Rwanda part V - 100 days


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Africa » Rwanda
August 23rd 2013
Published: September 11th 2013
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"At my signal, unleash Hell"



On April 6 1994 Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira were assassinated when the plane they flew in was shot down while approaching Kigali Airport. That event was the signal that started the Rwandan Genocide. Over a period of only 100 days, from April 6 to mid July, between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Rwandans, mostly of the "ethnic group" Tutsis, were systematically murdered. In recent years the Rwandans have started to call the genocide "the Genocide Against the Tutsis". This change of name clearly points out the Tutsis as the victims and consequently the Hutus accept the responsibility for the mass murder.



The reason we write "ethnic group" in quotation marks is that Hutus and Tutsis aren't separate ethnic groups at all. It was the colonial rulers in the 19th century that that came up with the idea of there being different ethnic groups. But the selection process that determined whether a person was a Hutu or a Tutsi was more or less random and had nothing to do with ethnicity.



When travelling in Rwanda we were surprised over how little evidence there is in
The Nyanza Genocide Memorial in Kigali The Nyanza Genocide Memorial in Kigali The Nyanza Genocide Memorial in Kigali

Black wall with names of victims. Finding out the names of all the victims is a difficult and slow process. They have begun putting up names on this black wall but they have so far just begun
everyday life of these horrible events. It was only 19 years ago that entire Rwanda was nothing but a lawless chaos. Today Rwanda with any standards is a well functioning and very safe country. Of course most people carry scars, physical and/or emotional, and how the two "ethnic groups" Hutus and Tutsis get along with each other is difficult for us to say.



All over Rwanda there are memorials over the people who were killed during the genocide, sites where massacres took place are preserved to keep as reminders of the horrible events back in 1994 and in Kigali there is a genocide memorial and study centre. With this blog entry we have no other purpose than to show what various genocide related sites look like and we hope people who are planning a visit to Rwanda decides to go and visit one or more of these places. Visiting these places and reading or listening to stories of what really happened during the 100 days when hundreds of thousands of people were killed only because they had an identity paper saying they were Tutsis is of course very unpleasant. But it is and for a very long
The Nyanza Genocide Memorial in Kigali The Nyanza Genocide Memorial in Kigali The Nyanza Genocide Memorial in Kigali

The flame above the pool is lit every year for 100 days from April 6 to mid July, the dates when the Rwandan Genocide took place
time will be very much a part of Rwanda's history, a part that visitors to the country should not ignore.



Here follows a short presentation of the various places we visited on our visit to Rwanda:



The Nyanza Genocide Memorial in Kigali is a memorial, a museum of the genocide, a mass grave with victims and a study centre. It is a good place to get an idea of the chains of events that led up to the genocide and how carefully planned it was. The actual genocide started on April 6, 1994 but many years prior to that date hatred against the Tutsis had been built up using various propaganda tools.



The Camp Kigali Memorial is a place where 10 Belgian UN soldiers were killed in the very beginning of the genocide. The soldiers were deliberately targeted right in the beginning of the genocide as a tactical move. The plan was that if a group of foreigners were killed the international community would be scared off and would hesitate to intervene later on. Today we know that this plan worked very well because the UN quickly evacuated all its personal
The Nyanza Genocide Memorial in Kigali The Nyanza Genocide Memorial in Kigali The Nyanza Genocide Memorial in Kigali

Mass grave where thousands of victims are buried. Still today when bodies are discovered they are brought here for their final rest
and did nothing to stop the killings.



Nyamata and Ntarama genocide memorials: In the villages Nyamata and Ntarama just south of Kigali thousands of people took refuge in the local church hoping that the Hutus wouldn't kill people while they were in a holy place. When the Tutsis hid themselves in a tiny enclosed space neither being able to flee nor fight it only made the work easier for the Hutus. Some of the stories we heard when we visited these places were so awful that it is unimaginable that people can be so cruel and evil towards each other.



Hôtel des Mille Collines was made famous through the movie Hotel Rwanda where the true story of how the hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina managed to save Tutsis from being killed by keeping them inside the hotel. It is said that as many as 1,268 people were staying in the hotel while the killings were going on all over Kigali and the rest of Rwanda.


Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


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Hôtel des Mille CollinesHôtel des Mille Collines
Hôtel des Mille Collines

Hôtel des Mille Collines was made famous through the movie Hotel Rwanda
Hôtel des Mille CollinesHôtel des Mille Collines
Hôtel des Mille Collines

Hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina managed to save 1,268 Tutsis from being killed by keeping them inside the hotel.
The Camp Kigali Memorial The Camp Kigali Memorial
The Camp Kigali Memorial

The building where the Belgian UN soldiers were killed
The Camp Kigali Memorial The Camp Kigali Memorial
The Camp Kigali Memorial

Memorial over the Belgian UN soldiers
The Camp Kigali Memorial The Camp Kigali Memorial
The Camp Kigali Memorial

The names of the Belgian UN soldiers
NtaramaNtarama
Ntarama

In Ntarama thousands of people taking shelter in the local church were murdered
NtaramaNtarama
Ntarama

Blood stains of some of the victims can still be seen on the wall
NyamataNyamata
Nyamata

Mass grave with the victims of the massacre in Nyamata church
NyamataNyamata
Nyamata

In this church 10,000 people took shelter hoping that they were safe in a holy place.
Mass graveMass grave
Mass grave

Mass grave in Karongi
Memorial in KarongiMemorial in Karongi
Memorial in Karongi

Human skulls from victims of the genocide on display in Karongi
Memorial Memorial
Memorial

This genocide memorial in Nyakarambi is one of many throughout Rwanda
Rwandan ParliamentRwandan Parliament
Rwandan Parliament

The building that houses the Rwandan Parliament is full of bullet holes. A reminder from the events in 1994


11th September 2013

Difficult but important!
Bravo for you for visiting these painful places and sharing your experiences. We must remember atrocities, so that hopefully next time, we will not allow the innocent to suffer. Curious that your blog comes at the time of atrocities in Syria and where diplomatic, not military means hopefully will prevent further carnage. May peace prevail!
12th September 2013

THANK YOU
Your Rwandan blogs have been a helpful insight as you have spent some time in the country and are not just the observations of casual visitors. I do draw issue with your comments of no ethnic difference between Hutu & Tutsi...quite distinct physical differences in noses for instance which made it easy for them to pick out each other in the massacres. I understand they are all Rwandans now and ethnic difference is politically not recognised. Look forward to seeing where you go next.
12th September 2013

Next travel destination
Well, I guess my next travel destinations will be a bit of a disappointment. I have already done the travels but have not yet written the blogs. Those coming up are Normandie, Brussels and Czech Republic

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