AU commits to combat genocide ideology in Africa

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Youth during a Walk to Remember at Amahoro National Stadium in Remera on April 7. / File

The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) on Monday published a statement in which, after recalling the horror of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, reiterated commitment to prevent recurrence of similar mass atrocities, hate crime and genocide ideologies throughout the continent.

According to the statement, the PSC had at its 678th meeting, received a briefing on the prevention of hate crimes and the ideology of genocide in Africa and adopted the decision to convene, annually in April an open meeting on hate crimes and fighting genocide ideology in Africa.

“It is an important contribution to the fight against genocide and genocide ideology, especially as it calls upon AU member states to investigate, arrest, prosecute or extradited people on their territories suspected to have a hand in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda,” said the Minister for Justice, Johnston Busingye.

“The majority of the African countries haven’t done so. The other contribution is the call to member states to notice early warning signs of genocide and act to prevent or repress genocide.”

Among others, the PSC’s 678th meeting took note of the briefings made by the Executive Secretary of the Rwanda National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG), Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, among others.

The Council also underlined the importance of use of clear analysis and proper terminology in order to avoid falling into the problem of denials.

It acknowledges that deliberate tendencies of discrimination, marginalization, tribalism and manipulation of ethnicity often create conducive conditions for hate crimes and ideologies of genocide to thrive. The Council urges Member States, which have not yet done so, to establish necessary legal frameworks, in order to prevent violent conflicts, discrimination, hate crimes and genocide.

Member States are also urged to establish effective national infrastructures for peace as part of efforts to prevent mass atrocities, and to address all root causes of hate crimes and ideologies of genocide.

According to Alice Karekezi, a conflict expert and researcher at the University of Rwanda (UR), the AU’s move to prevent genocide ideology in Africa is a welcome development.

Move long overdue

But Karekezi said the “move is indeed long overdue,” and that the AU communiqué should have been one of the first of the Union since its creation.

The AU’s communiqué, she adds, does more than just honoring the lives of Rwandan victims of genocide ideology and hate crimes. According to the researcher, the statement shows that the PSC takes seriously the threats that the continent is faced with in all other African countries.

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Youth during a night vigil at Amahoro National Stadium in Remera on April 7. / File

Karekezi said: “Political entrepreneurs who are unable to craft an exciting future for societies and people should not be allowed to resort to manipulation of differences to build constituencies.

“History does not have to keep repeating itself. Fighting genocide ideology, together, is imperative for the achievement of Agenda 2063.”

Furthermore, the Council welcomes efforts by Member States, which are investigating and prosecuting individuals who were involved in the 1994 genocide and calls upon all the other Member States, which have not yet done so, to also investigate, arrest, prosecute or extradite the genocide fugitives including leaders of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

In the same context, the Council condemns denial and distortion of facts relating to the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

According to Dr Joseph Nkurunziza, president and co-founder of Never Again Rwanda (NAR), the 678th PSC meeting by stressing the importance of the need to deepen democracy, participatory governance and a culture of peace, “if implemented it gives a strong glimmer of hope” for sustainable development.

“Secondly, with the 678th PSC declaration, Africa should shift from rhetoric to action, strengthen measures for prevention and reading early signs to avoid Genocide,” he added.

The PSC is scheduled to convene in Kigali for a retreat early next month.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw