Kwibuka23: Nordic countries mark Genocide anniversary

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Sophie Musabe testifies at the international commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi held in Stockholm on April 7.

STOCKHOLM: Hundreds of Rwandans, government officials, the business community, civil society and friends of Rwanda observed the 23rd commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi at ceremonies held in various cities across Nordic countries on Friday and Saturday.

Speaking on behalf of the Swedish government at the commemoration in Stockholm, the Head of the Africa Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Ambassador Helena Rietz commended Rwanda’s post-genocide recovery and its pace of development.

“Rwanda has come from far in terms of economic development and good governance and the elections this August will be a landmark for Rwandan democracy”, she said.

Rietz warned against the threat posed by genocide ideology saying that combating this was an important undertaking and that Sweden would always support such efforts.

Rwanda’s envoy to the Nordic countries, Christine Nkulikiyinka also cautioned against the dangers of genocide ideology. “It can be very open but also very subtle”, she said before listing some of its symptoms.

“It starts for example with denial and revisionism: questioning numbers, depersonalizing and collectivizing the killings, etc”.

She added that the fight against genocide ideology is a collective one and goes with no tolerance for impunity.  She thanked Sweden for the prosecution of several cases of genocidaires and called on other countries to follow the example of Sweden.  

The envoy also highlighted the importance of commemorating the genocide against the Tutsi and the need for specificity in duly honouring the victims.

“Each of the victims had a face, a name, a family, dreams that they were not allowed to realize. Today, we remember over one million individual personalities, one million stories, and histories”, she said.

The Ambassador also pointed at Rwanda’s social, political and economic development since the end of the genocide as a symbol of the resilience of Rwandan’s in the face of tragedy.

Genocide commemoration events were also held by Rwandan communities in Copenhagen, Helsinki and Oslo—the capital cities of Denmark, Finland and Norway respectively. All three cities held their events on Saturday.

The commemorations in Stockholm—the international event held on and the Rwandan community event held on April 7th and April 8th also featured a well-received exhibition on the genocide and its aftermath.