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Paris City Names Street After Rwandan Hero

Simeon Karamaga, one of the Tutsis who headed the resistance in Bisesero

Paris city authorities in France have confirmed they will name 18ème Arrondissement road after Aminadab Birara, a Rwandan who succumbed to Genocide against the Tutsi but whom before he dies heroically led fellow Tutsi men to fight against Interahamwe militias.

The decision to name the road after Aminadab Birara is an initiative of the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, who also recently visited Rwanda and visited Gisozi Genocide memorial center. 

The move has been positively welcomed by Genocide Survivor’s Organizations including IBUKA-France.

IBUKA France President, Etienne Nsanzimana, lauded the authority of Paris for such a decision that seeks to conserve the history of Genocide against the Tutsi.

In May, French President Emmanuel Macron on his visit to Rwanda recognized France’s role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

He acknowledged that France ignored the warning of the massacre saying “The killers who haunted the swamps, the hills, the churches did not have the face of France. The blood that flowed did not dishonor her weapons or the hands of her soldiers, who also saw the unspeakable with their own eyes, dressed wounds and choked back tears.”

Aminadaba Birara was chosen because of his heroic acts of fighting against the Interahamwe militias and is regarded as a ‘Bisesero hero’ by different testimonies.

During the genocide, Tutsi were hunted down as a result some sought refuge in different places in valleys and mountains. Those who were hiding in Bisesero mountains are said to have fought tooth and nail to their last breath.

Aminadab Birara mobilised all the Tutsis in the area  including children and women to leave their homes and moved up in the mountains and began throwing stones downwards towards the militias.

Strong men used spears and large stones.

Despite his fierce fighting, Birara was killed by a grenade thrown by Interahamwe.

On his death in 1994, Aminadab Birara had escaped multiple attacks.

He died on 25 June 1994 at 68 years with almost 5,000 other Tutsi’s who had sought refuge at Bisesero hill.

“Of high and undulating hills, often separated by deep valleys” as described by the prosecution of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Bisesero made its entry into the history of Rwanda as a ‘bloody entrance’ that hundreds of the Tutsi’s succumbed to Interahamwe machetes.

As of now, Bisesero occupies a special place among the worst places of the horror of the Genocide against the Tutsi. Witnesses reports account that almost fifty thousand Tutsis who had converged there as of April 7, 1994, from all corners of Kibuye prefecture and neighboring prefectures such as Gisenyi and Gikongoro, only a thousand were still alive when the soldiers arrived.

The rest were killed by government militias with the help of French soldiers. Ironically, France, 28 years later, acknowledges its responsibility. 

Click here to read the story of Bisesero Resistance

SOURCE: Taarifa/ 11/20/21

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