Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Rwandan Genocide: Kwibuka Twiyubaka, “Remember – Unite-Renew”

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By Amandin Rugira

Through the “Kwibuka” events like today, we learn about the causes, reality and consequences of the Genocide to better fight its remnants in Rwanda and anywhere else in the world. We also aim to raise awareness and advocate for UN member countries to arrest and prosecute identified and confirmed genocide fugitives residing or hiding in foreign countries, as adopted by the UN Security Council in its Resolution No. 2150 of April 16, 2014, asking member states to judge or extradite genocide fugitives on their territories.

Kwibuka allows us to build a better society, a country free of discrimination, segregation, hatred and free of Genocide and its ideology. It must be highlighted that though the genocide against the Tutsi was put to an end in 1994, fugitives from the former Government of Rwanda, the army, and militias are still at large and have ever since been spreading this genocidal ideology from the counties where they are situated. From afar, this ideology is being spread through social media platforms and online channels, and in some education and higher learning institutions, so-called researchers are spreading revisionist narratives of the 1994 Genocide against the Tusti.

Twenty-nine years ago, Rwanda witnessed the horrors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Triggered by hate speech and propaganda, and the unfortunate scenario where friends and neighbours turned into enemies. This resulted into the deaths of more than one million Tutsi and moderate Hutus in a period of one hundred days.

We therefore come together today, to pay our respect to the lives and memories of those who perished during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. We also honour the survivors, who mustered the strength and courage to defy the odds. Their bravery and resilience stand as a testimony of the beacon of hope for the people of Rwanda, and many more across the world.

Critically, during this commemorative period we reflect on what made the unspeakable possible, the unimaginable all too real. As we examine the forces that enabled the Genocide, together we should ask ourselves the pertinent question: “are we truly doing all we can to prevent future genocide and bring peace where there is conflict in the world?”

Having said that it is therefore important to raise awareness and alert all countries about the current situation in the eastern DRC, which has been designated by the UN Special Advisor to the Secretary General on prevention of Genocide as a warning sign of societal fragility and proof of the enduring presence of the conditions that allowed large-scale hatred and violence that may erupt into a genocide like what happened in the past in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The prevalence of armed groups, including the Forces Democratiques De Liberation Du Rwanda (FDLR), in the region, unfortunately still spread genocide ideology and causes insecurity not only in Rwanda but to the region as well.

It is understandable that people focus on the one hundred days beginning APRIL 7, 1994 given its unparalleled magnitude both in scope and cruelty. However 1994 was not a beginning but a culmination of decades of discrimination, oppression and violence directed against one group of Rwandans whose only fault was to be born Tutsi. It wasn’t, as some would have believed a sudden or unpredictable eruption of mob violence.

For decades preceding the tragedy of 1994, Rwanda’s then political leaders pursued a policy of segregation and discrimination against the Tutsi population that laid the groundwork for the Genocide. The Anti-Tutsi propaganda permeated all the major institutions of the country and the privileges of citizenship and the protection from the state were stripped from the Tutsi decades before the Genocide.

They became the “other” in their own nation and the media eagerly propagated the idea that Rwandans of Tutsi descent were somehow enemies within even less than human and that to kill them was an act of patriotism. From vilification to dehumanization, what was viewed as the next logical step was eradication.

Numerous outbreaks of acts of violence and mass killings targeted against the Tutsi in 1959, 1963, 1968, 1973 and as late as 1992 laid the ground work to Genocide and drove hundreds of thousands of survivors into exile in neighbouring countries and beyond. As mentioned earlier, the privileges of citizenship and the protection from the state were stripped from the Tutsis decades before the Genocide therefore one can say the ghost of genocide hung over Rwanda for many years before April 7, 1994.

It should also be highlighted that one of the cruellest tragedies of 1994 was the abandonment of Rwanda by the international community. As militiamen took to the streets with their machetes, murdering, raping, and tearing our country apart, under the gaze of the United Nations, and the world’s media, the rest of the world watched on, leaving Rwanda to its tragic fate. This abandonment should serve as an important lesson to all of the humanity. Thankfully for Rwanda on July 4, 1994 the Genocide was effectively stopped by the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) under the leadership of His Excellency President Paul Kagame ushering a new era and new beginning for Rwanda.

Today, Rwanda has rebuilt from the ashes of horrific tragedy and destruction, evidenced by its economic, social and political developments. It laid the foundation for these achievements by having embarked on a better path; one of forgiveness and reconciliation, leaving behind past-resentments and acknowledging the common humanity of all Rwandans.

Rwanda’s economy has impressively recovered over the last two decades. With the country registering an average GDP growth of around 8 percent per year during that period. After the Genocide was stopped by the RPF-Inkotanyi in July 1994, the new leadership set national unity as a foundation for rebuilding the country. In this regard, a government of national unity was put in place and from the beginning, it committed to valuing Rwandanhood and its values where every Rwandan has rights and responsibilities which are not provided by his/her ethnic or regional belonging, but by rather simply being Rwandan.

It is commendable to have witnessed over the last 29 years the resilience of the people of Rwanda complimented by the leadership of His Excellency Paul Kagame, for finding the grace within themselves to heal, to reconcile, and to embrace national challenges with a collective spirit. As we light candles and commemorate this dark chapter of history today, let us for the education of future generations ensure our commitments to stand against racism, hate speech, xenophobia, and all forms of discrimination, continue to burn brighter than the darkness of hate and violence. We also continue to remind the International Community and UN Member States, as well as signatories to the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, of their obligations under this convention to fight and prosecute hate speech and crimes of genocide in their respective countries.

Additionally we remain steadfast in advocating for the remaining countries, which have not yet assented the United Nations Convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide, to do so and to remind those who haven’t yet enacted laws punishing the crime of any genocide recognized by the United Nations or international courts, as well as any other act leading to genocide ideology, genocide denial, or its revisionism as defined by international instruments.

Let’s remember that life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards. Rwanda continues to demonstrate to the world at large, that even in the deepest darkness there is hope.

In solidarity with the people of Rwanda, in memory of the victims, and in respect of the survivors, let us recommit to upholding the principles of human rights, peace and security, and let us continue to truly reach for the ideal of ‘never again’.

This year’s commemoration events are being held under the theme “Kwibuka Twiyubaka: Remember – Unite – Renew.”

The author is Rwanda High Commissioner to Zambia

2 COMMENTS

  1. What have you done about French involvement in the genocide? Have you given up about bringing the French to justice?

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