Kagame graces premiere of Genocide film on rape

President Paul Kagame on Wednesday commended the Genocide rape victims for having the courage to testify about their ordeals to filmmakers.
Pierre Prosper (C), the lead prosecutor in the Akayesu trial, shares a light moment with the US Ambassador to Rwanda after the premiere of The Uncondemned documentary. Prosper featured in the documentary. (Doreen Umutesi)
Pierre Prosper (C), the lead prosecutor in the Akayesu trial, shares a light moment with the US Ambassador to Rwanda after the premiere of The Uncondemned documentary. Prosper featured in the documentary. (Doreen Umutesi)

President Paul Kagame on Wednesday commended the Genocide rape victims for having the courage to testify about their ordeals to filmmakers.

The President was gracing the premiere of feature documentary, The Uncondemned, a film that portrays the plight of women who were raped during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

After watching the documentary with other dignitaries at Kigali Serena Hotel on Wednesday evening, President Kagame congratulated the filmmakers and the resilient women who were able to testify and seek justice despite the pain they endured testifying about their plight during the Genocide.

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Eric Kabera, founder of Rwanda Cinema Center, was the MC at the premiere of The Uncondemned at Kigali Serena Hotel. (Doreen Umutesi)

“These women bring out the voices of many others who couldn’t speak for themselves. I am part of that history of what happened to these women, I feel, I share and I live their pain. Thank you the filmmakers and everyone who contributed to this, it is part of justice,” said the President.

The Uncondemned, co-produced by Michele Mitchell, a former journalist with CNN, is based on the trial of Jean Paul Akayesu, a former mayor who is serving a life sentence handed to him by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Akayesu’s was the first ever trial that prosecuted rape as a war crime and act of genocide.

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Michele Mitchell (R), co-producer of The Uncondemned, chats with the US Ambassador to Rwanda Erica Barks-Ruggles and her husband after the premiere of the documentary. (Doreen Umutesi)

Asked to expound on the title of the documentary (The Uncondemned), Mitchell said: “After the Genocide, the perpetrators roamed freely while their victims felt shattered. With the Akayesu trial, the tables turned. In making the documentary, we wanted rape to be taken as a serious war crime.”

Akayesu, the former mayor of Taba commune in sourthern Rwanda was convicted for his role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and his was the first trial worldwide where prosecution included rape as a war crime although its recognition as a crime against humanity dates as far back as 1919.

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Minister Gasinzigwa chats with some women prior to the screening of the documentary. (Doreen Umutesi)

The key witnesses in the rape case against Akayesu feature in the documentary under codenames JJ, NN and OO, and they attest that they are happy that justice was served.

Other people that feature in the documentary who consider it a story of their fight are a group of lawyers and activists who worked hard to prosecute Akayesu for rape as a crime against humanity.

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CNLG Executive Secretary Jean-Damascene Bizimana (L) and Prosecutor-General Richard Muhumuza at the premiere. (Doreen Umutesi)

Speaking at the premiere of the documentary, Pierre Prosper, the lead prosecutor in the Akayesu trial said that rape destroys the fabric of society.

“We had an opportunity and we used it although getting evidence of rape is hard. It’s a question of getting the victims to speak. After the Akayesu trial, there is no excuse of not pursuing justice for rape victims,” Prosper said.

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