Rwanda discovers more mass graves 30 years after genocide

Lazy eyes listen


Authorities and a survivors’ organisation revealed Wednesday that the bones of dozens of victims of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide had been unearthed in mass graves in the country’s southern Huye district.

According to Goretti Uwonkunda, a member of the excavation committee, around 180 people’s bodies have been excavated from burial trenches in a banana plantation in Ngoma village since the beginning of this week.

This recent discovery adds to the 119 dead discovered in the same area over three days last week, as revealed last Thursday by Napthali Ahishakiye, executive secretary of the genocide survivors’ organisation IBUKA.

Extremist Hutu factions slaughtered an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus during Rwanda’s 100-day bloodbath, which lasted from April to July 1994. Roadblocks were allegedly set up, and Tutsis were taken from their vehicles and slaughtered in Ngoma, where mass graves have been unearthed.

Several Rwandan nationals involved in the genocide are currently on trial outside of their own country after reportedly avoiding prosecution for years. Sosthene Munyemana, a former gynaecologist, was convicted of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity in December and sentenced to 24 years in prison. A Brussels court also sentenced Seraphin Twahirwa, a former Rwandan militia leader, to life in prison for personally participating in the atrocities committed by Hutu militants in Kigali during the mass murders.

According to IBUKA, approximately 100,000 bodies have been exhumed in Rwanda in the last five years. Last year, the bodies of approximately 1,000 persons thought to have been victims of the genocide were unearthed in mass graves on a Catholic parish plantation in Rusizi. IBUKA head Ahishakiye stated that authorities in the landlocked county discovered six dead under a house being built in Huye district last October.

“We suspect that similar mass graves remain undiscovered across the country, because there are survivors looking for their loved ones, 30 years after the genocide,” Ahishakiye told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.

Huye district mayor Ange Sebutege has requested villagers to offer information on where the bodies of victims can be located, as the digging continues to ensure that they are properly buried.