5 April 2014

Rwanda: Kwibuka Flame of Remembrance Travels to Kicukiro District for the Last Stop

Kicukiro — 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 and President Paul Kagame will use it to light the National Flame of Mourning.

Speaking at the event, Minister of Sports and culture, Protais Mitali said "The Kwibuka Flame tour has been very successful. People turned out massively for all the events and the majority of them were young men and women. As we enter the mourning week, let every Rwandan continue to support each other, avoid anything that might harm our unity and keep our efforts towards building a strong and prosperous nation".

During the function Lt-Col (retired) Jean Loup Denblyden - former Belgian military and Maj-Gen (retired) Henry Kwami Anyidoho - former UNAMIR Deputy Commander also spoke.

Those who were killed at Nyanza ya Kicukiro were brought from ETO Kicukiro, a UN military camp. Between 3,500-5,000 Tutsi took refuge there when the genocide started and were inside with UN peacekeepers from Belgium. Outside militia attempted to attack the camp.

On 11 April 1994, the Belgian troops left ETO Kicukiro. Young Tutsi kneeled in front of the vehicles, pleading with them to stay. But the troops shot in the air and drove away. The departure of the UNAMIR troops was done simultaneously with the entry of soldiers of the genocidal government and Interahamwe militia.

The government soldiers and militia took the Tutsi to Sonatube where the Mayor of the city, Lt Col Tharcisse Renzaho, ordered that they instead be taken to Nyanza and killed from there because Sonatube was too visible as it was along the road to the airport.

In heavy rain, starved Tutsi were forced to march to Nyanza. Those too weak to march were killed on the way. When they arrived at Nyanza, the militia ensured that no Hutu were among the group, asking for them to identify themselves with their ID cards. Then the mass killing begun. The militia and solider shot and threw grenades at the Tutsi. Afterwards, they used machetes to kill the Tutsi. The next morning they attempted to finish the slaughter but were stopped by the Rwandan Patriotic Army who rescued the few who had survived the massacre.

Kicukiro District has six genocide memorials, among them Nyanza ya Kicukiro where the Tutsi who were abandoned by UN troops are buried. There are a total of approximately 11,000 victims who have been laid to rest there. At the Rebero Genocide Memorial 14,000 victims are buried with the politicians who were killed during the genocide. The closing of the week of mourning will take place at Rebero on 13 April 2014.

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.

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