Mon. Dec 16th, 2019

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Living after Death: The realities of Survivors and Perpetrators after the Genocide

Family photographs of some of those who died are found at the Kigali Genocide Memorial

Numerous publications have documented how and tentatively why the Genocide was perpetrated against Tutsis Population in Rwanda between April and July 1994 (Mamdani 2001; Prunier 1995; Des Forges 1999; Eltingham 2006; Ruvebana ).

It is necessary to mention that the Killing further targeted Hutus opposed to the Genocide agenda.

Dr. Felix Ndahinda wrote in his book entitled “Survivors of the Rwandan Genocide under Domestic and International legal procedures” that “The Genocide took place following nearly four years of a civil war between the rebel of Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) and its Army the Rwanda Patriotic Army and the Governmental Rwandan Army Forces (FAR).

“The Macabre plan to wipe out the entire Tutsi population of Rwanda did not materialize as it was halted with the Military victory of RPF/RPA.”


Dr. Felix Mdahinda giving a lecture/ Photo: Dusabemungu A. (2018)

From the start of the civil war in October 1990 to RPF victory in July 1994 over one million mothers, fathers, children and parents, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, friends and acquaintances, neighbors or simply human beings were slaughtered.

Dr. Ndahinda explains “Numerous Survivors witnessed the atrocities perpetrated against their loved ones as many of them were powerlessly victimized. Many of them bear the scars of rape, and other forms of sexual, physical and psychological violence that they suffered. ”

The destruction and desolation were indescribable in the immediate aftermath of the Genocide.

The chaos reached proportions that made it hard to imagine that there would be life in Rwanda particularly for survivors after the Genocide.

“It is not surprising to note that since aftermath of the Genocide, Rwanda features in thousands of academic or other publications and is favourite topic or destination for social scientists eager to test their ideas on people, societies and polities in post crises.” Reads the book.

More than 25 years after the Genocide, the scars are still visible and the wounds are far from healed.

In the early stage of after the Genocide, the lasting mental trauma-or Ihungabana as it is widely known in Rwanda-was and still is an omnipresent phenomenon with Rwandan Society.

Twenty five years since the 1994 genocide against Tutsis, Rwandan citizens continue to struggle with trauma with the latest report by the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide showing that the issue is not exclusive to survivors alone.

Recently the Executive Secretary of CNLG, Jean-Damascene Bizimana, told The New Times in an exclusive interview that a study conducted by his institution and the Ministry of Health in December last year indicates that all Rwandans have a level of trauma but those who survived the genocide are suffering more.

“The survivors have obvious reasons why they are traumatised. They were hunted down, their families were killed, they have to live with both physical and emotional pain so it is understandable that during the commemoration period, trauma cases shoot up,” he said.

Bizimana said that some people who committed genocide, especially those who are remorseful, are also struggling with trauma because they are being weighed

Jean Damascene Bizimana

“There are those who served their sentences and are genuinely remorseful because they have to live with the knowledge of their actions and it has caused them trauma.  Their children also face trauma because they have to deal with the fact that one or both their parents is in jail for committing such heinous crimes,” he said.

Read Also: Genocide: Rwandans struggle with trauma twenty five years on

Kinyinya: Genocide committed against Tutsi whose Scars remain alive

Peacedu wants a Post-Genocide Generation with a Critical Thinking

France and Genocide: This is what Rwanda wants from experts appointed by Macron

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