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Nyanza Genocide Memorial Site

Kigali, Rwanda

Nyanza Genocide Memorial Site

At the start of the genocide in April 1994, over 2,000 Tutsis took refuge in ETO school on the outskirts of Kigali, protected by the United Nations Peace Keeping force.

Following the withdrawal of the UN, refugees were marched up the road to Nyanza where they were all butchered. Today, this site, marked by simple wooden crosses, is symbolic of the abandonment of Rwanda by the International Community.

Each year on April 11th, a memorial ceremony takes place on the site where the deserted refugees were murdered in cold blood.

Early in the morning of April 7, 1994, Tutsis began arriving at the École Technique Officielle (ETO) on the outskirts of Kigali, in Kicukiro, seeking the protection of the 90 Belgian UN peacekeepers stationed there. At first, the Belgians said the people would have to leave by the next morning, but later they peacekeepers relented and let them stay on the school grounds. But when the Belgium withdrew its UN troops, the soldiers stationed at ETO left, abandoning at least 2,000 Rwandans at the school, including 400 children. The refugees pleaded with the soldiers not to leave them behind to certain death. Some even begged to be shot—so they wouldn't be hacked to death.

A little after one o'clock on the afternoon, the Belgians got into their jeeps and drove off. Some desperate Rwandans tried to block the convoy by lying down in the road, but the soldiers fired over their heads. Almost immediately after the Belgians left, Rwandan soldiers and militia entered the school grounds and proceeded to "take out the garbage." They herded the refugees along a dirt road to a nearby place called Nyanza, which was a garbage dump, and were murdered.

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