Nyamata is situated in Bugesera region approximately 35km from the Kigali City in Rwanda. Nymataa and its surrounding region suffered some of the most extensive devastation, horrifying violence that took place in 1994against the Tutsi and moderate Hutus. The genocide memorial at Nyamata Church gives a deeply saddening and moving look into the reality of the Rwandan Genocide.
When the Genocide began in April of 1994 all residents of the region gathered to sought protection at the local church. They locked the iron door with a padlock to protect themselves from the marauding killers members of the Interahamwe Hutu Militia and the Rwandan Government Forces. The killers broke down the door entered the church with rifles, grenades and machetes massacred all the people who were in the church About 10,000 victims were killed in and around the Catholic Church compound on April 10th 1994 by the Hutu militias.
The Church building
The brick walls of the church still show several gaping holes and the ceiling riddled with bullet holes and blood stains all over the church. The remains were removed from inside the church and buried in two mass graves located behind the church. The clothing of the victims has been placed in piles that line the pews of the church.
The alter cloth still covers the alter stained in blood. In memory of the people who lost their lives in Nyamata Church and its surrounding area, the Rwandan government, in collaboration with the genocide survivors from the Nyamata area, decided to preserve the church as a memorial to the genocide against the Tutsi.
Importance of the centre
The centre serves the following purposes;
- The centre shows the real picture of what exactly happened.
- It shows the barbaric treatment of women during the genocide.
- There is a graphic and audio-visual display that will focus particularly on the mass rape, brutalisation of women and the use of HIV as a deliberate weapon of genocide.
- It is a learning centre about the genocide.
- It is a centre for survivors to honour the victims.