Hundreds of Rwandans converged at the United Nations headquarters at Gigiri, Nairobi on Thursday to commemorate the 22nd edition of genocide against the Tutsi.
The commemoration was led by Kenyan Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro who paid tribute to the Genocide victims where over a million Tutsis and some moderate Hutus were massacred.
He noted that victims of the Rwanda genocide were citizens of the world: women, men, and children.
“Human beings like you and me who had hopes, aspirations and dreams,” he said.
On April 7th 1994, the regime in Rwanda descended on the defenseless Tutsi population and killed them in the worst genocide of the modern era. 10,000 people including men, women and children were killed every single day and by the end of 100 days, over One million people had been slaughtered.
- 1 African ministers meet UN and IMF chiefs over Covid-19
- 2 No, Darfur must not go to the dogs again
- 3 UK government on the spot over Talai, Kipsigis historical land injustices
- 4 Recruitment for Kituyi successor at UNCTAD begins
They were killed by government forces, militias and ordinary citizens using both rudimentary and modern weapons.
But this commemoration event was marked amid controversy of the definition and understanding of the incidence of genocide in Rwanda.
“Let me use this opportunity to clarify something that has been a point of disagreement between Rwandans and the United Nations. The United Nations continues to refer to what happened in Rwanda in 1994 as “The Genocide in Rwanda” while in fact what happened is the “Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda,” said Ambassador Kimonyo.
He said that as per the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 9th December 1948 and came into force on 12th January 1951 in Article II, Genocide means any of the acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group and this is exactly what happened to Tutsis in Rwanda in the year 1994.
“Let’s hope the UN recognizes the sensitivity of this matter so that we will be speaking the same language when we meet here again next year,” he said.
Mr. Ethuro said the World should also take this opportunity to remember all the previous Genocides including the holocaust, The Holodomor, the Ethnic Cleansing of Circassia, The Dzungar Massacre and indeed the Massacre of the Native Indians in America.
He warned that hundreds of thousands of people are still murdered, raped, violated or terrorised every year.
“That our world in the 21st Century is still looking more dangerous to live in than ever before,” he said adding that countries in armed conflicts and civil war see massive violations of human rights taking place with abandon.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon send a message of goodwill stressing the need for governments, the judiciary and civil society to stand firm against hate speech and those who incite division and violence.
“We must promote inclusion, dialogue and the rule of law to establish peaceful and just societies,” he said in a speech read on his behalf by the U.N Resident Coordinator Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee.
Rwandan Ambassador Kimonyo showered the Rwandan President Paul Kagame with praise for singlehandedly leading the revolution to restore order in his country. The envoy reiterated the need to term the Rwanda Genocide as genocide against Tutsi.
“When genocide occurs there is a tendency to blame the victim by people suggesting the victims also killed,” he argued urging member states of the U.N to move with speed to have that specific recognition of Tutsi as the victims of the genocide.
“Today, let us also salute the resilience and celebrate the achievements of the people of Rwanda of liberating their country from genocide, and their spirit of promoting peace, tranquility and forgiveness - but the world must never forget, we must never forget,” said Hon Ethuro.
Ambassador Kimonyo delivered a message of hope saying that today's Rwanda is a brand new Rwanda.
Allow me to quote my President H.E Paul Kagame who said that, “The body of Rwanda was tortured and assaulted but its spirit never did. The spirit referred to is the choice made by us Rwandans to transcend our differences and come together to forge a nation for all. Our scars have and will continue to turn into stars. Rwanda has changed for good and forever. No turning back".
During the occasion young Rwandans who were victims of the violence lit candles as one of them Beata Uwinyange narrated her experience with the genocide and how her entire family was killed in cold blood.