Photo Credit: Fanny Schertzer / Wikimedia
The recently discovered bodies of 157 victims of the Rwandan Genocide have been laid to rest in a former Anglican Church, alongside the bodies of 36,700 victims already buried there. On 15 April 1994, more than 25,000 people seeking refuge and sanctuary at the Ruhango Episcopal Anglican Church were slaughtered. The church is now a memorial for the victims. The scenes at Ruhango were repeated at other churches across Rwanda. While several of them have been turned into memorials; Ruhango is the only Anglican church that has become a memorial site.
This week, thousands of mourners gathered at the site to pay their respects to the 157 victims as their bodies were laid to rest in the mass grave.
“It was always a challenge that our people could not get a decent burial,” Gerald Mudahemuka, whose parents and relatives were killed in the church, said in an interview with The New Times newspaper. “We have been searching for them. Now that we found them, we pray that they rest in peace and we will continue to push so we get the remains of other relatives as well.”
One of the few people to survive the slaughter was Claudine Uwizeyimana, who was a teenager when the church was attacked. Speaking at the service, she said: “on 14 April, Interahamwe militia attacked us but people resisted,” The New Times reported. “The next day they came equipped, at around 10 am they came, there was initially some resistance but the killers were ready and well-armed. They shot people from outside the church before breaking the doors and windows and entered, many were killed, including my brother.”
The Rwandan government says it will continue to support survivors of the genocide and help to locate further bodies.