Rwandans around the world, including members of Ibuka, the umbrella association of survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, have petitioned the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, Australia, urging him not to give a platform to Genocide deniers there. In their online petition addressed to Curtis Pitt, Speaker of the Queensland Parliament, the Rwandan-Australian community, has expressed “strongest objection” to the use of the Queensland Parliament Hall by a group that refers to itself as “Rwandan Association of Queensland Inc [RAQ]” for the event themed “Never Again, Annual Rwanda Genocide Commemoration” set for Saturday, May 7. Members of the “rogue group” are known to be vocal propagating the double genocide theory, a form of genocide denial. “Their commitment to falsely propagating an alternative narrative, that the events of 1994 were not a genocide against the Tutsi, rather a genocide against both Tutsi and Hutu, reflect a clear case of genocide revisionism,” reads part of the petition. The petitioners note that the “tacit support for this event, demonstrated by hosting this formal function on the grounds of Queensland Parliament House,” reflect a continuation of genocide, in the final stage of genocide, which is denial. “It’s absurd for the Parliament of the State of Queensland to be a bystander to Genocide denial and to offer their parliament premises to be a platform for people who [openly] claim to be Interahamwe (militia) well knowing the role of Interahamwe in the Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994,” Evariste Ngenzi, chairperson of the Rwandan Diaspora of New South Wales, told The New Times Thursday, May 5. A video of some men chanting “we are Interahamwe of peace and love” recently made rounds on social media platforms. One of those men is the leader of RAQ, Théogène Ngabo, and the other is Raphael Hakizimana. Both men, and others in their group, are advocates of double genocide theory. British journalist and leading author on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Linda Melvern, has shed light on some of the most common and obvious forms of genocide denial. These include the genocide perpetrators and their backers blaming the victims. The petitioners in Australia state “unequivocally” that there can be no legitimate case for the commemoration on May 7 and that any effort to do so stands in contravention to the UN resolution, Australia’s stated support, and the international consensus reached. On January 26, 2018, the United Nations officially adopted the title to mark April 7 as the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi which was systematically planned through decades of dehumanization, segregation in education and labour and pre-genocide massacres, is a fact of history. On April 7, in his message to mark the 28th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was neither an accident nor unavoidable. While countering a case of genocide denial in the UK, Rwandan envoy there, Johnston Busingye, on April 21, noted how the Rwandan genocidal regime – in the 1990s – which was married to ethnic extremism, hatred and division, spread the vile Anti-Tutsi propaganda, drew up the names of Tutsi families, imported vast quantities of weapons and mobilised militia to kill in advance of the Genocide. These are all well-established facts and the Genocide against the Tutsi is recognised by the United Nations, Governments, International Law and courts, Busingye said. “The planned event (in Australia) not only falls outside of the recognised and sanctioned dates and time set aside by international consensus, but most significantly the intention for the Kwibuka (remembrance), to mark the anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda,” reads the petition to the Speaker of Queensland Parliament. “We endorse the ongoing efforts by diplomatic missions and communities internationally to combat the rising genocide denial across the world.” The petitioners share the view that, “denial is part of genocide” and see it as their responsibility to raise awareness and advocate for justice. “Further, we raise serious concern that genocide denial, double genocide theory, and genocide revisionism contravene the Australian Racial Discrimination Act. As is the case for the denial of the Jewish Holocaust, neither the Act nor any other Australian law expressly prohibit Holocaust denial.” However, they note, section 18C provides that it is unlawful for a person [or group] to publicly “do an act” that is reasonably likely to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” a person or group of people, if “the act is done because of the race, colour, or national or ethnic origin” of the person or group. Aussies’ ‘ignorance dangerous’ Asked what she makes of the problem of Genocide deniers being given a platform in the country, Frida Umuhoza, a survivor and author living in Melbourne, told The New Times “that ignorance of those who give them time or a place to propagate their deadly ideology is more dangerous than they can imagine.” Umuhoza said this ignorance by Australian people and politicians is not only dangerous “for us as survivors but also for the Australian communities.” She added: “We all know that any genocide that has happened in any part of the world, including the Genocide against the Tutsis, has 10 stages and the last one is denying it. The people who deny it are as bad as those who committed it. Denial is a very calculated stage; and they do it in a way that’s as painful as possible.” Genocide denial has many faces, Umuhoza said, noting that they include: those who committed the Genocide against the Tutsi who live in Australia and try to reverse the roles. “By this I mean perpetrators call themselves survivors or victims and call those who survived perpetrators.” Other faces of Genocide denial include those who try to intimidate survivors “who live here in Australia, to silence us” and those who try to “deform our character.” “They do all they can to stop our annual (Genocide) commemorations. They target the Kwibuka period to utter their ugly lies in order to divert the attention from what commemoration actually means to us survivors, Rwandans, and the world.” ‘Rogue group recognised as double genocides advocates’ The petitioners argue that a potential Queensland government hosted and sanctioned event, for “a rogue group recognised as double genocides advocates” stands to “offend”, “insult”, “humiliate” and “intimidate”, and cause further harm to a community of Rwandan Australians still in the process of healing. They are urging lawmakers in the Queensland Parliament respectfully to reconsider and cancel the group’s event on parliamentary grounds. They note that groups who reach out to government in such a fashion to organise what appear to be “official” commemorations seek to co-opt Government, unknowingly, as deliberate attempts to “formalise” and “legitimate” their agenda, namely a counter narrative around genocide revisionism. “We urge that you act in accordance with Australia’s expressed commitment and International consensus, and in light of the deep pain and suffering that efforts to deny the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda cause members of the Rwandan diaspora community in Australia (particularly the Tutsi minority and including also those Hutu and others who opposed and suffer in solidarity with us).” One immediate solution offered is for the Queensland Government to review its terms of reference for engaging with the Australian Rwandan Community. “We would suggest this could best be done via consultation with both the Honorary Consul-General, The Republic of Rwanda in the Commonwealth of Australia and the High Commissioner, Republic of Rwanda in Singapore, along with community Elders. We are relying on your leadership, understanding, and swift action on this issue.” Australia is known to have become a den of Genocide fugitives, deniers and subversive groups that are against the government of Rwanda. In October 2020, Rwandans living in Australia condemned claims by a compatriot from such groups who alleged he was threatened by the Rwandan government. The group, RAQ, is a registered association of Rwandans, most of whom are former refugees relocated to Australia as a third country on a tripartite arrangement with the UNHCR. Most of them, analysts say, are nostalgic of the Rwandan genocidal regime and are driven by the ethnic division ideology. “They have taken their children hostage. Unfortunately, most of their children were born in exile or were of tender age when they left Rwanda! This rogue group sympathises with anyone who is against the current government of Rwanda because they are impatiently waiting for the collapse of the current leadership in Rwanda, so as to be able to come back to Rwanda,” another Rwandan living in Australia told The New Times. During the FLN trial, Major Callixte Nsabimana, alias Sankara, testified that his militia group received $10,000 contribution Australian members and supporters. Asked what she thinks can be done to end the activities of Genocide deniers in Australia, Umuhoza noted that “unfortunately, Australia has become a safe haven for those who committed the crime not only in my country Rwanda but to humanity.” “What I think is needed at the moment is raising more awareness through educating the public and communities. As well as using the same channel as them to create awareness, mostly social media, and for survivors to write their stories to be read by Australians in order to teach what actually happened to more than one million Tutsi who were killed in those 100 days.