The United Kingdom envoy for post-holocaust issues in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Sir Eric Pickles, has described Rwanda as “a living monument for tolerance and bringing people together” after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The envoy made the remarks yesterday while visiting Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Gisozi to pay tribute to Genocide victims as part of his three-day visit to the country to look at the lessons from the Genocide.
Speaking to the media, Sir Pickles said he is in the country mainly to observe the process of how Rwanda rose from the ruins to build trust among its people.
“The 1994 Genocide [against the Tutsi] was an extraordinary event in which neighbours turned against neighbours. I am here to observe part of that process of how a country then rebuilds trust among the people, making itself a living monument for tolerance and bringing people together,” he said.
The envoy, who arrived in the country on Sunday, also visited Nyange Genocide Memorial Centre in Ngororero District, and Karongi District where he visited an association of Genocide widows and met with Ibuka (Genocide survivors umbrella) representatives and local leaders.
He described the process in which people in Rwanda are settled in the country and work together as “very moving” and the memorial centre as a “dignified place” where the Genocide victims are remembered with love and affection.
Sir Pickles urged Rwandans to move on from the sadness of the past and focus on the future of their country.
“This is an astonishingly beautiful country and it seems incredible that this happened. What we have got to ensure is that sadness does not infest us and starts to control our lives. We have to move forward and doing it positively,” he said.
Asked about the Genocide suspects in the UK, Sir Pickles assured Rwandans that the UK judiciary handling their cases will be fair and a right decision will be taken without any interference from the UK government.
Before jetting out of the country, the envoy also met with the Minister for Sports and Culture, Julienne Uwacu, and, among other activities, visited Centre Esperance in Kimisagara, where he witnessed peace and reconciliation efforts advocated for through games.