The Rwandan High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Yamina Karitanyi, has said that at a time when Genocide deniers keep changing strategies in an attempt to deny the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwandans will never give up on fighting them.
Karitanyi was speaking at an event to commemorate the Genocide held in London, which was organised by Rwanda High Commission in London, in collaboration with St. Marylebone Parish Church.
At least 500 guests attended, including members of the Rwandan community in the UK and friends of Rwanda.
“For those set on inflicting emotional distress on Rwanda, our message is clear: We will not tire in using the law, and diplomacy, to fight genocide ideology,” Karitanyi said.
Karitanyi expressed regret that, 11 years on, a decision is still pending on five extradition cases of Genocide suspects living in the UK.
“The United Kingdom, which is signatory to the Genocide Convention Law, should act and take appropriate action to allow the law to take its course before it is too late for survivors to witness justice,” she stressed.
The suspects who were arrested but later released are Dr Vincent Bajinya, Célestin Ugirashebuja, Charles Munyaneza, Emmanuel Nteziryayo and Célestin Mutabaruka.
On several occasions, the UK courts have on technicalities, ruled against their extradition to Rwanda.
Rwanda has even requested that they be tried by the UK courts but nothing has been done for over a decade.
She called on those present to take their role as citizens of the world seriously and “apply two key principles: The responsibility to protect and fight genocide ideology and denial.”
Karitanyi reminded guests that “the international community failed to intervene” in Rwanda to stop the Genocide 24 years ago even though all the signs were present for all to see and crimes of genocide had been committed in Rwanda for decades, well before 1994.
Guest speaker Dr Michael Gray, the Academic and Universities Director at Harrow School, pointed out that “misconceptions” were crudely presented by Western media at the time of the Genocide against the Tutsi and that they continue to be heard today, using the example of the New York Times headline of April 9, 1994 which read ‘Terror Convulses Rwandan Capital as Tribes Battle’.
Gray also emphasised that what took place in Rwanda was “a pre-meditated and carefully orchestrated genocide against the Tutsi” that could and should have been stopped by the international community, adding that Rwanda has “rejected the politics of division, bitterness and hatred” and instead “embraced the values of unity, togetherness and harmony.
The Rector of St. Marylebone Parish, Reverend Canon Stephen Evans, appealed to the congregation to not only commemorate but also “resolve that such things never happen again, recommit to keep building on the progress made in the years that have passed and to loving one another.”
Sophie Masereka shared her testimony of survival and her moving journey of healing.
She said that it took her “15 years to speak” of what happened to her, as she was “so scared to reveal who [she] was”, but she found strength in that many people needed to hear her story.
Masereka now shares her story and testimony at schools across the UK, at various organisations and at Holocaust Memorial Day events.
The commemoration service was attended by the Ambassadors and High Commissioners for Israel, Slovakia, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Guinea amongst others, as well as UK Government officials, representatives of various NGOs and institutions, friends of Rwanda and Rwandans from various boroughs in the UK.