Madame Maria Pia Fanfani: “UMURINZI” Rwanda’s Campaign Against Genocide Medal
You have, throughout your life, put your talents, affluence and influence to the service of humanity. The list of awards you have received for your dedication to conquering indifference, arrogance and injustice, is as long as your generous and fruitful life.
From your courageous involvement in the resistance against Nazi occupation in Italy during the Second World War, you have travelled to every part of the world to aid victims of violence, war and natural disasters; bringing to safety refugees, the wounded and the orphaned.
True to your calling, and against the advice of many, you came to the rescue of fellow Italian Amelia Barberi who refused to evacuate with other Europeans and abandon 52 orphans in her care in Muhura. In Rwanda, you were immediately struck by the enormity of the lies that had been told about the Rwandese Patriotic Front’s liberation struggle and the genocide of Tutsis.
You not only rescued the orphans of Muhura but evacuated wounded genocide survivors from Gahini Hospital, and in a daring and courageous action also took injured Rwandese Patriotic Army soldiers disguised as footballers, for treatment in Italy.
You returned to Rwanda and continued to rescue orphans and survivors in Nyanza and Nyamata and other parts of the country, taking them to Italy to safety and treatment. Your compatriots tried to convince you that you were helping the wrong people - but your own experiences showed you otherwise.
You remain a valued and true friend, in your support of worthwhile projects in Rwanda and in your role of unofficial ambassador and passionate witness to the true story of our country.
And so today, in a special tribute, I, Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, by virtue of the authority vested in me, do hereby award you, Madame Maria Pia Fanfani “UMURINZI”, Rwanda’s Campaign Against Genocide Medal.
Dr Jean Gol - “UMURINZI” Rwanda’s Campaign Against Genocide Medal
From your own experience as a son of refugees who fled the Nazi regime, you identified with the plight of Rwandans locked out of their homeland.
When the RPF launched its liberation struggle on 1st October 1990, you were the only leading Belgian official who went against the tide of political opinion and questioned your country’s support for the Rwandan regime. You resigned from your position as president of the foreign affairs commission of the Belgian Senate to protest human rights abuses in Rwanda.
You had recognized immediately that the arrest, torture and murder of Tutsis in 1990 as the beginning of something more sinister. Your firm opposition to the decision to send Belgian troops to support the Rwandan government eventually forced your government to withdraw the troops at the end of November 1990.
You were very vocal in explaining to the Belgian public the truth of what was happening in Rwanda and contributed immensely to making RPF’s liberation struggle, the genocide and its aftermath recognized and understood internationally.
When the Government of National Unity formed in July 1994 met hostility from certain European powers which had supported the genocidal regime, you used your political and diplomatic connections to illustrate to leading politicians that imposing financial sanctions on the post-genocide administration in Rwanda was actually punishing the victim. These efforts contributed to ensuring that Rwandan would not become a failed state.
Your clear understanding of Rwanda’s predicament, early recognition of the genocide of Tutsis, your denunciation of its perpetrators and your unwavering support to post-genocide reconstruction have made you forever one of our country’s closest friends and ally.
And so today, in a special tribute, I, Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, by virtue of the authority vested in me, do hereby posthumously award you, Dr Jean Gol “UMURINZI”, Rwanda’s Campaign Against Genocide Medal.