May 27, 2019

Genocide Survivors Demand Memorial Site At Church Where Only Children And Women Were Massacred

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Speaker of the Lower Chamber of Parliament Donatile Mukabalisa lays wreath at a memorial site in Kibirizi sector. However, survivors of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, want the ‘Ibambiro’ hill to be declared place of historical significance and possibly a national memorial site as a particular group of people were killed from there (Photo by UMUSEKE)

Calls are growing for government to build a national memorial site at a Pentecostal church in Southern Rwandan where only children, women and girls were collected from neighbouring region and locked in it – to be killed.

The church is located in Kibirizi sector of Nyanza district, on a hill called “Ibambiro” or Crucification spot, named after the massacre which took place there on May 4, 1994.

There is already a genocide memorial site in Kibirizi sector with 6,000 victims, but the horror which took place at ADEPR Kibirizi (Pentecost Church of Rwanda), has to be recognized as a place of historical significance, according to IBUKA, the national umbrella association of survivors.

From April 21, 1994, interahamwe militias roamed around Ntyazo commune, now Kibilizi sector, killing the men and taking away the women, girls and children. These were gather in ADEPR Kibirizi church.

On the day of the massacre, May 4, a bleeding elderly man was brought to the site by the militia to be killed together with the women.

In total, 454 people including 445 females and that man were killed in the church. Their bodies were dumped in mass grave in the Church’s compound.

Only 5 women survived, who have lived on to tell the carnage. Apparently, the interahamwe agreed that the sole man would be killed with the women so that he could “satisfy the women’s sexual desires in the after-life”.

This church is still standing today.

At a commemoration event held this past Sunday May 27 in Nyanza district, the Speaker of the Lower Chamber of Parliament Donatile Mukabalisa was reminded that ADEPR Kibirizi massacre site needs to be given special status, if possible a full memorial site.

Forongo Janvier, speaking on behalf genocide survivors from that region called on the national commission for the fight against genocide (CNLG) to undertake research on the site to document terrible history of the area.

Ngutete Justine, one of the survivors from ADEPR church massacre, also repeated the same call to the Speaker.

In the Speaker’s delegation was Solina Nyirahabimana the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, under whose docket falls women and children affairs.

Speaker Mukabalisa did not comment specifically about the message from the survivors as she read from a prepared speech.

Ntazinda Erasme, the Mayor of Nyanza District told The Chronicles that negotiations had been concluded to secure from ADEPR church that land so that a memorial can be erected.

However, added the mayor, constructing a memorial is the responsibility of the central government, and that it will be the one to move forward with the project.

When The Chronicles contacted Rev. Karuranga Ephrem, the head of Pentecost Church of Rwanda, he said it was the first time he was hearing of talk about plans for memorial site at that particular church in Nyanza district.

“No one has raised the issue of the land where our church is located as a possible memorial site. In case we get the request, we will sit together with local officials and CNLG to evaluate whether a memorial site can be set up there,” said Rev. Karuranga.

Naphtal Ayishakiye, the IBUKA executive secretary said they will continue advocating for a memorial site at ADEPR Kibirizi even when the government raises issue of inadequate resources.

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