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Bisesero Genocide Memorial Centre

Bisesero Genocide Memorial Centre Rwanda

Bisesero Genocide Memorial Centre is situated on top of the Muyira hill one of the hills of the Western Kibuye province where some 40,000 people were butchered. The region around Bisesero became known for the acts of resistance from Tutsis who tried to arrange themselves against the mass murders. This was generally unproductive as they were fighting with sticks against the well-armed and trained soldiers. The memorial site consists of 9 small buildings which symbolize the nine communes that formerly made up the province of Kibuye. Now the site where the memorial was built is called the “Hill of Resistance” because of the people’s resistance against their murderers.

At Bisesero genocide memorial’s entry point is an arch with an inscription in local Kinyarwanda language “Urwibutsorwa Jenoside Yakorewe Abatutsi Bisesero 1994” Translated as “The Memorial of the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsis in Bisesero in 1994”. A staircase attaches different mass graves located on the top with three houses where the bones of the victims are kept. Every year on April 7th, a commemorative event is held in in Bisesero. The date marks the beginning of the 1994 genocide perpetrated against members of the Tutsi minority.

Bisesero memorial centre is among the major Genocide centres in Rwanda that memorialize the 1994 countrywide Rwandan genocide that took close to a million people. The others are the Kigali Memorial Centre, the biggest and most visited during the Kigali City tour. Others are Murambi Memorial Centre, Ntarama Genocide Memorial Centre, Nyamata Memorial Centre, Nyanza Genocide Centre and Nyarubuye Memorial Centre and the Campaign Against Genocide Museum, one of the Kigali city tourist places.

Background to the Genocide

Rwandan population mainly consists of two major ethnic groups, these are Hutus and Tutsis. By the end of the 19th century, European colonizers depended on the Tutsi minority to form the colonial structure. With the course of decolonization that happened in the 1950s, ethnic conflicts between Hutus and Tutsis started and raged on for a long time. The assassination of Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana on April 6, 1994 activated the rise to a few weeks of extreme butcheries committed by the Hutus against the Tutsis. It is projected that about a million people were exterminated whereas roughly 200,000 Rwandese were victims of torture and sexual violence.

In May 1994, thousands of Tutsis took refuge in the hills of Bisesero and were killed as they lacked resources and tools to resist. Many were butchered helplessly and less than two thousand people lived.

Pursuant to resolution 955 of November 8, 1994, the United Nations Security Council put up the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. This tribunal’s sole agenda was to specifically prosecute individuals responsible for genocide and other severe abuses of international humanitarian law committed in the land of Rwanda and Rwandan citizens responsible for genocide and other such violations committed in the territory of neighboring States. Over time, many genocide perpetrators have been arrested, tried and sentenced accordingly.