Rwandans living in the Diaspora, under their umbrella association, Rwanda Diaspora Global Network (RDGN), have reiterated their zeal to fight genocide ideology and denial, as the country continues with activities to commemorate the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
In a statement signed by the network’s chairperson, Alice Cyusa, different members have raised alarm over the ideology that has been spreading and the growing tendency to either trivialise or outrightly deny the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Edouard Kayihura, author of ‘Inside the Hotel Rwanda: The Surprising True Story...and Why It Matters Today’, is quoted reflecting on this year’s commemoration, saying the growing tendency of Genocide denial should be tackled by documentation of truth and show of resilience.
“Today, we are facing a growing number of people with indifference and lack of empathy who are trying to rewrite our history. Because of them, facts are changed, abbreviated, and conflated, like in the film ‘Hotel Rwanda’, or to an even more troubling degree, the BBC documentary, ‘Rwanda’s Untold Story,’” said Kayihura who lives in the US.
“The Genocide was an historical occurrence beyond human comprehension. Survivors’ testimonies help us to remember and to make sense of how this tragedy happened. Their testimonies teach and serve as a moral lesson. Let our commemoration be designed specifically to keep the survivors’ voices heard truthfully and completely, and let death not silence the tales of the slaughtered innocents.”
Prof. Gatsinzi Basaninyenzi, who is currently writing a book to decode the discourse on Genocide denial in North America, stated that if deniers and their methodologies are not exposed, their nefarious distortion of history and of historical facts will greatly undermine the education about the Genocide against the Tutsi that is being carried out by many teachers of social justice and Rwandans themselves.
“After 21 years, deniers of the Genocide are many and are getting loud, and ubiquitous. That should not surprise us,” said Basaninyenzi, who lives in the US.
“Here in the US, Genocide deniers include freelance journalists like Ann Garrison and Keith Harmon Snow; academics like Edward Herman, Christian Davenport, Peter Erlinder, Charles Kambanda, and Allan Stam, former US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney; and of course the self-proclaimed humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina, who has one of his residences in Texas,” he said.
Basaninyenzi said, as members of the Diaspora, they cannot afford to remain silent in the face of this assault against the memory of those who were killed simply because of who they were.
“Members of the Rwandan Diaspora also continue to seek places of memory through building memorial sites and stones that contribute to teaching tolerance to young generations, promoting respect for life and human rights and supporting the fight against forgetting, denial and trivialisation of the Genocide,” reads the statement.
RDGN appreciated European nations such as Belgium, the UK, and many other countries where monuments of the Genocide against the Tutsi have been set up, adding that “and monuments embody a form of resistance to the extermination utopia.”
The presence of such monuments in France is of particularly strong symbolic dimensions since France has often been the breeding ground for Genocide denial speeches that impair the memory of the victims, says Cyusa.
“We thank the leaders as well as organizations and individuals around the world that continue to support us in fighting against Genocide denial,” she added.