The Chinese Ambassador to Rwanda, Shen Yongxiang, and other members of the Chinese community in the country marked their country’s Martyrs’ Day with a ceremony in Rulindo District to honour their deceased compatriots on Wednesday.
The ceremony, at the Chinese Martyrs’ Cemetery in Rulindo, was also attended by aid workers, teachers, volunteers of Confucius Institute and Rwanda government officials.
Chinese Martyrs’ Day falls on September 30. It was adopted last year to raise public awareness of the nation’s heroes and forge a sense of national unity.
China defines martyrs as those who lost their lives for national independence and prosperity, as well as for the welfare of the people in modern times from the First Opium War in 1840 to the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
In Rulindo, the group remembered and paid respect to Chinese Martyr-Chen Jian and other Chinese who died in Rwanda.
“Today, we pay maximum respect to our beloved comrades and comfort our martyrs and deceased compatriots for their struggle and sacrifice for the national independence, liberation and prosperity. Without martyrs, there would be no today’s new China, today’s national prosperity, happiness and even the corporation with other countries like Rwanda,” Amb. Shen said.
Shen noted that more than 40 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, numerous Chinese experts, medical workers, engineers and technicians come to Rwanda, working hand in hand with local people and making great contribution to Rwanda’s development.
“Some even rest eternally in Rwanda’s land. Chen Jian was the most outstanding representative. Chinese and Rwandan people will never forget their deeds. They will live forever in our hearts. I hope all Chinese in Rwanda will inherit the will of the martyrs, making new contribution to Rwanda social development and Sino-Rwanda friendship,” he added.
Chen Jian worked for the Gitarama-Kibuye road onstruction project. In June 1997, while transporting construction materials, he is said to have bravely fought armed robbers to protect aid project property, but lost his life.
He was conferred the title of martyr by Beijing.
Eugene Fixer Ngoga, the director-general of bilateral corporation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said it’s meaningful to the government to commiserate with Chinese government, the people who died for good cause in the country.
“On behalf of the government, we are honored to get together with Chinese embassy to remember these people and we recognise the work of the Chinese government in our country. People need to understand the level of sacrifice of these comrades and that we should learn never to underestimate personal efforts of people in any country’s development,” he said.
“They left their country and families and came here to partner with Rwanda so that they can contribute to our development. They unfortunately passed away doing the activities that were aimed at helping Rwanda and Rwandans. There’s therefore a reason to honor and remember them.”
Rulindo Chinese Cemetery was built in 1982. From 1982 to 1997, a total of 10 Chinese who passed on working in aid projects in Rwanda were buried there.