Rwandans and friends of Rwanda all over the world will today mark the 19th anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, with a focus on self reliance.
The observance that falls on April 7 begins with a commemoration week that involves several activities among others, visiting and laying wreaths at memorial sites, according decent burial to exhumed Genocide remains, giving testimonies, public lectures, and candle lighting vigils.
The activities officially last a week, but the commemoration continues up to July 4, marking 100 days of Genocide.
This year’s memorial is held under the theme “Let’s remember the Genocide against the Tutsi as we strive for self-reliance.”
Unlike the previous event, where people could converge at Amahoro National Stadium as early as 7a.m for the Genocide observance main function, this time the commemoration will marked at village level.
Speaking to Sunday Times yesterday, Jean de Dieu Mucyo, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission against Genocide (CNLG) said the commemoration week kicks off early in the morning with meetings at every village.
“People are urged to tune on the national TV and radio to follow the events expected to take place at around 11 am at Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre where President Paul Kagame and other senior government officials will lay wreaths on the mass grave that contains over 250,000 remains of Genocide victims, as well as light a Flame of Hope that will last for a 100 days,” he explained.
Mucyo added that at around noon, a one minute of silence will be observed in remembrance of the victims. Rwandans are also advised to follow the President’s speech at around noon on the national TV and the radio.
Starting at 2pm people are expected to throng Amahoro stadium for the candle lit night vigils, where ‘Walk To Remember’ participants will converge for commemorative candle lighting ceremony and reading of the names of some of those who lost their lives during the Genocide.
The walk is spearheaded by Peace and Love Proclaimers (PLP) and the CNLG and it will be held under the theme; “Remember, Honour and Rebuild.”
The ‘Name Reading’ part of the event will see participants reading 100 names of people who were killed in the Genocide.
19 years on, Rwandans are looking forward to build a bright and self reliant country without forgetting the 1994’s most horrible tragedy that left more than a million people dead.
Nevertheless the country has managed to rise from the ashes and build a resilient nation—one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
It also holds this month’s presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), three months after winning a seat on the world’s most powerful organ, as a non-permanent member.
Mucyo however stated that, on April 11, a commemoration event will take place at Nyanza Memorial Centre in Kicukiro District where more than 5,000 people were killed.
“During the memorial week, work will be done before midday and then after, people will converge in their villages for commemoration meetings and night vigils,” he said.
“This time the conclusion of the national commemoration week at Rebero Genocide Memorial Site to honour politicians will be attended only by government officials and the relatives of the politicians buried there.”
He called on Rwandans to fully participate in all the commemoration activities as the country marks the most tragic period.
However Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, the president of ‘Ibuka’—an umbrella of genocide survivors calls for support, console and comfort of the genocide survivors and orphans during the commemoration period.
“We saw death, but now it’s time to move forward and build a better future of our people and the country. We should use the moment to learn about the genocide and strongly focus on preventing its occurrence,” he noted.
Dusingizemungu expressed gratitude towards the government’s tireless efforts to support the genocide survivors and giving them a new life full of hope and promise.
According to the Fund for Genocide Survivors (FARG), the fund has spent over Rwf 130 billion on survivors’ welfare with 75 percent spent on education since 1998.
The day is also on the calendar of many countries across the world, following the UN declared April 7 Day Of Reflection On Genocide Against Tutsi.
In Montpellier, France, activities began on Friday where the Franco-Rwandan association organized a dramatic representation of what Rwandan women during the Genocide. Other activities are planned all over the country, as well as in other European countries.
United Nations Information Centres in at least 13 countries, including in Asmara, Brazzaville, Bujumbura, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Dhaka, Kiev, Lusaka, Mexico, Moscow, Nairobi, Tehran and Warsaw will also organize events.
Genocide fugitives on the run
As the country mourns the victims, for the 19th time, most of the perpetrators, are still roaming free and are yet to face justice.
Rwanda has issued arrest warrants to over 130 genocide fugitives all over the world who continue to elude justice. The most prominent ones being Felicien Kabuga, described as the “financier” of the Genocide.
Others include, Protais Mpiranya, Augustin Bizimana, Fulgence Kayishema, Pheneas Munyarugarama, Aloys Ndimbati, Ladislas Ntaganzwa, harles Ryandikayo, and Charles Sikubwabo.
Genocide perpetrators like Leon Mugesera and Jean Uwinkindi have been apprehended and brought back to Rwanda.
Rwanda has also issued 156 indictments and international arrest warrants to 27 countries, both in Africa, Europe and North America, but very few suspects have been apprehended or tried, leaving a large number enjoying impunity in their host nations.
According to Genocide Fugitive Tracking Unit, In Africa many Genocide fugitives live in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Congo Brazzaville, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
In Europe, the majority are in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Other European countries where fugitives have been identified are United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, and Finland. There are also those that have been identified in New Zealand, Canada and the U.S.