US ambassador visits Nyamata Genocide Memorial Site to observe preservation of artifacts related to the genocide
On Thursday, 9 February 2017, Erica Barks-Ruggles, the United States ambassador to Rwanda, paid a visit to Nyamata Genocide Memorial Site to observe the preservation of genocide artifacts, especially clothing. She was accompanied by Dr. Jean-Damascène Bizimana, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG).
The conservation project is a partnership between the CNLG and a team of preservation specialists from the University of Pennsylvania in the United States. It is funded by a USD 86 986 grant from the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.
After the process for textile treatment and conservation was explained to her, Ambassador Barks-Ruggles said it is of great importance to preserve evidence of the atrocities committed in 1994, such as the artifacts at Nyamata Genocide Memorial site, as part of the fight against genocide in Rwanda and around the globe.
“This is important, not only for fighting against the genocide, but also for the education of future generations to ensure that they understand the genocide committed against the Tutsi so that they can avoid its recurrence,” she said.
In order to preserve it, the clothing is cleaned using vacuums. The clothes are then stored in plastic containers, in which humidity and temperature are carefully monitored and preserved, with silica beads in order to remove moisture. Once treated, the clothes will last sixty years without deteriorating. This process is carried out by the experts from the University of Pennsylvania and the CNLG employees who they have trained.
Dr. Jean-Damascène Bizimana said the preservation effort will be expanded to other memorial sites across the country to ensure evidence of the genocide is preserved.
He said, “Currently, there are CNLG employees who are working with experts from the University of Pennsylvania so that they so that they learn from them how to sustainably preserve these clothes. I hope you have seen that we have very many clothes here, but we want them to get skills from here so that we can later expand to other genocide memorial across the country to ensure that genocide artifacts are preserved.”