The Prince of Wales came face-to-face with the horrors of the Rwandan genocide as he urged the world never to repeat the acts of the atrocity.
In a harrowing start to a three-day visit to the country, Prince Charles saw rows of skulls from victims of the 1994 massacre and heard the stories of survivors.
He visited the Nyamata Church Genocide Memorial, where more than 10,000 people were murdered over two days. In the grounds, the remains of more than 45,000 people killed in the church compound and the wider area between 7 April and 14 May 1994 are buried.
After he was shown a case containing skull remains, Charles said: “This must never happen again, we shall continue to remember.”
Charles heard how the militiamen killed Tutsi men outside the church who were trying to protect their families, before turning on the women and children sheltering inside.
“They threw hand grenades in and then shot and hacked many of them to death,” said Rachel Murekatete, the memorial manager, who showed Charles around and pointed out hundreds of holes in the church’s wooden roof caused by shrapnel from the blasts.
In 1994, up to a million people died during 100 days of slaughter in Rwanda, where members of the Tutsi community were killed by ethnic Hutu extremists.
Earlier, Charles and Camilla toured the Kigali Genocide Memorial and were shown the personal testimonies of families who donated pictures of smiling children and listed touching personal details about their loved ones.
The couple read intently the comments about the youngsters murdered, and Charles reacted by saying: “Terrible, happens all too often.”
His wife replied: “What humans can do to humans.”
Genocide victims and perpetrators live side-by-side
Later Charles, who during the day met Rwandan President Paul Kagame with his wife, hailed a reconciliation village as a “wonderful example to the rest of the world” after hearing how survivors and perpetrators of the 1994 genocide live side by side.
He toured the Mbyo village, built-in 2005, where 384 Tutsis and Hutus successfully live and work together.
After listening to the stories of one Hutu perpetrator and one Tutsi, whose entire family was killed, he said he was “full of admiration” that they had managed to overcome the past, adding: “It must have been so difficult to be able to forgive these quite awful horrors.
“It’s been enormously heartening to hear how now you view the situation entirely as Rwandans, rather than Tutsi and Hutu, and it is a wonderful example I think to the rest of the world”.
Among those who greeted him at the village was Eric Murangwa, a former footballer who narrowly escaped death during the genocide, and who encouraged Charles to visit the memorial and reconciliation village when they met in Scotland in April.
Charles reportedly critical of UK’s Rwanda deportation plan
The prince was clearly keen for the focus to be on the reconciliation efforts after reports emerged in the run-up to the Rwanda tour that he may have criticised plans by the UK government to send migrants to the country.
Reports suggested that he has said privately that he is appalled by the new immigration policy.
It was confirmed by Clarence House that Boris Johnson will join Charles for a cup of tea and a catch-up on Friday morning as the prime minister also flies into Kigali for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.
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