The Rwandan High Commission in London, UK, in collaboration with St Marylebone Parish Church of England, hosted a commemoration service in memory of the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
At the function, attended by over 400 people in the heart of London, Rwandan High Commissioner to the UK, Amb. Yamina Karitanyi, reminded guests of the international community’s indifference during Rwanda’s darkest hour.
She observed that the perpetrators of the Genocide had “sufficient resources to produce a well-executed killing machine, as the international community watched on with diminishing interest.”
Amb. Karitanyi called on all the guests to safeguard historical clarity and not allow those who trivialise the Genocide or attempt to re-write the history of Rwanda to remain unchallenged.
Karitanyi expressed regret that a decision is still pending on five extradition cases of Genocide suspects in the UK 10 years on.
She warned that, as a result, there are reports of other Genocide suspects roaming freely in the UK from other European countries because they have determined that, once in the UK, their eventual extradition, or trial will be difficult and would prove to be a lengthy process.
Amb. Karitanyi also illustrated why, at times, Rwandans wonder why perpetrators of the Genocide against the Tutsi are not treated with the same concern as terrorists.
UK Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues, Sir Eric Pickles, reiterated the fact that genocide has various stages and “does not culminate in execution, but rather in denial.”
Pickles praised Rwanda’s resilient spirit reflecting on his visit to Rwanda in October 2016, when he was “struck by the desire of a population to work together and rebuild,” and not focussing on vengeance or redemption.
“That is why Rwanda is a symbol of hope and progress,” he added.
Andrew Wallis, a researcher and author of Silent Accomplice: The Untold Story of the Role of France in the Rwandan Genocide, highlighted the fact that denial of the crime of genocide worked hand in hand with the carrying out of murder.
Wallis continued to explain that since 1994, genocide ideology and denial has continued to grow “like a virus, changing forms and infecting many people across the world such as journalists, scholars or people that know very little about Rwanda.
“We need to educate people to recognise this virus and move the conversation back to facts,” said Wallis.
He said the double standards adopted by media organisations, with a focus on the BBC, which refused to apologise for their hour-long denial and revisionist documentary on Rwanda, yet just last week, following the remarks on the Holocaust made by former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, the BBC spent an entire week condemning his actions.
Rev. Canon Stephen Evans, the rector of St Marylebone Parish, appealed to the congregation to “build on the progress that has been made in Rwanda, unite in the resolve that genocide must never happen again, and commit to renewing resolve, that whatever our faith, we turn ourselves to compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, to ensure that God’s peace fills our lives, our countries and our world.”
The service included a testimony delivered by Naila Kira and commemorative songs of hope and praise of Rwanda’s resilience for the future by Olivier Nzaramba, Ishimwa Muhimanyi and Ineza Kerschamp.
The act of commemoration (candle-lighting) was led by the Rector, the High Commissioner, and leaders of Rwandan communities in the UK, and the prayers and blessings were led by the Rev. Dr Malachie Munyaneza and the Rt Rev. Jonathan Ruhumuliza.
The commemoration service was attended by representatives of the UK government, members of the UK parliament, envoys, friends of Rwanda and Rwandans from various boroughs in the UK.
Similar commemoration activities organised by Rwandan communities in the UK will take place throughout coming weeks in Bedford, Manchester, Newcastle and Plymouth.