of the massacre are those who had been covered by corpses and stayed underneath for days.
According to Ibuka an umbrella organisation for Genocide survivors, “the Tutsi that were hiding at this church were attacked with machetes and blunt objects, guns and grenades.”
The parish site was had a church, a convent and a school that drew many people there. Looking at the site today, the former school and convent have been turned into a memorial site while the church is still used for mass.
During the genocide, this place was one the starkest site of death but today, it is a fairly neatly maintained.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda sentenced Gacumbitsi first to 30 years (when he was initially acquitted for murder and complicity in genocide), which was increased, after an appeal, to life imprisonment. For once, a key player in the actual massacres had to face justice.