Denial or distortion of the truth about the 1994 Genocide committed against the Tutsi will not be tolerated.
This was the stand taken during the ceremonies to mark the 17th Commemoration of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi that were held at the UN Office in Geneva.
The commemoration was jointly organized by Rwanda’s permanent mission in Geneva and the UN Office in Geneva, in the context of observance of the international day of reflection on the Genocide committed against the Tutsi.
The event was attended by ambassadors and representatives of international organizations in Geneva, NGOs and the civil society as well as members of the Rwandan Diaspora in Switzerland as well as friends of Rwanda.
Two exhibitions on the genocide against the Tutsi are on display in the UN Geneva from April 1 – 21.
The participants were addressed by a panel of speakers including the Ambassador, Venetia Sebudandi, the Director General, UN Geneva Office, Sergei Ordzhonikidze and Prof. Pierre Rwanyindo, Director of the Institute for Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP).
The audience also heard from Yolande Mukagasana, a genocide survivor and author of several books on genocide.
Sebudandi said that in the context of reflection on the1994 genocide, commemoration should be an occasion for the international community to reflect on its failure to prevent or stop the genocide but instead choosing to abandon the people.
Despite the faults of the international community at the time, Sebudandi said that Rwanda is deeply committed to supporting global efforts for the responsibility to protect people from any such atrocities.
She noted that the country is playing a major role in peace keeping missions such as UN/AU Hybrid Mission in Darfur where Rwanda has the highest number of troops and has the overall force Command of the combined AU/UN Force.
Rwanda has also contributed military and police personnel to peace missions in several other countries including Haiti
“The post genocide efforts for rebuilding Rwanda have focused on making Rwanda a nation founded on the rule of law that could guarantee citizens equality and non discrimination, peace and prosperity,” Sebudandi said.
“In 1994, Rwanda was nearly a failed state, today peace and security are fully restored to new heights,” she added.
Sebudandi called on the UN to enact appropriate laws and other mechanisms to punish genocide perpetrators and those engaged in revisionism and trivialising the genocide, and in propagating the genocide ideology.
The Director General of the UN Office Geneva, Mr. Sergei Ordzhonikidze led the participants in observing a minute of silence.
Ordzhonikidze emphasized the importance of telling the truth about what happened during the Genocide and to stand united against anyone who would deny or distort the extent and effects of the genocide.
Rwanyindo discussed extensively this year’s commemoration theme “Upholding the Truth and preserving our Dignity".
Mukagasana spoke as a survivor of the genocide and delivered a moving speech on the history of the genocide and the catastrophic conditions in which the survivors live.
She called upon ambassadors and diplomats present to convince their governments of the need to set up a fund to assist the survivors.
"You cannot, on one side, recognize the genocide, and at the other hand, you fail to recognize its survivors", she said.