UNESCO put four genocide memorial sites in Rwanda on list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in was learned over the weekend.
The selected sites, the country’s main memorial venue in Kigali but also sites in Ntarama, Murambi and Bisesero, all are significant in the remembrance of not only the 1994 genocide, one of the worst in human history when within the space of 100 days between 800.000 and 1.000.000 Rwandans were slaughtered for their ethnic background and political affiliation, but of earlier genocides too, which date back to the late 50s and early 60s. The latter are often overlooked but just as important to remember, as the culture of genocide by the perpetrators in Rwanda has a long and grim history, which needs telling and recalling, no matter how much time has passed since it first reared its ugly head more than half a century ago. In fact, it is recognized today that the world community, by failing to stand firm in the face of such crimes against humanity, has permitted the genocide ideology to continue, resulting in the 1994 slaughter as the world stood by and watched instead of acting decisively.
Leading tourism stakeholders already commented to this correspondent how such a status elevation will benefit tours to Rwanda, where visits for instance to the main memorial site in Kigali are on the programme of literally every city tour while stops at memorial sites across the country, especially near the tourist hot spots, allow visitors to come face to face with the past history of the country. Said a senior stakeholder on condition of not being named: My guides are taking tourists into such sites when they are on safari. It is important to remember, important to show our visitors what has happened. They understand better why Rwanda is determined to bring the perpetrators and inciters to justice, even 18 years after it has happened. Nazi genocide against the Jews is still a criminal offense and while there are now very few criminals left from those days, up to last year even cases ended up in court. We in Rwanda do nothing less, we owe it to those who perished. When tourists come here, this is part of Rwanda too and they go home afterwards understanding us better, understanding the history and appreciate how the new Rwanda has emerged over the past 18 years.
The UNESCO status will make those sites even more in demand for visits and we shall include this information on websites and in our printed material.