Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has apologised to Rwandans for the failure to intervene as more than a million people were slaughtered during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
President Kenyatta’s remarks were issued during the 20th commemoration of the Genocide on Monday in Kigali.
“Our region also stood aside, and for that we owe the most profound apology to the people of Rwanda,” Kenyatta said.
The Head of State reiterated the commitment from the Kenyans that the region will never be plagued by genocide again.
“The people of Kenya reach out to their Rwandan brothers and sisters; we mourn with you, and join you in our determination that genocide will never find space in our region again.”
“You are no longer just a nearby country; you are a first-line partner in our transformative political and economic enterprises. These days we look out for each other,” he said.
Kenyatta was among the global leaders and dignitaries who were in Kigali on Monday to join the Rwandan people in commemoration activities.
He recalled how, for 100 days, Rwanda suffered while the world watched without stepping in, despite the “never again” pledge made after the Jewish Holocaust.
“Rwandans lost their lives in an escalation of violence that had plagued the country for decades with its roots in colonial racist ideology and a post-colonial state that practiced the politics of division and terror,” Kenyatta said.
Lesson from the Genocide
Kenyatta said Rwanda’s experience has taught that no one from far away can be relied on, prompting the need to build an independent capability and will to protect the lives of the region’s children and their futures.
“This is why as the chairperson of the East African Community, I believe that we must ensure that our region is as strong on security and mutual aid as it is in economic integration,” he said.
“Building a bloc today that would have intervened in 1994 is the least we can do to honour the memory of the dead. I join hands with President Paul Kagame in working toward a region that is prosperous, brotherly and safe for all our people.”
President Kenyatta also paid tribute to Genocide survivors, their saviours and the Rwanda Patriotic Front who brought to an end the Genocide.
“Your nation is a phoenix, home of millions of unsung heroes. I salute the Rwandans who endured and survived. I applaud those who reached out to save their neighbours. I thank the Rwanda Patriotic Front for doing what so many others were unable or unwilling to do,” he said.
Kenyatta urged Rwandans to protect the country from ethnic division, Genocide deniers and promoters of hate speech who use the cover of academia and press freedom to propagate hate speech.
“We are not fooled for one instant. Free speech is not hate speech. Denial of the 1994 Genocide is not an exercise in academic freedom or democratic politics; it is a cloak for murderers, who, to this day, believe their genocidal work is not complete.”