Nyamata genocide memorial is located in the Bugesera district in eastern Rwanda. It is about 30kms southeast of Kigali. It is one o the 4 memorial sites recognized by UNESCO In Rwanda.
Before the 1994 Rwanda genocide, it was a catholic parish. In Rwanda, people considered the church as a holy place so when the genocide began in Rwanda many people sought refuge at this church because they felt that the perpetrators would not come to attack them at a church. This did not work for them this time around because the Hutu extremists came and attacked and killed them inside and outside the church.
It is believed that more than 10000 people died here both inside and outside the church. The victims had gathered at the church and when the perpetrators came, they first fought them and defeated them until they went back and eventually came with the help of the army who had guns and grenades. When they came with guns, some of the victims filled the church and locked themselves inside. The perpetrators killed the people in the church compound and later broke the church door entrance with grenades entered and killed everyone inside the church. The bullet holes and fragments are still on the church roof and door.
Inside the church, there is one person buried there. This is a woman who was raped and later killed and after a long piece of wood was inserted through her private parts to the mouth. She represents all the women who are the victims of the genocide. All the clothes of the victims are displayed in the church lying on the church seats. Also, some of the tools used to kill the victims such as pangas, clubs, machetes, hoes, spears are displayed in the church.
Behind the church, there are mass graves where bodies of about 25000 people are buried. These bodies were collected around the church and in the neighboring communities and swamps. The grave of the Italian missionary Tonia Locatelli is also at the church. She was killed in 1992 when she attracted media attention about the killing of the Tutsis that had started way back before the actual genocide of 1994.
In 1997 the government of Rwanda agreed with the catholic church and the church was turned into a museum. The new church was built a few meters outside this memorial center.