The Rwandan police and military peacekeepers serving under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Abyei (UNSFA) and Haiti (MINUSTAH), on Friday, joined the rest of Rwandans and friends of Rwanda to pay tribute to over one million innocent lives that perished during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The peacekeepers were joined by government officials, and peacekeepers from other countries, representatives of faith-based groups and residents in the 23rd commemoration activities, which were characterised by a walk against genocide, prayers and speeches that focused mainly on how the Genocide was planned, executed, stopped, and Rwanda’s transformation process.
In South Sudan, the police and military peacekeepers were joined in Malakal by the Rwandan community, government officials and UN officials to pay homage to men, women and children brutally killed during the tragic period 23 years ago.
Speaking at the event, the head of UN field office in Malakal, Hazel Dewet, indicated that Rwanda’s recovery is a “good example to the people of South Sudan where people are engaged in tribal wars.”
“They should learn how Rwanda overcame this situation and is now among the countries contributing to peacekeeping operations elsewhere,” Dewet said.
The Sector Commander, Sector-North, Brig Gen Xie Zhijun, talked about Rwanda’s history of peacekeeping.
“Rwanda started peacekeeping operations in African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) in 2004. Now its troops are deployed in many different countries and is ranked fifth troop contributing country in UN peacekeeping operations. This indicates how Rwanda is devoted to fight against genocide all over the world,” said Gen Xie.
Eric Mutsinzi, the Rwanda police Contingent Commander, talked about the historical background of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
“We have the responsibility to teach and pass on the memory to the young generation so that they too can pass it on to successive generations. We must build a new society, new country, a dignified nation free of discrimination, segregation, and hatred, and free of genocide,” Mutsinzi said.
Similar commemoration activities were also held in the capital Juba and attended by members of the Rwandan community in Juba; UNMISS Police Commissioner, CP Bruce Munyambo; Deputy Special Representative of UN Secretary General, Mustapha Soumare; SPLA representative Maj Gen Matier Deng; and Deputy Inspector General of Police of South Sudan, Lt Gen James Winyaok, among others.
Lt Col James Burabyo, who represented Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Uganda and South Sudan, as the chief guest, stressed “endless endeavour to fight genocide denial by some revisionists.”
“The international community as a whole is called upon to fight genocide ideology and expose perpetrators and their collaborators, who enjoy safe haven in some countries.”
He talked of the “resilience of Rwandan people, their determination and commitment to fight for decent life and to overcome despair and distress.”
The UN Special Representative, Soumare, said the ideal of ‘Remember-Unite-Renew’ reflects the failure of the international community to protect lives at a critical moment.
In Abyei, the commemoration was attended by over 1000 military, police and civilian peacekeepers from various contributing countries, and presided over by Maj Gen Tesfay Gidey, the acting head of Mission.