Genocide survivors to honour liberators

Genocide survivor organisations AERG and GAERG have launched a campaign to honour the fighters of the liberation struggle and also support vulnerable survivors.

The associations have organised activities across the country during the month of March leading up to Kwibuka 21 – the twenty-first commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

The launch of the campaign takes place on Saturday March 7, 2015 in Rukumbeli Sector, Ngoma District.

GAERG President Charles Habonimana said activities will support vulnerable genocide survivors, especially those wounded, and honour the liberation fighters of the Rwandan Patriotic Army who stopped the genocide.
Survivors handicapped during the genocide, as well as liberation war casualties will be the main focus.

The survivor organisations wish to recognise their bravery and heroism, Habonimana said. Other activities include cleaning and maintaining genocide memorials and recording the names of perished families.

Association members will also visit places where genocide victims and survivors lived, which were destroyed in 1994 in an attempt to remove any trace of their existence.

Members will plant trees at these sites to preserve their history and the memory of victims.

The Coordinator of AERG, Jean de Dieu Milindi, said, “the campaign will show how grateful we are to those who rescued Tutsi during the genocide.”

He added that, “We want to bring genocide survivors together, share the history of the genocide and teach young Rwandans about the genocide, how to build themselves and the country, as well as about genocide prevention.”

As for the Rukumbeli, after the massacres of Tutsi in 1959-1963 in Gikongoro, the survivors were forcibly moved there. The first killings in Rukumbeli took place during Christmas of 1963.

Many Tutsi attempted to resist the killings but were unable to. When the 1994 genocide started, many Tutsi settled in the region.

Militias were mobilised from neighbouring communes to kill everyone, 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.

Out of 35,000 Tutsi in Rukumbeli at the time, only 720 survived. They were rescued by the Rwanda Patriotic Army, which arrived in the region on May 5, 1994.

In Ngoma District, mass killings also took place in Zaza Parish in Birenga and Bare Parish in Kigarama. The region has seven memorial sites, where today around 60,000 victims are buried.


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