It is probably a new kind of Genocide denial which is being discovered as members of Parliament visit the Northern Province in their citizen outreach program.
As they were visiting Musanze District yesterday, the MPs from Unity and reconciliation committee were speechless when they learnt in Muhoza Genocide memorial site, that there are remains of people who were killed by FDLR during their infiltration operations in 1998.
In that year, the so-called Democratic Forces for Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an armed group made of elements of Interahamwe militia men and ex-armed forces that fled the country in 1994 after carrying out the Genocide infiltrated into Rwanda from DRC through volcanoes.
Bodies of civilians they had killed before being repulsed by Rwanda Defense Forces were brought by local leaders of that time for burial in Muhoza Genocide memorial site, currently a kind of cemetery.
From the graves which have a sign of the cross each and bearing names of the victims, MPs realized that there was a misunderstanding of a Genocide memorial and just a normal graveyard where all the dead from one area should be buried.
“There is total confusion here; there is no where you can include this graveyard among the Genocide memorial sites,” said Esperance Mwiza, vice President of Unity and reconciliation committee of the MPs.
Some of the visiting MPs called it, “Genocide denial. A practice that can never be tolerated.”
“For the last two decades, we have been requesting district officials to honor our victims, in vain. We want justice,” said a member of Ibuka, an umbrella of Genocide survivors’ Associations in Musanze district.
Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, President of Ibuka told KT Press, “We shall do an investigation to know people behind this practice to have them punished. It’s like some people do not understand the meaning of a genocide memorial site.”
Dusingizemungu said, the case is the first of its kind and “has opened our eyes. We will have to find out whether no other memorial sites were used the same way.”
Faustin Nkusi, the spokesperson of the National Public Prosecution Authority told KT Press his office “cannot yet find a name for the practice because it is a sensitive matter and people need to first understand the intention behind it.”
“We request the district officials to build a memorial for a decent burial that deserves victims of Genocide against Tutsi,” said MP Mwiza.
The MPs realized that even the other victims should not be buried at that cemetery which is exposed to erosion.
Prior to visiting the Muhoza memorial site, MPs had visited Busogo Genocide memorial site where 451 victims of genocide against Tutsi are laid to rest. Poor hygiene was also identified at Busogo memorial site.
Newly-elected Musanze district Mayor Jean Claude Musabyimana apologized for all the mistakes, and said, “We are very sorry for all the mistakes that were committed by my predecessors in regard to decent burial and safeguard of Genocide victims.”
The mayor promised to work with District partners to have a decent Genocide memorial site by next year.
The idea today, as for Musabyimana is to revamp the Busogo memorial site.