- April 7, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Today marks twenty years since the start of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, where over the course of one hundred days, violence erupted in some of the most unimaginable and gruesome acts of terror that this world has ever witnessed. The Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda in Washington, D.C., in partnership with the Rwandan Community in the USA, held a commemoration of the tragic events at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel.
The program, which had a diverse line up of performers, genocide survivors, academics, civil servants, and human rights activists, was both moving and thought-provoking. “The Rwandan genocide is a horrific memory in our world history,” said Mary Millben, an award-winning singer who opened the event with a stirring song. “As a global community, we must all commit to pledge ‘never again’ to allow genocide to divide Rwanda or any community across the globe.”
Mr. Edouard Kayihura detailed his experience inside the Hotel des Milles Collines, made famous by the film “Hotel Rwanda”. Ms. Jacqueline Murekatete, an internationally acclaimed activist and a lawyer in New York, discussed her genocide prevention work and shed light on the achievements of other survivors over the last 20 years.
The event’s guest of honor, Mr. Alan Lazowski, co-founder/ CEO of LAZ Parking and Board Member of the US Holocaust Museum, related his family’s experiences to the horrors of the genocide against Tutsis. Among the scholars and dignitaries who spoke, Dr. Edua Mutua-Kombo spoke about the tremendous role women have played in Rwanda’s reconstruction and author, Naomi Benaron, discussed how creative arts help survivors wrestle with unanswerable questions. Dr. Susan Allen, who enabled the arrests of three genocidaires convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, conveyed the important role of justice in healing. US Department of State official, Mr. David Gilmour, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs was also in attendance and gave remarks.
As the emotional event closed, Her Excellency, Prof. Mathilde Mukantabana, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the US, reminded the audience of the great strides Rwanda has achieved, highlighting the tremendous recovery and healing that Rwandans have committed to over the last 20 years. In closing, she reminded the audience: “We have reached all these major milestones in the collective engagement to rebuild our nation, we still have a long way to go. It is a journey that future generations including those yet to be born will have to continue.”