As Rwanda marks 27 years of its genocide today, authorities have uncovered a mass grave pit which is estimated to contain about 30,000 bodies of the mass killing victims during the genocide.
According to reports, the grave pit was discovered through the account of some convicted persons of the genocide who have been released after serving their sentences and some residents closer to the pit.
The grave was found in a valley outside Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. A total of 50 bodies have been exhumed so far with efforts by authorities to exhume the bodies for a befitting burial being hampered due to the coronavirus pandemic which calls for social distancing.
According to a report by The Independent, the discovery is being called the most significant in years and comes ahead of the 26th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide happening today, Tuesday, April 7, 2020.
“The challenge we face now is that the valley dam contains water, but we are trying to dry it up,” said Naphtal Ahishakiye, the executive secretary of genocide survivor organisation Ibuka.
Authorities said the dam was dug years before the genocide to provide water for rice farming. As graves of genocide victims are discovered, some survivors have questioned whether true reconciliation can be realised if perpetrators of the killings conceal information about where people were buried.
Exhuming bodies during the coronavirus pandemic is very challenging since people cannot gather, said Mr. Ahishakiye, adding: “But we try our best so that we give the dead a decent burial.”
The country will follow events for this year’s anniversary on television and social media due to a ban on public gatherings.
The genocide took place between 7 April and 15 July in 1994. Ethnic Hutu extremists targeted and slaughtered members of the minority Tutsi community, as well as their political opponents irrespective of their ethnic origin. About 70 percent of the country’s Tutsi population was killed.