Saturday, March 13, 2010

Murambi Memorial

The hills surrounding the Murambi Memorial are striped with fields in countless shades of green and dotted with small houses. The site was a secondary school in the southern district. Over the course of several weeks in April 1994, Tutsis were encouraged to seek refuge there. Food and water were almost nonexistent, and as their numbers swelled they were severely weakened by hunger. In late April, the Interahamwe surrounded the compound. They tried to defend themselves with rocks and sticks, but the Interahamwe had machetes, knives and guns. The 50,000 bodies were buried in mass graves on the hill.

A few months later, the French Operation Turquoise had a base of some sort at the school. Today there is a sign among the class buildings where the French flag flew, and another among the mass graves where they say the French soldiers had a volleyball court.

In 1995, some of the bodies were exhumed, set with lime, and laid out in the classrooms. Many have cracked skulls. Some bodies are only three or four feet tall. The image that is stuck in my head is of the baby in its mother’s arms.

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