On the occasion of the 22nd Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, The Rwanda High Commission in London in collaboration with St. Marylebone Parish Church of England hosted a commemoration service which was attended by over 600 people.
In her address, the High Commissioner, Ms. Yamina Karitanyi reminded guests of the universal indifference adopted by the International community during Rwanda’s darkest hour: “Days and weeks went by and the international community was still debating on whether the “crisis” in Rwanda qualified or could qualify as genocide.” The High Commissioner called on all attendees and citizens to join Rwanda in fighting against Genocide Ideology, denial and revisionist tendencies, saying that “it is important to pause and remember the victims, and take our role as citizens of the world seriously, by applying two key principles: the responsibility to protect, and fighting genocide denial ideology.”
The High Commissioner expressed regret that despite 22 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda is still faced with the threat of Genocide Ideology and denial. She said that some have attempted to reduce the Genocide against the Tutsi to an undefined act of mass killing and tied it to other conflicts so as to confuse minds. Therefore, the High Commissioner invited all those in attendance to use their networks to stop the work of evil minds and not to let the Genocide deniers to dupe them with their confusing accounts of events to shelter them from facing the law.
The High Commissioner closed by expressing her gratitude to the visionary leadership which allowed Rwanda to quickly embrace the path to unity and reconciliation and to start the healing journey.
Linda Melvern, journalist, reiterated the astonishing level of organisation with which the massacres of the Tutsi were carried out, because, she explained, Genocide is a coordinated plan of action with the intent to annihilate, to reduce to nothing, a human group. The Genocide of the Tutsi of Rwanda is known as the preventable genocide. That the genocide of the Tutsi was allowed to proceed unhindered in the face of universal indifference is one of the great scandals of the 20th century, she said.
Against this year’s Kwibuka22 theme of Fighting Genocide Ideology, Linda Melvern stated that a key stage in the crime of genocide is “the promotion of an ideology which serves to legitimise any act, no matter how horrendous, noting that the dangers of Genocide denial are that it is the cause of the greatest personal trauma to survivors. For them, the genocide is not a distant event from 22 years ago but a reality with which they live every day. The author and journalist closed by calling on all to remember because “denial ensures the crime never ends, and if we forget that, we are accomplices.”
In his sermon, Revd. Canon Stephen Evans, Rector of St. Marylebone Parish, touched on the purpose behind remembering and commemorating, as he highlighted that “it is to remind us that we all have a choice to choose life over death and unity over division in order to work together to build society and a nation. The above points were echoed in Daniela Musabi’s poem, where she said “of all the things they killed, they could never kill my will to live”.
Ms. Tania Mutesi recited a poem in which she urged that we should not wait too long for justice, but that 22 years on, we promise not to stay the same and “…that peace and love be our forecast.”
The service included a musical piece by JP Samputu entitled “Mana Warurihe”, as well as a moving testimony by Ms. Caritas Umulisa who recounted the horrors she witnessed first-hand during the genocide, her loss of dear family members, as well as her narrow escape from death, thanking the Rwanda Patriotic Army for their sacrifice and bravery to put their lives on the line to protect her and many others.
The commemoration service was attended by representatives of the UK Government, members of the UK Houses of Parliament, Ambassadors and High Commissioners, Friends of Rwanda and Fellow Rwandans from various boroughs in the UK.