Rwanda: Kwibuka27 - Survivors Push for Decent Burial of Genocide Remains in Tanzania

Groups of Genocide survivors have called upon authorities to ensure remains of victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi who were swept in water bodies and ended up in Tanzania, are accorded a decent burial.

According to Ibuka, the umbrella body for Genocide survivors' associations, remains of victims in Tanzania are scattered in the vast Kagera Region after they were killed and thrown into River Akagera.

In an interview, Bonavanture Nduwimana, the head of Ibuka in Kirehe District said the victims include 917 who are interred in Tanzania's Ngara District, but the state of their grave is deplorable, which he said does not give honor to the victims.

"They need a decent burial because it is the least we can do for our loved ones. It is a fundamental human right. Besides those in Ngara, we believe there are some that are still scattered in the Kagera Region in Tanzania," he said.

He added the survivors were optimistic because Tanzanian authorities "seem to be responding positively towards that issue."

On his part, Alfred Rudodo, the chairperson of Humura, an association of Genocide survivors that advocates for decent burial of victims thrown into water bodies across the region, commended efforts by the government in helping them trace the Genocide remains.

He gave an example of the bodies that were fished out of Ugandan water bodies who have since found a decent home where they can be honoured.

"At the moment, the main challenge we have is the Covid-19 pandemic. After this pandemic is tamed, we will visit the different mass graves in Tanzania. We shall then engage other stakeholders to ensure these remains get a decent burial," he said.

He thanked international organisations like the Lutheran World Federation in Tanzania which in 1994 retrieved the bodies from River Kagera and had them buried in the mass grave located in Ngara.

This mass grave has for the past 27 years hosted the remains of victims, but it is currently run down and in need of an upgrade to ensure a befitting resting place of their loved ones.

Change the naming

Meanwhile, both Nduwimana and Rudodo called for the change of wording on the mass grave in Ngara, saying that the wording should reflect the true events in Rwanda in 1994.

According to Nduwimana, the words inscribed on the grave refer to the deceased as 'victims of the 1994 Rwandan conflict' which he said is misleading and distorts the country's historical facts.

"This should be changed to its true naming of 'victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda'," he said.

Other Genocide memorial sites abroad are in Uganda where three of them; Kasensero, Lambu, and Golo are collectively home to over 10,000 remains of Genocide victims which were exhumed from Lake Victoria.

During the Genocide, many Tutsi were thrown into different water bodies, mainly tributaries of River Nile, following a virulent ideology that Tutsi came from Ethiopia and were therefore sending them back 'home' by the river.

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