Some genocide memorial sites to go in new cost-cutting plan

Sunday April 23 2023

A picture taken on March 22, 2019 shows skulls of victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi at the Ntarama Genocide Memorial, in Rwanda's capital Kigali. PHOTO | AFP


The government plans to reduce the number of genocide memorial sites in districts to cut costs of their maintenance after refurbishment.

The bodies buried in the targeted memorial sites will be exhumed and reburied in other sites identified within the same districts.

“Working with all districts we have just completed an assessment of all district genocide memorial sites to establish which ones should be merged and those that will remain as they are,”

“What will be left will be for districts to set aside funds to merge the sites and also adequately take care of the remaining ones,” said JeanDamascène Bizimana, Minister for National Unity and Civic Engagement.

He said the districts authorities have already been informed memorial sites, which have been earmarked for destructions and the ones that will be retained. According to Mr Bizimana, some districts were found to have many genocide memorial sites, leading to high costs of maintenance at a time authorities are grappling with lack of funds to keep them in good shape.

“The ministry provides oversight and guidance in the process, there are guidelines the districts will follow while merging these sites. This is intended to make sure history and the memory of the 1994 Genocide Against Tutsi is preserved to posterity,” said Mr Bizimana.


According to guidelines, a site must have enough space to house and preserve genocide-related historical artefacts and items used to preserve the history. In addition, the site must have outer space in form of a garden to host people who visit them to pay tribute their family members and also hold commemoration events.

There are some districts that have five or six genocide memorial sites, but do not have enough resources to maintain them due to inadequate budgetary allocation. The proposal is backed by a Presidential Order guiding the process of merging genocide memorial sites for proper management and maintenance.

The exhumation and reburying of the bodies of victims of the 1994 Genocide Against Tutsi will be done following the usual ceremony that punctuates the burial of victims, where family members and friends will be around to show their loved ones respect as they are re-buried.

This activity that will be carried out in all districts of the country is, however, expected to bring fresh emotional memories to many survivors who had started healing .

The genocide memorial sites are in three categories, national level, local or district level and international sites. The memorial sites on the national level are Ntarama, Rebero, Nyarubuye, Gisozi, Nyamata, Nyange, Bisesero and Murambi, and are under the management of Minubumwe.

The Nyamata Genocide Memorial site located in the Bugesera district could be the first site to be added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, the first among this category from Rwanda.

A group of UNESCO experts recently visited the country following an application by Rwanda to include some of its genocide memorial sites among the heritage sites. They found Nyamata memorial to fit the bill.