The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that communities around the world need to avoid and punish hate speech if genocide is to be prevented from happening anywhere.
Ki-moon made the call in his message for the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda, which is observed worldwide on April 7, a day when Rwandans also start a week-long mourning period in commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Noting that genocide is a process that takes time and preparation, and warning that no part of the world is immune to such tragedy, Ki-moon warned world citizens against the promotion of hate speech.
“One of the key warning signs (of genocide) is the spread of hate speech in public discourse and the media that targets particular communities. It is essential that governments, the judiciary and civil society stand firm against hate speech and those who incite division and violence. We must promote inclusion, dialogue and the rule of law to establish peaceful and just societies,” he said.
The theme of this year’s commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi is “Fighting Genocide Ideology”, which experts say is crucial for promoting unity among Rwandans and preventing genocide from happening again anywhere in the world.
In 1994, more than a million people in Rwanda were systematically murdered.
“On this day, we remember all who perished in the Genocide and renew our resolve to prevent such atrocities from ever being repeated, anywhere in the world. We should all be inspired by the survivors’ courage in showing that reconciliation is possible even after such a tragedy. With the Great Lakes region still facing serious threats to peace and security, healing and reconstruction remain essential,” Ki-moon said.
He also urged leaders across the world to continue working for justice and accountability and to arrest and bring all genocide perpetrators to courts of law so they can be tried for their crimes.
In particular, Ki-moon called on UN member states to arrest and hand over remaining Genocide fugitives to end impunity.