Camp Kigali Memorial : Camp Kigali is a former Rwandan military base within Kigali and is dedicated to the 10 Belgian soldiers who were murd3ered on 7th April 1994 while guarding the Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana during the start of the Rwanda genocide. The murders were planned by Hutu fanatics and were carried out to force the withdrawal of 450 Belgian soldiers who were part of the UN force.
HISTORY OF CAMP KIGALI
In 1993, the UN mission for Rwanda was set up and thus having Belgium as the only foreign power to provide professional and highly trained soldiers as a peace keeping force within the country. The rest of the peace keeping mission included soldiers from Ghana, Tunisia, Bangladesh and other developing countries. Belgium which acted as a peace keeping force in Rwanda posed a great threat to its soldiers given the fact there was still bad blood within the people of Rwanda especially the Hutus and the Belgian forces.
There was an informant who went by the UN code name Jean-Pierre. He told his superiors at the UN base about the plot by the Hutu extremists to kill the Belgian peace keeping commandos. This was in an effort to destabilize the Belgium peace keeping mission and have it withdrawn from UNAMIR [United Nation Assistance Mission for Rwanda]. The background that led to the assassination plan was the case of the Somalia wherein 1993, American soldiers who were killed and their bodies dragged along the streets of the capital city in Mogadishu. This was done with the aim of forcing the US to pull out its forces from Somalia. The Hutu extremists within Rwanda used this as a base for their motivation to start a full scale genocide.
On 7th of April 1994, while assuring the security of the Rwandan minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, 10 Belgian soldiers were surrounded by the members of FAR [Forces Armees Rwandese]. The 10 Belgian soldiers were ordered to surrender themselves and disarm in exchange for safe passage to the UN base. However on surrendering, they were taken to the military camp where they were ambushed by a hundred soldiers from the camp. Although the force was overwhelming, the 10 Belgian soldiers took refuge in the building at the campsite where they put up a strong resistance for several hours. While there, they fought till their death where they hoped for help which they never received.
Before they were executed, they were first tortured, taunted and intimidated to the point where there power was broken to the core by their executors. Thus they were at the mercy of the Hutu soldiers up until a time when they were killed. Therefore after the murder of the 10 Belgian soldiers the Belgian government pulled out its forces from Rwanda with other western countries evacuating their nationals from the country. The brave Belgian troopers had their bodies dismembered and later dumped in a pile at a nearby hospital morgue. The massacre of the 10 Belgian soldiers at camp Kigali alongside the genocide killings sent waves of shock to millions of people in the world who couldn’t help but watch thousands of people lose their lives to a no cause.
WHAT TO SEE AT CAMP KIGALI
While on a safari in Rwanda and especially at camp Kigali, you will spot 10 granite stone columns which each represents a Belgian soldier who was murdered on that fateful day.
Each of the granite stone is written on the initials of each Belgian soldier in their remembrance. As well each stone has a horizontal cut curved onto it showing the age of the soldier at their time of death.
The camp has the houses and buildings where the 10 Belgian soldiers were massacred by the Hutus and made their stand till the time of their death
The building is characterized by bullet ridden walls marking the spot where they were gunned down. The building as well has a memoir with the names of each soldier who was killed.