This year is an important milestone in Rwanda’s history. The twentieth commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi has seen Rwandans and friends from around the world come together to remember, unite and renew. Telling the world about the causes, reality and consequences of the genocide was at the core of Kwibuka20. The genocide was stopped by the Rwandan Patriotic Front, and on 4 July 2014, Rwanda marked twenty years since liberation (Kwibohora20), honoured those who fought in struggle for freedom and dignity in Rwanda and look to the future with hope, optimism and a renewed commitment to Agaciro (dignity), self reliance and shared human values.
Click here to watch the documentary 'Kwibohora20 - Together we prosper'.
Click here to read the July/August 2014 edition of The Voice Newsmagazine including an article on pages 54-55 about the Kwibuka20-activities in the Netherlands.
Official Kwibuka20 mourning period comes to a close
The twentieth commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, Kwibuka20, has seen Rwandans and friends from around the world come together to remember, unite and renew. The conclusion of the official mourning period will be marked today by the inauguration of 40 houses built for Incike - survivors of the genocide who lost every member of their family - and survivors with special needs. These include the elderly, those with disability or incurable diseases as well as widows and orphans. The event has been organised by the Association of Genocide Widows (AVEGA).
Speaking on the importance of the commemoration period, AVEGA Executive Secretary Oddette Kayirere said:
“When we commemorate, we remember our loved ones and by remembering, we bring them back to life. This comforts our hearts broken by the loss of our children, husbands and relatives brutally murdered in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. It also helps us to move forward and build a brighter future together. Thank you for being with us at this time.”
The houses to be inaugurated have been funded by FARG (the government’s genocide survivor support program) and the National Bank of Rwanda. They are being built and equipped by Nyarugenge District and the Imbuto Foundation in collaboration with the Reserve Forces in Iterambere village, Nyarurenzi cell of Mageragere sector. Twenty twin houses known as “Two in One” have already been completed and equipped with furniture and water tanks. The core of Kwibuka20 has been standing alongside survivors and remembering with them, and today's activity is one of the ways the Government of Rwanda and its partners continue to support genocide survivors.
Those receiving houses will also benefit from assistance programmes. Under the Basic Support Programme, survivors will receive fully equipped houses with furniture and other items such as kitchen utensils, cleaning materials and food assistance for a short period. Through the Long-term Assistance Programme, survivors will receive assistance in starting small investments projects, such as cow rearing or running a modern furnace.
The event takes place one day before Liberation Day. Rwanda marks twenty years since the Rwandan Patriotic Army stopped the Genocide against the Tutsi, Kwibohora20, by honouring those who fought in the struggle for freedom and dignity. The ceremony to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Liberation Day takes place on Friday, 4 July 2014 at Amahoro Stadium in Kigali, as well as across Rwanda and around the world. Visit www.kwibohora.rw/kwibohora for more information. Kwibohora20 is an opportunity to share Rwanda’s liberation story, the journey of unity and reconciliation since 1994 and the country’s ongoing renewal and vision for the future - one where together we prosper (Isoko yo kwigira).
Photos from today’s event will be available on the Kwibuka Flickr and videos will be available on the Kwibuka YouTube channel.
25 May 2014: Kwibuka20 commemoration in Tilburg
On Sunday afternoon, 25 May, the Embassy of the Republic Rwanda and Wereldpodium organized a Kwibuka20-commemoration at the Tilburg University together with the Rwandan community, Stichting Mukomeze, Intervict and Academic Forum with attendance of Rwandan ambassador, Jean Pierre Karabaranga.
Click here to see a selection of photos on the Flickr page of the Embassy.
9 May 2014: Kwibuka20 commemoration in Wageningen
On Friday 9 May the Embssy of the Republic Rwanda organized a Kwibuka20-commemoration at the Wageningen University together with Rwandan students and with attendance of Rwandan ambassador, Jean Pierre Karabaranga. Click here to see a selection of photos on the Flickr page of the Embassy.
7th May 2014: film 'Rwanda, Beyond the Deadly Pit' in The Hague
Filmed over the course of three years (2006 - 2009) in Rwanda, "Rwanda: Beyond The Deadly" Pit is Gilbert Ndahayo's moving documentary about the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda genocide. Ndahayo's journey is about forgiveness, what happened during the genocide, and how the survivors and perpetrators deal with each other now.
Gilbert Ndahayo was seventeen years old when he lost his parents, his young sister, his grandparents and fifty-two close members in the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda during a wave of ethnic cleansing that took the lives of more than a million within a hundred days of the spring 1994. Ndahayo narrowly survived by running to seek refuge at CND, an RPF military camp.
In 2006, Ndahayo joined the Rwandan film industry and received training from acclaimed director Mira Nair ("Mississipi Masala", "Mansoon Wedding" and "Kuma Sutra") and mentored by Misan Sagay, who wrote Oprah Winfrey's "Their Eyes were watching God". He attended a five-year graduate film program at Columbia University in the city of New York and was honored with Masters Of Fine Arts (Film - Screenwriting and Directing). Ndahayo is a protégé of Kris Boden known for Hollywood Box-Office blockbuster films ofLasse" Hallström 's "Dear John" (Channing Tatum and Savannah), "Hachi: A Dog's Tale" (Richard Gere and Joan Allen) and Brian De Palma's "Carlito's Way" (Al Pacino, Sean Penn and Penelope Ann Miller) and award-winning films "Won't Back Down" by Daniel Barnz and "Hamlet" of Michael Almereyda's adaptation of William Shakespeare's play.
Ndahayo's debut narrative short Scars of My Days (2006) aired on French television TV 5 Monde and premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2007 in the presence of an audience that included former US President Bill Clinton, Hollywood celebrities namely Robert DeNiro, Whoopi Goldberg and Everybody Loves Raymond's producer Jane Rosenthal. Ndahayo was the producer of Flores de Ruanda (2008) which won the 2010 Goya Award winning documentary and his footage earned him a co-directing credit on the feature documentary Life in a Day (2011) directed by Kevin Macdonald and executive produced by YouTube and Ridley Scott - released at Sundance 2011.
His documentary Behind This Convent (2008) received Verona Award for Best African Film and Signis First Commendation for Best African Documentary at Zanzibar International Film Festival in 2008 and subsequently toured European film festivals and screened at American universities. The Dutch film critic, Frank Witkam, brings out a comparison of Ndahayo's films, "Ndahayo's documentary makes me think of a few number of the best action filmmakers such as Hara Kazuo or, with the best work of Michael Moore." Ndahayo admits to having watched French New Wave movies when he was a boy.
Rwanda: Beyond the Deadly Pit (2009) documents on tape the last hour of Ndahayo's parents and 52 members of his immediate family who were massacred during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Recipient of Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media, the film was released in 2011 on DVD and is subject of scholarly scrutiny. Rwanda: Beyond The Deadly Pit features in two Routledge's publications: Contemporary French and Francophone studies, Volume 14, Issue 5, 2010 under the title The Pertinence of Impertinent Storytelling in Gilbert Ndahayo's documentary Rwanda: Beyond the Deadly and AFI Film Readers Documentary Testimonies: Global Archives of suffering in the section of Mediating genocide: producing digital survivor testimony in Rwanda.
Often, Ndahayo works with professors in African cinema and genocide programs, and facilitates study-tour to Rwanda for American and European universities including Yale University, Webster University, Drury University Steven Spielberg's USC Shoah Foundation Institute and the Spanish' Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP). Ndahayo is the first Rwandan to be nominated for AMA Awards which a variety of international observers have fondly called the African Movie Academy Awards the "African Oscars." Speaking to Deutsche Welle at the 2013 Berlinale Talent Campus, Gilbert Ndahayo announced the making of his trilogy The Rwandan Night, The Rwandan Day and The Rwandan Silence set to be released in 2014 for the 20th commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda.
Opportunities in the Netherlands
Ndahayo: "From 2000 to 2006, I worked as Country coordinator, writer and African Editor for BaobabConnections - an Afro-Dutch Youth Online Magazine. I have also been part of the Dutch cultural community celebrating African music, film, poem and dance for the last four years. This year, I will be presenting at IDFA my new project "The Rwandan Night", an award-winning documentary which is the first Rwandan feature film that chronicles the origins of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. I have successfully presented my other films at IDFA in 2010 and 2011.
The Netherlands is the most important European co-financing and co-production market for African Arts projects. I am interested in building a support network for arts from Rwanda in particular and East African region in general to provide funding as well as connecting people from both countries."
7 April: Kwibuka20 commemoration in The Hague in the Netherlands
2014 marks the 20th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, an important occasion to remember the lives that were lost, show solidarity with survivors and unite to ensure it never happens again, in Rwanda or anywhere. Over one hundred of history’s darkest days, more than one million Rwandans perished in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. It is also a chance to share our story of reconciliation and nation building with the world.
The Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda in The Hague organized on Monday 7 April a Walk to Remember from the Dutch Parliament to the Atrium City Hall in The Hague. Politicians and former Ministers (Jan Pronk, Minister of Development Cooperation in 1994) joined Ambassador Karabaranga, Rwandan diaspora and Dutch friends of Rwanda.
The Walk was followed by the commemoration in the Atrium (City Hall) in The Hague. Click here to watch a short video with a compilation of the commemoration.
Minister Ploumen (International Trade & Development Cooperation) was the keynote speaker and held an impressive speech.Click here to watch this entire speech on our Youtube channel.
Some remarkable quotes:
'Not one country heeded the call from the Security Council. As a result, the whole world shares responsibility for the tragedy. My own country is no exception.'
'Last year I visited the Genocide Memorial Centre in Kigali. It was an important day in my life. It is important to stop and think about what happened in 1994. It’s important for us to meet here today and remember those who were so savagely killed. It’s important to pause and reflect on what man is capable of.'
'Today, twenty years on, a new generation of Rwandans has grown up in peace and security. For them, a new chapter is being written with the most recent campaign called Ndi Umunyarwanda, or ‘I am Rwandan’. It is a fresh attempt to encourage people to talk about what happened and help them understand the complex social impact of the genocide.'
'I feel that the biggest challenge is this: Rwandans will have to rediscover confidence in themselves and in one another. The confidence that they can stand on their own two feet, not only as a society but also as individuals. Free from fear, at peace with their neighbors and with respect for the common human values we all share.'
'The Netherlands wants to show its friendship by assisting in that process. We want to contribute to those positive developments. For instance by helping to rebuild the judicial system, as we have been doing over the past years. And by helping Rwanda to take the next steps towards a free society. I want to paraphrase ambassador Karabaranga, who was quoted this morning in a Dutch newspaper. He said: ‘In the end Rwanda wants to move away from dependency and create equal partnerships with friendly countries.’
'As a true friend the Netherlands wants to travel alongside Rwanda on its journey to a brighter future, getting to know one another better and learning from each other along the way. We want to accompany the Rwandans on their quest for greater trust and confidence. It is a challenge. But Rwanda has met bigger ones in the recent past. '
Some highlights from the speech of Ambassador Jean Pierre Karabaranga (Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda in the Netherlands). Click here to watch this entire speech on our Youtube channel.
‚In the morning of 7 April, in Kigali in Rwanda, also the world joined Rwandans to show them solidarity. 1o heads of state and governments, the SG of UN, heads of delegations from friend countries were present. The Netherlands were represented by Honourable Frans TIMMERMANS, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and again this shows that Rwandans are no longer alone as it was in 1994. For this I take the opportunity to address my sincere thanks to the Government of the Netherlands.'
'We need to look back into our past in order to know where we have and need to go. We remember our past without being held by it. We are called to act for the benefit of future generations in a united and prosperous Rwanda. President Paul Kagame once said: ”we cannot change the past, but today we have the responsibility and the capacity to shape a better future “.'
'Today, Rwandans are very positive and optimistic about their future. President Paul Kagame has to be credited for providing the country with visionary leadership. This has been of critical importance in giving Rwandans confidence, ensuring stability and inculcating a culture of hard work, self-sacrifice and discipline that has moved the country from the darkest periods of our history to a more optimistic future. Every country emerging out of conflict needs this kind of committed and visionary leadership. Rwanda has been very lucky to have a leader of that calibre.'
'I take this opportunity to thank our partners who have stood with us, believed in us since the last 20 years and continue to support the various development initiatives we have undertook to rebuild our country. The Dutch Government is on the driver seat among our partners. Our relationship can only get stronger and more fruitful for our common good.'
Exhibition 'Rwanda 20 Years' in City Hall The Hague
The exhibition 'Rwanda 20 Years' with a selection of photos by Pieter Hugo can be seen from 1 to 11 April 2014 in the Atrium of The Hague City Hall.
It was 20 years ago on Monday, 7 April 2014 when violent genocide broke out in Rwanda. Within 100 days more than 1 million Rwandans were killed systematically and in the cruellest way.
Since then a number of survivors say they have forgiven the murderers of their family members. This gave the Hague-based organisation Creative Court the idea to set up a probing photography project with forgiving survivors and the perpetrators: Rwanda 20 Years.
The Embassy of Rwanda in the Netherlands, the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) and the African Studies Centre are organizing a Kwibuka20 (20th Commemoration) conference at ISS in The Hague.
A range of distinguished speakers have been invited to reflect on the themes of the commemoration: Remember-Unite-Renew.
The event will be an occasion to remember lives lost, to show solidarity with survivors and to reflect on lessons learned, in Rwanda and internationally.
It is part of a series of global events organized from January 2014 onwards to mark Kwibuka20.
The conference is open to the public without any fee. Please confirm your attendance by sending an email to email@example.com
Kwibuka Flame of Remembrance Travels to Gasabo District
The Kwibuka Flame of Remembrance today reaches Ndera in Gasabo District, the 29th stop on its tour of Rwanda. The flame will return to the Kigali Genocide Memorial on 7 April 2014, the start of the national mourning period and twenty years since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. You can view an interactive map of the tour here. The flame travels next to ETO Kicukiro in Gasabo District on 5 April 2014.
Today’s event is hosted by Mayor Willy Ndizeye and will reflect on the events of the 1994 genocide as well as the journey of unity and renewal in Gasabo and Rwanda since. The Flame of Remembrance will be received by two 20 years olds, Afisa Tuyizere and Emmanuel Karenzi. A children’s choir from Groupe Scolaire Ndera will sing ‘Urumuri Rutazima’ (Never Ending Flame) to welcome the flame. The special guest is the Minister of Defence, Hon. James Kabarebe. The Mayor of the City of Kigali, Fidele Ndayisaba, will also speak.
Genocide survivor Josephine Murebwayire will give testimony at today’s event. Josephine took refuge at the Ndera Hospital for Mental Health and was the only person to survive the massacres there. Gaspard Kalisa was born in 1961 in the former Rubungo Commune in Kigali. During the genocide, Gaspard saved approximately 30 families. He was awarded by IBUKA (the umbrella organisation for survivors groups in Rwanda) in recognition of what he did in 1994 and will also speak.
Gasabo District is composed of the former Kacyiru, Rubungo, Gikoro, Gikomero and Rutongo communes. Before 1994, Gasabo was a mostly rural area except for the Kacyiru commune. Many Tutsi lived in Gasabo District, most of whom were killed in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
At the Ruhanga memorial 32,257 victims are buried. A large group of Tutsi took refuge at a Protestant church there. After a brief resistance, they were attacked and killed by Interahamwe militia, backed by government soldiers. Tutsi in Jali took refuge in the Catholic Church there and were killed by soldiers from Jali Military Camp backed by militia from around the area. The remains of more than 26,000 Tutsi lie at rest there.
When the genocide started, Tutsi from Remera, Kimironko and Gacuriro fled to Kibagaba Catholic Church. They were attacked by soldiers from Kami Military Camp and were killed by grenade attacks and bullets. More than 24,000 victims of the genocide are buried in Kibagaba.
On the 7 April 1994 in Ndera, Tutsi and moderate Hutu fled to Ndera Neuropsychiatric Hospital, which was run at the time by white catholic clergy. On 11 April 1994, one thousand innocent civilians who had sought refuge at a school known as Petit Seminaire, Ndera were murdered. On the 17 April 2014 more than 20,000 people who had sought protection in the hospital were also killed.
Belgian Commandos were sent in, but they only rescued foreigners and left hundreds of Tutsi to die at the hands of soldiers and militia. Ndera stands as a reminder of the failure of the international community during the Genocide against the Tutsi. Today, more than 20,000 victims are buried at the Ndera Genocide Memorial.
Kwibuka20 Flame Tour: Gasabo Program
When: 2:00PM – 4:00PM, 3 April 2014
Where: Petit Seminaire, Ndera, Gasabo District
Welcome remarks from the Master of Ceremony Theoneste Mbanda
Children’s Choir from Groupe Scolaire Ndera singing Urumuri Rutazima
Screening of the Kwibuka20 short film, Remember, Unite, Renew
Testimony from genocide survivor Josephine Murebwayire
Song performance by Justin Nsengimana
Testimony of unity from Gaspard Kalisa
Guests invited to write Ribbons of Remembrance
Introduction by the Mayor of the City of Kigali Fidele Ndayisaba
Remarks by Special Guest Hon. James Kabarebe, Minister of Defence
Final performance of Urumuri Rutazima
Background Information on the Kwibuka Flame of Remembrance
The Kwibuka Flame symbolises remembrance as well as the resilience and courage of Rwandans over the past twenty years. Carried in a simple lamp, the flame will be used to light other lamps in communities around Rwanda. To mark twenty years since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, all memorial fires throughout the country will be lit from this single Kwibuka Flame.
President Paul Kagame will use the Kwibuka Flame of Remembrance to light the National Flame of Mourning. This will take place on 7 April 2014, marking the official beginning of the national mourning period to commemorate the genocide in Rwanda. The flame will also be the source for lighting candles at a vigil at Amahoro Stadium on the evening of 7 April 2014. Learn more about the Flame and its nationwide tour here.
The Kwibuka Flame of Remembrance reached Rukumbeli in Ngoma District, the 26th stop on its tour of Rwanda, on 25 March. The flame will return to Kigali on 7 April 2014, the start of the national mourning period and twenty years since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. You can view an interactive map of the tour here. The flame travels next to Nyarubuye in Kirehe District on 27 March 2014.
The event was hosted by the Mayor of Ngoma, Aphrodis Nambaje, and reflected on the events of the 1994 genocide as well as the journey of unity and renewal in Ngoma and Rwanda since. The Flame of Remembrance was received from Bugesera District by two 20-year-old students, Alice Mukashyaka and Faustin Hategekimana, both from Rwintashya Secondary School. A children’s choir sang ‘Urumuri Rutazima’ (Never Ending Flame) to welcome the flame. The special guest was Hon. Anitha Assimwe, Minister of State in the Ministry of Health in charge of Public Health and Primary Health Care. The Governor of the Eastern Province, Odette Uwamariya, also spoke. A poem was read by Emmanuel Murigo.
Testimony was given by Athanase Mazimpaka (55) who discussed the history of Rukumbeli including how his family and others adapted to the region after being forcibly moved from Gikongoro. Perpetrator Jean Baragata (47) also spoke at the event. He was part of the militia that attacked Tutsi who had gathered at Rukumbeli.
Ngoma is composed of the former communes of Birenga, Sake, Mugesera, and Kigarama. Like Bugesera before 1960, most of the area was uninhabited. However after the massacres of Tutsi in 1959-1963 in Gikongoro, the survivors were forcibly moved to Rukumbeli. The first killings in Rukumbeli took place during Christmas of 1963, soon after the slaughter of Tutsi in Bugesera. Many Tutsi attempted to resist the killings but were unable to.
When President Habyarimana came to power in 1973, the region was marginalised and those living there discriminated against. No development projects were initiated, segregation was implemented and Tutsi from the region were denied access to secondary and higher education and their movements heavily controlled.
When the genocide started, the region was habited by many Tutsi. Militias were mobilised from neighbouring communes to kill those living there, some of whom had been able to resist previous attacks. Backed by government soldiers, militia killed the Tutsi who had taken refuge in Rukumbeli. Because of the geographical location of Rukumbeli (surrounded by militia and two lakes), there was little chance of survival. Of the approximately 35,000 Tutsi in Rukumbeli at the time, only 720 survived. They were rescued by the RPA which arrived in the region on 5 May 1994.
In Ngoma District, mass killings also took place in Zaza parish, Birenga and Bare parish, Kigarama. The region has seven memorials where today around 60,000 victims are buried.
Kwibuka Flame arrived in Burera District and in Gakenke District
The Kwibuka Flame of Remembrance arrived on 27 February in Burera District, the 17th stop on its nationwide tour. The flame will return to Kigali on 7 April 2014, the start of the national mourning period and twenty years since the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
The event was hosted by Mayor Samuel Sembangare and reflected on the events of 1994 as well as the journey of Burera and Rwanda since. The special guest was Minister of Education, Hon. Dr. Vincent Biruta. The Flame of Remembrance was received from Musanze District by two 20-year-old students, Honorine Iradukunda and Chrisostome Nsegiyunva. A children’s choir sang ‘Urumuri Rutazima’ to welcome the flame. The Master of Ceremony for today’s event was Justin Gatware.
Survivor of the genocide Fabien Niyonsenga (41) gave testimony. He was born in Rugarama, Burera District and along with his family, experienced the discrimination and persecution of Tutsi before 1994. In 1992, his father was fired from his job in Nkumba commune, beaten and died from his injuries. Fabien survived the genocide with his mother and young brother. Since then he has been supported by FARG and graduated from INES school in Public Administration. He is now a teacher at Gahunga secondary school and President of the local IBUKA.
Alphonse Nsabimana (67), a former teacher, gave remarks at today’s event about how discrimination was taught in schools before the genocide. A poem was read by Leoncie Musabyimana (17) called Humura Rwanda Nibizongera.
Burera District is composed of former Kidaho, Butaro, Nkumba, Cyeru and Nyamugari communes. Some of the communes, such as Butaro, were under RPF control while others were not. In the first days of the genocide the area was liberated by the RPF and became known as the Free Zone. 100 families were rescued. Nonetheless, 83 Tutsi from Burera were killed before 1994.
The Rugarama memorial in Burera holds the remains of 16 people, both Tutsi and Hutu, killed before 1994 for opposing the genocidal regime. Others buried here include those called 'ibyitso' or ‘accomplice’, who were accused of collaborating with the Rwandan Patriotic Front.
Kwibuka Flame of Remembrance arrived in Gakenke District
Then the Kwibuka Flame of Remembrance continued its tour on 1 March to Gakenke District, the 18th stop on its nationwide tour.
The event was hosted by Mayor Déogratias Nzamwita and reflected on the events of 1994 as well as the journey of Gakenke and Rwanda since. The special guest was Hon. Evode Imena, Minister of State in the Ministry of Natural Resources in charge of Mining. The Flame of Remembrance was received from Burera District by two 20-year-old students, Noella Akayezu and Lambert Mahoro. A children’s choir from Ruli Primary School sang ‘Urumuri Rutazima’ to welcome the flame. The Master of Ceremony for today’s event was Jean de Dieu Sinahamagaye.
Survivor of the genocide François Migambi (48) gave testimony. François grew up in former Ruli commune and during the genocide watched his family be killed and thrown into the Nyabarongo River. Today he is a famer and is building his own home.
A testimony of unity was given by Marcelle Niyonzima (50). Marcelle was taught to hate Tutsi at school and at home but when the genocide began in 1994, turned away from that ideology and instead saved Tutsi. He saved three children and an elderly woman.
A poem called Dukeburane Twubake was read by award-winning poet Violette Uwamariya at the event.
The persecution of Tutsi in Gakenke was coordinated by the then mayor, Aloys Havugimana, who also participated in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Tutsi living in the Gakenke area were persecuted and accused of being spies and allies of the “Inyenzi” – a term meaning ‘cockroaches’ that was used by the genocidal government to describe the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). In April 1994, many Tutsi were killed in the area. Interahamwe militias from Kigali, Shyorongi and Giti cy’inyonyi led the attacks against Tutsi who had sought refuge at the Ruli administrative office. The killings continued up to July 1994, when the RPF stopped the genocide.
Between 1997 and 1998, those who killed during the genocide came back as Abacengezi (militia), to hunt and murder survivors and their relatives. The Rwandan Defence Forces repelled these attacks and peace was restored. Gakenke District has six genocide memorials where 2,246 victims are resting. A large number of people who were killed in Gakenke will never receive a dignified burial because the killers threw their bodies into the rivers Nyabarongo, Base and Mukungwa.
Urumuri Rutazima - Kwibuka Flame arrives in Rubavu District
The Kwibuka Flame of Remembrance today travels to Rubavu District, the 14th stop on its nationwide tour. The flame will return to Kigali on 7 April 2014, the start of the national mourning period and twenty years since the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. You can view an interactive map of the tour here.
Today’s community event is hosted by Mayor Sheikh Hassan Bahame and will reflect on the events of 1994 as well as the journey of Rubavu and Rwanda since. The special guest is Hon. Protais Mitali, Minister of Sports and Culture. Remarks will also be given by Hon. Alfred Rwasa, Member of Parliament. The Flame of Remembrance will be received from Rutsiro District by two 20-year-old students, Gloria Muhimpundu and Dieudonné Nyirigira. A choir from La Promise Primary School will sing ‘Urumuri Rutazima’ to welcome the flame. The Master of Ceremony for today’s event is Nasoro Maguru.
Testimony will be given by Innocent Kabanda (33), a survivor of the genocide and currently a student at ULK Gisenyi Campus. At the event, a poem and song will be performed by young Rubavu students Solange Uwiduhaye, Diane Iradukunda, Gisele Ikirezi and Umutoni Ingabire (aged 8-11) called “Ikirere Cyabyaye Ikirezi”. Testimony will also be given by Ibrahim Ndayambaje and Alphonse Bahati.
Rubavu is part of the former Gisenyi Prefecture and served as place where authorities trialled the genocide. In 1991, 1992 and 1993, the Bagogwe people (a group of Tutsi living in Musanze, Nyabihu and Rubavu) were systematically murdered. Men and women were killed at Mukamira and the Bigogwe military barracks. Others were thrown into the Nyaruhonga cave in Nyabihu District. The Genocide against the Tutsi began on 7 April 1994. After three days, almost all the Bagogwe people living in the area had been killed. The militia who carried out the murders there were then transported to other parts of the country to continue the genocide.
Kwibuka20 Flame Tour Event: Rubavu Program
When: 2:00 – 4:00pm, 20 February 2014
Where: Rubavu District (near Commune Rouge)
•Welcoming Remarks from the Master of Ceremony Nasoro Maguru
•Children’s Choir signing Urumuri Rutazima as the Kwibuka Flame arrives
•Remarks by Rutsiro Mayor Sheikh Hassan Bahame
•Testimony from survivor Innocent Kabanda
•Poem from Solange Uwiduhaye, Diane Iradukunda, Gisele Ikirezi, Umutoni Ingabire (aged 8-11) called Ikirere Cyabyaye Ikirezi
•Testimony from Ibrahim Ndayambaje
•Testimony from Alphonse Bahati
•Guests invited to write Ribbons of Remembrance
•Remarks by Hon. Alfred Rwasa, Member of Parliament
•Remarks by Special Guest Hon. Protais Mitali, Minister of Sports and Culture
•Final performance of Urumuri Rutazima
Background Information on the Kwibuka Flame of Remembrance
The Kwibuka Flame symbolises remembrance as well as the resilience and courage of Rwandans over the past twenty years. Carried in a simple lamp, it will be used to light other lamps in communities around Rwanda. To mark twenty years since the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, all memorial fires throughout the country will stem from this single Kwibuka Flame. On returning to Kigali, President Paul Kagame will use the Kwibuka Flame to light the National Flame of Mourning. This will take place on 7 April 2014, marking the official beginning of the national mourning period. The flame will also be the source of the fire used at the candlelit vigil at Amahoro Stadium on the evening of 7 April 2014. Learn more about the Flame and its nationwide tour here.
Photos from today’s event will be available on the Kwibuka Flickr and videos on the Kwibuka YouTube channel.
Kwibuka20: commemoration in the Netherlands started on 14 February with a launch event in The Hague
On 14 February the launch event was held in The Hague at the Church of Our Saviour, led by Father Sjaak de Boer and attended by many Rwandan compatriots, Dutch government officials, Ambassadors, members of the Rwandan community in the Netherlands and Friends of Rwanda. The service started with a ceremony to enlighten candles, followed by a variety of impressive speeches by Ambassador J.P. Karabaranga (ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the Netherlands), Josephine (genocide survivor), Dr. J. P. Dusingizemungu (Ibuka Rwanda representative), Christian Mundele (Ibuka Netherlands representative) and by Jan Pronk, who was the Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation from 1989 to 1998.
Photos available on the Flickr-page of the Embassy: click here.
On the YouTube-channel of the Embassy you'll find the movie of the launch event on 14 February 2014 and also the film that introduces the themes of Kwibuka20, 'Remember, Unite, Renew', that was shown during the launch event. Click here to go the YouTube-channel of the Embassy.
Kwibuka20 launch on 14 February - Speeches Ambassador Karabaranga and Jan Pronk available for download
Kwibuka20 launch in The Hague on Friday 14 February
Urumuri Rutazima - Kwibuka Flame reached Murambi, Nyamagabe District
The Kwibuka Flame (Flame of Remembrance) traveled on 3 February to Murambi in Nyamagabe District (formerly known as Gikongoro), the ninth stop on its tour of Rwanda’s thirty districts. The flame will return to Kigali on 7 April 2014, the start of the national mourning period.
Mass killings in the Gikongoro area took place in 1959, 1961 and 1963. In 1963, 14,000 Tutsi were massacred in just four days. At the beginning of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, people were told by the genocidal authorities to flee and take refuge together at ETO Murambi (Technical School) which was under construction at the time. It was a strategic and planned decision by the authorities. The victims were fleeing massacres that had begun on 7 April 1994 including at the Parish of Mushubi in Muko Commune and at Gasarenda in Mudasomwa Commune.
Located on an isolated but visible hill, ETO Murambi was chosen so that the killers could gather the victims and kill them systematically. Local officials and soldiers established a network of roadblocks to control the movement of Tutsi and many were murdered or raped before they reached the school. The authorities also organised the militia, supplying arms, ammunition and transport to those charged with exterminating all Tutsi. They held meetings with local residents to ask for “a hand in the war against the Tutsi.”
At the same time, those taking refuge at the school were denied water and food. The water pipes were disconnected and those who brought provisions were turned back. Weak from fatigue, hunger and thirst, the victims managed to mount a resistance to the attacks. After repelling an attack on 18 April 1994, preparations for a final onslaught intensified.
On 19 April 1994, interim President Théodore Sindikubwabo met with local officials and military officers at Gikongoro and guns and new machetes were distributed. On that day Hutu living in the area were taken to safety in nearby schools to clearly demarcate those who should live and those marked to be killed.
When the assault started at 3am on 21 April 1994, those who had taken refuge tried to fight back with stones but most were killed under a hail of bullets and grenades. There was a short respite at 6am when the attackers’ ammunition ran out but twenty minutes later the killing resumed. Those wounded and still alive were finished off with machetes. Fifty thousands were killed, only 20 survived. Victim’s possessions were then looted. At 11am, the Prefect Laurent Bucyibaruta thanked the killers “for the work well done.” After 1994 Bucyibaruta fled Rwanda and now lives in France.
The genocidaires were not alone. Protected by the French-led Operation Turquoise, genocidaires continued the "work" in the Gikongoro area for longer than in other parts of Rwanda. Dubbed a humanitarian intervention, Operation Turquoise created a safe haven for the genocidaires. French troops built a volleyball court on top of mass graves and, as the genocide continued, regularly gathered there to play.
The Rwanda Patriotic Army liberated the area at the end of August 1994.
Speaking about the events in Murambi, Suzanne Nyirasuku, whose husband and eight children perished at Murambi, has said, “The Tutsi who took refuge at Murambi were killed with extreme cruelty, but they were brave. They perished after having struggled against killers who had come from all regions of Gikongoro Prefecture.”
Monday's community event to welcome the Flame of Remembrance reflected on what happened in 1994 and the journey of the area and Rwanda since. Testimony were given by survivor Simon Mutangana who took refuge in Murambi in 1994. At that time he was a teacher at Ecole Primaire Nyamigina. Today Simon is the President of IBUKA in Tare Sector.
Genocide perpetrator Emmanuel Nyirimbuga also spoke. He was head of the Hutu militia that carried out the slaughter at Murambi. He worked to distribute grenades, traditional weapons and machetes. Emmanuel was convicted of committing genocide and has since been released from prison after also completed community work.
The event was hosted by the Mayor of Nyamagabe Filbert Mugisha. The special guests were the Minister of Youth and ICT Jean Philbert Nsengimana and Senator Jean Damascene Bizimana. The flame was received from Nyaruguru District by young Nyamagabe residents Faith Uwimbabazi and Dieudonne Bigirinkana. A choir of students from Village SOS Nyamagabe singing Urumuri Rutazima welcomed the flame. The Master of Ceremony was Alphonse Nkomezamihigo.
Kwibuka Flame Tour Event Program for Nyamagabe District
When: 2:00 – 4:00pm, 3 February 2014 Where: Murambi, Nyamagabe District
Welcoming Remarks from the Master of Ceremony Alphonse Nkomezamihigo
Children’s Choir signing Urumuri Rutazima as the Kwibuka Flame arrives
Remarks by Nyamagabe Mayor Filbert Mugisha
Kwibuka20 Short Film – Remember, Unite, Renew (Kwibuka Twiyubaka)
Testimony from genocide survivor Simon Mutangana
Poem and song from AERG Nyamagabe School of Science
Testimony from genocide perpetrator Emmanuel Nyirimbuga
Explanation of how to be involved in Kwibuka20 by the MC
Remarks by Senator Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana
Remarks by Minister of Youth and ICT Jean Philbert Nsengimana
Final performance of Urumuri Rutazima
Background Information on the Kwibuka Flame of Remembrance
The Kwibuka Flame symbolises remembrance as well as the resilience and courage of Rwandans over the past twenty years. Carried in a simple lamp, it will be used to light other lamps in communities around Rwanda. To mark the 20th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, all memorial fires throughout the country will stem from this single Kwibuka Flame.
On returning to Kigali, President Paul Kagame will use the Kwibuka Flame to light the National Flame of Mourning. This will take place on 7 April 2014, marking the official beginning of the national mourning period. The flame will also be the source of the fire used at the candlelit vigil at Amahoro Stadium on the evening of 7 April 2014. More information about the tour is available here.