The Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, in collaboration with the Director General of the UN Office Geneva, organised events to commemorate for the 16th time, the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The memorial was observed at the UN Office in Geneva and was attended by a large number of Ambassadors, Heads of International Organisations, members of the Rwandan Diaspora in Switzerland and friends of Rwanda.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, a former Judge and president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), commended Rwanda for putting in place policies and mechanisms with sufficient safeguards to ensure that there is no repeat of Genocide.
“We must also take stock and commend the efforts of the Rwandan people to shape anew a society that is inclusive and which explicitly rejects the historical discrimination that led to the killings,” “The 2003 Constitution guarantees the rights of all Rwandans without discrimination.
The Constitution recognizes the separation of powers and the precedence over domestic laws of international human rights conventions which have been ratified,” the UN official said.
She noted that Rwanda has made remarkable progress towards gender equality as illustrated by more than half of Rwanda’s parliamentarians and more than 30 percent of the Cabinet members being women.
She further noted that similarly 30 percent of Judges of the Supreme Court are women and more than 30 percent of women occupy positions in other Courts and Tribunals. She commended Rwanda for abolishing the death penalty.
The Permanent Representative of Rwanda to UN and other International Organisation in Geneva and Ambassador to Switzerland Venetia Sebudandi in her message underscored Rwanda Government’s efforts to address survivors’ psychological trauma and cater for their socio-economic needs.
She highlighted the successes of Rwanda’s recovery process; in justice and reconciliation and restoration of peace and security adding that Rwanda was now contributing to global peace keeping efforts.
She said on the economic front Rwanda’s efforts to create the right climate for local and foreign investments was now globally recognized, as indicated by the recently-published World Bank Report on doing business, which ranks Rwanda as the top global performer in this area.
On justice at International level, she spoke of the urgent need for states hosting genocide suspects to extradite them or try them in their in their countries. She said genocide impunity should not be tolerated.
She also called on states to fight denial, revisionism and trivialization of the genocide committed against the Tutsi, adding that genocide denial was another source of trauma for the survivors and is detrimental to efforts for reconciliation and genocide prevention.
The Director General of UN Office Geneva, Mr. Sergei Ordzhonikze in his message paid tribute to the strength, resilience and determination of the Rwandan people to rebuild their lives and their country through an ambitious justice and reconciliation process with the aim of all Rwandans once again living side by side in peace.
Esther Mujawayo, a Genocide survivor, specialist in trauma Counselling and author of the book “SurVivante” (Survivor) spoke on the theme of Trauma among the genocide survivors.
“As a result of their psychological situation, most of survivors are ‘walking dead’, they are really not in 2010, and they still see themselves in 1994,”
“Some of those seen here in Geneva, in their minds they are still in Rwanda and still living that violent period - the movie of their experience in their heads doesn’t stop,” she said
Her testimony moved the participants with her experience of losing nearly her entire family, her husband and his entire family. She said this was a typical case of most survivors.
She said it was painful for her to be speaking in the UN which abandoned the victims. She narrated how the International community abandoned Rwanda during the genocide and even afterwards by failing to recognise the need for compensation and special assistance to the genocide survivors.
Mujawayo said they had expected the whole world to respond massively to the cause of the genocide survivors, and “suffocate them with compassion”, but nothing like that happened.
She called on the UN and member states to create a Fund to complement Rwanda Government’s efforts to meet the needs of the survivors.