Twenty one genocide perpetrators who admitted taking part in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis and released, have been forgiven and allowed sacraments by the Catholic Church, after confessing in public.
The event took place at Cyesamakamba Stadium in Ngoma District.
All the 21 perpetrators had been found guilty of genocide crimes by the court, but the Catholic Church did not immediately allow them sacraments.
Instead, the church took them through the doctrine for one year and six months and tried to reconcile them with the families of the victims.
One of the perpetrators, Théoneste Gatesi, from Mutendeli Sector, confessed killing Vestine Mukanyamwesa’s son.
When the Genocide ended, he escaped but was later arrested when he coming back.
He confessed, asked for forgiveness, and was released.
“Now, I ask for forgiveness from the government of Rwanda and all Rwandans, all survivors of the Genocide, and I ask God for forgiveness because I sinned,” he confessed.
Mukamwesa forgave him, but urged him not to repeat such inhuman crimes.
“When the genocide started, I had three children, but this man (Théoneste Gatesi) killed my oldest son who was six years old. In fact, were it not for God’s mercy, I wouldn’t have been able to forgive him, but for God’s mercy I did,” she said.
“He hit him with a wooden club and killed him, but he apologized to me in church before the congregation, before the Catholic Church and in the presence of God,” she added.
The executive secretary for the National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide (CNLG) Fidele Ndayisaba urged those who asked for forgiveness to accompany it with good deeds because they speak better than words.
“The process of forgiveness in the journey of unity and reconciliation in our country is an important way to help us in the long term. What we should keep in mind is that forgiveness does not come from saying I’m sorry or asked for forgiveness, it should be accompanied by good relationships and deeds of love that are manifested everyday,” he said.
“This should therefore be reflected in a permanent journey. Those we have received today. Thank you, and stay strong. For those who have apologized and those who forgave them, do not be discouraged by those who have not been able to come forward. Try and help transform others as well,” he added.
Bishop Antoine Kambanda, the new archbishop of Kigali said that apologizing and forgiving takes a great deal of courage, and the Catholic Church will maintain the process of reconciliation that it started.
“It is good for them to apologize. And we are grateful to those who have mercy on us; It is a strong step but it is also a tree we need to heal and save the Rwandan people, build up our country and build the Church.”
The 21 genocide perpetrators are the first phase of those who have received training in reconciliation with Kibungo Diocese, and the program will continue.