Nearly Twenty-two years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda has made remarkable progress in rebuilding society, fostering peace and reconciliation, among others.
However, Ibuka, the umbrella organisation for Genocide survivors, says the consequences of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi are so dire and complex that many survivors still lead bleak lives and need all the help they can get.
During a news conference last Friday, Prof Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, the president of Ibuka, said the 22nd Genocide commemoration activities will focus on improving survivors’ living conditions and called for combined societal efforts to achieve the objective.
The news conference was held at the Ibuka headquarters at Nyanza Genocide Memorial Site in Kicukiro District.
The commemoration will take place from April 7 and while the national mourning will last for a week, Ibuka will, just like in the previous years, commemorate for the next 100 days, signifying the period within which the Genocide was committed.
The planned activities include; organising proper and decent burial for Genocide victims, renovating houses for survivors and other activities meant to stand in solidarity with survivors both during the commemoration week and during the 100 days.
“The commemoration period is a good time to raise awareness about the various problems that still affect genocide survivors. Prominent among these problems include Genocide cases are yet to be adjudicated, gacaca cases where perpetrators were sentenced but escaped punishment, inability to access medical care by survivors and property disputes, among others,” he said.
He also raised alarm over the delays in some cases to execute court rulings, especially where reparations were awarded to survivors.
In other cases, he explained that there are instances where properties legitimately belonging to survivors are secretly and illegally sold and these cases too need to be addressed.
“For survivors to access quality medical attention, the procedures for medical referrals should be lessened so they can receive care from district hospitals which are better equipped to handle their problems. There is also need to renovate over 1,452 homes for survivors most of which were poorly constructed or have simply worn out over time,” he added.
The commemoration at the national level will officially start at Kigali Genocide Memorial at Gisozi along with discussions that will take place in all districts which will last the entire commemoration week.
The discussions will also be aired on several media outlets. A vigil in remembrance of victims of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi will be held at Nyanza Kicikiro on April 11.
The discussions will centre on this year’s commemoration theme ‘Fighting Genocide Denial’. The president of Ibuka urges Rwandans, especially young people, to attend the discussions.
“These discussions should be led by people well versed with the concept of genocide denial. We also encourage Rwandans to be actively involved in the discussions to have more engaging and productive dialogues,” Dusingizemungu said.
He also noted that in the wake of the 22nd commemoration, Genocide denial is being espoused unceasingly and, therefore, called upon all Rwandans to take it upo themselves to tell the true occurrences of the Genocide.
“As many people the world over choose to distort the truth about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, it’s paramount that even more effort is put into conserving and speaking the truth,” he said.
Genocide denial has in the recent years been identified through speeches, documents and several platforms aimed at portraying the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi as a civil war.
Dusingizemungu called upon university students to lead the fight against Genocide denial, noting they are better positioned, knowledge and research-wise, to counter the claims by Genocide deniers.
He also urged districts to plan better for proper maintenance of memorial sites noting that most sites needed to be renovated.
“Despite the fact that memorial sites were made part of the state’s patrimony and thus put under government management, all Rwandans should play a role in managing and maintaining memorial sites because the government alone can’t afford to look after every site,” he said.