Memorial honoring victims of Genocide against the Tutsi unveiled in Namur

By Karirima Aimable Ngarambe
On 30 April 2024 at 07:30

Residents of Namur, a city in the French-speaking region of Wallonie, Belgium, gathered to witness the unveiling of a memorial dedicated to the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The event took place on April 27, 2024, at "MusAfrica," a museum that showcases African history.

The ceremony featured various dignitaries, including André Bucyana, the Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Rwandan Embassy in Belgium; Eliane Tillieux, President of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives; Maxime Prévot, Mayor of Namur; Claire Kayirangwa, representing Ibuka-Belgique; Lionel Karugarama, President of the Rwandan Diaspora in Namur; along with many Rwandans and their friends from different cities in Belgium.

In his address, André Bucyana expressed profound gratitude to the organizers, stating, "Today marks a significant moment in this city as we unveil a memorial to the Genocide against the Tutsi, 30 years later. It underscores that the genocide is not just a chapter in Rwandan history but a part of global history. We gather here to remember and honor the victims and to stand in solidarity with the survivors."

Namur also holds historical significance as the birthplace of 10 Belgian soldiers who were killed during their peacekeeping mission in Rwanda at the onset of the genocide.

These soldiers were part of the team guarding Prime Minister Agathe Uwiringiyimana, who was assassinated for opposing the malevolent political climate that led to the genocide, which claimed over a million Tutsi lives.

Mayor Maxime Prévot acknowledged Belgium’s controversial role in the events leading up to the genocide, stating, "Thirty years have passed since the genocide. To comprehend the depth of your grief, one must put themselves in your shoes. We must acknowledge that during those times, the world abandoned Rwanda, enabling the Interahamwe to commit unprecedented atrocities.

Belgium’s introduction of ethnic classifications in Rwandan national IDs in 1931 contributed significantly to the genocide."

The event also included a powerful testimony from Rwayitare Providence, a genocide survivor. Lionel Karugarama commented on the significance of the memorial, saying, "On this day, April 27, we finally have a memorial where we can gather, lay flowers, and remember."

Philbert Rugumire, representative of the delegation organizing the commemoration events in Namur, remarked, "This memorial stands as a symbol of resistance against those who distort our history, those who deny or downplay the Genocide against the Tutsi."

The day concluded with an evening of remembrance, extending into the late hours, featuring testimonies and commemoration songs.

Similar memorials have been unveiled in other Belgian cities including Brussels, Liège, Mons, Charleroi, and Tournai.

Photos during walk to remember

Unveiling the memorial and laying of wreaths

Lionel Karugarama, President of Rwandan Diaspora in Namur with Maxime Prévot, the mayor of Namur
Philbert Rugumire, representative of the delegation organizing the commemoration events in Namur.
Claire Kayirangwa, represented Ibuka-Belgique

Commemoration talks

Maxime Prévot, Mayor of Namur
Eliane Tillieux, President of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives
i André Bucyana, the Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Rwandan Embassy in Belgium
Genocide survivor, Rwayitare Providence shared testimonies.

Photos: Jessica Rutayisire