Belgium Supports Rwanda’s Digitalisation of Genocide Memorial Archives

Belgium government has offered to digitalise archives at Rwanda’s Kigali Genocide Memorial center.

Rwanda needs about Rwf 1bn ($1.4M) to purchase equipment to be used in the first phase of the digitalization drive.

Belgian’s Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders said that his country supports digitalization of archives at the center.

He visited the center where 250,000 victims of genocide against Tutsi are buried.

Reynders said, “We looked at sectors where we will be working together in conservation of documents.”

Reynders said the memorial centre will work with Tervuren Museum in Belgium and Belgian specialists in digitalization and archiving.

Over a million Tutsi were killed during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in just three months.

At the memorial centre, are mass graves, a large documentation Centre on Genocide against Tutsi, with 1,500 audio visual recordings, and 20,000 documents and photographs.

The archives include documents from Television and print media, Gacaca courts documents, academic documents, including those donated by different people to the AEGIS Trust contracted to manage the memorial center.

The existing archive was developed in consultation with University of Texas, US.

Jean de Dieu Mucyo, the Executive Secretary of National Commission against the Genocide told KTPress that the first phase of the digitization will cost over Rwf 1bn ($1.4M).

Mucyo said UK, Netherlands, and USA promised to support the project but the amount each of them will give is yet to be determined.

Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, the chairman of Ibuka, an umbrella of Genocide survivors associations says that digitalization of the documents is key for the education of future generations.

“I advise they do not just consider the Kigali museum, because we have many memorial centers where documentation is sensitive.”

Dusingizemungu says Gacaca documents should urgently be digitalized, adding, “Let them not only help to go digital, but give digitalization skills to a large number of people amongst the Rwandan community.”

Belgium apologized for having abandoned Tutsi during the Genocide at former ETO Kicukiro where about 5000 people had taken refuge.

They knelt to Belgian troops in a UN mission, UNAMIR asking them to save them against the killings of Interahamwe militia, in vain.

The Tutsi would be hunted and slaughtered.

In a joint press conference Thursday, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo said the bilateral relationship with Belgium is good, but the two countries agreed to sustain political dialogue.

Didier Reynders was accompanied to Rwanda by Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo.

By: Jean de la Croix Tabaro