Kigali, 6 August 2007 (FH)-Ibuka (Remember), the umbrella of survivors' associations, for the first time since the end of the genocide, awarded certificates of merit and recognition to individuals who saved Tutsis in 1994.

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Five people, all Hutus, were honoured. The ceremony was held at the Gisozi memorial site, in the suburbs of Kigali where are buried more than 250 000 victims, to mark the end of the 100 days of mourning of the genocide.

The government organizes each year at the beginning of April a week of national mourning but Ibuka continues the commemoration until July.

Sosthène Munyurabatware of the Western province received the certificate posthumously. During the genocide, he saved 18 Tutsis by leading them to former Zaire by passing by Lake Kivu. He paid for it with his life.

The four others honoured are still alive. Enos Rwabulindi, from the Northern province, protected threatened Tutsis starting in 1992. He would evacuate them towards to the zones controlled by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), in war against the government.

Léonard Rurangirwa, from Nyanza (southern Rwanda), for his part was honoured for having protected 50 Tutsis threatened by his own brothers during the genocide.

Laurien Ntezimana of Butare (southern Rwanda) succeeded in saving more than 20 Tutsis, in spite of the opposition from his wife.

The last certificate was granted to Josephine Mukashyaka de Rugenge (Kigali city) who saved several Tutsis, including family members of the current president of Ibuka Theodore Simburudari.

"These certificates are a proof that Ibuka is not an institution of revenge but of unity and reconciliation", stated Theodore Simburudari.

In 2003, African Rights, an organization for the defence of human rights based in London, had identified 19 heroes of the genocide, Rwandans and foreigners, based on testimonies from survivors. Their actions were described in the work "Rwanda.Tribute to Courage".

Conscious of that the number of heroes of the genocide is much greater, the organization African Rights had recommended to the Rwandan government to open a large scale investigation in order to draw up an exhaustive list, to create a memorial in their honour and to publicise their exploits.

© Hirondelle News Agency