COVID-19: Minimal genocide commemoration events expected in Rwanda

Rwanda’s 26th commemoration of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi will take place, but with limited events to be held due to the coronavirus outbreak, a senior official said Saturday.

People prepare coffins containing newly discoverd remains of 84,437 victims of the 1994 genocide before a funeral ceremony at the Nyanza Genocide Memorial, suburb of the capital Kigali, on May 4, 2019. – The remains of nearly 85,000 people murdered in Rwanda’s genocide were laid to rest on May 4 in a sombre ceremony in Kigali, a quarter of a century after the slaughter./AFP/Getty Images

Jean-Damascene Bizimana, executive secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide, said on Rwanda TV that the commemoration, due on April 7, will take place, but not in the usual ways.

“The commemoration will be launched at Kigali Memorial site as usual with bowing in silence to pay respects to more than 1 million people killed in the genocide, laying of wreaths at the graves, and lighting of a flame,” he said. “But the ceremonies will be brief and with limited number of people.”

Bizimana said similar ceremonies will take place in districts countrywide, but with limited number of participants, as the Ministry of Health reported six new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the total to 60.

The Walk to Remember, an event which normally takes place in the afternoon, will not be held across the country in order to avoid large gatherings in the face of COVID-19, he said, adding a night vigil, which usually follows the Walk to Remember, will not take place, either.

Bizimana said that the two events will be replaced by discussions aimed at educating people about the genocide through different media platforms.

The national mourning week will begin on April 7 and end on April 13, during which the country will remember those killed in the three-month genocide.