The Rwandan ambassador to the U.S Mathilde Mukantabana has called on the international community to relentlessly fight genocide denial and ideology where ever it is.
She was speaking at the 22nd Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, last week, in the U.S.
The event was hosted by the Embassy of Rwanda in Washington, D.C., in partnership with the Rwandan community in the U.S.
This year’s commemoration which started last Thursday is held under the theme Kwibuka22: Fighting Genocide Ideology.”
“Giving a forum to promote genocide ideology is laying a breeding ground for preparation of future genocide,” said Ambassador Mukantabana.
Jean De Dieu Ndahiriwe, the president of the Rwandan Community in Washington, D.C, Maryland, and Virginia (the DMV area) thanked those who have joined Rwandans to remember and who continue to support Rwanda and its journey beyond the genocide.
During the commemoration, a documentary Ubumuntu was screened, followed by a candle lighting ceremony which symbolised the flame of remembrance for all the victims of the genocide and a hope for a brighter future for the survivors and the nation.
The candle lighting ceremony was followed by a poem written and performed by Angel Uwamahoro.
“We lost when we forgot that we spoke the same language, and failed to understand each other. We lost when we forgot that we were brothers,” said Uwamahoro in her thought provoking poem.
Immaculee Mukantaganira, a survivor of the genocide shared her testimony with those present.
Although her journey before, during, and after the genocide has not been easy, losing her husband and children, along with many other family members and family friends, she delivered a message of hope and a call for increased unity and compassion.
“We must stand together to build a world that protects the most precious resource we have: Human Lives,” said Mukantaganira as she concluded her testimony.
Five panellists discussed the theme of this year’s commemoration from different facets.
Dr Barbara McCaffry focused on genocide denial and its consequences while Prof. Gatsinzi Basaninyenzi discussed on the importance of language in the conversation about genocide.
Dr Margee Ensign focused on the remarkable efforts that Rwanda’s leadership has put into nation rebuilding and reiterated the role that academicians should play in the role against denial.
Kelley Szanny emphasised on the use of education as a tool for the prevention of genocide.
She stressed the need for educators to teach the story appropriately and effectively.
“Historical facts and features are important; we must empower our kids to understand the dangers of denial,” she said.
Dr Susan Allen who has worked with Rwanda extensively in the pursuit of genocidaires commented on the measures that have been taken by the international justice system and their dealings with genocide perpetrators.
Former US envoy to Rwanda, Amb Stuart Symington, who represented the U.S. Government called on those present to never forget and to think of the unifying principles in our society.
Commemoration events will continue to be held throughout the U.S over the next 100 days, according to a statement from the embassy.