Prince Charles meets genocide survivors in Rwanda

Hutu extremists in 1994 Rwanda A three-month killing spree targeted minority ethnic Tutsi and moderate Hutus, killing an estimated 800,000 people, although local estimates are higher.

In the basement below the church – which stands today as a memorial to the 1994 genocide – the skulls of unidentified Tutsi men are suspended above the coffin of a woman of the same ethnic group who died after an act of savage sexual violence. Went.

The attackers targeted such churches on the outskirts of the capital Kigali. According to the memorial’s manager Rachel Murekate, more than 10,000 people were killed here in two days. A mass grave behind the building is the final resting place of more than 45,000 people from the surrounding area killed in the violence.

Prince Charles appeared to be apparently shaken as he was shown around the church grounds, where bodies still unearthed elsewhere are still being brought, as the former assailant appeared to be moving to other graves as part of a reconciliation process that began in 1999. identify the.

The heir to the British throne is in Rwanda for the Commonwealth Leaders’ Summit later this week.

After showing the grave site, the 73-year-old Shahi laid a wreath in honor of the victims buried here. On its card, a note from the royal inscribed in the local Kinyarwanda language: “We will always remember the innocent souls who died in the genocide against Tutsi in April 1994. Be strong Rwanda. Charles.”

Shahi then visited Mbo Reconciliation Village, one of eight similar villages in Rwanda, where the genocide survivors and perpetrators live alongside each other. Criminals publicly apologize for their crimes, while survivors claim forgiveness.

Prince Charles meets a massacre survivor at Maibo Reconciliation Village.

The first day of his visit to Rwanda focused on learning more about the genocide that took place nearly three decades ago. Rwandan footballer and genocide survivor Eric Murangwa encouraged the prince to include Nyamata during his three-day visit to the country.

“We are currently living in what we call the ‘final stage of genocide,’ which is denial. And having someone like Prince Charles visit Rwanda and visit the memorial… How has managed to overcome the terrible past,” he said. told CNN earlier this month during a Buckingham Palace reception celebrating the contributions of the people of the Commonwealth.

Earlier on Wednesday, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, met with Rwanda’s President Kagame and First Lady Janet Kagame and visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial and Museum in Gisozi, which houses a quarter-million people.

“This monument is a place of remembrance, a place where survivors and visitors come and honor the victims of the genocide against Tutsi,” says Freddy Mutanguha, the site’s director and a genocide survivor himself. “In this memorial more than 250,000 victims were buried and their bodies were collected in different places … and this place” [has] Be an ultimate destination for our loved ones, our families.”

Genocide survivor Freddy Mutanguha, director of the Kigali Genocide Memorial and Museum.

Those families include their own, who once lived in the city of Kibuye in the country’s Western Province.

Mutanguha told CNN that he heard assailants killed his parents and siblings during the massacre, adding: “I went into hiding but I could hear their voices until they finished. I survived with my sister, but I also lost four sisters.”

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Keeping his memory alive now furthers his mission at the memorial.

“It’s a very important place for me as a survivor because besides where we buried our family, my mom is here in one of the mass graves, it’s a home for me, but also [it’s] A place where I work and I feel that responsibility. As a survivor I must speak, I must tell the truth about what happened to my family, my country and the Tutsi people.”

Graves at the Kigali Memorial for the victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

Mutanguha was eager to welcome Prince Charles to learn more about what happened here and help combat the growing online threat from genocide denials, which he compares to Holocaust denials.

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“That’s what really worries me because when the Holocaust happened, people didn’t learn from the past. When there was a genocide against the Tutsi, you can see the denialists of the genocide … mainly those who committed the genocide tha – they think they can do it again because they didn’t finish the job. So, I’m telling the story, working here and getting visitors, maybe we’ll ‘never again’ make it a reality.”

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A Clarence House spokesman said the royal couple were shocked by how important it is to never forget the horrors of the past. “But he was also deeply moved by listening to those who found ways to be with him and forgave even the most horrific crimes,” he said.

Prince Charles arrived in Rwanda on Tuesday night – the first member of the royal family to visit the country. He is representing the Queen at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali.

The meeting is usually held every two years but was rescheduled twice due to the pandemic. This is the first CHOGM he is attending since he was elected as the next head of the organization at the 2018 meeting.

However, the royal visit to Kigali comes at a somewhat strange time as Britain backs home on the government’s radical plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Britain’s government announced a deal with the East African country in April, although the inaugural flight was halted a week earlier after an eleventh-hour intervention by the European Court of Human Rights.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also been confirmed to attend the Commonwealth leaders’ summit and is expected to meet with Prince Charles on Friday morning.

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