Hundreds of Rwandans and friends in Juba on Friday met at United Nations Mission in South Sudan to commemorate the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Speaking at the event, Brig. General Andrew Kagame, UN Sector Commander in Sudan told the gathering that Rwanda is providing her military personnel so as to ensure that genocide does not occur again anywhere.
“Drawing from our experience back home, the tragedy that befell our country due to ethnic and tribal differences should not be repeated elsewhere in the world-more especially among Africans,” said Brig. Kagame.
The theme of this year’s commemoration is “Kwibuka22: Fighting Genocide Ideology.”
The theme calls on Rwandans and people around the world to fight genocide ideology in their communities and beyond their country’s boundaries.
John Bosco Kalisa, the chairperson of the Rwandan community in South Sudan said,“Genocide has no boundaries; it can happen anywhere-it’s not only that it happened in Rwanda-it can happen anywhere. We need to condemn the acts of genocide; it can happen through racial discrimination, segregation and marginalisation of any group of society,” said Kalisa.
“It’s also our role to teach and pass on this responsibility to the youths, friends and neighbours, that unity and reconciliation are key determinants for social and economic progress.”
Speaking at the same function, Moustapha Soumaré, the Deputy Special Representative to the Secretary General applauded the Rwandan Government for having taken great strides in developing the nation after the genocide.
He lauded Rwanda’s social development in particular promoting gender equality which he said is important in maintaining social harmony.
“To prevent such atrocities we must always strive for inclusivity. We must manage issues of identity in a constructive manner; prevention should be a continuous process from the community to national level.
Preventing genocide means establishing legitimate and accountable national institutions that are credible in the eyes of the population.”
Bashir Gbandhi, South Sudan’s Deputy Minister for Foreign affairs who was the chief mourner also applauded Rwanda’s development.
He said his country is inspired by Rwanda’s progress after the genocide.
Gbandhi said his countrymen will be travelling to Rwanda to learn more about Rwanda’s way of healing from the conflict.
He said now that war has come to an end, his country will work towards uniting its people.
“The peace agreement provides room for accountability, for transparency, for good governance and for reconciliation. The experience for Gacaca courts is embedded in our African tradition. And I think in South Sudan where we have about 64 ethnic groups, we want to learn from Rwanda so that we embrace nationalism and national identity,” he said.
Under the Gacaca system, communities at the local level elected judges to hear the trials of genocide suspects accused of everything except planning the genocide.
The courts were more lenient in sentencing if a person was repentant and sought to reconcile with the community.
“We want to learn how perpetrators and victims of the genocide were able to reconcile through the Gacaca courts because the essence of reconciliation is admittance of guilt and acceptance of responsibility. You have demonstrated it and I think this is a pride for us-it’s not only a pride for Rwanda but a pride for the whole of Africa”, he added.
Thousands of people have been killed along ethnic lines in the two years’ conflict in South Sudan, according to the UN and Humanitarian organisations.