The exhibition consists of archives that were borrowed from ‘les archives Nationales de France’ and were adapted at Kigali by Iriba center.
The archives comprise some of the trials of the organizers and perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
These include the trial of Pascal Simbikangwa in 2014, Octavien Ngenzi and Tito Barahira after their appeal in 2018.
The exhibition also shows the trials held after World War II including those called the Nuremberg trials between 1945 and 1946 one of the first trials regarding Genocide crimes.
Nuremberg was also known for the ‘Nuremberg laws’ which defined who is a Jew and who is not a Jew. These laws played a big role in what the Nazi called the final solution to the Jewish question.
We can also see in the archives for the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961. He was apprehended by Mossad in 1960 and brought to Israel to stand trial.
These two trials were called the pioneering trials because they were the first to hold accountable these sorts of crimes.
These archives were initially shown in Paris, later in Berlin and are currently in Rwanda.
There is also a special part of the Gacaca trials under Gacaca courts, which are referred to as the semi-traditional justice system to help clear a backlog of Genocide related cases.
The Government of Rwanda launched Gacaca in 2002 to expedite reconciliatory and restorative justice as well as establish the whole truth about the Genocide.
The courts were closed in 2012 after settling nearly 2 million cases including 1,266,632 related to properties looted during the Genocide.
How the archives were recorded
It all started with a man not very known in Rwanda, Robert Banditer- a child of Russian-Jew immigrants who lived in France. His father fell victim to the Auschwitz extermination camps where after the tragedy prompted him to dedicate his life to justice first as a lawyer and later as a politician.
He is one of the people who participated in the abolition of the death penalty in September 1981.
It is in that same spirit of reform that he made it possible to record another type of archive, an audiovisual archive ‘les archives audiovisuelles historiques de la justice’. After that decision, it was possible to record more than 2600 hours of trials.
These historical archives take the public into another perspective, to witness the atrocities that have been committed.
These trials not only shows the faces of unremorseful and inhuman perpetrators but also these trials show the denial and narcissism. It is point blank unbelievable.
The most astonishing thing about these people standing for trial is the lack of empathy towards their victims. The question that comes to mind is if these people are really human or not.
The public dives into history but also how it is represented in our world today.
Why should young people visit the exhibition?
I come from a generation that wants to be engaged in conversation, we like to be woke and aware and most importantly, we are the future of this world.
This exhibition will enlighten some of the things that you have never sat down and thought of, it will leave you with questions and also answers to this exhibition.
Rwandan Historian Assumpta Mugiraneza, one of the founders and Director of Iriba center said the objective of the exhibition is to give access to Rwandans and anyone who wishes to take a look into this portion of history and acquire knowledge.
“We want people that come into this exhibition to learn something new and most importantly we want the youth to think of their future by learning from the past. These archives are a very valuable manual for those that seek information,” she said.
She continued to say that crimes against humanity not only affect the perpetrators and the victims, it also affects the children that are born in that environment.
“If you do not educate these children and give them authentic information, they end up being victims of misinformation and lies. Showing this to the youth is the first step to help them learn and get informed,” she said.
The trials prevent misinformation because they are done with objectivity and lawfully, which is why people should revisit them and take a look.
Mugiraneza hopes that Iriba will take part in educating our children and preventing misinformation.
The exhibition is open for anyone and everyone and it is totally free of cost. It is is running until 14th July 2022.