As part of the Commemoration week, the Rwandan mission in Singapore over the weekend organised a public lecture at the Lee Kuan Yew School of public policy to discuss the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that left over a million people dead.
Over 130 people attended, among whom, were ambassadors of Belgium and South Africa, members of academia, Singapore Cooperation Enterprise representatives, members of the Rwandan community and friends of Rwanda.
While addressing the audience, the Charge d’ Affaires at the Rwandan mission in the country, Paul Kayoboke, explained that the events of the genocide were not a tribal conflict or a civil war but a deliberate and carefully planned attempt to exterminate all the Tutsi. He also cast blame on the International Community for failing to intervene and stop the massacres.
“The genocide was not an isolated event where the outside world was oblivious to what was taking place or outside of their control. It is shocking how many people knew that genocide was being planned, who could have acted to stop it but chose not to,” Kayoboke said.
Other speakers at the event included Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zainul Abidin Rasheed, the Dean of Lee Kuan Yew School, Professor Kishore Mbabhubani and retired Arch Bishop of South East Asia, Moses Tay.
Mbabhubani who also at one time served as Singapore’s ambassador to the United Nations and President of the UN Security Council in 2001 also attached great importance to the commemoration, adding that it serves as a lesson that a similar tragedy can happen again where the International Community feels there is no strategic or national interest.
Fatina Mukarubibi, a survivor of the genocide, in a moving testimony also narrated her ordeal of what happened during the tragic genocide and her escape to safety.
In her remarks she also hailed the Rwandan government for its great efforts to promote unity and reconciliation adding that this has helped heal her scars and given her hope for a better future.
Minister Rasheed also spoke of his visit to Rwanda in 2008 and the achievements of the Government in turning the country around, noting that Rwanda’s good leadership and principles of good governance have placed it firmly on the path to a better future.
The Minister encouraged Rwandans to learn from Singapore’s experience in building a harmonious multi racial society.
Singapore has three ethnic communities that include the Chinese, (75 percent), Malays who comprise of 15 percent and Indians making up the remaining 10 percent.
After independence, Singaporeans were deeply divided and ethnic tensions were high resulting in deadly racial riots, with many casualties from all sides.
The Government was however able to stop the violence and restore order after which it worked hard to build a peaceful and harmonious society.
This one of the countries into which the commemorations were held for over the past mourning week that started on Tuesday last week.