Rwanda launched commemorative activities in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi
Kwibuka flame will be brought in the whole country
In Rwanda, the Genocide Against the Tutsi was a planned and systematic attempt at exterminate the Tutsi. The 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi was one of the fasted known to history with one million men, women and children killed in three months. By the end of the genocide, over 80% of the Tutsi population had been killed. In what has been described as one of the worst mass slaughters in history, more than one million people were killed by a genocidal regime in 1994. The regime, which had led Rwanda with discriminatory policies against Tutsis and other Rwandans who would disagree with the persecution, would later be toppled in 1994 by the Rwanda Patriotic Front led by Paul Kagame, the country’s current President. At an event to be dubbed “Kwibuka20” in April, Rwandans will be commemorating the tragic death of their countrymen and women, relatives, and families who died at the hands of the genocidal regime.
On 07 January 2014 Rwanda launched commemorative activities in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, with a call on Rwandans and entire world to join in the remembrance of the victims of the worst pogroms in recent history.
The launch of activities in the lead-up to the April 7 main national mourning event was marked by the lighting of a flame of remembrance, dubbed “Kwibuka Flame,” at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Gisozi. The flame symbolises remembrance as well as the resilience and courage of Rwandans over the past twenty years. Carried in a simple lamp, it will be used to light other lamps in communities around Rwanda. To mark the 20th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, all memorial fires throughout the country will stem from this single Kwibuka Flame.
“Remember, unite, renew” is the theme for the 20th Genocide commemoration, words that are meant to inspire Rwandans to unite and work together to build a new, stronger, and prosperous country going forward.
At the launch of commemorative activities, Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Government spokesperson Louise Mushikiwabo, called on the international community to join in reflections on the lives lost in the Genocide and help build a world without genocide.
“As we turn our attention to the twentieth commemoration, we invite the world to remember with us. We do so not to inspire pity or guilt, but rather because the lessons of 1994 have resonance far beyond Rwanda’s borders,” she said.
Officials said peace education workshops and a countrywide arts competition will also accompany the Genocide torch’s tour across the country, increasing awareness about the causes of the Genocide, its consequences, and how Rwandans can continue to move forward.
For Minister Mushikiwabo, the commemoration period should be a “time to join in solemn remembrance, to reflect on the past twenty years, and to turn our attention to the challenges that lie ahead” in the prevention against the recurrence of the atrocities. “It is a time to recommit ourselves to the simple but powerful idea: Never Again. Not just for Rwanda, but for the world,” she said. “For Never Again to be a reality, and not just words, ‘Never Forget’ must also be our creed.” The regime, which had led Rwanda with discriminatory policies against Tutsis and other Rwandans who would disagree with the persecution, would later be toppled in 1994 by the Rwanda Patriotic Front led by Paul Kagame, the country’s current President.
The torch is a symbol of the Rwandan spirit of unity and hope which are seen as key to the reconstruction of Rwanda from the scratch since the Genocide. Different testimonies were shared at the lighting of the torch yesterday, including the resilience of Genocide survivors and moving stories of unity among Rwandans despite the promotion of genocide ideology by the killers. One of the survivors who testified at the event, Marcel Mutsindashyaka, said it is important for survivors to know that they have to live a happy and productive life despite the loss of their loved ones. “Our people died a tragic death but we (survivors) are alive. Our life doesn’t need to be miserable. We can still work, we can work to develop our country,” he said. In the last twenty years, Rwandans have experienced pain and challenges, but we have also seen progress and opportunity. More crucially, citizens and leaders have worked hard to solidly set this country on a foundation of lasting peace and prosperity, even as we continue to make modest contribution to stability on the continent and in the world.
It is a sad fact that every genocide attracts a small but vocal cohort of people who will seek to deny, negate or diminish the circumstances of the tragedy. In the social media age, these individuals are able to create a disproportionate amount of noise and create confusion and doubt – even among people of good will. This is true of the Holocaust; it is true of Bosnia; it is true of Rwanda.
We must never forget what happened here, and why. We must never forget how the world stood by, capable of intervening to prevent or reduce the slaughter, but unwilling to do so. We must never forget the million lives lost, the countless lives destroyed.
In remembering we find powerful inspiration to build a strong, hopeful society capable of resisting the re-emergence of state-sponsored hatred, pernicious foreign influence and violence that all but destroyed us twenty years ago. We cannot escape the past, and we should not try. We are bound to our history but, with honest and compassionate reflection, we are not bound to repeat it. In fact, it is only in memory can we find the seeds of renewal, concluded Mr Murwanashyaka