Chief Justice Sam Rugege has pledged that the judiciary was ready to work with members of the public to have Genocide ideology culprits brought to justice.
Rugege was speaking at an event to commemorate the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi at Nyarubuye Genocide Memorial, in Kirehe District, Eastern Province.
Nyarubuye memorial, located in Nyarubuye sector, is the resting place of over 58,000 victims and is regarded as one of the places where ‘horrifying massacres’ of the Tutsi took place during the Genocide i.
Available figures indicate that more than 35,000 Tutsi sought refuge at Nyarubuye Catholic parish. They were attacked by Interahamwe militia, almost all were butchered save for about 18 of them who survived.
“I am joining you in paying homage to Genocide survivors who were killed in Nyarubuye, those buried at this memorial and as well as those whose bodies have never been retrieved. Keep strong,” Rugege offered his commiseration.
He added: “Remembering is an act of honoring our beloved and friends whose lives were claimed prematurely. This also gives us time to reflect on the ruthless consequences that led to the death of so many and how we can avoid them going forward”.
The Chief Justice condemned previous cheap politicking based on ethnicity and discrimination, which created ethnicity; discrimination and later on resulted into Genocide.
He said that despite Rwanda’s commendable strides in rebuilding unity and reconciliation, there were some people who seek to promote the Genocide ideology and ethnicity. On this, he said that, neither the current leadership nor the judicial system would tolerate any signs of Genocide ideology, denial, ethnicity of any forms or discrimination.
“The lesson from our past is that whoever wants to bring about discrimination and ethnicity will not be tolerated. We have to fight whoever wants to draw us back,” he said.
Regege added that: “Genocide denial is still seen through several inhuman acts towards Genocide survivors, such as mocking or even killing them, killing their livestock and other possessions among others. Some parents continue to instigate ethnicity among their children. There are some who keep posting hateful comments and speeches on social media. You ask yourself which kind of Rwanda such people want.
We ask you to denounce them or report them to authorities. It is high time they changed or else the laws will punish them. Your leadership and the judicial systems are ready to do everything within their means. This is a concerted struggle of all Rwandans, not just the survivors alone. Just point a finger at whoever is promoting Genocide ideology, whether they are relatives or neighbours”.
He urged the people to take pride in being “Rwandan” other than being characterized by any other forms of discriminations—as the former would build lasting peace, stability as unity of the Rwandans of to date and generations to come.
“Rwanda is a nation we all take pride in. Rwandans have never been happy and proud of their nation than they are to date—throughout all spheres of life,” Rugege added.
Meanwhile, Theopista Mukanoheli the only surviving member of her family—in her testimony recounting a series of horrifying experience of survival—hailed the former Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) rebels who intervened at a moment she was about to be killed.
According to Mukanoheli, RPA combatants found her at a moment three men were beating her with clubs and intervened—surviving with several injuries all over her body.
“I was pulled from the mouth of death,” Mukanoheli said.
“Despite some big injuries, I am alive. I stand to represent the rest of my family that perished. I thank the government which has supported me through; giving me a house and social protection from FARG (the National Fund for the Support of Genocide survivors).
The Chief Justice hailed Genocide survivors for the courage and resilience they have had since they overcame the unspeakable tragedy.
Rugege also hailed the courage of Mathieu Fashingabo who risked his life to save the “wanted” Tutsi during the Genocide.
Fashingabo, a former fisherman, spent several sleepless nights trying to help Tutsi to cross River Akagera to the neighboring Tanzania while using his small boat.
On the contrary, Fashingabo was also a local leader; an assistant to the notorious Sylvestre Gacumbitsi, the former Mayor of Commune Rusumo, who led the massacre of 35,00 Tutsi at Nyarubuye.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), convicted Gacumbitsi of Genocide crimes He is currently serving a life sentence at Koulikoro Prison in Mali.