Genocide in Rwanda: a commemoration
07 April 2015: Jean de Dieu Basabose reports on the 21st anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, as events and ceremonies commence to remember the events of 1994.
This year, the Kwibuka activities have been organised around the theme of countering genocide denial and revisionism. Rwandans and their friends are called on to engage the international community on these issues, and emphasis is placed on genocide as a crime which should not be allowed to continue unabated. Denying the genocide is understood as an insult to Rwandans and the souls of those who died during the conflict, and recognising and remembering it perceived as a crucial measure to prevent future atrocities.
In preparation for the 21st commemoration ceremony, different organisations have begun various activities with a view to remember the victims, stand alongside survivors and renew hope amongst Rwandans for a brighter future. The commemoration also creates opportunities for acknowledging and honoring those who rescued people during the genocide, and reaffirms the necessity to work for a reconciled and united Rwandan society.
The AERG is an association of students who survived the genocide, and is one of the organisations involved in the Kwibuka activities. Last month, the AERG launched the Kwibuka 21 campaign, involving various activities which took place in Ngoma District, in the Eastern province of Rwanda. Through the campaign, the young survivors recognise and present their gratitude to those who stood up to it. Other activities include cleaning up and maintaining memorials and recording the names of families that perished. Members of the AERG plan to plant trees at these sites, to preserve the history and memory of victims, as well as supporting and advocating for survivors who need social and medical assistance.
Commemoration activities: bringing people together
"We want to bring genocide survivors together, share the history of the genocide and teach young Rwandans about the genocide, how to build themselves and their country, as we well as about genocide prevention," he added.
Never Again Rwanda is another organisation that is coordinating remarkable activities. A national conference is being held to encourage young people to discuss and reflect on the events of 1994, aiming to provide a space to voice concerns and encourage hope for a better future.
This year, a conference on Policy and Practice of Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide Against Tutsis is acting as an opportunity for public dialogue, whilst simultaneously providing input into commemoration policy and practice. Everyone, regardless of their ethnic belonging, age and historical background, is called on to play an active role in Kwibuka activities. Even the perpetrators are engaged in remembering the innocent men, women, and children who were killed. The conference is expected to enlighten ways towards a shared and inclusive understanding on various issues.
As Rwandans and their friends commemorate the genocide, it is important to maintain our efforts to resist hatred, to cultivate a culture of nonviolence, and to strive for a just world, that works for all human beings, in order to prevent the repetition of such atrocities.
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