Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) have committed to fight any sort of genocide ideology and denial in the region.
The pledge was made by the members of EALA Select Committee on Genocide Ideology and Denial while addressing journalists about their ongoing exercise in Rwanda.
From Tuesday through Friday, the ad hoc committee is in the country visiting different sites and public institutions, investigating and studying the history of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi—with an aim of considering the likely security impacts of genocide ideology and denial in East African Community (EAC).
While addressing journalists at the Ministry of the East African Community Affairs headquarters in Kigali, yesterday, MP Judith Pareno (Kenya), chairperson of the ad hoc committee, said the region has had to learn the “hard way” from the Genocide against the Tutsi.
“That is enough for the region to take on practical measures to suffocate any ideologies that would bring about any kind of mass killings or genocide,” Pareno said.
“If anybody would want to learn a lesson on genocide, I think we have learnt it the hard way by seeing what happened in Rwanda. We just need to come out and speak against genocide and genocide ideology and ensure that it should never happen again.”
MP Nusura Tiperu (Uganda) said the exercise will help the legislators get a better understanding of what happened in Rwanda with a view to inform the Assembly on the impact of ethnic discrimination, hate speech and bad governance.
“We acknowledge that the Genocide took place here, and in so doing, we want to continue upholding the peace that Rwanda has achieved since the Genocide as we fight genocide ideology in the region and beyond,” she said.
The delegation visited Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre on Tuesday, where they watched documentaries on events that led to the Genocide against the Tutsi, how it was planned and perpetrated.
They were also showed clips of similar mass killings around the world, such as of the Jewish Holocaust and the Serbian genocide.
MP Martin Nduwimana (Burundi), the vice chair of the committee, said their recommendations will include advice to the Assembly on how to tackle malaise that can cause ethnic killings.
“We hope that our recommendation will set priorities on how to fight genocide ideology such that our region does not experience what Rwanda experienced in 1994,” said Nduwimana.
“The Genocide against the Tutsi was planned by a bad government and perpetrated by the people. But again we also know that Rwandans themselves stopped the Genocide. We have a big responsibility of informing the region that genocide happened here and it can happen anywhere else if we don’t put in place measures now.”
Rwanda lauded on recovery
The legislators also hailed Rwanda’s recovery from the tragedy, to becoming one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
“Rwanda is really developing; Rwanda is no longer a country to be identified by the Genocide but rather the steadfast development it has made since 1994,” Nduwimana said.
The Select Committee on Genocide Ideology and Denial was set up by the regional legislative assembly on September 1. The nine-member committee arrived in Rwanda on September 12 and will depart on September 18.
In the course of the exercise, the regional lawmakers plan to travel to regional countries before tabling their report during an EALA sitting in Kampala, Uganda, in January, next year.
They are expected to make proposals on how EALA and other EAC organs and institutions can provide leadership in the fight and prevention of genocide, including the development of instruments and institutional capacity in the Community.