10 August 2017

Rwanda: New Conservation Plan for Genocide Memorials in Line for Unesco Recognition

The National Commission for the fight against Genocide (CNLG) has designed a conservation blueprint for the Genocide memorials in line for recognition under UNESCO World Heritage.

The sites are Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Gasabo District, Nyamata Genocide Memorial site in Bugesera District, Murambi memorial centre in Nyamagabe District, and Bisesero Genocide memorial in Karongi District.

The plan for the management and conservation of the memorial sites from 2018 to 2022 is part of their impending inclusion on UNESCO's World Heritage List, according to officials.

The plan was commissioned by CNLG in Kigali on Tuesday after it was prepared by experts.

Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) said that the document should provide enough information on what has been achieved and current projects to ensure proper management of the memorial sites and other proofs of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

Dr Emmanuel Havugimana, a lecturer at the University of Rwanda and chair of the CNLG board, said there is a need to sensitise people on the role of sparing the buffer zones between the memorial sites and surrounding communities.

"There should be involvement of communities around the sites in the management of those sites so as to inculcate a sense of ownership," he said.

The blueprint

Dr Philbert Gakwenzire, the consultant who presented the blue print said that inputs from the meeting would be incorporated in the document so that the final copy can be availed in time.

The management and conservation plan highlights the development of the information and education strategy aimed at enhancing the value of memorial sites, develop guides and catalogues of memorial sites, and review the notice boards of the memorial sites, train guides and interpreters of classified memorial sites.

To manage the sites, it also calls for the strengthening of CNLG's capacity and resources to broaden its work with other government departments, associations and local communities and make a clear inventory of everything that is part of memorial sites.

It seeks to establish a consultation process and platform to guide public decision-makers and other stakeholders to better take into account the special status of classified sites, establish a multidisciplinary scientific committee for the protection, conservation, management and monitoring of memorial sites.

The blueprint calls for enacting laws specific to memorial sites, buffer zones and their visual fields, strengthening the legal protection of exposed material assets and facilitate the fight against their looting or illicit trafficking.

The plan pledges to facilitate more focused research on genocide and implement rapid and effective tools for genocide research.

Experts recommend collaboration with education institutions to integrate results into curricula and mapping the locations of the massacres in connection with the memorial sites where the victims' bodies rest.

It seeks to develop an information an education strategy aimed at enhancing the value of memorial sites and set up documentation centres at each site.

There are 1052 sites listed on the UNESCO world heritage across the globe.

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