The Executive Secretary of IBUKA, Benoit Kaboyi handing over the Olympic Torch to the President of IBUKA, Theodore Simburudari. Looking on, right, is US Congressman, Donald Payne. (Photo/G. Barya).
BY LINDA MBABAZI AND AGENCIES
AMERICAN actress Mia Farrow joined Genocide survivors in a torch-lighting ceremony on Wednesday at a Rwandan school where thousands died in a 100-day frenzy of killings in 1994.
The function was held at Kigali's Ecole Technique Officielle School where 2,000 Rwandans were murdered during the Genocide.
Farrow, 62, whose screen credits include "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Purple Rose of Cairo," is leading an Olympic-style torch relay through countries that have suffered Genocide to press China, host of the 2008 Olympic Games, to help end abuses in its ally Sudan's Darfur region.
More than 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million been chased from their homes in Darfur since 2003, when tribes of ethnic African farmers rebelled against the Arab-dominated central government, accusing it of neglect and discrimination.
"We welcome China's recent U.N. vote to allow a peacekeeping force into Sudan," said Jill Savitt, director of Dream for Darfur, the group that organized the ceremony.
"However, China now must continue to press Sudan to ensure that the words on paper translate into action. That means adequate and verifiable security on the ground in Darfur," Savitt added.
"The world shouldn't turn its back and ignore what's happening in Darfur. Innocent people are continuing to loose their lives on the interest of certain groups who want to protect their selfish interests [power struggle]," Theodore Simburudari, president of IBUKA, said.
IBUKA is the umbrella organisation for Rwanda's Genocide survivors.
"It's really a pity to see certain individuals support the killings simply because they want to rule, or satisfy their interests," Vestine Murerwa, a Genocide survivor, said.
The U.N. Security Council has authorized a joint U.N.-African Union operation of 20,000 peacekeepers and 6,000 civilian police for Darfur. Sudan at first resisted the proposal, but backed down.
The new force will absorb a 7,000-member African peacekeeping force now in Darfur and was to be in place by year's end.
The Darfur torch relay will also go to Armenia, Bosnia, Germany, Cambodia and finally in December to Hong Kong.
The U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda, Michael Arietti, Congressman Donald Payne, the president of the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) Ruth Messinger, Darfurian Human Rights advocate, Omer Ismail, actor Clare-Hope Ashitey, NBA player Ira Newble (Cleveland Cavaliers) and IBUKA Executive Secretary Benoit Kaboyi attended Wendesday's colorful ceremony in Kigali.