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1 Feb, 2024 15:05

Rwanda discovers more mass graves 30 years after genocide

The remains of over 200 people thought to have been victims of ethnic cleansing in 1994 have been unearthed in recent days
Rwanda discovers more mass graves 30 years after genocide

The remains of dozens of victims of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide have been discovered in mass graves in the country’s southern Huye district, authorities and an organization representing survivors of the massacre announced Wednesday.

Goretti Uwonkunda, a member of the excavation committee, told reporters that since the beginning of this week, the body parts of over 180 people have been dug out of burial pits at a banana plantation in Ngoma village.

This latest discovery adds to the 119 bodies unearthed over three days last week in the same village, as reported last Thursday by Napthali Ahishakiye, executive secretary of the genocide survivors’ group IBUKA.

An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by extremist Hutu factions during Rwanda’s 100-day bloodbath between April and July 1994. Roadblocks were reportedly erected, and Tutsis were dragged from their vehicles and murdered in Ngoma, where mass graves have been discovered.

Several Rwandan nationals implicated in the genocide are currently on trial outside of their home country after allegedly fleeing justice for years. Former gynecologist Sosthene Munyemana was found guilty of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity in December and sentenced to 24 years in prison. A Brussels court also handed down a life sentence to Seraphin Twahirwa, a former Rwandan militia leader, for directly participating in the atrocities committed by Hutu militiamen in Kigali during the mass murders.

According to IBUKA, over 100,000 bodies have been exhumed in Rwanda over the last five years. Last year, the remains of more than 1,000 people believed to have been victims of the genocide were discovered in mass graves on a Catholic parish plantation in Rusizi. IBUKA leader Ahishakiye said authorities in the landlocked county initially found six bodies 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 AFP last Thursday.

Huye district mayor Ange Sebutege has asked locals to volunteer information on where the bodies of victims can be found, as the digging continues to ensure they are properly buried.

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