Members of Diplomatic corps, officials from the US government and members of the civil society on Wednesday joined the Rwandan Community in Washington DC to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
The event, that was organized by the Rwanda embassy and the Academy for Educational Development (AED) took place at Global Theatre (AED-building).
In his welcome remarks, AED’s President and CEO, Stephen F. Moseley, commended the current leadership in Rwanda for restoring peace and stability and highlighted that the progress in the country is encouraging.
He reaffirmed AED’s commitment to work with Rwandan government on different social and economic projects.
In his remarks, Ambassador James Kimonyo, noted that April 7 is a day of mourning and another painful reminder of the day their lives were turned upside down.
“It brings back horrific memories of a period in time that Rwanda was literally being torn apart as the international community stood by and watched,”
These acts were not only circumspectly planned but they were systematically executed with precision and timeliness,” Kimonyo said.
“We must acknowledge for the terrible failure by the entire International Community, by all of us, the human kind, it should not have happened the way it did. There is no justification, no excuse, nothing,”
He said that nobody should be reminded about the NEVER AGAIN paradigm, because the world knows how other genocides occurred and for that matter how the Holocaust took place.
“We must accept the fact that we did not learn any lessons from the past, and may be we are still far from learning any lessons,” Kimonyo challenged the group.
He noted that despite these formidable and enormous challenges, Rwandans under the leadership of President Paul Kagame, have brilliantly demonstrated to the world that with dedicated and visionary leadership, genocide can be stopped, reconciliation can take place even in the most intricate of situations and a foundation for sustainable development could be built.
Speaking to the participants, Ambassador Donald Yamamoto, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary who represented the Department of State noted that on the day, names of the lives that were tragically ended should be read, if justice was to be done to them and to make their “aspirations and goals ours, we have to create an environment that provides opportunities so that every child can live their dreams”.
The event was characterized by Never Again memorial songs and testimonies from survivors who included Valentine Iribagiza, who survived the massacres at the Church in Nyarubuye.
In her testimony, she revealed her nightmares and the role played by the then government leaders such as Sylvestre Gacumbitsi who incited the militias to kill Tutsi in Nyarubuye Church while commending the current government of Rwanda for caring for the survivors.