Polish foreign minister challenges int’l community on genocide

Minister Czaputowicz and his delegation inside Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre yesterday. Sam Ngendahimana.

Poland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Jacek Krzysztof Czaputowicz has said the international community bears the responsibility to prevent possible future genocide crimes anywhere in the world.

Czaputowicz, who is on an official visit to Rwanda, was yesterday addressing journalists after touring Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Gisozi where he paid respects to over 250,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi interred there.

The visiting minister laid a wreath before he and his delegation were given a guided tour of the memorial.

“I am deeply touched (by what I have seen here) and have realised how grave the genocide committed here against Tutsi in 1994 was,” Czaputowicz said after the tour.” So many people were killed by their neighbours.”

“You realise that this is a universal crime, it was not the first time in human history that genocide was taking place. We have to prevent it from happening again.

“It is also very important to educate people to remember these facts; it is a warning to future generations. So, remember, visit, educate and find a way to reconcile,” he said.

 The Polish foreign minister castigated the politics that divided people resulting in the Genocide against the Tutsi.

“We also have to remember that there is a role for the international community to prevent genocide,” Czaputowicz said.

Writing in the visitors’ book at the memorial, the minister paid a glowing tribute to victims and condemned perpetrators of the Genocide that left over a million people dead in 100 days.

“Kigali Genocide memorial is an important place of remembrance and education, where victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi are laid to rest. While commemorating the victims, we condemn the perpetrators of unimaginable atrocities and send a message of warning to future generations,” he wrote.

He added: “In doing so, we seek not to allow grave crimes to go unpunished, true to the motto of Raphael Lemkin International Award.”

Aegis Trust wins award

Minister Czaputowicz said that he visited Rwanda, among other reasons, to present AEGIS Trust with the second edition of Raphael Lemkin International Award for their contribution toward fighting genocide.

Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959) was a Polish lawyer of Jewish descent who is best known for coining the word genocide and initiating the Genocide Convention in 1944. He coined the term genocide (genocidium), which he defined in his book “The Axis Rule in Occupied Europe.”

AEGIS Trust was recognised for its outstanding contribution to fighting the genocide in Rwanda, in particular by educating the young generation through its Education for Sustainable Peace in Rwanda programme, and commemorating the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi as manifested in its custody of the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

“The award to Aegis Trust is for maintaining the memory and their contribution to fight against future genocide,” Czaputowicz said.

Speaking about the Kigali Genocide memorial, he said, “it is a very important place and a very positive initiative by Aegis Trust and the Government of Rwanda”. It is important to maintain the memory of Genocide victims and what happened in the country’s history, he said.

Later in the day, Minister Czaputowicz held talks with Olivier Nduhungirehe, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and East African Community affairs.

Officials said the talks revolved around economic relations between Rwanda and Poland, the application of the Kigali Principles on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts, and the agenda of the United Nations Security Council.

Rwanda yesterday concluded a week of official commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi.


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