Envoys sound alarm over Genocide denial
As Rwandans and friends of Rwanda continue to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi, the country’s diplomats have called on the international community to help stop revisionists wherever they may be.
“The world needs to appreciate the fact that Rwanda has come a long way, especially with regard to reconciliation among the citizens, and sustainable development; We should be judged in our own context,” the Rwandan envoy to South Africa, Vincent Karega, told The New Times.
There’s need for the entire world to come together and make “Never Again” a reality
The envoy also said the international community should help Rwanda in its efforts to dispense justice, by arresting and extraditing to Kigali or even prosecuting the indicted fugitives themselves.
“There’s need for the entire world to come together and make “Never Again” a reality,” added Karega, formerly a government minister back home.
The country’s High Commissioner to the UK, Ernest Rwamucyo, said the world had a moral responsibility to support Rwandans in their healing process, saying denying the Genocide only inflicted more emotional distress on the survivors. He said revisionist activities were not only “unacceptable but inhumane”.
The Rwandan High Commission in South Africa, on Saturday, organised a Genocide commemoration event which attracted hundreds of mainly Rwandans who largely stay in the Gauteng Province (Pretoria, Centurion, Midland and Johannesburg).
During the event, Bonaventure Kageruka, a survivor, talked about the significant improvement in the quality of life of survivors and the focus on the future, 18 years after the Genocide.
Iseta, a documentary based on a true story recounting the horrific scenes filmed on a usually quiet road in Kigali (in the Gikondo suburb) when the Genocide began, was filmed.
Karega highlighted the importance of learning from the past, saying it helps draw lessons to shape a bright future. He also emphasised the need to fight the activities of “those who trivialises the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi or seek to manipulate the history of Rwanda.”
The High Commission plans to hold another event tomorrow, which will attract South African officials, diplomatic corps and friends of Rwanda, during which mourners will observe a minute of silence and light candles in memory of the victims of the Genocide. Among the speakers will include Tali Nates, the Director of the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre (JHGC). A movie, ‘Dreams of the future’, will be also screened, according to organisers.
Meanwhile, in London, events for commemoration started on Saturday with a walk-to- remember and an event in the West Midlands at Coventry.
The event was organised by the Rwandan community in West Midlands, including Coventry and Birmingham, in collaboration with the Rwandan High Commission.
High Commissioner Ernest Rwamucyo, in a message to Rwandans and friends of Rwanda, underlined the importance of remembering Genocide victims.
“By remembering, we dignify and pay respect to our loved ones who were brutally robbed of their lives and dignity. Commemoration brings us together in solidarity to share our grief and to strengthen one another,” Rwamucyo said.
He noted that Genocide commemoration was a moment “for us to individually and collectively reflect on the tragic past of our country and to strengthen our resolve to rebuild a progressive, tolerant and peaceful community characterised by dignity, self-worth and peaceful coexistence.”
The envoy said that 18 years after, Rwanda has moved on.
“Rwandans and, particularly the survivors of Genocide, have faced the tragedy that befell us with enormous grace, resilience and determination not to be trapped by the tragedy. A new nation is being born out of the ashes of 1994. Rwanda is a stable, peaceful and a well- governed country.”
He noted that Rwandans, today, are more optimistic about the future than they have ever been. The High Commissioner urged Rwandans to continue working in solidarity to rebuild their country and consolidate the gains they have, hitherto, achieved together.
Rwamucyo talked of the invaluable role of leadership in the country’s healing process, stating that Rwanda would not be the proud nation it is today “without the sacrifices and hard work of its visionary and determined leadership”.
“As members of the Rwandan Diaspora in the UK, we must continue to support our leaders and make individual and collective commitment to continue being proactive contributors to the development of our country,” he urged.
Genocide commemoration events will continue in different parts of the UK through the month of April. A national-level commemoration is scheduled in London, at Southwark Cathedral, on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, last evening, the Rwandan community in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa was scheduled to hold a memorial service, according to the officials at Rwanda’s embassy in the neighbouring nation.
Commemoration activities have been organised, worldwide, especially in countries were Rwanda has an embassy.
Since 1994, several Genocide perpetrators have teamed up with scholars, activists and even former ICTR defence lawyers to try and change the discourse about the Genocide, some often espousing the theory of “double genocide.”
An international conference, which took place in Kigali last week, urged the world community not to allow Genocide denial and revisionism to flourish. Participants also urged the government and Rwandans, in general, to step up measures aimed at fighting Genocide denial, including using various media platforms to communicate the truth to the world.
Rwanda also accuses various countries of failure to cooperate with regard to arresting and prosecuting Genocide fugitives on their soil.
Contact email: james.karuhanga[at]newtimes.co.rw