Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Nyanza Memorial

When killing started in Kigali, between 2000 and 3000 people took refuge at the Official Technical School (ETO), located on the outskirts of Kigali.  The school had quickly earned a reputation as a safe haven because some United Nations Peacekeeping Forces were stationed there.  However, just a few days after the genocide started, many United Nations (UN) troops were withdrawn. 

At the ETO, the Rwandan government soldiers spoke with the UN forces and assured them that the displaced peoples gathered at the school would be safe.  Then, the UN forces, as ordered by their superiors, left Rwanda. 

However, the Rwandan soldiers who had assured that they would protect the people gathered at ETO had actually planned to kill them.  An interviewee working at the memorial told me that almost immediately after the UN forces left, the genocide perpetrators marched the displaced peoples to a location near the school.  There they ran into reporters and, afraid of international attention, decided to bring the people to a secluded forest nearby.  The forest was also the site of a dump, and as the Tutsis were considered “waste,” it was seen as appropriate to bring them to the dump to die. 

The killing started in the evening on April 11th, and after three hours of killing, those perpetrating the genocide went home.  As an interviewee noted, they decided they had done a good job of killing (killing was referred to as “work” and was literally a day job for many people during the genocide) and that they would return the next day to kill anyone who survived and also search the bodies for valuables.

The next day, though, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (an army comprised mainly of Tutsis who had been fighting with the Rwandan Government for several years) arrived and prevented killers from returning. 

Today, the memorial site is located where the victims were killed.  The site is also the headquarters of IBUKA.  The word "ibuka" means "remember," and IBUKA is an umbrella organization that gathers organizations dedicated to helping genocide survivors.   

1 comment:

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