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Murambi Genocide Memorial Centre

Huye (former Butare), Rwanda

Murambi Genocide Memorial Centre

At Murambi, about 26 km from the city of Butare, there was a vocational school with many small classroom buildings. In 1994, Hutu militia herded thousands of Tutsis into the buildings and killed them with machetes or spiked clubs. The breakage pattern produced by each kind of weapon is easy to distinguish on the skulls of the victims, some of which are visible at the memorial.

The classroom buildings are now a memorial: room after room of human remains. As the mass graves were being exhumed post-genocide, the bodies in one were so closely packed together that very little air had penetrated the grave and the bodies had barely decomposed. After being exhumed, these bodies were covered in lime, also known as Calcium Carbonate, to preserve them as they were found.

The memorial is centered on the main building in Murambi, a school that has been left vacated since the genocide in 1994. The school classrooms have 848 preserved corpses laying on wooden tables on display. New walls were constructed to create a space that allowed for the design of the exhibition and burial place. The open hall on the ground floor of the main building now has a serpentine pathway, which will lead visitors first to an exhibition describing the context of the genocide, then into two rooms containing burial chambers. Those two rooms will allow some of the preserved human remains to be viewed through smoked glass, while at the same time they are also buried with some dignity.

Murambi genocide memorial is one of the most known and visited sites because of its historical context. This site is located in the former Zone Turquoise created and controlled by French troops. More than 40,000 people were killed there in three days (19th - 22nd of April 1994). These victims were in the buildings of the school called “Ecole Technique Officielle” which was still being built at the time.

In 1995, survivors gathered together with members of a survivors’ association called “Amagaju” and came up with the idea of gathering all the victims’ remains that were scattered over different regions of Murambi, in order to bury them with dignity. During this operation, many corpses were found where the French troops had constructed a volley-ball court. The first burial activities were done in April 1996.



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