April 27, 2021

Keeper At Genocide Memorial Site Takes Out Coffins To Use For Cooking

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April 9, 2017: Remains of victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi at Nyundo Cathedral, are laid to rest in this new memorial site

A person in charge of keeping a major genocide memorial site in Rubavu district has caused shock in the area after it emerged that some items are missing.

The Nyundo genocide memorial site is where 851 victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, are laid to rest. However, since 2017, some coffins and clothing used to cover the coffins, have been disappearing.

Local media says 32 coffins are missing out of the total 37 coffins. The volunteer keeper of the site, who also does the cleaning, is reported to have confessed that he took away the wooden coffins to use for cooking because they had been destroyed by termites.

The Rubavu district branch of IBUKA, the umbrella organization of genocide survivors has been holding meetings in past days to establish what was really going on.

If indeed it is ascertained that some items are missing from the Nyundo site, it will be one such incident that has happened in the country. It will cause reverberations across the country. Apart from few cases of desecration like taking away flowers, no such thing as coffins or the clothing being taken away, has happened before.

The Nyundo genocide memorial site is a new one and was opened in 2017. Before that, up to until 2012, the remains of the victims were buried at a site which flooded that year as result of heavy rain which had led to the overflowing of River Sebeya.

Since the flooding had been taking place annually, local authorities decided to temporarily relocate the genocide remains to the nearby Nyundo Cathedral. It is at this site that those Tutsi victims were actually killed on April 9, 1994.

When the new Nyundo memorial site was completed, the remains of the victims were moved from the Cathedral on April 9, 2017.

For the burial, the remains were placed in new durable wooden coffins, which are accompanied by often by cloth coverings as is the custom.

However, it was also decided that the old coffins and clothing should also be put in the memorial site for historical purposes. Visitors to the site would be able to see these old coffins and clothing.

But then, according to IBUKA, most of the old coffins are currently missing, as well as some of the clothing.

Officials confirmed the development to local media and an investigation is underway to establish the clear facts.

Meanwhile, the keeper of the site will serve as the first suspect to be questioned.

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