Kwibuka 21 Washington D.C Press Release

For the 21st time, the Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda in Washington D.C in partnership with the Rwandan community in the United States and Friends of Rwanda joined efforts to organize commemoration events across the country. This year’s national commemoration was held in the Embassy’s building conference hall, on April 7th,2015 where over three hundred people gathered to remember the 1994 genocide against Tutsis.

This year’s commemoration focuses on fighting genocide denial and revisionism, while educating people on the 1994 genocide against Tutsis. Ambassador Stephen Rapp representing the U.S Government stated: “there is no doubt to what happened in Rwanda and therefore, we must speak the truth to everyone we meet.” He reflected on his work at with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and highlighted some empirical evidence of the genocide against the Tutsi. He reminded us of our shared responsibility to bring perpetrators to justice. We gathered as a people to bear witness to our tragic past. Mrs. Bloomfield rightly put it, “Lessons start with telling the truth.” Using the history of the Holocaust, she showed the consequences of genocide denial and revisionism.

The gruesome survival story of Frida Umuhoza is one that united the audience in common grief. My mother, she said, “as much as she loved me, could not afford to buy a death of bullet for me.” The deafening silence in the hall made our hearts echo in pain. “I could not cry” she added—“ it was too much to feel,” after she was dug out of a pit where several other members of her family were killed. What happened in Rwanda “is a failure to humanity” Dr. Ensign stated. She warned scholars that genocide denial should not be academic luxury and shared how she has applied lessons from Rwanda to improve the situation in Nigeria. In his prayer, father Joseph Muth told the audience, “through the sharing of one’s story, an important message is taught to people, about not repeating past atrocities.”

Sadly, denial and revisionism are still an issue at hand. Speaking on behalf of the Kwibuka21 organizing committee, Jean De Dieu Ndahiriwe said, “Genocide denial and revisionism is a thorn in the flesh and heart of our Rwandan reconciliation, development and prosperity.” “One voice, one language, one nation” The Ben sang— “ If we stand together we shall overcome.” It was that resilience that H.E Ambassador Mukantabana allured to, recalling “no one could have blamed us if we adopted a crouch of victimhood. Yet, we opted for a different path. We gathered enough strength to pull ourselves from the ashes and to rebuild our nation.” Challenges remain but the biggest of all is what Ambassador Mukantabana reminded us, is expected from future generations— one that will continue the building of a prosperous nation that offers more and better opportunity for its people. Our country is wounded, she said, “but Rwandans have defied the odds and predictions of doom and wrote a new chapter, together as one people, as a nation.”

Other Kwibuka21 events are scheduled to take place in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and beyond.