Rwandan scholars to get more scientific knowledge on preserving Genocide memory

The world needs to be educated on peace and tolerance. Training by Memorial de la Shoah started this Tuesday at Nobleza Hotel./Photos by Dan Nsengiyumva

The National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), in partnership with the Mémorial de la Shoah, the Holocaust Museum in Paris, France has organised a training series on the Holocaust (Shoah) and the 1994 Genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi.

The three-day training commenced this Tuesday, December 17 in Kigali and it is part of the agreement signed in 2018 between CNLG and the Shoah Memorial.

Also in July this year, the government of Rwanda and the memorial inked a memorandum of understanding to conserve genocide the memory of those who were exterminated during the genocide as well as exchange research information among other areas.

Through different sessions, the participants will acquire basic skills on the two genocides and how to deal with their consequences, according to CNLG.

“This training intends to equip our personnel with knowledge on the Holocaust and the genocide against the Tutsi because all genocides have similarities,” said Jean Damascène Bizimana, the executive secretary of the commission.

“This is the first training, but many more will follow targeting various categories such as history teachers,” he noted.

The training has brought together over 50 scholars and researchers from Rwanda, Belgium, France, and the United States to improve the understanding of both genocides. Organisations such as IBUKA - the umbrella body of Genocide survivors' associations - and Aegis Trust are also represented during the training.

Bruno Boyer, head of International Relations at the Memorial de la Shoah moderating the first training session.

“Our ambition is to advance general culture and scientific competences on the history of Shoah to CNLG personnel,” said Bruno Boyer, head of International Relations at the Memorial de la Shoah. “We are trying to share key elements for everyone to develop a critical spirit through a scientific approach.”

It is very important, says Hélène Dumas, a researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), to know the history - how the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide and other cases happened in order to know more about the Tutsi genocide.

“We came here in order to share historical knowledge about genocides of the 20th century to reinforce general culture about genocides and mass crimes all around the world,” said the French researcher who is currently conducting research on child survivors of the genocide in Rwanda.

Hélène Dumas, a researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) during an interview.

Fighting genocide minimization and negationism

In his opening remarks, the State Minister of Justice in charge of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Evode Uwizeyimana said that Rwanda, through this training, will learn strategies used to fight negationism of the Holocaust and how they can be implemented in Rwanda,

“The convention will attempt to pave new ways for research, book publication, testimonies and preservation of evidence on the Rwandan genocide. More particularly, Rwanda seeks collaboration and expertise in the conservation of the victims’ remains,” he added.

The laborious work has been already done in Nyamata and Murambi memorial sites in partnership with experts from Cranfield University in the UK, University of Hamburg and the Museum of Hannover in Germany as well as the University of Pennsylvania in the United States.

Rwandan genocide memorials on World Heritage List

Rwanda intends to stretch conservation to other memorial sites across the country and prioritize the registration of four sites (Nyamata, Murambi, Gisozi, and Bisesero) on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

In February this year, Rwanda submitted required documents to the World Heritage Centre at UNESCO for further analysis. It is probable that the listing might happen in 2021, said the States Minister.

“The world needs to be educated on peace and tolerance. Genocide memorial sites are symbols of intolerance but also of hope for a pacific and human world. It belongs to us all.”

International effort towards genocide criminalization 

Since 2003, the United Nations General Assembly designated the 7th of April as the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Despite the effort, several genocidaires and deniers are still sheltered by different nations across the globe.

Only a handful of countries such as Belgium has put up laws criminalizing the denialism and minimization 1994 genocide, while France wants to reserve April 7th for commemoration.

“We encourage other European countries to adopt laws reprimanding the Tutsi genocide denial and the acknowledgment of international day of April 7th,” urged Uwizeyimana

Mémorial de la Shoah is a Holocaust museum based in Paris, France. The memorial was opened in 2005. Since 2017, it has reserved space in its Paris museum dedicated to showcasing the history of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda.

Eric Ruvebana, researcher and professor of law at the University of Rwanda explains the origins of the word "Genocide" coined by a Polish lawyer, Raphael Lemkin who is also known for initiating the Genocide Convention.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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