In 100 days during 1994, almost a million people were killed in Rwanda. This ethnic cleansing was horrific and to commemorate this Genocide war, the Rwandan government has put into place a number of Memorial sites across the country.
The Murambi Genocide Memorial Site acknowledges the slaughter of 65,000 people in local technical school and nearby church. Several corpses have been preserved at the school, which has been refurbished and is now a holocaust exhibit. At the exhibition there are a number of burial rooms which are available for viewing to visitors. The guides who will give you a narration as you tour the facility are survivors themselves. A single mass grave was prepared for the victims of this massacre.
Apparently, the mayor of Murambi and the Bishop lured people to enter the Technical School to hide, claiming the French troops would protect them. On April 16, 1994, 65,000 gathered there; soon after the water was turned off to the school and no food was given to them. Too weak to resist, on April 21th, they were overrun by the Hutu Interhamwe Militiamen; 45,000 were killed that day. The 20,000 that escaped, sought refuge in a nearby church, but were slaughtered the next day.
The Gisozi Memorial Site is located in Gasabo district, 10 minutes from the center of Kigali. The victims of both the Tutsis and Hutus are buried here; over 300,000 bodies. The Gisozi Memorial Site features a display house, a library, the cemetery and a photo gallery. A lot of effort has gone into this particular site, especially in terms of providing documented evidence of the holocaust details. This site is a guided experience; either with a local guide or a digital guide. The center is open 7 days a week from 8 to 5, with the exception of the last Saturday of each month. The Gisozi Memorial Center offers an Educational Tour which is enhanced with teaching the importance of conflict prevention and peace building.
The Gisenyi Memorial Site is located just outside the town of Gisenyi, on the grounds of an otherwise ordinary cemetery. Gisenyi is a Rwanda/Congo border town at the foot of a mountain. Here the remains of over 1,200 victims of the holocaust are kept. This is recognized as the first memorial site established; the help of Ibuka was enlisted to organize this site, as well as the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture. The bodies buried at this site were people collected from Nyundo and the area of Corniche, and killed here. Madame Carr, an American who managed the Imbabazi orphanage, is buried in this area. As the genocide was instigated in this region, many of the inhabitants of Gisenyi would like the Memorial Site to be more dignified; with the addition of exhibits and photos, to set the graves apart from the ordinary tombs in the cemetery.
The Nyamata Memorial Site is located in Bugesera District; it is 35 kilometers from Kigali. The site was originally the Church where 10,000 people sought refuge and were killed. Another 35,000 were killed around the church compound between April 10th and 12th, 1994. The building has been converted into a Memorial Site, and no longer functions as a church. Inside, there are the bloodied clothing of the victims on display. The walls of the church show where the grenades blew holes in the walls. There is also a underground Crypt, where thousands of skulls, femurs and other bones belonging to the 45,000 that were so savagely murdered here.
The Bisesero Memorial Site is located in Karongi district on the slopes of Kibuye Region in Western Rwanda. There were over 30,000 people killed in this region. Bisesero is the place that the Tutsis organized their resistance to the slaughter they were subjected to. Unfortunately, after holding them at bay for 3 months, the Hutus overpowered them with their superior weapons. The story told is that after resisting the Hutus for three months, the French soldiers came to help, but retreated and said they would return in a few days. The Tutsis had left their guard posts in the hills to work with the French, who then left. Immediately, the French left, the Hutus attacked and killed almost everyone; leaving a few injured for the French soldiers to find when they returned. The site is referred to as the Hill of Resistance; the memorial is comprised of 9 small structures representing the Nine communities which initially formed the Kibuye Region. There is a graveyard being constructed on the site to accommodate the 50,000 to 60,000 bodies that had been killed here.
The Nyarubuye Memorial Site is the location of a convent and school where over 20,000 people were slaughtered and buried. Nyarubuye is 140 kilometers east of Kigali. Many of the Tutsis were killed as they attempted to flee to Tanzania; the balance were seeking refuge in the Catholic Church and killed indiscriminately. Apparently the attackers allegedly used spears, machetes, clubs, hand grenades and automatic weapons to kill their victims. The convent is now the Memorial Site and the school has been renovated and has reopened with a number of students from the area.
The Nyanza Memorial Site has been the location of a school governed by the UN called ETO. Here the UN officials had come to provide security to the Rwandese just before the genocide. When the war started, the UN officials were returned home and the remaining Tutsis and few Hutus were slaughtered at this site. A new Genocide Memorial Site was constructed in 2014 where 60 of the holocaust victims were buried. Each year on the 11th of April, there is a memorial ritual that is conducted at this site to
The Ntarama Memorial Site is located in Bugesera, about 30 kilometers from Kigali. Here over 5,000 people were slaughtered in the local church on August 15, 1994. The church being the sole place to seek refuge, many came and were discovered and killed; mostly women and children. As in many other locations, the Church that was sought for refuge became the killing ground. The church has not been altered and remains a Memorial Site as is.