French President Emmanuel Macron has written a letter to survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. In it, he is, among others, reassuring them that despite being unable to hold an official public commemoration event due to the COVID-19 pandemic his country will remember.
His letter was addressed to Ibuka-France president Etienne Nsanzimana. Ibuka, is the umbrella organisation of survivors of the 1994 Genocide.
It has branches in most parts of the world where Rwandan communities reside.
Last year, Macron decided that April 7 will be, in France, the day of remembrance of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
In his letter sent to Ibuka-France on Tuesday April 7, Macron notes that “on this 7th of April, France is commemorating the Genocide against the Tutsi’s 26th anniversary.”
He adds: “This date is from now on part of the Republican calendar, which means the Genocide against the Tutsi will be commemorated each year on the whole territory.
“This year’s organisation will be special, given the lockdown measures taken to contain the coronavirus pandemic are preventing all public gatherings. Consequently, the public commemoration ceremony at the Memory Garden in Choisy’s Parc won’t be happening this year, unfortunately.”
But, Macron notes, “This exceptional circumstance won’t prevent us from sharing with you this moment of grief and remembrance, as well as paying tribute in memory of the victims.”
However, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, officials from France on Monday confirmed to The New Times that no such official commemoration ceremonies will happen.
Amb François Xavier Ngarambe, Rwanda’s envoy to France, earlier told The New Times that “due to the current situation of total confinement, the French Government and Municipalities won’t organise any commemorative event.”
One of the advisors at the Élysée Palace, the official residence of the President of France, who preferred anonymity earlier told The New Times that “as you know, it’s a little bit complicated” and the French President cannot even travel abroad during this global crisis caused by the new Coronavirus.
Asked if, perhaps, a later date when the Élysée would commemorate after the pandemic is over, she noted that it is not clear at the moment.
She said: “I can’t say, for the moment. It will be very unpredictable when it (the pandemic) will end and when we can have a normal agenda. So, I can’t say when we will commemorate, or the date we will have to organise.”
But come Tuesday April 7, Ibuka-France posted commemoration videos on its website and other social media platforms.
The Rwandan Embassy as well as nationals in the European country, and friends of Rwanda, also commemorated, by and large, virtually.
They, along with the Rwandan embassy, organised things so as to be able to follow speeches by officials including Amb François Ngarambe, Etienne Nsanzimana, président of Ibuka France, and Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris.
Jessica Gerondal Mwiza, the deputy president of Ibuka-France, said: “Also, all day and all night, we will make sure that everybody is okay among the survivors living in France. We are all very connected on WhatsApp, Skype, zoom, Jitsi or just with a good old phone call.”
Genocide against the Tutsi in school books
In his letter, Macron also reminded survivors “of his commitment” to make sure the Genocide against the Tutsi takes its full place “in our collective memory.”
Beyond this annual commemoration, Macron said, several measures taken last year are starting to bear their first fruits.
“Hence, after my decision to increase the means to fight presumed Rwandan genocidaires living in France, French justice system has multiplied case openings and carried on with current justice procedures.”
In addition, he notes that “as I have committed myself to,” the Genocide against the Tutsi will be present next year in school books for the country’s final year students.
Finally, the historians’ committee tasked with studying French archives related to the Genocide against the Tutsi is pursuing its work “in all independence and will hand over to me a report in April 2021, which will be published.”Follow https://twitter.com/KarhangaJames