- April 7, 2018
Rwandans, friends of Rwanda, and the diplomatic corps once again joined together at the occasion of the 24th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Washington, D.C. commemorating the lives of those who died in 1994.
A walk to remember was held preceding the main event. Around 300 people gathered at the FHI 360 Conference Center to honour the lives of the victims, to comfort the survivors, but also to recommit to a resounding Never Again.
During his remarks and reflection on a tragedy that could have been prevented by the international community, the Deputy Assistant Secretary Donald Yamamoto, representing the U.S. government said, “Rwandans bear the scars of the genocide, we all bear the guilt of the inaction.”
A panel discussion was held, discussing the different components of the theme Remember-Unite-Renew.
In his reflection on the revisionism crisis that is ongoing as part of the genocide denial discourse, Dr. Drew Kahn, one of the panelist underlined that “there is nothing spontaneous about the genocide. It is planned, and the narrative is repeated.” He followed these remarks by observing how the current Rwandan leadership has made efforts to have Rwandans be the ones telling their own stories. “President Kagame is not a story-teller. He is a story giver. What he has done is that he has returned the story of the genocide to its rightful owners, the Rwandan people.” He insisted that it is important for the international community to not only listen to the stories of the genocide from Rwandans themselves, but also to learn from their reconciliation and forgiveness processes.
Dr. Margee Ensign, a longtime friend of Rwanda touched on the subject of education, underlining that “Sustainable prevention of genocide begins with education. We must make sure that the education of our young ones is built from tolerance.”
Dr. Mironko, also insisted on making an intentional effort to understand the history of our country in order to adequately prevent the genocide from ever happening again.
Consolee Nishimwe, a survivor of the genocide, author, and women’s rights champion shared her moving testimony, demonstrating that survivors can, and have overcome adversity to be active contributors to the rebuilding of the country, and to recount their ordeal, so that the memory of the genocide may never fade.
There were over 40 students from various universities on the East Coast attending the commemoration, some of whom led the solemn crowd in a candle lighting ceremony.
In her remarks, Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana thanked those who joined Rwanda for this commemorative event, and thanked the speakers for shedding a light on different facets of genocide, its prevention, and the fight against genocide denial. Ambassador Mukantabana commended the recent resolution by the UN to modify the name and recognize April 7th as the International day of reflection on the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. “The resistance to use the proper nomination of the Genocide against the Tutsi has lent strength to denial,” said Ambassador Mukantabana, designating this event as a step forward in the fight against genocide denial.
Amongst many distinguished guests were various Ambassadors, Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza, the U.N Permanent Representative, and Defense Attaches from various countries.