In 1994, the world watched while thousands of Tutsi were slaughtered at the hands of the Hutu militia. As the High Commissioner of Rwanda to India, H.E. Ernest Rwamucyo pointed out, “there is no difference between the Tutsi and the Hutu”. Yet, propaganda was successful in turning Rwandans against one another and turn neighbours, friends and family members into enemies.
Differences in race, ethnicity, religion, caste do not mean that we are different. We are all human beings and we must never forget that. Words can never truly convey the horrors of genocide. What is important is to learn from past experiences and employ better forms of communication lest such hateful ideologies resurface.
Keeping this in mind, the UN designated 7 April as the International Day of Reflection on 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda to take measures to mobilize people and educate them in order to prevent future genocides.
The High Commission of the Republic of Rwanda held the 24th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda in collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre for India and Bhutan and the African Groups of Heads of Missions, in New Delhi on April 10, 2018 at the High Commission of Ghana. The commemoration aimed at remembering the lives lost and also celebrating the survivors who are the face of a rebuilt and a more hopeful Rwanda.
Mr. Derk Segaar, Director UN Information Centre, read out the message of the UN Secretary-General. He preceded that with a personal account from his mission in South Sudan.
He stated that, “when ethnically-charged violence erupted in South Sudan in 2013, UN peacekeepers opened their gates to protect over 200,000 terrified people. ”Not Another Rwanda” was on everybody’s mind. Only by remembering those that perished can we hope to change our actions”.
Ms. Barkha Tamrakar, Under Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, who was also in attendance spoke about the Indian Government’s solidarity towards the Rwandan cause.
The High Commissioner of Rwanda spoke about ensuring that a tragedy of such a scale never occurs anywhere else in the world.
“When we talk of never again, we really need to think hard because after the Jewish Holocaust in the second world war there was a commitment that such a tragedy would never ever happen again. That Rwanda happened should be a very big eye-opener that unless we take concrete action, similar tragedies could befall us in the future.” H E Ernest Rwamucyo said.
He also highlighted Rwanda’s journey following the genocide, the challenges in reconstruction and the progress the country has made through homegrown solutions.
“Over the last two decades we have worked to break the vices of discrimination , intolerance, hatred and ethnicity that characterise Rwanda’s history and we have brought in a stronger focus on national unity,cohesion, tolerance and peaceful coexistence and these are the foundations upon which a new Rwanda is being built.” he said.
Representing the African Heads of Missions, H. E. Desire KOUMBA, Ambassador of Gabon, stressed on the unity of the African continent and the need for collective action.
“We have a new generation which is rising up. We have to make sure that this new generation speaks the language of tolerance and of peace”, he said.
Twenty Four years later, the country is moving on the path of progress. India stands with Rwanda in rebuilding and developing the country.