Monday, January 23, 2006

Holocaust Memorial Day is on Friday and there are events going on all over the UK. If you want to get involved or want to know what events are taking place in your local area, click on the link here and select your location.

I received a lot of messages over the weekend expressing support for our site and our aims. There is a genuine interest and concern and people want their voices heard.

This is a testimony from Apolinie Uwantege. It is a harrowing account of her ordeal during the genocide and I thank her for letting us publish it here.

'We were a happy family and got along fine, but in 1990, classmates started to look at us differently, not nicely. Then the multiparty political system was introduced. Even though we weren't involved with any party, people thought we were on the RPF side just becausee we were Tutsi. Whenever we walked past, people would scream, "Oh, look at the inyenzi (cockroaches)."

On 6 April, we made our way to the Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO), where some people had already sought refuge with the UN. We had protection and felt safe, but on 11 April, the UN troops drove away. As they left, the Interahamwe and government soldiers came. They told us we would be taken to Nyanza. They made us run. Some people were praying, others singing. As we ran, some people were hacked with machetes and others killed. Many Interahamwe had come and there were buses full of soldiers behind us. It was evening and it had rained. We arrived at an open field in Nyanza, and could tell it was over. As we all stood there, we kept asking our father what would happen. I remember my oldest sister asking Mum if we would see each other when we got to Heaven. Mum didn't say anything; she was overwhelmed. Father kept on giving us hope that nothing would happen. They started shooting and we fell to the ground. After that, I never saw my father or mother again. Bodies fell on top of those of us who had fallen down first. They threw grenades into the crowd and kept on shooting for a long time until it was very dark. The Interahamwe started walking around hacking people if they were alive. I was with my older sister, younger brothers and some other young people. We had all agreed to keep quiet and pretend to be dead. They picked me up, wondering if I was alive or not. They hit me with something - I don't know what. I was hurt but kept quiet, so they threw me onto the ground thinking I was dead. They kept on going, hacking people. People were crying, calling for their mothers, shouting out, close to death. Eventually they realized it was too dark and left.

Next morning, we could see the Interahamwe coming. They started asking each other whether we were dead or not. One said, "Let me just show you." He started hacking people. There were about 15 of us. My little brother Bertin gave up and asked for forgiveness. They hacked him with a machete, and he died immediately. I was cut on the neck and leg. Felix tried to fight them and they cut his neck, fingers and feet. My older sister, Fifi and Bertin died immediately. Then they left.

The RPF was fighting to capture Rebelo, and they wanted to save the survivors in Nyanza. Those of us who could walk left, not really knowing where we were going. One day, at dawn, I heard footsteps. I thought it was the Interahamwe who had followed us, and I immediately shut my eyes. One of them stopped and told the rest to come and see the kids who had been killed there. One touched me. He said, "These kids are alive, feel them." We kept quiet, but we couldn't hold our breath long enough. They told me to wake up. I thought if I did, they would kill me on the spot. They kept on saying, "Wake up, we'll take you to hospital." Then I thought to myself that no Interahamwe could be so sympathetic, so I raised my head and looked at them. They were wearing RPF uniform.'

A longer version of this account is published by the Aegis Trust in 'A Time to Remember: Rwanda, ten years after the genocide'.


At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An amazing survival story from an amazing person.

-Hwan Gelton

At 1:16 PM, Blogger Imnakoya said...

Great work fellas! Thanks for visiting Grandiose Parlor

At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a survival for sure.It's by God's love for you that you are still alive.It's also stories like those that keeps me going. Knowing that there are people out there like you.


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