WE ARE fast approaching April 7, 2014, the day when Rwandans and the world will be remembering, for the 20th time, a million of our compatriots whose lives were tragically cut short by a genocidal machinery.
We remember a million souls slain during a hundred days of horror, for the only crime of being born Tutsi. We remember brave women and men, who were massacred for upholding the dignity of mankind, by protecting the oppressed and opposing the evil.
We remember and honour women and girls, sexually abused, deformed and most of them infected with incurable diseases.
And we remember and support the orphans, deprived of happiness, childhood and education, and prematurely thrown in the adult life.
We unite as Rwandans, a people that share a single culture, a single language and a single history, to defy the artificial divide caused by colonialists and by bad governance.
We unite because we proclaimed “Never Again” and “Not In My Name”, we unite to turn a dark page of our history and to shape a bright future for next generations.
We unite to restore our dignity and to build, altogether, a country free of genocide, mass atrocities, discrimination and hate.
And we unite because we want to show the world that reconciliation and brotherhood are the only viable path to stability and prosperity.
We renew as an ancient nation, created by Gihanga – fore founder of Rwanda – a millennium ago, destroyed two decades ago and reborn from ashes.
We renew, as a country that chose not only to recover and rebuild, but also to be self-reliable, striving to be a model of excellence in socio-economic development, uplifting citizens and protecting our planet.
And we renew because we want to share our experience and learn from others’, with a view to building a better world.
Dr Gregory Stanton, a renowned Research Professor in Genocide Studies and Prevention, who wrote a book on the eight (8) stages of genocide, listed genocide denial as the eighth stage of a genocide, which comes after extermination.
Rwanda is experiencing this stage, where genocide perpetrators and their henchmen continue, through speeches and acts, to deny the occurrence of the 1994 genocide committed against the Tutsi. They refer to the name that the UN usually uses for this genocide – “Rwandan genocide” –, it has become the basis of their argument.
According to them, the fact that the UN calls it such, is enough evidence that this body does not recognise that a genocide was committed against the Tutsi. Indeed, deniers of all kinds, from the grassroots genocidaires to some scholars, continue to refer to “Rwandan genocide” as the basis for their denial.
As we move on in rebuilding the chattered lives of survivors and in implementation of our unity and reconciliation programmes, we endeavour to protect survivors from unnecessary hurt.
We therefore call on all member states of the United Nations to support in the fight against this stage of genocide against the Tutsi – genocide denial – by denying these merciless criminals any chance to hurt their victims.
For this twentieth commemoration, we will introduce, in both the General Assembly and the Security Council, draft resolutions to honour the memory of the victims and stress on the need to prevent genocide and other crimes against humanity.
The irony of our history is that during the genocide in 1994, Rwanda was sitting on the Security Council. Twenty years later, Rwanda is back in the same seat.
While the Transitional Government of April-July 1994 was misguiding the Security Council in New York and committing genocide back home, the current Government of National Unity, backed by painful lessons learned from the past, is committed to fight against genocide ideology, to fight against impunity and has embraced the responsibility to prevent and protect.
Indeed, Rwanda, as member of the Security Council, is more than ever determined to prevent the world from conflicts, genocide and mass atrocities, and is committed to protecting civilians under the threat of extermination.
As a result of the experience of Rwanda, we feel a moral obligation to participate as vigorously as possible in activities, such as UN peacekeeping operations that increase protection of civilians in armed conflict. Today, twenty years after the Genocide, Rwanda is the sixth major troops and police contributing country to the UN Missions around the globe.
The Rwanda Defence Forces, which stopped the genocide in Rwanda, are now committed to protecting civilians in Darfur, South Sudan and in other conflict theatres in the world, the most recent being the Central African Republic where our troops in MISCA are working tirelessly in opening the humanitarian corridors and robustly intervening to save human lives.
It is imperative to remember to honour the lives of our loved ones. We need to look back to realise how far we have come to be able to draw lessons from the past while standing together to chart a new narrative.
The experience acquired over time should be championed to meet the challenges of our current situation. There is no way we can erase the past, but we have the power to prepare a decent future for our people.
That is what lies at the root of our enlightened leader’s inspiration and motto: Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda in his wise words, I quote, “we cannot turn the clock back nor can we undo the harm caused, but we have the power to determine the future and to ensure that what happened never happens again.”
This article was extracted from a statement delivered by Amb. Gasana, Rwanda’s Permanent Representative at the UN, during the Kwibuka20 launch in New York last week.