Four of the largest memorial sites for Rwanda’s 1994 genocide against Tutsis have been lined up for consideration to be granted the UNESCO World Heritage status.
Rwanda’s ministry of culture wrote to the UN agency on June 15 asking it to look into giving global status to the sites including; Gisozi (Kigali), Nyamata in Bugesera (eastern Province), Bisesero – in western Rwanda and Murambi, in the South.
We have now established from government sources that UNESCO wrote back on September 21 with indication that the process for consideration had been launched.
The four sites have been placed on what has been called the ‘tentative list’, suggesting there are high chances they could be selected.
The Gizozi site is famously known globally as the Kigali genocide Memorial site where some 300,000 victims are laid to rest. Last year, more than 42,000 foreigners visited the site.
The Mutambi site in Southern Rwanda where French troops based there splashed lime into mass graves where some 45,000 Tutsis had been dumped. Murambi was a technical school that turned into a slaughter ground.
By the time the site was redeveloped recently, the bodies had not decomposed. At the moment, the remains of full human structures are visible for visitor to see. Survivors of the massacres at Murambi report that French soldiers played volleyball on the mass graves.
As for Nyamata site, located some 30km outside Kigali, is where up to 30,000 Tutsis were left for dead by genocide militias using bombs, guns and machetes. Before the massacre, the site was a catholic church. But within a few days, the tens of thousands that had sought refuge there were no more.
Inside the Nyamata complex, there are cloths of the victims and many other personal belongings – all of which show human brutality, mass rape, brutalization of women and the use of HIV as a deliberate weapon of genocide.
As for the Bisesero site in western Rwanda, is where at least 30,000 victims perished. Tens of thousands of Tutsis sought refuge at this location because it was up in the hills believing they had escaped the militia.
They were regularly attacked by thousand of interahamwe with reinforcements from the French military based in the area at the time. Despite fighting back with stones and sticks, they could not hold back the fire power of the government militia forces.