Higher learning institutions should have an upper hand in fighting Genocide denial and ideology to discourage a culture of impunity.
The call was made by experts from the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), yesterday, during a consultative meeting with heads of higher learning institutions in the country ahead of the commemoration of United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Adopted in 1948 and ratified by the 147 states of the General Assembly, the day is marked on December 9 every year.
To mark the day, all universities will hold a public lecture either on the same day or any other within the week.
Dr Jean Damascène Gasanabo, the director of research and documentation at CNLG, said universities are key players in fighting genocide ideology and its denial while discouraging the culture of impunity.
“Universities have more than 90,000 students, it is a huge number, the young people and the leaders of the future. We need to give them information, knowledge and methods on how to fight Genocide denial and ideology,” he said.
He said December 9 presents an opportunity to meet young people and give them platform do discuss, ask questions, debate on the UN Convention as well as on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The Genocide claimed over a million lives but some of the perpetrators continue to live freely in foreign jurisdictions that give them safe haven while others minimise and deny the Genocide.
Gasanabo called for collaboration to bring the perpetrators to book.
“Let’s report cases of Genocide, bring them to Police. We have to collaborate with friends in other countries to see how they can arrest, prosecute and extradite suspects to face justice,” Gasanabo said.
The public lecture will also be an opportunity to deliver message to the world to remember that genocide happened in Rwanda, and remind the world to teach the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in schools as they teach the Jewish Holocaust.
There are as many as 829 Genocide suspects hiding in various countries all over the world, according to CNLG.
This will be the third time universities hold such public lecture but, according to Gasanabo, the attendance is normally low.
He said that about 12,900 people attend out of some 90,800 students from higher learning institutions in the country.
Gasanabo said it would be important for higher learning institutions to construct commemoration plaques on their premises, especially those that lost students and staff members, and encourage students to visit memorial ones.
He also encouraged research, and availability of genocide teaching materials.
Varsities speak out
Dr Gustave Tombola, the deputy vice-chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Tourism and Business Studies, said the public lecture is crucial and the university would be ready to hold it.
“We need to sensitise our students because many were born after the genocide and just hear about it, organising such a public lecture is vital,” said Tombora.
Prof. Nelson Ijumba, the deputy vice-chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Rwanda, said the university was ready for public lecture but said there was need to scale up the initiative down to primary and secondary schools.