UNESCO Adds 4 Rwandan Genocide Memorials to World Heritage List
18:27 21.09.2023 (Updated: 13:36 01.11.2023)
In 1994, the Hutu ethnic group launched a genocide against the smaller Tutsi community and moderate Hutu who refused to participate in the killings. Between April and June 1994, some 800,000 people - overwhelmingly Tutsis, but also Twa and others - were killed.
Rwandan memorials at Nyamata, Murambi, Gisozi and Bisesero erected in honor of victims of the 1994 genocide have been included on UNESCO's World Heritage list, the body said on X (formerly Twitter).
UNESCO's decision was adopted by the cultural body's committee at the 45th session in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) that sits from the September 10 to 25.
Two of the sites were scenes of massacres related to genocide: a Catholic church built on Nyamata Hill (southeastern Rwanda) in 1980 and a technical school built on Murambi Hill (south of the country) in 1990.
The third newly-added World Heritage Site, Gisozi Hill in the city of Kigali, houses the Kigali Genocide Memorial built in 1999, where more than 250,000 victims are buried. At the memorial lie skulls, bone fragments, remnants of clothing and images of corpses.
Another listed location is Bisesero Hill (western Rwanda), which features a memorial built in 1998 to commemorate the struggle of those who resisted the perpetrators for more than two months before being wiped out.
18 September 2023, 13:11
Rwandan authorities welcomed the memorials' inclusion on the World Heritage List, calling it a "historic decision."
"This historic decision will help safeguard memory, counter denial and strengthen genocide prevention efforts globally," Rwandan government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo said.
Ibuka, an association representing genocide survivors, also hailed UNESCO's initiative. Naphthali Ahishakiye, executive secretary of the organization, told media that the inclusion of the memorials would make the tragic events in Rwanda better known across the world.
The genocide was sparked shortly after the country's ethnic Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana was murdered. His plane was shot down in an attack the government blamed on Tutsi rebels. The persuing massacres ceased only after the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front defeated Hutu extremists in July 1994.