Countries within the region and beyond need to draw lessons from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda so as to consistently promote peace and harmony among their people, a visiting UK diplomat said.
Simon Mustard, the United Kingdom’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, made the remarks yesterday during his visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, where he paid tribute to over 250,000 victims of the Genocide interred there.
The Genocide claimed the lives of more than one million Rwandans in a space of 100 days.
“I think there is a lesson here for the region, for neighbouring countries and those that are suffering from conflict across Africa and further field, that it is in their interest to help mediate, to speak to all sides, to speak to everybody who is involved and urge them to find peaceful solutions to their differences,” he told The New Times.
“I think that is a lesson that can be applied across the world not just in Africa,” he added.
Mustard said there was need to spot political tensions “early” and work through dialogue and other peaceful means to find solutions – politically and socially – at community or national levels.
“It is important to avoid the buildup of tensions similar to those that led to the events of 1994,” he said, in reference to tensions and conflicts that continue to characterise different countries and regions across Africa.
The envoy commended the people of Rwanda who he said have “been so brave and bold to build a venue and a museum to remind everybody of the tragic and terrible events that happened in 1994, before and afterwards.”
“It is a deeply moving experience and I think it serves as a strong and powerful reminder to the people of Rwanda but also to the international community and the region on why we all have to keep working hard politically, in development and economic terms to make sure that something like this never happens again, either here or anywhere else,” he said.
Asked about several Genocide fugitives that remain at large in the UK, Mustard said both the governments of Rwanda and the UK will work continue to call on relevant authorities in the UK, including the police, judiciary as well as investigative organs to ensure and expedite prosecutions.
“We are keen to see any perpetrator of the crimes related to the Genocide brought legitimately to justice,” he said. “It is really something that concerns my government greatly like any government that is based on democracy and the rule of law and justice just as Rwanda is,” he added.
During his visit to the country, Mustard will meet several government officials. He arrived in Rwanda from Democratic Republic of Congo.