Rwanda In UK Kwibuka27 Virtual Event

To mark the 27th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, The Rwandan High Commission in London held a virtual commemoration event on 8th April 2021.

Members of the diaspora, friends of Rwanda, members of the diplomatic corps, government officials and media in the UK, Malta and Ireland tuned in at 2pm for the virtual event, which had to take place online due to COVID-19 restrictions.

In her address, High Commissioner Yamina Karitanyi emphasised that “It remains the mandate of a well-functioning government to use its institutions to bring perpetrators to face justice and use the long arm of the law to fight impunity. Rwandans will continue to partner with those willing to walk on this path with us for justice to be served, for peace to thrive and for never again to become a reality.”

High Commissioner Yamina Karitanyi speaking at the Kwibuka27 virtual event

High Commissioner Karitanyi called for the perpetrators of the genocide to face justice stating that the “delaying of justice, for genocide survivors, is justice denied” and citing the five alleged genocidaires who continue to exploit the judiciary in the UK to evade justice.

The High Commissioner concluded “Our pledge is to continue doing our part to ensure future generations of Rwandans are proud Africans who shall inherit a dignified nation, welcoming of all her sons and daughters.”

The event was opened by the Chief Executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust Olivia Marks-Woldman OBE who said, “we are in awe of the people of Rwanda who have turned a legacy of darkness and despair into light and hope for the future.”

Olivia Marks-Woldman OBE speaking at the Kwibuka27 virtual event

The Commonwealth Secretary-General The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC also delivered an address having just returned from a recent visit to Rwanda in advance of June’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM2021). The Secretary-General looked forward to the CHOGM Summit and Rwanda’s upcoming tenure as Commonwealth Chair-In-Office and commended the “stirring examples of leadership shown by the Rwandan people and their Government, that after dark times justice and reconciliation can bring healing and regeneration.

The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland speaking at the Kwibuka27 virtual event

Antoinette Mutabazi, a survivor of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi, shared a moving and powerful testimony of her experiences in 1994 and left the audience with a strong message on the need to challenge denialism. “I stand with all the survivors who live in the torment of missing beloved ones, we want to give them the respect and the honour they deserve. I would strongly ask the international community and the UN to fight against genocide ideology and whoever is denying the Genocide against the Tutsi.”

Antoinette Mutabazi speaking at the Kwibuka27 virtual event

Expert speaker Alice Musabende, a Gates Scholar at the University of Cambridge provided her expert opinion to challenge denialism and revisionism of the Genocide against the Tutsi in the international media and academic institutions. “In Academia no rigorous research, no strong or convincing evidence is ever presented by those who question the Genocide against the Tutsi, and yet in article after article they have a single and simple message, they tell survivors of the genocide that what happened to them did not in fact happen. These experts rarely question their biases, and they fail to question their position of mostly white privilege and in doing so they continue to impose intellectual and moral violence on survivors of the genocide and on Rwandans all together.”

Alice Musabende speaking at the Kwibuka27 virtual event

Dignitaries, government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and the media took to Twitter to share messages of solidarity with the people of Rwanda. Among them was Lord Jack McConnell, former First Minister of Scotland, H.E Edil Baisalov, Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UK and the diplomatic publications Embassy magazine and Diplomat magazine amongst others.

As the event drew to a close, the High Commissioner Yamina Karitanyi led the Act of Commemoration by lighting a candle of remembrance with many watching the event joining in via social media as the conversation continued online.

Kwibuka27 Around the UK

In Liverpool, on the 7th April, the Lord Mayor of Liverpool Councillor Anna Rothery led the wreath laying at the memorial stone for the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi alongside diaspora community member Philomene Uwamaliya.

Wreath laying for Kwibuka27 in Liverpool

On Sunday 11th April the Rwandan Community in Scotland held an online event to mark Kwibuka27. The event included testimonies from genocide survivors, commemorative poems, musical pieces and remarks from expert scholars.

Professor Nicki Hitchcott of St Andrews University spoke on the power of stories and added “Here in Scotland in the UK, we must do everything we can to: Expose people to the lived experience of survivors, Challenge deniers & lazy journalism, Educate our students, family & friends about the Genocide against the Tutsi.”

Minister Counsellor James Wizeye provided closing remarks and thanked the organisers & contributors: “We remember so that the Genocide against the Tutsi is never forgotten. We hear, see & feel the pain of countless survivors, like the brave speakers who shared their stories today.”

The Minister Counsellor added a strong message on genocide denial stating “Denial is the last stage of Genocide and this is where we find ourselves today…if left unchecked, it allows a denialist worldview to become established. Therefore, we must fight propaganda with facts, disinformation with information.”

The event closed with the participants lighting a candle to serve as an Act of Commemoration to remember all those lost their lives and to stand in solidarity with the survivors.

Kwibuka27 hosted by the Rwandan Community in Scotland

Elsewhere, a commemoration message for the Genocide against the Tutsi was shared by UK-based premier league football club Arsenal FC that featured their first team players Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Granit Xhaka, Manager Mikel Arteta and Club Legend Tony Adams

Commemoration events will continue across the United Kingdom and Ireland over the coming weeks with community services set to take place remotely up and down the country

To learn more about Kwibuka27 and the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, please see the resources below: