Rwandans gather on Parliament Hill to mark genocide anniversary

Posted: April 15, 2011 in Genocide Denial
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By Eddie Rwema–Apr 14, 2011

More than 200 Rwandan genocide survivors gathered on Parliament Hill on April 7 to commemorate the 17th anniversary of the brutal killing of more than one million men, women and children as a result of the 1994 genocide orchestrated against Tutsis in Rwanda.

The commemoration was preceded a moment of silence to remember the victims and listening to testimonies from the survivors.

“Seventeen years now just seems like yesterday to us,” said Alain Ntwali, president of the Canadian Association of Rwandan Survivors.

“To us, genocide wasn’t a historic accident, but a plan that was hatched to eliminate the Tutsis.

“For a period of just 100 days, we observed the failure of humanity to intervene as one million lives were lost,” he said.

The association has organized a series of public conferences that will explore various issues ranging from remembrance, preserving of memory, restoring dignity to survivors and dealing with genocide.

The anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on the goal of preventing genocide and to use the lessons learned to work toward a day when it will become a nightmare of the past.

“This is a moment for us as a government to renew our commitment to supporting and providing hope to genocide survivors” said Edda Mukabagwiza, High Commissioner of Rwanda to Canada. “We are standing here to proclaim that the fight against the consequences of the genocide continues especially amongst genocide deniers.”

In 2004, the Parliament declared April 7 as a day of remembrance of the victims of the 1994 Genocide. Four years later, also on April 7, Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution to designate the date as a Day of Reflection on the Prevention of Genocide.

Former Liberal cabinet minister Irwin Cotler, who moved the original motion and has spoken annually in Parliament on the anniversary, issued a statement urging that the words “never again” must not only be an empty slogan, but must always be a remembrance to act – a responsibility to prevent and protect.

“Today, we remember the unspeakable horror of the Rwandan genocide, where one million Rwandans, mostly ethnic Tutsis and Hutus, were murdered in less than 100 days,” Cotler said in a statement.

“No one can say that we did not know. We knew, but we did not act. And so, as the UN Security Council and the international community dithered and delayed, Rwandans died.”

To Cotler, the great tragedy is not only how many Rwandans were murdered, but how so few intervened to save them, ignoring the compelling lesson of history that the Rwandan genocide occurred not simply because of the machinery of death but because of state-sanctioned incitement to hatred and genocide – and because of indifference and inaction in the face of this incitement and atrocity.


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