Rwandans and friends of Rwanda in the Nordic countries –Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland- came together on Thursday, April 23rd, to mark the 26th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Like elsewhere, the event was held virtually due to preventive measures in place against the global pandemic, COVID-19.
Christine Nkulikyinka, the Ambassador of Rwanda to the Nordic countries was joined by government officials, genocide survivors, representatives of Rwandan communities and their friends to commemorate the over one million victims who were brutally killed in 1994.
In her remarks, the Ambassador conveyed her “heart-felt” condolences to those who lost loved ones and called for joint efforts to deliver justice.
“Rwanda recognises the role of the Nordic countries in pursuing justice, which remains a significant part of our partnership. Delivering justice to the victims is a key to reconstruction,” she says.
In addition, Nkulikiyinka remarked that it is equally important to fight genocide ideology as an advancement to commitment towards “never again”.
“Genocide denial is not only an offense to victims and survivors, but also undermines justice and paves a way for repetition,” she added.
Among the speakers, was Frida Umuhoza, a genocide survivor living in Norway, who walked participants through her terrifying journey during the 1994 Genocide. Umuhoza lost her entire family, six siblings, parents and grandparents. At the age of 14, she was propelled to live alone with haunting memories of her loved ones.
“It was 100 days of bloodshed, terrific persecution. My memories are as fresh as if it happened yesterday. I wish all survivors hope and courage to carry on and be the heroes of your own lives,” she said.
On behalf of the Rwandan community, Teajeni Misago, Chairman of Rwandan Community in Copenhagen-Denmark emphasised the role of Rwandan diaspora in the transformation of the country.
High government officials join Rwandans to commemorate
Lotta Johnson Fornarve, Second Deputy Speaker in Swedish parliament was among officials who expressed their condolences and delivered speeches during the event.
Fornarve condoled with survivors of the Genocide who lost their loved ones and commended their efforts to resilience.
‘Remembering is our moral and political imperative. We should remember to ensure that such atrocities never occur again,” she said.
Her point was echoed by Marianne Hages, State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Norway.
“The best way to remember is to ensure that it never happens again,” she reiterated.
Ann Linde, the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs joined in and emphasised the importance of accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims as a way to reconciliation.
Pekka Havitso, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland’s remarks focused on reconciliation and empowerment and applauded Rwanda for its resilience, inclusivity and equality.
The highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Nordic countries as of April 24, was in Sweden, where the number amounted to 17,567. Denmark followed with 8,210 cases, and Norway with 7,401 cases.
Given that over a third of the world's population is currently under lockdown, Rwanda in different parts of the world have been conducting commemoration activities virtually.