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Kiziguro Genocide Memorial Transformed

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In 1900 during the German colonial period in Rwanda, Catholic White Fathers established their first mission station in the country.

King Yuhi V Musinga donated to them a plot of land to settle in Save (in present day Gisagara District) where they built the first church in Rwanda in 1900.

As years rolled by, they established across the country including building a massive cathedral at Kiziguro in Gatsibo district.

In 1972, these white fathers at Kiziguro cathedral drilled a very deep hole about 25meters in search of water but were not successful and later resorted to using dynamite and the massive earth material took almost two months to remove.

During the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, 5,500 Tutsi took refuge at this cathedral in anticipation that they would be safe there. Some of them decided to leave and were subsequently killed and thrown into this deep pit that had been dug 1972. It is believed that 11 Tutsis were later rescued from that pit.

Kiziguro cathedral built by the white fathers in present day Gatsibo District

According to a former militia Kadunguri currently working as a gardener at Kiziguro Catholic Church “After the Tutsi in Murambi [had been killed], on April 10th Gatete held a meeting with us (Interahamwe) outside the Church courtyard and the resolution in the meeting was ‘kill them all.”

On the morning of April 11th at around 9am, the Interahamwe precisely carried out those instructions.

Every 11th of April is dedicated to the commemoration of the victims of Kiziguro. Kiziguro Genocide Memorial was created on 11th April 1995 located meters away from Kiziguro Sector office.

According to the Genocide archive of Rwanda, there are 14,136 Tutsis buried at the memorial, including victims who were killed on site and others whose remains were exhumed from places scattered throughout the neighbouring sectors.

Kiziguro Genocide Memorial got a facelift with a modern double storied facility that is almost complete. It has completely changed the look of this memorial site.

Sibomana Jean Nepomscene, IBUKA in Gatsibo

Sibomana Jean Nepomscene heads IBUKA in Gatsibo (an umbrella organisation that connects the groups that aid survivors of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi) says bodies of those that had been thrown in this pit will be accorded a decent burial. For the past two weeks they have been trying to search through this pit and the first bodies were discovered 14 meters deep.

According to Sibomana this pit will be preserved as memory of the of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi which claimed over a million lives of innocent Tutsi across the country.

Kiziguro is part of former Murambi Commune that was headed by Jean Baptiste Gatete the former Bourg Master remembered for his highest degree of the swiftness in killings targeting Tutsi. Murambi was one of the districts that made Byumba prefecture (Province) with 85,000 citizens who were well described in official documents as Tutsi or Hutu.

Gatete fled to DRC and was arrested there in 2002 and sentenced to 40 years imprisonment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 2011 for Genocide and crimes against humanity.

additional info from KT