Rwandan peacekeepers around the world (notably the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Haiti) have joined the rest of the country in commemorating the Genocide against the Tutsis.
In the Central African Republic (CAR), Prime Minister Simplice Sarandji and Senate president Kalim Mekasou joined the Rwandan officers serving under United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (Minusca) in the commemoration held in the capital Bangui.
The event was marked by a moment of silence in honour of the over one million Tutsis who were massacred 23 years ago, lighting of a memorial flame, laying of wreaths and testimonies from those that experienced the Genocide.
The event was attended by over 1300 people including Rwandan police, military and correctional officers serving in MINUSCA, as well as other Rwandans and local officials.
Mekasou said that Rwanda's success in unifying and reconciling Rwandans after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis represents the best approach to building unified and peaceful African continent.
“What happened in Rwanda should never happen again anywhere in the world. Today, the entire continent joins Rwanda in mourning the victims for the Genocide,” he added.
“These dates remind us how the international community abandoned Rwanda; I am grateful to President Paul Kagame for the efforts he has invested in reuniting people of Rwanda, rebuilding the country and contributing tremendously to restoration of people across the world,” Mekasou said.
He also thanked Rwanda for its efforts in restoring safety and peace in CAR. Currently, Rwanda maintains about 450 police and over 800 troops in Central African Republic, who are also in charge of the protection of top government officials, among other peacekeeping duties.
The senate president noted that CAR is much interested in learning from Rwanda’s best practices so as they can build a united and prosperous country.
The commander of Rwanda police peacekeepers, assistant commissioner of police Barthelemy Rugwizangoga spoke at length about the history of the Genocide, how it was planned, executed, stopped, its effects and Rwanda's resurrection from the ashes.
“In just 100 days, over a million Tutsis were systematically massacred while the world was watching. It was the Rwanda Patriotic Army that stopped it. Today, Rwanda is much focused ensuring the best welfare of every citizen,” said ACP Rugwizangoga.
Ralland Kwasi, who spoke on behalf of friends of Rwanda, said he came to Rwanda immediately after the Genocide, which helped him understand well the brutality used in the Genocide.
“What I saw in Rwanda was very traumatizing. No country should ever take this path ever again. Thanks to everyone who took part in stopping the Genocide against the Tutsi. Today Rwanda is referred to as a model country in developing fast; Africa and the world should emulate Rwanda,” Kwasi said.
In South Sudan, the police and military peacekeepers serving under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were joined in Malakal by the Rwandan community, government officials and UN officials.
The head of UN field office in Malakal, Hazel Dewet, indicated that Rwanda’s recovery is a “good example to the people of South Sudan where people are fighting because of their ethnicity.”
“They should learn how Rwanda overcame this situation and now is among the countries contributing to peacekeeping operations in other countries,” she said.
The Sector Commander Sector-North, Brig. Gen Xie Zhijun, highlighted Rwanda’s history of peacekeeping.
“Rwanda started peacekeeping operations in African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) in 2004. Now its troops are deployed in many countries and it is ranked fifth troop contributing countries in UN peacekeeping operations. This indicates how Rwanda is devoted to fight against genocide all over the world,” Xie said.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Eric Mutsinzi, the Rwanda police contingent commander, talked about the historical background of the genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda.
“We have the responsibility to teach and pass on the memory to the young generation so that in turn, they can pass it on to successive generations. We remember to build a new society, new country, a dignified nation free of discrimination, segregation, and hatred, and free of genocide,” Mutsinzi said.
He noted that by remembering, Rwanda is sharing the truth of its tragic history and committing itself to never let such an event happen again, while fighting genocide ideology and anything that could take the country back to the dark past.
“We remember where we came from so that we build a better future for the next generations. We remember, tell and recall the truth about the genocide and commit ourselves to not allow such tragedy to happen again,” he said.
Similar commemoration activities were also held in the South Sudanese capital Juba and attended by Rwandan community in Juba; UNMISS police commissioner, CP Bruce Munyambo; deputy special representative of the Secretary General, Mustapha Soumare; SPLA representative Maj. Gen. Matier Deng; and deputy inspector general of police of South Sudan, Lt. Gen. James Winyaok, among others.
Lt Col. James Burabyo, who represented Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Uganda and South Sudan, highlighted the efforts to fight genocide denial by revisionists.
“The international community as a whole is called to fight Genocide ideology and expose perpetrators and their collaborators, who enjoy safe haven in some countries,” he observed.
He lauded the “resilience of Rwandan people, their determination and commitment to fight for a decent life and to overcome despair and distress,” and the visionary leadership under President Paul Kagame that “made possible the national reconciliation, social justice and sustainable peace and development.”
UN Special Representative Soumare noted that the ideal of ‘Remember-Unite- Renew’ reflects the failure of the international community to protected human lives at a critical moment.
He hailed those who sacrificed lives to stop genocide, and hailed Rwanda for rising from the ashes of genocide to become one of the economically rising powers of Africa, which he attributed to the homegrown solutions.