Rwanda is a few days away from commemorating fourteen years after one of the most horrific genocides of the 20th century occurred. The Rwandan genocide began on 7 April 1994. The genocide was highly organized, with top government and ruling party officials playing a direct role.
Militia members, the armed forces and civilians carried out appalling atrocities, against innocent Rwandans. At least one million Rwandans died under mercilessly torture, which made most victims die regretting why they lived on earth. The circumstances of their deaths remain our great concern.
It must be remembered that the extermination of an estimated one million Rwandans, was not a side-effect of the war and the crash of ‘Habyalimana’s plane’, but a well organised plan of the then regime.
A Memorial Day, is a day of remembrance for those men, mothers, children and babies who were tortured to death, in 1994 genocide. It is a period when we remember mass crimes against humanity.
Furthermore, it is at this period, when those who deny genocide, are exposed through their direct or indirect manifestations.
One of the main reasons of why we need to have a memorial day is that, it helps to stop the propaganda of those who deny it.
There have been various attempts to deny and minimise the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, both within the country and outside the country.
We need to check this trend, for it takes us in a very wrong direction and is by its nature dangerous to our country.
Gregory H. Stanton, formerly of the US State Department and the founder of Genocide Watch views the dangers of denying genocide as thus: “Denial is the eighth stage that always follows genocide.
It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres. The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses.
They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims. While the arguments made by a genocide denier vary depending on which genocide is being denied, most arguments have a common basis.
The accusations of a genocide denier usually include conspiracies stating that the targeted ethnic group conspired against the accused state with its enemies, that death tolls have been exaggerated in order to create undeserved sympathy, that the victims provoked the actions against themselves, through either armed insurrection or exploitation of the majority, and that the evidence supporting a genocide thesis was largely fabricated.
Deniers often argue from ignorance, approaching the subject without acknowledging eyewitness records or previously made studies, or previous conclusions, and claim falsehood based on lack of direct evidence.
Deniers may also accumulate pieces of data from less-cited or less-used sources and exaggerate them in an attempt to counter records indicating genocide occurred.”
Stanton’s experience is evidenced in Rwanda, where genocide deniers have resorted to accusing those who stopped the 1994 genocide; they have harassed and killed witness.
All these are meant to intimidate them and possibly erase the memories of genocide in the nation. That is the whole essence of the hopeless claim, ‘double genocide’.
There are so many other examples of denials in Rwanda and elsewhere world wide; the Armenian genocide is denied by the government of Turkey, that the deaths was only a result of the Armenian insurrection and The Holocaust is denied by saying that, it either did not occur or was exaggerated.
The Rwandan genocide is often denied too; they say that it was a result of vicious civil war and not a deliberate attempt to wipe out the Tutsi.
The Rwandan 1994 genocide is still denied in different ways by different people; the people who have been trying to associate ‘the Habyalimana’s plane crash’ with the 1994 genocide deny genocide, and leaders who have deliberately refused to put on trial genocide perpetrators that live in their countries, minimise and deny the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Critics of genocide memorial days and remembering genocide in general, say that it renews bad memories of the past and possibly hatred. It is true that the memories of the past are renewed but it does not necessarily mean that hatred is rejuvenated.
Some people may be touched of course, for different reasons, but the advantages of ‘remembering’ highly out numbers the ones we would get in ‘not remembering.’
It helps the young children who are expected to live for long, to know the ills the country suffered and hence paves way for them to forge a better future.
The ugly pictures of old Rwanda, gives unforgettable scenarios in terms of human suffering. But we cannot afford to hind the reality of our country’s history, especially when we still have people who are ready to take us back.
This is the time when our children and us, take chance to re-direct our minds towards forging a new route to reconciliation.
We should know that, no foreigner will come to unite Rwandans; it is the duty of Rwandans to make their country peaceful.
Remember that the so-called civilized societies, stood by, as our children were massacred in the broad light day.
Remember that propaganda against Rwanda continues to manifest itself in different styles by the very perpetrators of the genocide.
Remembering will thus prevent a recurrence of genocide, or even greater disasters. To forget only accomplishes the goal of the enemies of Rwanda.