Two years late and mired in controversy: the British memorial to Rwanda's past





In the classrooms of the Murambi school are the horrifying reminders of one of the worst acts of genocide in modern times. It was here in 1994, on a hilltop in southern Rwanda, that 50,000 Tutsis took refuge for two weeks without food and water before being massacred by Hutu militias who used guns, grenades and machetes to carry out the slaughter.

At the request of the survivors and the families of the dead, the bodies of thousands of the victims have been preserved in lime and placed where they were killed. One classroom is filled with hundreds of skulls and piles of bones, while another contains the children, some with their petrified arms raised up to fend off the blows that killed them.

This sacred place for relatives and survivors' groups should, by now, also house a genocide memorial centre, created by a British charity and partly funded by the UK government as a monument of international significance.

But the project, which was supposed to have opened two years ago, has remained closed amid criticism from Rwandans that it has completely failed to provide a culturally sensitive memorial to the slaughter of one million people. The British charity, the Aegis Trust, is now attempting to satisfy demands for substantial changes.

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