Politicians who were killed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi will be remembered today as Rwandans conclude an official mourning week for over a million victims of the world’s worst genocide ever.
The event will be observed Friday morning with top dignitaries in the country, families of slain politicians and other mourners convening at Rebero Genocide memorial in Kicukiro District where most of the prominent deceased politicians are interred.
Some of those buried at the site include Landouard Ndasingwa, aka Lando, Venantie Kabageni, Charles Kayiranga, André Kameya, Aloys Niyoyita, Augustin Rwayitare, and Jean de la Croix Rutaremara.
Others include Joseph Kavaruganda, Frederic Nzamurambaho, Felicien Ngango, Jean Baptiste Mushimiyimana, and Faustin Rucogoza.
Many of them were members of either the Liberal Party (PL) or Social Democratic Party (PSD) and were all known to be reformists who called for peace and reconciliation, pushed for political dialogue, and condemned hate ideology that was being promoted by the then genocidal regime of Juvenal Habyarimana.
MP Henriette Mukamurangwa Sebera, whose husband was killed among the politicians, said there is a lot to learn from the fallen politicians, especially true love for one’s country.
Her late husband, Silas Sebera, was the first vice president of PL in the former Butare prefecture, now part of Southern Province.
“It’s good that the country recognises these politicians’ heroism. They did their best to help their country to get out of a crisis. They were outspoken in condemning the dictatorial regime and were very brave because they fought from inside the country knowing that they could be killed anytime,” she told The New Times yesterday.
MP Juvenal Nkusi, a member of PSD who worked alongside some of the slain politicians in the struggle for inclusive policies and democracy, said the departed political leaders stood for collective interests of all Rwandans.
“They were committed to changing the politics in Rwanda in the best interest of all. They wanted the politics of discrimination, nepotism and hatred to end,” he said in an interview yesterday.
The slain politicians continue to inspire today’s politicians in the country twenty-four years on, observers say.
They chose to pursue the common interests of citizens instead of engaging in antagonistic and divisive politics like many did, they add.
“Remembering them helps today’s politicians take note of the mistakes made by bad politicians in the past as well as the deeds of those who opposed the bad policies,” said Dr Jean Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, the secretary-general of the Social Democratic Party (PSD). “Politicians have a lot of lessons to draw from remembering that chapter of our history and what happened at the time, we learn that we need to keep our country and people united.”
Mukamurangwa says that remembering the slain politicians teaches present-day politicians to be patriotic and always be courageous enough to stand up against evil. “They put their lives on the line to try and help their country.”
The executive-secretary of the National Consultative Forum of Political Parties (NFPO), Oswald Burasanzwe, also said that there are a lot of lessons to learn from the politicians being remembered today, especially being principled.
“Today’s politicians should learn from the ideals held by those we remember today, ideals like unity and patriotism,” he said.
Although the official national mourning week ends today, Genocide commemoration activities will continue in different communities around the country until July 3 – on the eve of the Liberation Day.