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New digital Genocide archives launched

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Kigali: A new facility has been launched in Kigali to house up to 25,000 recordings, documents and photos – with the aim to digitally store all information on the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis, according to the people behind the project.

Commissioned at the Kigali memorial center, the new facility will become the repository for information relating to the genocide. The physical archive will preserve original audiovisual, documentary and photographic materials in a secure, controlled environment managed to international standards, said the Aegis Trust, a British group campaigning to keep the memory of the Genocide alive.

Located at the center, where some 300,000 victims are laid rest, the new facility will initially hold 1,500 audiovisual recordings and more than 20,000 documents and photographs.

"Although the initial collection is relatively modest, we wanted to make the Genocide Archive accessible to everyone as early as possible in the process of research and acquisitions," said Archive Manager Yves Kamuronsi.

The material has been gathered from local media outlets and museums, court records, foreign institutions, especially in France, and from survivors. In time the recordings and documents will be also be housed in a digital archive available to researchers on-site and, eventually, through the internet.

Recordings from the Gacaca courts proceedings form part of the new document centre.

With assistance from experts at the University of Texas Libraries, all the audiovisual material, with accompanying transcripts in English, Kinyarwanda, and French, is being copied into the digital archive.

It will also include scans of all documents and photographs housed on-site in Kigali, as well as relevant material held elsewhere.

Work is also proceeding on a database that is using GPS technology to map all the genocide sites in Rwanda, and matching them with photographs and testimonies from survivors, witnesses and perpetrators present where the killings took place.

"Important documentation about the Rwandan genocide will probably always remain dispersed in various locations around the world, but it's our ambition to include digitally anything that cannot be included in the physical archive," said Fred Heath, vice provost and director of the University of Texas Libraries.

Meanwhile an international conference on the UN convention against Genocide opened Thursday in Kigali – with delegates decrying the use of the word “Genocide” on anything. Themed on the contested UN mapping report on DR Congo- where Rwandan troops allegedly committed “Genocide”, Rwandan delegates at the conference want new mechanisms put in place to stop the word being undermined.

According to Jean de Dieu Mucyo, head of the National Commission fighting Genocide, the UN report negates the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis.



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