Belgian Peacekeepers Memorial
Belgian Peacekeepers Memorial / Camp Kigali Belgian Memorial is a site in Kigali where ten Belgian UN soldiers were killed as they were guarding the then Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana at the beginning of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. It is a former Rwandan military base located in Nyarugenge in Kigali.
The 1994 Rwanda Genocide was triggered by the assassination of the Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana on the 6th April 1994. It is said that this violent attack had earlier been planned by the Hutu to kill the Tutsi in Rwanda but the Prime Minister Agathe was against it. The killing of the president initiated it faster. An estimated number of 5,000-1,000,000 people are said to have lost their lives in this genocide.
After killing the Rwandan president, General Dallaire commanded 10 Belgian Blue Beret soldiers to guard the Prime Minister Agathe at her home. On the 7th of April 1994, the Hutu presidential armed guards invaded her home, captured the UN soldiers, disarmed them and took them to the military base in Kigali where they were brutally killed. Four of them were killed immediately on arrival at the base while the rest first barricaded themselves in a room where they tried to fight the presidential guards before they were finally killed.
After killing the soldiers, their bodies were injured and dumped at a mortuary of a close hospital. The killing of the UN soldiers forced the United Nations to withdraw the Belgium troops from Rwanda and U.N directed peacemakers to defend themselves. After taking the U.N forces, there was a quick spread of killings from Kigali to all other parts of Rwanda. Within a period of three months, about 800,000 people had been massacred. A lot of people from Rwanda moved to the Democratic Republic of Congo where they took refuge.
Camp Kigali Belgian memorial was established by the Belgian government. It was opened on 7th April 2000 in commemoration of the Belgian soldiers. There are ten stone pillars that were put in place, each to represent each of these soldiers who served the command of the United Nations Mission Assiatance for Rwanda. Each of the pillars has horizontal cuts which indicate how long each soldier lived. The building where the soldiers that tried to fight before they were killed has been maintained with gunshot holes which were created when the Forces Amees Rwandaises (FAR) extravagantly shot around the building so that whoever was in there died.
Also known as Madame Agathe, Agathe Uwilingiyimana was the Rwanda’s first and so far the only female prime minister. After arresting the Belgian soldiers that were guiding her, she was also killed.
The Belgian jury convicted Bernard Ntuyahanga on 5th July 2007 to a jail of 25 years because he was the army major during the time of the genocide and he was involved in the arrest and killing of the Belgian soldiers. Camp Belgian Kigali memorial is one of the areas where you can go for dark tourism. It also has some information about the 1994 Rwanda genocide.
There are other areas in Kigali and outside Kigali which you can visit for dark tourism. They include Kigali genocide memorial, Murambi genocide memorial site, Ntarama memorial site, Gisenyi memorial site, Bisesero memorial site and Nyanza memorial sites among others.
Today, Rwanda is at peace and the people have been promised never again to face such a traumatic attack. It is one of the highly developing countries in Africa, one of the most organized and with friendly people. Besides dark tourism, you can spend your time in Rwanda on a gorilla trek, chimp trek, wildlife viewing, relaxing at Kivu beach or learning more and being entertained by the culture of Rwandan people.
Belgian Peacekeepers Memorial, Kigali, Rwanda