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Rwanda state vandalism: Grave of former Rwandan President dug and moved at night

Grave Dominique Mbonyumutwa at 'Democracy Stadium', Gitarama. Opposition Leader Victoire Ingabire paid him respect at her return from exile in Jan 2010

Grave of Dominique Mbonyumutwa at 'Democracy Stadium', Gitarama. Opposition Leader Victoire Ingabire paid him respect at her return from exile in Jan 2010

Kigali: Rwandan authorities have implemented their controversial plan to desecralize the grave of former president Dominique Mbonyumutwa and remove it from its official site in Gitarama.

BBC has reported that the grave was dug open on Saturday night and the body was allegedly moved to the public cemetery out of town.

Mr. Mbonyumutwa was buried in small public pavilion in Gitarama known in Rwandan history as ‘Democracy Stadium’ at the specific place where, on January 28, 1961, monarchy was abolished and Rwanda was declared a Republic.

Kayuku, Kayibanda, Mbonyumutwa and Bicamumpaka lors de la Proclamation de la Republique le 28 Janvier 1961

(from L to R): Kayuku, Kayibanda, Mbonyumutwa and Bicamumpaka on the day of Proclamation of the Republic of Rwanda on January 28, 1961

Monarchy abolition was a historic political milestone which was the result of the 1959 Rwandan Revolution.
This represents the period where oppressed Hutu populations put an end to the long and oppressive Tutsi regime which was led by the King (Umwami).
Mr Mbonyumutwa became then the First President of the Republic of Rwanda. He died in 1986.

Rwandan authorities of the current Kagame regime have been irritated when four months ago, opposition leader Victoire Ingabire coming back to Rwanda after 16 years of exile, symbolically visited the historical grave of the First President Mbonyumutwa who replaced the King after Hutu revolution and monarchy abolition.

Muhanga district mayor Ms. Yvonne Mutakwasuku had then ordered that the family of Rwanda’s first president remove his grave from the site, which actually lays opposite her office. She gave the family 60 days to do it or the district itself would effect the order.
Muhanga district officials alleged that they want to free up the space for redevelopment.

Mr. Mbonyumutwa’s family has battled against that decision. Ex-President Mbonyumutwa had received state funerals supervised by the President Juvenal Habyarimana, and the site had been declared a national monument site.

“We don’t understand why the grave must be moved,” said the ex-president’s son, Mr. Shingiro Mbonyumutwa in March, adding that he had officially protested against such decision.

Mr Mbonyumutwa’s family said the government order contravened an earlier court ruling, which instructed the government to take care of the tomb.

Extremists in the current Rwandan regime have vowed to rewrite the Rwandan history and do not take chance to leave any symbol of the courageous and successful hutu struggle towards emancipation and democracy in the late ’50s and early ’60s.

Desecrating graves and the memory of our former heros is thus part of a wider plan of the current Kagame regime to erase from the Rwandan history anything which could remind the pride, and even the existence, of 1959 Rwandan Revolution leaders.

Rwandans and observers wonder why, if this is legal, the authorities had to dig the grave under the cover of the night, in a place where there is even no public lighting.
Who supervised this disrespectful operation and who guarantees that all the remains of this Revolution Hero have been taken?

This extremist and nocturnal act amounts simply to unprecedented ruthless state vandalism. Soon or later however, such acts of profanation will have grave consequences and nobody will be really surprised if something similar happens in the future to other sites currently considered as sacred and of national memory’s interest.

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4 comments

1 La tombe de l’ancien Président Rwandais Mbonyumutwa profanée | Rwandinfo_FR { 05.05.10 at 6:20 am }

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4 President Kagame sets criteria to be Rwandan: check your identity! | Rwandinfo_ENG { 05.17.10 at 1:45 pm }

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