As the country marks the 22nd anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwandans living abroad Thursday joined their compatriots back home in remembering lives lost during the Genocide.
Alice Cyusa, the chairperson of Rwanda Diaspora Global Network (RDGN), told The New Times that they had stepped up the fight against genocide ideology and denial, especially in the UK.
“Our community in the UK has issued a letter of protest against deniers’ gatherings. In Belgium, a decree has been issued forbidding Genocide deniers who were trying to gather next Monday and Wednesday at a memorial site for victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi,” Cyusa said from Indiana, USA.
Last year, the Rwandan community abroad (RCA), organised more than 100 events at local or country level in their respective host countries to commemorate the Genocide. This year, according to Cyusa, the RDGN the umbrella organisation of all RCAs, would use social network platforms to raise awareness about the Genocide against the Tutsi.
“Our RCAs have planned commemoration events and all is going on very well. At RDGN, all we do is coordinate at the global level. Remembering is a duty for, not only Rwandans wherever they are but to all human beings,” she said.
“The Genocide against the Tutsi was a human tragedy that touched the whole world”.
This year’s commemoration theme is; “Kwibuka22: Fighting Genocide Ideology.”
In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, more than 900 Rwandans and friends of Rwanda commemorated along with the African Union Commission (AUC) at the AU headquarters. Activities in Addis continued until late into the night.
“My key message was that as Africans we must unite to fight genocide ideology because the perpetrators of this atrocity and their sympathisers have continued to deny it and to distort the truth about what happened,” said Amb. Hope Tumukunde, Rwanda’s envoy to Ethiopia.
“Denial of the Genocide that happened in Rwanda, ultimately, is a continuation of the Genocide itself. Some scholars have described it as a continuing attempt to psychologically destroy the victims. In other words, it is another way of continuing the hunting and the killing,” she said.
Yesterday, another commemoration event in Addis featured a discussion panel on how genocide ideology and denial manifest and how the AU member states can help fight them.
In Dakar, Senegal, over 300 people also congregated at the Place du Souvenir Africain Thursday evening to observe a minute of silence in honour of the victims of the Genocide, pray, light the flame of remembrance and listen to guest speakers and testimonies from survivors.
“Mehdi Ba, a well respected journalist at Jeune Afrique and author, explored the role of the media in the fight against denial and revisionism of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. He has covered the Genocide as an author, editor and journalist since 1994,” Yvette Rugasaguhunga, the Second Counselor at the Rwandan embassy in Dakar, told The New Times.
Rwandan troops serving under the AU/UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), as well as in other missions, also held commemoration events.
At Salam Rotana Hotel, in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, Rwandans were joined by members of diplomatic missions, and international and regional organisations accredited to Sudan.
According to Ismail Shyaka Kajugiro, the chargé d’affaires at the Rwandan mission in Khartoum, the event involved the screening of a film, poetry and speeches.
According to a statement from the embassy, Kajugiro told those present that the global community should fight genocide ideology, help to bring the perpetrators to justice and establish laws punishing denial.
“We also came here to bear witness to the courage and mighty will of Rwanda. It is noteworthy that Rwanda has admirably and impressively emerged out of a wounded past stronger, brighter, and full of hope, to follow the path of stability, economic growth and wisdom,” he said.
Commemoration activities also took place in all locations where Rwanda’s UNAMID contingents are located.
At UNAMID headquarters in El-Fasher, Darfur, the guest of honor was the UNAMID force commander, Rwanda’s own Gen Frank Mushyo Kamanzi.
Central African Republic
In Bangui, government officials, the UN community and residents of Central African Republic (CAR) joined the Rwandan military and police peacekeepers on April 7 to mark the 22nd anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The event, held at the Rwandan military peacekeepers’ headquarters in the capital, was presided over by CAR defence minister Joseph Bindoume and attended by the chief of staff of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA), Aliou Sene.
Rwanda maintains about 800 military and 450 police peacekeepers in CAR.
The commemoration started with the lighting the flame of remembrance and laying the wreaths as a symbol of honour for the over one million victims of the Genocide.
Speaking at the event, minister Bindoume, who commended Rwanda’s efforts in address genocide ideology and conveyed his condolences to the victims of the Genocide.
The contingent commander of the Rwandan police peacekeepers, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Gilbert R. Gumira, talked at length on the historical background of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, how it was planned, executed and stopped and Rwanda’s path to recovery and the rebuilding process.
The representative of the Rwandan community in CAR, Aimable Mpamo, said; “We commemorate because we have to remember and to honor our people; one of the tools of fighting genocide ideology is to commemorate.”
The peacekeepers later held a night vigil that was marked with candle lighting and a movie about the Genocide against the Tutsi.