Prof. Rugege speaks during the commemoration event at the memorial site. (Photo: Nadege Imbabazi / The New Times)

The Genocide Archive of Rwanda Opens

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Genocide archives facility takes shape

By Emmanuel Ntirenganya

(Reposted from: The New Times – Rwanda.  May 23, 2017)

The Genocide Archive of Rwanda has so far uploaded and digitized about 8,000 information items-related to 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, including confessions by perpetrators.

Chief Justice Sam Rugege believes that the facility will be an important tool for students, teachers and researchers to easily access history about Rwanda and specifically the Genocide.

The Genocide Archive of Rwanda’s collection contains photographs, videos and documents related to the Genocide, materials about pre-Genocide history and post-Genocide reconciliation and recovery initiatives in Rwanda.

The materials are also preserved and are accessible physically at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Gisozi.

The content is in various forms such as audio, video writing and photographs.

“I was very impressed by the progress in the collection preservation of Rwanda’s history by use of ICT. We need as much material online so that our history does not disappear and for those from abroad to easily access it,” Prof. Rugege said last week.

“Specifically, for researchers, students and teachers, it is easy for them to access Rwanda’s history from anywhere in the world,” he added.

The Chief Justice was speaking on Friday at Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, Gisozi, as the Judiciary commemorated its former employees killed during the Genocide against the Tutsi.

While presenting the progress of this ICT-based Genocide history record keeping initiative, the archive manager, Claver Irakoze, said over 8,000 items of information are already archived in digital manner, but noted that there are still pieces of information in physical files, or still scattered, which need to be collected and uploaded on the site.

Speaking about the significance of the initiative, Irakoze said it is important in terms of teaching, explaining Genocide history, but particularly, fighting those who deny, and minimise the Genocide because it has testimonies of those who committed the Genocide.

“It is difficult to deny that the Genocide took place when there is information on those who committed it,” he said.

“In addition, this technology will enable long-term record-keeping of the facts on the Genocide. Another part we are working on is a database containing names of all Genocide victims and information on their death, who killed them, among others.”

Assorted information

According to Irakoze, there are, on the website, writings with diverse information mainly on genocide preparation (planning), which consists of articles from extremist newspapers like Kangura, and copies of some documents that were provided by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

It also has recordings of talkshows broadcast by the virulent Radio Télévision Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM), a hate radio station that was key in inciting the Genocide.

All this, Irakoze said, helps people understand that the Genocide was not an accident, but rather planned.

He said there is a film about those who chose to save lives of Tutsi during the Genocide, a film that revolves around what motivated them to even put their lives at risk to save others, which he said Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, Gisozi, uses while teaching peace education.

“There is a part with testimonies of the people [the then Hutu] who denounced te Genocide plot, and hid Tutsi who were being hunted,” he said.

He said that accessing some of such films requires one to be a registered member.

Other information is about Gacaca courts and “Ndi Umunyarwanda” programme.

So far, Irakoze said, the available information is accessed free of charge, but noted that one can donate to support the sustainability of the initiative.

Since last year, the site has registered over 120,000 visitors largely scholars, according to Irakoze.

The site is accessible on http://www.genocidearchiverwanda.org.rw.  

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