Lawmakers from various European countries have committed to fight revisionism and denial of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
This was announced when a delegation of European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM) and some European lawmakers paid a visit to the Senate yesterday.
EGAM is a movement initiated by youth leaders which brings together 35 organisations from 29 European countries dedicated to fighting racism and anti-Semitism.
The delegation included five legislators, from Luxembourg, Great Britain, France, Germany and Slovakia.
The legislators vowed to agitate for the creation of committees in EU parliaments to work with the Rwandan parliament and jointly work out a plan to counter genocide denial and divisionism.
Europe has long been a major base for various groups that have for years, worked to trivialize the Genocide against the Tutsi, while others have gone ahead to glorify the perpetrators of the Genocide.
Perpetrators themselves have found a safe haven in European capitals, with many of them in France, according to figures from the Genocide Fugitives’ Tracking Unit.
It was agreed in the meeting yesterday that the groups to be created, will meet next year to evaluate what had been done by the respective parliaments.
Theoneste Karenzi, the president of the Anti-Genocide Parliamentary Forum that was created last year with a mission to fight Genocide ideology, welcomed the new partnership which he said was long overdue.
“Genocide negationists are organised; we should also be organised in fighting them. This is just the beginning as we envision partnering with even more parliaments,” he said.
Senate president Bernard Makuza also commended efforts by EGAM to mobilise members to come to Rwanda and participate in the 22nd Genocide commemoration activities.
“We are grateful for your presence to show solidarity with Rwandans. We appreciate your initiative and fully support it,” Makuza said.
“Given their influence in their countries, it is essential to work with them in the fight against revisionism and denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi, since most negationists are based in Europe,” he said.
Abtan Benjamin, the president of EGAM, said the partnership was historical as it marks the formal and official involvement of the legislative authorities in Europe in the fight against denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
“This is a great blow to those who want to keep silent and want to silence us. This will have a great impact on them and bring change.
“We are creating conditions to push them to change their attitudes and recognise that justice needs to be done to perpetrators and collaborators of the regime that committed the Genocide”, he said.
He added that he was proud of the work done so far by the movement, especially by continuing to bring on board politicians who can actually influence policy not only in their countries, but also on the European continent.
“Two years ago, we started with leaders of political youth movements, unions and associations. Now we have more supporters of the initiative including 44 parliamentarians from France and 43 from the European Parliament”, he said.
Féron Hervé, a French parliamentarian, condemned former French officials who continue to espouse denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi. He said he will engage other fellow MPs in the fight against the vice.
“We have come to commemorate, understand the situation and know the truth as well as show our determination in the fight against Genocide denial” he said.
Prof. Jean-Pierre Dusingizemungu, the president of Ibuka, the Genocide survivors’ umbrella body, welcomed the move and congratulated the parliamentarians for their initiative.
“They are good and reasonable people; they have set a good example for others and this shows that our (survivors) voice is being heard. We want to increase mobilisation campaigns to bring more actors on board,” he said.
He, however, said that a lot of efforts and great lobbying will be required to convince European countries to enact laws penalising deniers of the Genocide and also ensure Genocide fugitives are brought to book.