Vice President Hamid Ansari Monday paid tributes to the victims of the horrific 1994 Rwandan Genocide, as he hailed the “resilience and courage” of the people in putting behind the hatred and moving on the path of “reconciliation”.
Ansari also described the memorial, the final resting place for more than 250,000 people who were massacred in the tragedy as a “testament to an indomitable national spirit”.
The Vice President visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial this morning, a day after arriving in the capital on his five-day two-nation tour that will also take him to Uganda.
He paid homage to the victims of the horrendous tragedy by laying a wreath at the site and also took a tour of the memorial, which, among other exhibits, displays the skulls, bones and belonging of several victims.
The wreath also carried a banner saying “In homage. On behalf of the government and the people of India.”
The memorial was built in 2004 by a collective effort of the government, people of Kigali and a non-profit trust, even though initially it faced funding issues.
“A visit to this memorial is a moving experience. On behalf of the people of India and my own behalf, I salute the resilience and courage demonstrated by the Rwandan people to put behind the hatred and move ahead on the path of reconciliation and inclusion. It is a testament to an indomitable national spirit,” Ansari wrote in his message in the Visitor’s Book.
On his visit to the memorial, he was accompanied by Union Minister State for Social Justice and Empowerment Vijay Sampla, four MPs Kanimozhi, Ranvijay Singh Judev, Ranee Narah and P K Biju and senior officials.
“In 1999, the City of Kigali provided land where a place of remembrance could be built and where victims of the genocide against the Tutsi could receive a dignified burial.
“Construction of the Kigali Genocide Memorial began in the same year and the process of burying victims began in 2001. Today the memorial serves as the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the genocide,” according to the memorial’s official website.
Today the memorial is funded and managed by Aegis Trust on behalf of the National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide, it says.
“The objective and the concept was to create a place to remember our beloved relatives and pay tributes and that people would understand the impact of what happened to never repeat it in the future,” according to an official who was associated with the memorial project.