The Rwandan high commission in the UK, in collaboration with St. Marylebone Parish Church of England on Thursday organised a commemoration service in memory of the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Over 600 people, including Rwandans, UK government politicians (including MPs), members of the diplomatic corps and friends of Rwanda, attended the service, according to a statement.
In her address, the High Commissioner, Yamina Karitanyi reminded guests of the universal indifference adopted by the International community during Rwanda’s darkest hour.
“Days and weeks went by and the international community was still debating on whether the “crisis” in Rwanda qualified or could qualify as genocide,” she said.
She called on all attendees to join Rwanda in fighting against genocide ideology, denial and revisionist tendencies, saying that “it is important to pause and remember the victims, and take our role as citizens of the world seriously, by applying two key principles: the responsibility to protect, and fighting genocide denial ideology.”
Karitanyi expressed regret that despite 22 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda is still faced with the threat of genocide ideology and denial, saying that some have attempted to reduce the Genocide against the Tutsi to an undefined act of mass killing and tied it to other conflicts so as to confuse minds.
She therefore invited all those in attendance to use their networks to “stop the work of evil minds and not to let the Genocide deniers to dupe them with their confusing accounts of events to shelter them from facing the law.”
Linda Melvern, a renowned investigative journalist, reiterated the level of organisation with which the massacres of the Tutsi were carried out, because, she explained, Genocide is a coordinated plan of action with the intent to annihilate, to reduce to nothing, a human group.
“The Genocide of the Tutsi of Rwanda is known as the preventable genocide. That the genocide of the Tutsi was allowed to proceed unhindered in the face of universal indifference is one of the great scandals of the 20th century,” she said.
Against this year’s Kwibuka22 theme of Fighting Genocide Ideology, Melvern stated that a key stage in the crime of genocide is “the promotion of an ideology which serves to legitimise any act, no matter how horrendous, noting that the dangers of Genocide denial are that it is the cause of the greatest personal trauma to survivors.
In his sermon, Rev. Canon Stephen Evans, Rector of St. Marylebone Parish, touched on the purpose behind remembering and commemorating, as he highlighted that “it is to remind us that we all have a choice to choose life over death and unity over division to work together to build society and a nation.
The same was echoed in Daniela Musabi’s poem, where she said “of all the things they killed, they could never kill my will to live”.
Attendees also heard moving testimony by Caritas Umulisa who recounted the horrors she witnessed first-hand during the Genocide, her loss of family members, as well as her narrow escape from death, thanking the Rwanda Patriotic Army for their sacrifice and bravery to put their lives on the line to protect her and many others.