Urumuri – a UK based Genocide survivor’s association in collaboration with the Rwandan communities in the West Midlands and Oxford on Saturday organised a 23rd commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Neighbouring Rwandan communities of London and Birmingham also attended the commemoration.
The Rwandan High Commissioner to the UK, Yamina Karitanyi who was the guest speaker reminded the over 200 people in the audience of the threat of revisionism and genocide denial, urging that it must collectively be challenged while educating peers on Rwanda’s story.
The High Commissioner called upon Rwandans to educate the young generation about the evils and stages of genocide, to ensure that the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and all evil that precede it, could serve as a constant reminder of what is needed to ensure never again.
The envoy explained in detail the Rwandan Law of the Crime of Genocide Ideology and the seven offences related to this crime including: Incitement to Commit Genocide, Minimisation of Genocide, Negation of Genocide, Justifying Genocide, Concealment or destruction of evidence of Genocide, Thefts or destruction of remains of victims of Genocide, Demolishing a memorial site for the victims, and Violence against a Genocide survivor.
She reaffirmed the Government of Rwanda’s commitment to dealing with denial as a force of evil, supporting survivors and partnering with those who are serious in exposing the crimes of Genocide Ideology.
This is a duty the Government will continue to honour, she said.
In his remarks, Andrew Wallis, a researcher and author of Silent Accomplice: The Untold Story of the Role of France in the Rwandan genocide called upon everybody not to accept injustice simply because some Governments have either refused to bring the perpetrators to justice or are very slow in bringing to book those who perpetrated Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
He called upon those present to take it upon themselves to expose Genocide perpetrators as well as the deniers in their respective communities.
The Councillor of Bedford council, Luigi Reale praised Rwanda's resilient after genocide, noting that the people of Rwanda refused to be bogged down and instead have become the shining star in the world.
He commended the courage of the survivors and thanked those who attended to remember those who lost their lives during the Genocide.
URUMURI is the Association of Survivors of Genocide against the Tutsi living in the UK; that was set up to preserve the memories of the Genocide and support survivors in the UK and beyond.
Chantal Uwamahoro, Deputy Chair of URUMURI, said the association’s main role is to honour those that lost their lives whilst also acknowledging and offering support to the survivors who live with the effects of Genocide.
Uwamahoro called upon the relevant UK authorities to bring Genocide suspects to justice, reminding everyone that the commemoration took place just a few miles from Putnoe area of Bedford, where one of the leading Genocide perpetrator, Charles Munyaneza lives.
Munyaneza who changed his names to Muneza to evade justice is now awaiting extradition judgement by a UK High Court. During the Genocide against the Tutsi, Munyaneza was a mayor in the Southern Province of Rwanda, where he carried out killing of thousands of Tutsi.
The commemoration event included a testimony delivered by Caritas Umulisa who specifically thanked the RPF for saving her life, commemorative song of hope and praise of Rwanda’s resilience by Olivier Nzaramba.
The RCA Hope women's choir performed a moving song of praise in honour of the victims and survivors of the Genocide - thanking God for turning Rwanda’s days of weeping and sorrow into days of hopefulness and life, songs as well as poems.
The candle-lighting was led by the High Commissioner, the Local Councillor of Bedford and the Chair of Urumuri UK and leaders of Rwandese Communities in the UK.