We chose to take responsibility for ourselves, says Kagame

President Paul Kagame on Sunday joined eminent Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel for a conversation on genocide and the role of the strong in protecting the weak, at New York University, United States.
A conversation with Elie Wiesel and Rabbi Shmuley- 29 September 2013. The New Times/Village Urugwiro
A conversation with Elie Wiesel and Rabbi Shmuley- 29 September 2013. The New Times/Village Urugwiro

President Paul Kagame on Sunday joined eminent Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel for a conversation on genocide and the role of the strong in protecting the weak, at New York University, United States.

The panel, moderated by Rabbi Schmuley, discussed both the Genocide against the Tutsi and the Holocaust.

Introduced as “the only man on earth who can claim to have stopped a genocide”, President Kagame spoke on the role of the international community during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, according to a statement from the President’s office.

“Genocide in Rwanda was seen as the usual, savage reaction by Africans. The message from the outside to those of us who were trying to stop the genocide was to try and restrain,” the Head of State is quoted as saying.

Kagame observed that the international community’s choice to turn its back on Rwanda was not the first time, and that Rwanda has since learned from that tragic experience 19 years ago.

“What we learnt along the way was not to blame others for what happened. We learned to take responsibility for ourselves. If we wasted time thinking about what others are able to do for us, we would not have been able to bring Genocide to an end,” he said.

The President pointed to Rwanda’s involvement in peacekeeping as a result of its history. “We try to do the best we can for ourselves and for others who find themselves in the same situation.”

Rwandan peacekeepers are deployed in various parts of the world, including in the two Sudans, where the country maintains more than 4,300 peacekeepers.

In addition to the responsibility to protect in times of genocide, the panelists discussed the aftermath of genocide including what is often referred to as the eighth stage of genocide: genocide denial.

Responding to a question from Rabbi Schmuley referring to Paul Rusesabagina as one of the deniers of the Genocide against the Tutsi, Elie Wiesel said: "They are not worthy of a dialogue."

The panel discussion, held at the New York University Bronfman Center, was a prelude to the 20th Anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

It was attended by over 800 members of the NYU Community and prominent Jewish philanthropists, including Adelson Sheldon and Michael Steinhardt.

For the past one week, President Kagame has been in North America where he attended and addressed the 68th UN General Assembly and several related side events in New York, US, and presided over the fifth Rwanda Day edition in Toronto, Canada.

 

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