The Mubuga site is located in Western Province. Click on the image for a slideshow of photographs. All photographs © 2002-2008 Jens Meierhenrich.

It is impossible to enter the elegant white church of Mubuga without passing the silent graves that surround the building. The black granite tombs, protected by high metal fences and heavy locks, encircle the church. Some are engraved with the names of victims who were identified, which is sadly only a small fraction of those who perished on the church grounds.

The Catholic church, or so we are told, had always been a refuge for the persecuted, and had successfully protected the Tutsis during outbreaks of violence in 1959 as well as thereafter.

However, in 1994, its sacred walls could not forestall the advancing killers, according to a case tried before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) concerning Mikaeli Muhimana, a local administrative authority (conseiller). The Chamber found that violence raged here beginning the morning of April 15, and hundreds of people, who had already been starving for days, were massacred on the church grounds. The Interahamwe also threw a grenade into the church building, blowing off the roof. In addition, the ICTR found that Muhimana, “acting in concert with a group of Interahamwe, abducted a group of Tutsi girls, and led them to a cemetery near Mubuga Church. The Accused then raped one of the abducted girls, Agnes Mukagatere. ”

For these and other crimes, Muhimana was found guilty and sentenced on April 28, 2005 to imprisonment for the remainder of his life for genocide, rape as a crime against humanity, and murder as a crime against humanity.

In Mubuga, most of the buildings of this religious complex were renovated in 1995. At the request of the Bishop, however, a deep explosion mark that remained behind the altar has been preserved as a permanent scar. Today it reminds churchgoers of the atrocities that transpired in the parish of Mubuga.

Copyright © 2010 Jens Meierhenrich. All rights reserved.