SOUTH AFRICA - THE Rwandan Diaspora in South Africa Wednesday held a memorial ceremony to remember victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The event that took place at the University of South Africa (UNISA), was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, friends of Rwanda and South African government officials.
Rwanda’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Kamali Karegesa, stressed the need to help genocide survivors, especially those with trauma.
“Sometimes it is difficult for people who have never witnessed these traumatic stress cases to believe what we are telling them, but it is real. The victims have lost equality of life, power, self esteem (dignity), and they have been stigmatized and separated from society,” the envoy said.
“They need provision and assurance of equal value under law and administration of justice. They are crying for the commitment of the international community to combat impunity and provision of justice and redress”.
Ambassador Kamali questioned the conspicuous absence of the international community during the massacres. He noted that it is still grossly absent.
“These people need compensation; both real and symbolic, they need restitution, they need rehabilitation; they need commemoration like this one.
“At the risk of offending, it must be emphasized that the victims suffered more profoundly from the indifference of the onlookers than from the brutality of the executioner, your concern, everyone’s contribution can make a difference,” he noted.
Ambassador Ezra Sigwela who represented the South African government at the commemoration highlighted some of his experience with the people of Rwanda when he was the South African envoy in Kigali.
He commended the unity and reconciliation process in Rwanda and praised the leadership of Rwanda for its commitment to rebuild the country.
“I had the opportunity to sit and talk with both the survivors and perpetrators of genocide, I had the opportunity to discern the traumatisation of the survivors as well as some of the perpetrators,” said Ambassador Sigwela.
The other guest speakers at the commemoration ceremony were Dr Agustinho Zacarias, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Dr A A Alzubedi, Dean of the Diplomatic corps and Ambassador of Libya to South Africa, Dr Charles Mironko, (Royal Bafokeng Institute) who made a presentation on the theme of this year’s commemoration “Let’s keep the memory of the Genocide against Tutsi alive, and work together to fight traumatism.”
Other activities at the memorial ceremony were the reading of testimonies and candle lighting.
A similar event was held yesterday in Durban (University of Kwazulu Natal) and another will be held in Cape Town (Cape Peninsula University of Technology) today.
The East African Society of the University of Cape Town has also organized a memorial ceremony on Monday, April 12, 2010.
All the above events will be attended by the High Commissioner, Kamali Karegesa, and the diplomatic staff of Rwanda High Commission in Pretoria.