Exhumations are underway in Rwanda’s Huye District, which have thus far uncovered 141 bodies in a mass grave of victims in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. The Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) has carried out a series of arrests against seven suspects who are accused of withholding information about the victims remains. One of the suspects has since been released, while the other six remain in detention.
Those who remain in detention include Jean Baptiste Hishamunda (86 years old), Seraphine Dusabemariya (61), Petero Habimana (89), Mariani Musasangohe (50), Marie Josee Uwabega (53), and Mediatrice Uwimana (54).
The bodies were discovered mostly underneath and around a house which sits on a compound owned by Hishamunda, which was inherited by Dusabemariya. Initially the bodies were discovered in October of 2023, when workers hired by Dusabemariya to build a fence around the compound discovered remains during contruction efforts, which they alerted local authorities about. Six bodies were first discovered around the home and kitchen, which lead to authorities deciding to demolish the house that was built upon the grave, in order to continue exhumations.
The area was in 1994 inhabited largely by soldiers of the regime which carried out the genocide. Two of the soldiers who lived there participated in genocidal acts, including the son of Hishamunda, who is presently serving a prison sentence at Huye prison following him pleading guilty. Although he pleaded guilty to genocide charges, Hishamunda’s son never disclosed to authorities the graves which were located on Hishamunda’s property.
Those arrested all have some sort of relation to each other. Dusabemariya, Musangangohe, and Uwabega are children of Jean Baptiste Hishamunda, while Habimana and Uwimana are neighbours of Dusabemariya, who inherited the property from Hishamunda.
Under Rwanda’s law n° 59/2018 of 22/8/2018, concealing information about the genocide, in this case about victim remains, is a crime. Those charged with the concealment of information face a minimum sentence of 7 years, and a maximum sentence of 9 years. Additionally, those charged will face a 500,000-1,000,00 Rwandan Franc (390.78-781.56 USD) fine.
30 Years On
The discovery of the remains, and the charges wrought, come as the 30th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide is steadily approaching. Several Rwandan genocide education groups are making efforts to educate the youth in Rwanda on the genocide.
Kwibuka30, the 30th national commemoration of the Rwandan genocide, will run from April 7th to July 4th, the dates which correspond to the beginning and end of the genocide in 1994.
The Rwandan genocide killed between 500,000 to over 1,000,000 ethnic Tutsi, moderate Hutu’s, and Twa within 100 days