Hundreds of Rwandans living in Switzerland, diplomats and friends of Rwanda this week, marked the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in a moving ceremony at the Palais des Nations, the second largest United Nations centre in the world.
The event was jointly organised by the Permanent Mission of Rwanda and the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Over 250 people including Ambassadors, Heads of UN specialised agencies and other International Organisations, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of civil society organisations, prominent academics, students, members of the Rwandan community and friends of Rwanda living in Switzerland attended the event.
In his address, the Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Mr. Michael Møller, invited participants to observe a minute of silence and shared the message of the Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon. He highlighted the importance of Genocide prevention, fighting the culture of impunity, and supporting Genocide survivors.
Adama Dieng, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, recalled his personal experience 22 years ago, when he personally called upon the International Community to stop massive violations of human rights then being committed in Rwanda by a government which had meticulously prepared the extermination of the Tutsi.
Emphasising the importance of assistance to survivors, Dieng underscored that the primary support should be imperatively to extend solidarity to Rwandans by “all of us” fighting against the denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Mrs. Félicité Lyamukuru, a Genocide survivor living in Belgium, shared her powerful testimony of how she lost almost all of her family, how she survived and rebuilt her life.
She praised the courage of the RPF soldiers who saved lives during the Genocide and revealed that sharing knowledge of humanity to her four children constitutes one of the sources of her strength and resilience.
Dr. Michel Gakuba, President of Ibuka in Switzerland, emphasised the failure of the International Community to stop the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and the importance of compensation and reparation.
He called upon the AU, the UN and the entire international community to discharge their responsibilities in this regard.
The Rwandan Ambassador to Switzerland, François Xavier Ngarambe, expressed his appreciation to all participants for joining with Rwandans to remember the Genocide against the Tutsi.
He said that,“the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi teaches us that if on the one hand a genocide is a result of an ideology, and if on the other hand we are really determined to ensure that “never again” is not just a slogan, then eradicating genocide ideology should be our number one priority. A successful fight against genocide will be the one which teaches the opposite of genocide ideology, the one which promotes peace education, which ensures conditions for peaceful cohabitation and peaceful resolution of conflicts; it will be the one which promotes a rule of law, protects human rights, and upholds the values of equal rights and justice.
He further pointed out that, “through the deliberate choices of our leadership and people, through concerted and consultative efforts, a new Rwanda has emerged, one that looks beyond the present and creates a vision for the future; one that seeks to establish sound governance systems and systems of justice that ensure we do not become hostages of our past.”
He recalled that, the dignity and self-reliance that Rwanda is striving to achieve extends beyond Rwanda’s borders especially through participation in international peacekeeping efforts around the world and advancing and strengthening the UN’s preventative mechanisms including through implementation of the responsibility to protect.
He called on the UN to stop the lingering contradiction between declared intentions and actions. He concluded by appealing to the UN family to fulfill its obligation to eradicate all those who threaten peace anywhere in the world and draw lessons from the Genocide against the Tutsi for concrete and effective never again.