Despite efforts by Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS) and partners, most people who took part in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi are yet to show remorse and apologize.
This was revealed Thursday by RCS Commissioner General, George Rwigamba, during an event in Ntarama, Bugesera District where 20 Genocide convicts apologized in public.
“25 years later, some people are yet to come forward and talk. They have had enough time to reflect on what they did and some are opening up. It has been a tough journey but together with Prison Fellowship we have achieved a lot and we believe others will also show remorse and apologize,” he said.
“We have over 27,000 Genocide convicts and many of them are yet to show remorse and apologize to the families of the victims, only about 6,000 (22.2 percent) have apologized and were forgiven by victims and reconciled,” revealed Rwigamba.
The programme started two decades ago and has helped some prisoners to reintegrate into their communities and meet with the victims and reconcile.
Through the programme, inmates are taken through a transformational period of about six months and those whose hearts are convinced write letters of apology to the victims’ families detailing the former’s role in killing the latter’s family members.
One of those who apologized was Innocent Mukumira, a former pastor of one of the local churches in the current Ntarama sector but confessed having betrayed and killed people he had to protect.
“I betrayed those I was supposed to protect and ignored my responsibilities as a pastor,” he said.
“I was no longer a human being but an animal, I apologize to the families whose relatives I killed. I apologize to the family of Francois Gakayire (who was present) I killed her sister, a neighbor who hid there and another lady I could not identify.
I also killed at people who sought haven at Ntarama Pentecostal church and I was involved in several other attacks. We would carry bodies on a wheelbarrow and dump them close to the church, but I had never recognized my role in the tragedy,” he added.
Fabien Hategekimana who is serving a life sentence was a soldier in the former Rwandan army (Ex-FAR).
“We used heavy guns to exterminate the Tutsi and I personally led several attacks in public places such as schools and churches. I bow to apologize to the victims, my family as well as the general public as a whole,” he said
For genocide victims, such as Gakayire, though knowing people who killed his family members cannot resurrect them, it at least relieves him.
“I did not know it was Mukumira who killed my family members until recently and wondered why it took him over 20 years and never apologized before. But since he apologized with his whole heart I also forgive him from the bottom of my heart,” said Gakayire before hugging Mukumira.
First appeared in the New Times Rwanda By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti