A former American envoy to Cambodia will Thursday be honoured in Kigali for confronting genocide and promoting humanity.
Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn will receive the Steven Krulis Champion of Humanity Distinguished Service Award from Aegis Trust, an organisation dedicated to preventing future genocides and promoting humanity globally.
The award has previously been given once – in 2002 – to Romeo Dallaire, the retired Canadian Army General, who was the force commander of a UN mission in Rwanda during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
Like Dallaire in Rwanda, Amb Quinn confronted genocide for a long time and championed values of humanity before, during and after the 1975-1979 genocide in Cambodia that claimed over 20 per cent of the population, according to a statement from Aegis Trust.
Dr James Smith, the chief executive of Aegis Trust, said: “It is truly remarkable to have someone who played such a leading role in responding to the humanitarian fallout of a genocide, in this case the Genocide in Cambodia. He raised the alarm some two years prior to the genocide starting,” Smith said in the statement.
“Imagine if we had listened; imagine a world where we had used our ethical intelligence to invest in early prevention. And then, some years later, when he was U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, he developed an ingenious way to eradicate the remnants of the perpetrators of this mass murder. That is exceptional,” he said.
On accepting the award, Ambassador Quinn said, “I am truly humbled to be recognised with this Award, named in memory of Steven Krulis. The incomparable suffering of the millions and millions of victims of genocide in the 20th century, in the Holocaust in the 1940s, in Rwanda in the 1990s and in Cambodia from 1974 to 1999, amongst others, is an indelible stain on human history.”
“ I want to express my most profound gratitude to Dr. James Smith and the Aegis Trust for this extraordinary honor that they are bestowing upon me, and my unending admiration in all that the Aegis Trust is doing to ensure that future genocides do not occur again in the 21st century or beyond.”
Thomas Krulis, son of Steven Krulis, in whose memory the award is being given, said, “Our family very much appreciates that my father’s life is being honoured. He was a great man, who survived the horrors of Auschwitz and the Holocaust, teaching me what it is to be a champion of humanity.
“We survived and prospered because of his humanity and the humanity of others. To my dad, may you be comforted in the knowledge that in your memory something really positive has begun.”
The award will be witnessed by Rwandan government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, members of civil society organisations and delegations from regional countries’ communities where Aegis Trust operates, such as South Sudan, Kenya and Central African Republic.
Ambassador Quinn currently serves as president of the World Food Prize Foundation in Des Moines, Iowa, USA.