LAUNCH OF KWIBUKA20 IN THE PRELUDE OF THE 20th COMMEMORATION OF THE RWANDA GENOCIDE AGAINST THE TUTSI
Venue: Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
Date: 12 February 2014
Time: 12:00-15:00 PM
1. The Genocide against the Tutsi was a planned and systematic attempt to exterminate Tutsis in Rwanda. Between 7 April and 4 July 1994, more than one million Rwandans were killed. By the end of the genocide, over 80% of the Tutsi population had been annihilated. Genocide is never spontaneous. The genocide in 1994 was carefully planned and systematically carried out by government and military leaders. It was supported by high-level members of civil society and the Catholic Church, which had promoted Hutu Power ideology over many decades. These groups opposed the return to Rwanda of Tutsi refugees who had fled from earlier episodes of mass persecution, starting in 1959.
2. The United Nations repeatedly ignored detailed warnings about this planned genocide, and failed to act. The UN Security Council, which included a Rwandan representative of the genocidal government, restricted to a minimum their peacekeeping presence in Rwanda (UNAMIR). UNAMIR’s requests to confiscate arms from militia groups and actively protect the population were denied.
3. Towards the end of the genocide, the French military led a UN-sanctioned operation with a humanitarian remit. It provided safe passage into neighbouring Zaire (now DRC) for up to two million civilians. However, it also allowed government officials and military officers who had planned the genocide to escape safely, along with thousands of ex-soldiers and militia guilty of mass murder. Using refugee camps as cover, these elements rallied to carry out attacks on Rwanda and plot the overthrow of the post-genocide government. This is the origin of instability and violence that plagues the region to this day.
4. Many prominent Hutu politicians and leading civic figures who opposed the genocide were also killed. Their sacrifice is honoured on 13 April as part of the annual commemoration.
Kwibuka means ‘remember’ in Kinyarwanda, Rwanda’s language. It is used to describe the annual commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Honouring the memory of those who died in the Genocide against the Tutsi, and comforting those who survived, must begin by telling the truth about what occurred. Memory is informed by knowledge, and historical clarity is key to understanding the events of 1994 and ensuring that it never happens again – in Rwanda or elsewhere.
Providing resources for people to learn about the causes, reality and consequences of the Genocide against the Tutsi is core to Kwibuka20’s mission. By studying how and why genocide occurs and raising public awareness, we can help prevent it from happening again. This includes understanding our responsibility to protect innocent citizens in the face of impending mass atrocities, and building political will among leaders to respond when genocide threatens. Over one hundred of history’s darkest days, more than one million Rwandans perished in the genocide. 2014 marks the twentieth commemoration of those events, and is an important occasion to remember the lives that were lost, show solidarity with survivors and unite to ensure it never happens again – in Rwanda or elsewhere.
Kwibuka20 calls on the global community to stand together against genocide in three key ways:
- To remember: Honouring the memory of those who died and offering support to those who survived.
- To unite: Rwanda shows that reconciliation through shared human values is possible, and asks the world to do the same.
- To renew: As we build Rwanda anew, we are honoured to share our experiences and learn from others, creating a better world together.
It is also a chance to learn about Rwanda’s story of reconciliation and nation building.
On 7 January 2014 Rwanda officially launched Kwibuka20, a series of events leading up to the twentieth commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi. The national commemoration of the genocide in Rwanda will begin on 7 April 2014.
Kwibuka20 is a chance for everyone, wherever they are and whatever their age, to come together to learn about and commemorate the Genocide against the Tutsi.
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