Rwanda: Over 2,000 Genocide Victims’ Bodies Discovered in Huye to Get Decent Burial

Huye District will accord a decent burial to 2,073 bodies of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi victims that were discovered under a house and a field.

The first six bodies were discovered in October, 2023, as workers were building a fence around the compound that belongs to a one Jean Baptiste Hishamunda in Ngoma sector.

Neighbours and the owners of the home had concealed information about the victims’ whereabouts for a long time according to officials.

“The Genocide victims’ bodies will get a decent burial on April 30 in Ngoma Genocide memorial during a commemoration activity that is planned,” Ange Sebutege, the Mayor of Huye District told The New Times.

Meanwhile the land where the bodies were exhumed is being prepared to establish a symbol that massacres were committed during the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi.

According to testimonies, the area was inhabited by soldiers of the genocidal regime, two of whom are said to have committed genocide crimes including the son of Hishamunda, who is currently serving a sentence in Huye prison after pleading guilty.

Despite pleading guilty he never shared information about the victims’ remains dumped in mass graves at his home.

The suspects being pursued for concealing the information include 86-year-old Jean Baptiste Hishamunda, Seraphine Dusabemariya, 61 , Petero Habimana, 89, Mariani Musasangohe, 50, Marie Josee Uwabega, 53, and Mediatrice Uwimana, 54.

Sifa Nyirakiromba, 68, was released while the six suspects will be arraigned in court.

Dusabemariya, Musangangohe, and Uwabega are children of Jean Baptiste Hishamunda, while Habimana and Uwimana are neighbours of Dusabemariya.

Crimes related to concealing Genocide related information on the rise

According to Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), there is an increase in crimes related to concealing, destroying, eliminating, or degrading evidence or information relating to genocide, which saw a rise of 120 percent.

However, this increase is viewed positively by RIB, as it signifies a growing awareness of the legal impact associated with withholding crucial information regarding genocide.

This surge in cases, from 44 in 2019 to 97 in 2023, demonstrates progress, as individuals are increasingly disclosing the whereabouts of genocide victims’ remains, thus contributing to the process of healing and reconciliation according to RIB.

In 2019, there were 128 genocide ideology cases, which decreased to 69 cases in 2020, followed by a slight increase to 88 cases in 2021, a drop to 56 cases in 2022, and a subsequent increase to 87 cases in 2023.

Cases of genocide denial numbered 24 in 2019, decreased to 11 in 2020, slightly rose to 12 in 2021, increased to 14 in 2022, and decreased again to 11 in 2023.

The trivialization or minimizing of genocide crimes followed a similar pattern, with 51 cases in 2019, dropping to 26 cases in 2020, remaining stagnant at 26 cases in 2021, decreasing to 18 cases in 2022, and rising to 25 cases in 2023.

An analysis of 3,563 suspects over the five years reveals that individuals aged 31-40 represent the largest demographic, comprising 29.9 percent of all suspects, followed by those aged 41-50 at 22.3 percent.

Concealing information about genocide remains is a crime according to law n° 59/2018 of 22/8/2018 on the crime of genocide ideology and related crimes. articles 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10, prohibit any actions that are aimed at denying, undermining, or trivialising the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Any person who commits the said offence, upon conviction, is liable to imprisonment of not less than seven years and not more than nine years, with a fine of not less than Rwf500, 000 and not more than Rwf1,000,000.