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Paris names street after late Rwanda genocide hero

The authorities of the French capital Paris have confirmed they will name 18ème Arrondissement road after Aminadab Birara, a Rwandan who died in the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.Birara died heroically leading fellow Tutsis against Interahamwe militias.

The decision to name the road after Aminadab Birara is an initiative of the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, who also recently visited Rwanda including the Gisozi Genocide memorial center.

The move has been positively welcomed by Genocide Survivor’s Organizations including IBUKA-France.

IBUKA France President, Etienne Nsanzimana, lauded Paris for such a decision that seeks to conserve the history of the genocide against the Tutsi.

In May, French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to Rwanda acknowledged France’s role in the genocide.

He admitted that France ignored the warning of the massacre saying: “The killers who haunted the swamps, the hills, the churches did not have the face of France. The blood that flowed did not dishonor her weapons or the hands of her soldiers, who also saw the unspeakable with their own eyes, dressed wounds and choked back tears.”

Aminadaba Birara was chosen because of his heroic acts of fighting against the Interahamwe militias and is regarded as a ‘Bisesero hero’ based on different testimonies.

During the genocide, Tutsi were hunted down as a result and some sought refuge in valleys and mountains. 

Those who sought refuge in the Bisesero mountains were said to have fought to their last breath.

Aminadab Birara mobilised all the Tutsis in the area including children and women to leave their homes and moved up in the mountains and began throwing stones downwards towards the militias.

Despite his fierce fighting, Birara was killed by a grenade thrown by Interahamwe fighters.

Birara had escaped multiple attacks.

The then 68-year old died on 25 June 1994 with almost 5,000 other Tutsis who had sought refuge at Bisesero hill in western Rwanda.

“Of high and undulating hills, often separated by deep valleys” was how the prosecution of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) described Bisesero.

It entered the history of Rwanda as a ‘bloody scene’ where thousands of Tutsis succumbed to Interahamwe machetes.

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