Rwandan communities in Kenya and Turkey Friday joined their local counterparts to commemorate the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
In Kenya, Rwandans and friends convened at the Kenyatta Convention Centre in Nairobi where they held a Walk to Remember; heard testimonies from survivors and listened to speeches from dignitaries in honour of the victims.
The event was attended by among other dignitaries, Amina Mohammed, the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Ndungu Githinji, M P and chairman of the foreign affairs committee, Aissa Kirabo Kakira, Deputy Director and Assistant Secretary General for UN-Habitat and others.
Speaking on behalf of the government of Kenya, Ndungu Githinji, commended the resilience of Rwandans, who managed to rise above their dark history and take their country to the same level with other stable and prosperous nations within just 23 years.
“As we commemorate one of the darkest moments in human history, we also celebrate the remarkable achievements accomplished by the government and the people of Rwanda. Collectively, they have taught us that post-conflict reconstruction can yield strength, success, hope and the rays of a brighter future,” he said.
In his remarks, Ambassador James Kimonyo, the Rwandan High Commissioner to Kenya clarified that Rwandans in Kenya and the High Commission he heads refused to hold a joint commemoration event with the United Nations because of disagreement on how the UN refers to the events that transpired in Rwanda in April 1994 by terming it as “Genocide in Rwanda.”
“I want to say that until the UN reverts its decision and persistent refusal to refer to the tragic events in Rwanda in 1994 as the Genocide against the Tutsi and instead refer to it simply as “Genocide in Rwanda” we will not hold this event together.”
“In fact this contravenes article two of the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948 which defines Genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” and this is exactly what happened to Tutsi’s in Rwanda in 1994,” he added.
The envoy said Rwanda will continue to fight Genocide denial and other forms of divisionism as he stressed the need to bring to book those who committed the Genocide who are still many across the world.
“We thank those countries that have really cooperated with our legal and security institutions to apprehend and extradite or at least put on trial fugitives in their respective jurisdictions.”
In Turkey, Ambassador Williams Nkurunziza led the Rwandan Community and Friends of Rwanda in a night vigil at the Rwanda Embassy in Ankara.
The event was graced by friends of Rwanda from Turkey, Kenya, Zambia, Ghana and Burundi.
Participants in the night vigil lit the Flame of Remembrance, followed on video the commemoration events in Kigali and watched two documentaries detailing how the Genocide against the Tutsi was planned and executed with ferocious intensity over decades.
Ambassador Nkurunziza urged Rwandans to take charge of their own lives to shape their country's future as they draw lessons from the country’s dark history.
“Like our President said, our recent history teaches us that bad politics caused the Genocide against the Tutsi. It also teaches us that courage and sacrifice saved our country’s descent into hell. Since then, visionary leadership has made national healing, reconciliation and reconstruction possible.
Going forward, we, especially the youth, must surrender to greater devotion to a higher ideal of fortifying our gains and building a better Rwanda as one people bound by a common history, blood and charging towards the beckoning light of a shared destiny,” he said.