Rwanda honours Genocide victims

Mourners hold candles during a vigil in honour of Genocide victims in Kimihurura last year. / Photo: Sam Ngendahimana.

Rwandans and friends of Rwanda will Tuesday, April 7, commence weeklong activities organised to mark the 26th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

This year’s commemoration will focus on the impact of digitising historical records of the Genocide, and the role of youth in fighting against Genocide denial and ideology.


More than a million people were killed in the carefully planned massacre that lasted 100 days, from April through July 1994.


The commemoration is expected to start with a lighting of the ‘Flame of Remembrance’ at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, Gisozi most probably by President Paul Kagame, which will burn for the next 100 days.


The Head of State has always led the country to kick off the commemoration activities, which are observed by laying wreaths in honour of not only the 250,000 victims interred at the memorial, but also all victims of the Genocide.

The National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide (CNLG) told The New Times recently that this year’s edition of Kwibuka 26 will be conducted differently mainly due to the coronavirus outbreak that has devastated the world.

The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), Jean-Damascène Bizimana, said last week that there will be no commemoration activities at district levels as planned earlier.

This is in line with the Prime Minister’s directive to implement the lockdown measures aimed at helping the country to contain the global pandemic of coronavirus.

The annual Walk to Remember and a night vigil that used to take place at the National Stadium will also not be held this year.

He said that the ‘Walk to Remember’ that has been held for the last 11 years will be replaced by a broadcasted talk show while the night vigil, which encompasses survivors’ testimonies will be replaced by survivors’ success stories that will be broadcasted on different media channels.

Rwandans at home and abroad will today mark the 26th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, which claimed the lives of over a million people. 

Throughout the week discussions, most of them, which will take place virtually, will revolve around analysing the role of political parties in dividing citizens, that of the media, and how to fight trauma.

Pursuit of justice

One remaining hurdle the country is remaining with, however, is the pursuit of justice for those who committed the Genocide against the Tutsi.

Rwanda has been advocating for the international justice community to bring to book the genocidaires, most of whom are still roaming freely in different countries.

Last year, Ibuka – the umbrella organization for Genocide survivors – made a fresh call to the international justice community to collaborate with Rwanda to bring to justice perpetrators.

“Early release of those who masterminded the Genocide (by MICT), acquitting them, reducing their sentences and not collaborating to bring others to book, has made us grieve more,” Jean-Pierre Dusingizemungu, the organisations President said during last year’s commemoration.

Dusingizemungu believes geopolitical and personal interests of countries and leaders have ultimately slowed the progress for pursuit of genocide justice.

“In countries where progress has been slow, for instance, you realize they are the same countries that supported the Genocide against the Tutsi. France is one example,” he said.

On the other hand, he added, some perpetrators who still roam freely are the same people that drained government coffers, leaving the country with millions of money that they use to bribe countries.

“This is why you find some of the known perpetrators are actually big business people in some of the Southern African countries. There’s high level crime that tends to blur leaders from pursuing justice,” he noted.

The Ibuka President also blamed the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda especially its former President Theodor Meron for granting early releases to perpetrators and unfair jurisdictions.

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