Employees of the U.S. Embassy in Kigali held a memorial ceremony to honor 26 Mission employees who lost their lives during the 1994 genocide against Tutsi. Over 200 people participated in the event, including employees from the U.S. Department of State, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Defense and Peace Corps, as well as surviving members of the victims’ families.
At this years’ commemoration event, Ambassador Erica Barks-Ruggles was joined by Mr. Egide Nkuranga, First Vice President of Genocide Umbrella Association IBUKA and Dr. Jean Damascene Gasanabo, Director General of the National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide (CNLG). The Ambassador, along with surviving family members, laid wreaths at the Embassy’s memorial plaque in remembrance of the 26 U.S. Mission employees who perished.
In her remarks, Ambassador Barks-Ruggles highlighted the U.S. Embassy’s collaboration through a grant from the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation with CNLG and Penn State on preservation and conservation of genocide memorial sites and evidence. “Through this partnership a series of experts have come to Rwanda and the Nyamata Genocide Memorial site to work side by side with CNLG staff from memorial sites across the country and at headquarters on innovative textile preservation techniques, architectural conservation, and educational and training programs. … Their collective work will ensure that the entire world will always be able to see – for generations to come – what happened here, and use those lessons to fight hate and prevent genocide everywhere.”
The participants from today’s commemoration service will gather on April 13 for a Walk to Remember. They will walk from the U.S. Embassy in Kacyiru to the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi, where U.S. Ambassador Erica Barks-Ruggles and Embassy staff members will lay a wreath in honor of their fallen colleagues.
The memorial plaque on the U.S. Embassy grounds was unveiled in 2007 to honor and keep alive the memories of colleagues. In 2005, the U.S. Embassy employees created a Genocide Orphans Fund to assist orphans with their school fees and education expenses through their graduation from university. Most of them have now graduated from university, while three still benefit from this fund.
U.S. Mission to Rwanda, Kigali
Employees killed during the 1994 Genocide
Emmanuel J. Kayitare