Rwanda to unveil genocide archive

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An ambitious project to be unveiled on Friday aims to make the Rwandan mass killings of 1994 the best documented genocide since the Nazi Holocaust.

The Rwandan Genocide Archive is an effort to group together all written, photographic and audio-visual documents on the 1994 killings, in which an estimated 800,000 people, mostly minority Tutsis, were killed.

The project, which comprises a physical archive, a digital archive and a research project, and which was set up by British-based Aegis Trust and Rwanda's National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide, will be inaugurated later Friday by Rwandan Prime Minister Bernard Makuza.

The physical archive is based at the genocide memorial in Gisozi, a district of Kigali.

"In comparison to the largest genocide archives - for example Yad Vashem in Jerusalem or the Shoah Foundation Institute at USC in California, the Genocide Archive of Rwanda is an infant, but will develop significantly over the next decade, Aegis Trust chief executive James Smith told AFP.

In Yad Vashem there are 55 million pages of documents, nearly 100,000 photographs, compared to 20,000 documents and photographs combined in the Rwandan archive.

"In Kigali we have 1,500 tapes of audio-visual film footage and testimonies ofsurvivors, compared to the Shoah Foundation's 238,000 thirty-minute tapes of 52,000 Holocaust survivor testimonies," said Smith, who also runs Britain's only memorial to the Holocaust.

He said the Kigali archive's research programmes "will continue to trace materials from the genocide period, to map and gather information at sites of the genocide, and to record fresh survivor testimony".

The digital database, set up with help from the University of Texas Libraries, will make all of the archive material available to researchers through a cross-referenced system that allows key word searches.

© 2010 AFP

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