The US Permanent Representative at the UN, Susan E. Rice has owned up on behalf of her government, for its failure to act as the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi unfolded. Speaking for her country, Rice revealed this in a strongly worded statement at the UN Genocide remembrance on Tuesday.
“On this day, 15 years ago, Rwanda began its awful descent into the inferno of genocide,” her statement reads in part.
“Rwanda did not suffer from “ancient hatreds” between Hutu killers and Tutsi victims. It suffered from modern demagogues, from the ex-FAR, from the Interahamwe, from Radio Mille Collines (RTLM),” says Rice. But according to Rice, her government, and many others are also to blame.
“And it (Rwanda) suffered from an international community, international institutions, and individual governments-including my own-that failed to act in the face of a vast, unfolding evil.”
She pointed out that nothing can be said to ease the grief of those robbed of their parents, their children, their hope in the future, and their trust in humanity.
“Nothing we say can bring the victims back. Nothing we say can make it right.”
Rice noted that today, what can be done, both for the victims and for those whose daily lives are still marred by the after effects of the genocide is to “rededicate ourselves” to a shared commitment to human rights and human dignity.
“I am here today to speak for my country, but I am also here to speak from my own heart. In 1994, I served as a director on the National Security Council staff. That December, six months after the genocide, I visited Rwanda for the first time,” she testified.
“I’ll never forget the horror of walking through a churchyard and schoolyard where one of the massacres had occurred. Six months later, the decomposing bodies of those who had been so cruelly murdered still lay strewn around what should have been a place of peace.”
The US envoy called upon all to work together so that what happened in Rwanda, in 1994, should not repeat elsewhere.
“We must work together to apply the lessons of the last century’s bitter succession of genocides. We must work together to mete out justice to the perpetrators.
“We must work together to build up the capacity of every nation and of the world to respond surely and swiftly to mass slaughter.”