The resilience and reconciliatory capacity of survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda should inspire the fight against genocide ideology anywhere in the world, the United Nations secretary-general has said.
“We honour those who survived. We recognise their pain and courage, and the struggles they continue to face,” António Guterres said in a statement released on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The only way to truly honour the memory of those who were killed in Rwanda is to ensure that such events never occur again, he said.
Guterres said that “preventing genocide and other monstrous crimes is a shared responsibility and a core duty of the United Nations.”
Today is the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda, which coincides with the beginning of the national commemoration activities in Rwanda.
At the United Nations level, the main activities will take place at its headquarters in New York.
“Today we remember all those who perished in the genocide in Rwanda 23 years ago. More than 800,000 people were systematically murdered across the country,” the UN chief is quoted in the statement as saying.
Since April 2005, the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda has been marked every year.
Guterres stressed the need for vigilance to the warning signs of genocide to prevent future reoccurrences. “History is filled with tragic chapters of hatred, inaction and indifference – a cycle that has led to violence, incarceration and death camps.
“The past century alone showed, again and again, the poison of intolerance still loose in our societies. Even today, minorities and other groups suffer attacks and exploitation based on who they are. Let us learn the lessons of Rwanda and work together to build a future of dignity, tolerance and human rights for all.”
In New York, the day’s programme will include a candle lighting ceremony, observance of a minute of silence, and remarks by the UN secretary-general.
Other speakers at the remembrance event will include Amb. Valentine Rugwabiza, the Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations; and Durga Prasad Bhattarai, the Vice-President of the United Nations General Assembly.
Rwandan fashion designer Sonia Mugabo will give testimony as a survivor of the Genocide, while her compatriot poet and artiste Malaika Uwamahoro will stage a poetry performance.
The commemorative activities are organised by the United Nations Department of Public Information, in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the UN.
Similar commemorative and educational activities are being organised by UN information centres around the world, including in Dar es Salaam, Geneva, Lagos, Lusaka, Nairobi, Ouagadougou, Pretoria, and Tehran.
This year’s commemoration activities are running under the theme; Remember the Genocide against the Tutsi –Fight Genocide Ideology – Build on Our Progress.