April 7, 1994 - April 7, 2015; it is exactly twenty-one years after a section of Rwandans descended onto their neighbours, mercilessly killing them and within just 100 days, over a million people had died.
Even as we count 21 years down the road, the issue of people who deny this Genocide or trivialise it are still out there while the ideology, which was used as a tool to sow the seed of discord among the people of Rwanda to an extent of neighbours turning against those they had lived with for generations, is also prevalent.
The focus for the commemoration this year is on combating the ideology and denial of the Genocide and The New Times’ Theogene Nsengimana spoke to a cross section of Rwandans on what they think should be done to address the problem.
Jean Marie Vianney Bigirimana (student)
Most of the Genocide deniers directly or indirectly participated in preparation and execution of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and are either within or out of the country.
There is need to continue disseminating and documenting the history of the Genocide in Rwanda as it happened. I hope those deniers will finally change their minds.
Madeleine Ahishakiye (farmer)
What is lacking is love. I am sure if these people that out rightly deny what occurred in this country do not have love in them. Genocide happened in broad day light and denying it must be driven by something else. Let us inculcate among Rwandans the values of love and peace, I am sure this denial will fade.
Rwanda needs to explain more about the Genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi so that those deniers can be confronted by the truth everywhere they go. Even those that are gullible, whom they mislead, will not be easily misled once they have the right version of events.
Genocide commemoration is a better way to combat Genocide denial. We should keep on commemorating the 1994 Genocide and use this time to explain the Genocide and its cost on the Rwandan people.
I hope testimonies that are recounted during the commemoration can also help them to change mindset.
Vedaste Mahoro (security guard)
I think the best way to fight the genocide ideology and denial is through enlisting the youth to engage those that deny it.
Those who deny the 1994 Genocide have their own agenda. We should encourage our youth to engage in fighting them head on and to ensure that they are not easily manipulated to buy into the ideology spread by those that do not wish the country well.
We also need to have our scholars actively documenting what took place in the country and this should be backed by evidence, to demystify the writings by deniers.
Elias Ndoreyaho (builder)
To me, self respect should be one of the means to tackle Genocide deniers. A self respecting Rwandan is one that respects others. If you respect others you cannot deny and ignore the Genocide that claimed a million of innocent lives, since you have to respect those who were killed for no reason.
We should also teach those deniers respect for human beings.
For me, the best way to fight genocide deniers is to prescribe serious punishment for those that are found culpable. If serious punishment is meted out on those that deny or denigrate the Genocide, I think it will send a clear signal that such acts can have grave consequences.
For those foreigners who deny genocide to earn bread, I hope patriotism, unity and reconciliation should be used to weaken them.
Remy Niyingize (student)
One of the strategies that should be used to tackle the genocide ideology is through the Ndi Umunyarwanda programme. This should be entrenched among all Rwandans.
If all Rwandans properly understand that we are all Rwandans, those that play the ethnic card to advance their selfish interests will not have a leeway to continue poisoning Rwandans and I believe this is what matters the most. They can continue feeding lies to foreigners if they like.