Mass graves in a valley dam have been discovered in Rwanda and authorities say they could contain about 30,000 bodies. Today marks the 26th anniversary of the genocide that happened in Rwanda.
The genocide claimed over 800,000 lives altogether, but the coronavirus lockdown is preventing the people from commemorating the day to honor the dead. The East African nation’s lockdown is also impeding the exhumation process as well. However, 50 bodies have been recovered so far from the newly discovered graves.
The events surrounding the anniversary usually organised by the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission will be aired on television and social media as all public gatherings have been banned due to COVID-19, Associated Press reported.
This discovery couldn’t be timelier as many perpetrators of the genocide are being freed from prison after serving their sentences including Aloys Simba, a lieutenant colonel, who was released in December 2018 amid protests by the Rwandan government.
Some of the released inmates gave information of mass graves and other details pertaining to the dam burial site were given to authorities by residents.
“The challenge we face now is that the valley dam contains water, but we are trying to dry it up,” Naphtal Ahishakiye, the executive secretary of genocide survivor organization Ibuka, told The Associated Press. The valley is outside the capital, Kigali, in the country’s east.
The dam, which now holds over 30,000 bodies was put up years ago to provide water for rice farming, authorities say.
Upon the discovery of the remains of the victims of the genocide many survivors still question if there would ever be a thing as true reconciliation. It is their belief that the perpetrators might still have crucial intel about where many other victims have been buried.
Everybody knows about the ordeal both Hutus and Tutsis had to endure during the genocide. Hutu majority militias murdered the Tutsis and other Hutus who were anti-genocide shortly after the assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana.
Ahishakiye is bent on honoring the 50 exhumed victims in spite of all the hindrances being posed by the COVID-19 lockdown. He said they will try their best so that “we give the dead a decent burial.”