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

The cement gravesites at this hilltop memorial in northern Rwanda have numbers but very few names, making the site—like most memorials—sadly anonymous. Every year during national commemoration, from April 7 to 14, survivors and other residents tidy the grass and dirt paths between the graves, listen to speeches and sober testimonies, and collect money, food, and clothes to help the survivors.

Surrounded by a fence, the memorial was constructed sometime after 2002, eight years after the 1994 genocide, when administrative restructuring brought together the former communes of Giti and Rutare. Bodies were exhumed from the surrounding area, gathered in collective caskets, and buried here.

Though it is widely asserted that Giti area did not suffer genocide, this may not be true. Months prior to the genocide, it is said, alleged “accomplices” were taken elsewhere in what was then the northern prefecture of Byumba, not to return; houses were destroyed and cattle slaughtered. In late April or early May, 1994, at least three people were killed (or so we are told); and allegations of rape have since emerged in the courts known as gacaca. Outsiders, it is claimed, committed most of the direct violence, but Giti residents assisted, intentionally or not, by identifying who was Hutu and who was not.

Copyright © 2010 Jens Meierhenrich. All rights reserved.