Rwandans, friends of Rwanda and Finnish authorities on Friday convened at the Oodi Helsinki Central Library in Finland where they paid tribute to victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
The event that was organised by the Rwandan embassy in Stockholm—which also serves other Nordic countries including Finland—and was also attended by diplomats from other countries and members of the civil society.
Speaking at the event on behalf of her government, Leena-Kaisa Mikkola, the Director General for Africa and Middle East in the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, commended Rwanda's recovery journey, despite a traumatic past.
"Rwanda’s path after the Genocide against the Tutsi has been a miracle. In these 25 years, Rwanda experienced a tremendous progress in its reconstruction," she said.
She added that for Rwanda to be able to emerge from a Genocide to become one of the fastest growing economies, offers a lesson to many to follow.
The Rwandan ambassador to the Nordic countries, Christine Nkulikiyinka, explained to the participants the country's history prior to the Genocide, characterised by divisive politics entrenched by the leadership of the day so as to lay ground for the Genocide against the Tutsi.
She said that today, everything that has been achieved in post-genocide Rwanda is courtesy of a leadership that discarded all ethnic labels.
"We are only Rwandans, indeed we are a family, she said, adding, “much like the Youth in Finland, Youth in Rwanda enjoy equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the development of our nation."
She commended Finland to be among the countries that have investigated and tried Rwandan genocide suspects and helped to provide justice to the victims.
There must be no safe haven for genocidaires, she said.
Ambassador Christine Nkulikiyinka.
A Finnish court in 2010 handed a life sentence to Francois Bazaramba, a former teacher, over his role in the Genocide against the Tutsi.
He was earlier this year denied early release by the Finnish Court of Appeal and remains in custody.
Meanwhile, during the commemorative event, Josee Butera, a Genocide survivor narrated to the audience how she survived massacres at Gahanga parish.
She told the audience that on April 10th,1994, Interahamwe militia and villagers of Kagasa attacked them at Gahanga parish where she and her parents were among thousands of Tutsi who had sought refuge at the church, hoping for protection.
“Most of the murderers were our neighbours, friends of ours. We saw them, we could hear them singing kill them all, kill them all…
"In an indescribable traumatic scene, they killed my parents and thousands of Tutsi in the church, school and burned the big cinema hall beside the church. I miraculously survived."
Before concluding her moving testimony, she paid tribute to soldiers under the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF Inkotanyi) and their commander,
President Paul Kagame who she said not only rescued them, but also managed to stop the state-sponsored genocide.