Rwandans in Sweden pay tribute to Genocide victims
Stockholm–Poignant testimonies and moving tributes by children were the backdrop of a sombre commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi on Saturday in the Swedish Capital, Stockholm.
Rwandans and friends of Rwanda thronged a conference hall at St. Emmanuel Church in downtown Stockholm where the ceremony, jointly organised by the Embassy and the Rwandan community in Sweden, took place.
Reflecting on this year’s theme—Let us learn from our History to shape a bright future— Rwanda’s Ambassador to the Nordic Countries, Venetia Sebudandi, said “Rwandans look forward, committed to unity and development, refusing to be defined by the past but taking in the lessons of this sad history in order to do things differently and forge a bright future”.
The Ambassador recounted Rwanda’s journey since the end of the Genocide, noting that “in addition to the remarkable efforts and positive achievements in addressing unity and reconciliation, justice and re-establishing peace and security, Rwanda has also made tremendous efforts in socio-economic development, in the improvement of the quality of life of her citizens as well as building the economy based on a vision that guarantees Rwandans a prosperous future. In the last 5 years alone, poverty levels were reduced by 12%”.
Sebudandi castigated countries where genocide suspects continue to roam freely while authorities refuse to prosecute them or extradite them to Rwanda under the pretext that they lack appropriate legislation.
Eugene Bushayija, a long-time Rwandan resident of Sweden warned against complacency in the fight against genocide negation and revision.
He said Genocide deniers hide behind a veneer of harmless conventional debate to spread ideas that form one of the biggest threats to our society today.
“Negationist are often analysts, academics, journalists that use their status to set up websites, write negationist books, and articles to spread their untruths into the mind of governments, and society,” he said.
A genocide survivor testifying at the ceremony underscored the importance of commemorating.
“We remember our loved ones as a way of sending a message to genocide deniers that we will not allow them to revise our history,” said Louise Umutoni.
The president of the Rwandan community in Sweden, James Gatsinzi, stressed the importance of unity among Rwandans abroad, saying divisions were a key ingredient of the tragedy that befell Rwanda in 1994.
An international commemoration organised by the Rwandan Embassy which will include Swedish government officials, diplomats and civil society will take place in Stockholm on April 11.
Renowned British journalist and author, Linda Melvin, will be one of the speakers at the event. It will also feature a mini- exhibition on the genocide and post-genocide Rwanda organised by the Embassy of Rwanda.
Sweden—14 times the geographical size of Rwanda—is home to a sizable Rwandan community spread out across its vast territory.