Genocide in Rwanda: a commemoration

By Jean de Dieu Basabose

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.

Many events have been taking place to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the genocide, such as the one organised by Never Again Rwanda. Many events have been taking place to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the genocide, such as the one organised by Never Again Rwanda. Image credit: Jolly Jolson

Remembering the genocide is perceived as a crucial measure to prevent future atrocities
Each year, on the 7 April, ceremonies are held across Rwanda to commemorate the genocide of 1994. Called Kwibuka - meaning ‘remember’, the commemorations are held to remember the atrocities commited, honour the dead, and prevent them happening again.

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

As Rwandans and their friends commemorate the genocide, it is important to maintain the effort to resist hatred
The commemoration activities also involve flame lightings, church memorial services, remembrance walks, the proper burial of newly found victims, and radio shows, which envision a common future with a firm commitment to the slogan ‘never again’. As Jean de Dieu Mirindi, the coordinator of AERG explained during the event, the campaign will show "how grateful we are to those who rescued Tutsi during the genocide."

"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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Comments

ZEWDU Belete on April 9, 2015, 10:52 a.m.

Dear All, I read about the genocide more vividly in the book "SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL" . A more systematic approach is needed to identify and aaddress the root causes of the problem. Peace, democracy and development are very crucial for the very survival of Rwanda. In a country where ghere are two dominany ethnicgroup exist, the cost of mobilizing rebels is relatively lower especially when unemployment is high, polity is week, per capita income is low. Zewdu

ZEWDU Belete on April 9, 2015, 10:55 a.m.

?..I AM ALWAYS IN PAIN AND FEEL THE HORROR OF THE VICTIMS AND THE PERPRETORS ...GOD BLESS RWANDA. Please, think of S. Sudan, too. zewdu

Agapetus Mathew Wamalwa on May 8, 2015, 7:44 a.m.

Dear My Brothers and Sisters of good will, Greetings and Peace be with you all. It is with great honour of our heroes and heroines who lost their precious lives and loved ones during the great criminal act and behaviour of genocide. We are all human being and we should accept that both parties were and still affected by what happened. It is great honour to entire fraternity of Rwanda to accept that indeed it happened and it was a true test of humanity and paved way for lasting solutions to embrave peace, love, trust, faith and tranguility. Human beings to foster development their must be a conflict but in most cases positive one that brings positive change in the society. Thanks to all Rwandies for holding on peace and oneness all through, It is hard but a time we have to accept it to find a way forward. It has sound as a lesson to all human society and they should uphold it to know and understand the effects and impacts of political, racial, tribal, corruption and all immoral factors that influences satanic acts and behaviours in the society. May the Souls of Faithfully departed rest in eternal peace!

NIYITUGIZE on May 9, 2015, 6:44 p.m.

I think the Insight to Conflict should be neutral on issues related to the Rwandan genocide. First if you really promote peace and reconciliation as you demmontrate it you must not allow Kagame and his team to continue lying to the world especially Africans. There are tremendous evidence that RPF led by Kagame sparked the Rwanda genocide by shooting Habyarimanas plane. First this is a terrorist act deserves justice two this is a war crime against humanity that whose victims need justice...The UN Mapping report on DRC 2010 proved to the whole world especially to Jean de Dieu Basabose and alike that in Rwanda there were more Hutus killed by RPF than Tutsis. Whereas in DRC more than 8 million people of both Congolese and Rwandan Hutu origins were massacred by RPF of Paul Kagame and UDPF of Museveni who is also a Tutsi. If we want to reconcile the people of Rwanda we must state our facts right not a mere propaganda from the western media and organizations...My parents were killed in Byumba by RPF when I was 5 and now I am 28 dont you think I deserve the same commemoration as Mr. Jean de Dieu Basabose ?