Rwandans, friends of Rwanda, and members of diplomatic corps met in the US capital Washington D.C on Saturday to mark the 24th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
A walk to remember was held preceding the main event with around 300 people gathering at the FHI 360 Conference Center to honour the lives of the over one million victims, to comfort the survivors and recommit to Never Again.
According to a statement, during his remarks, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State 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, tackling different components of the theme for this year; Remember-Unite-Renew.
Speaking about revisionism of the Genocide that is ongoing, as part of the genocide denial discourse, Dr. Drew Kahn, an American scholar and one of the panelists said; “there is nothing spontaneous about genocide. It is planned, and the narrative is repeated.”
He thanked the current leadership in Rwanda saying they have 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,” Dr. Kahn said.
He stressed that it is important for the international community to not only listen to the stories of the Gnocide from Rwandans themselves, but also to learn from their reconciliation and forgiveness processes.
Dr. Margee Ensign, a longtime friend of Rwanda, said: “Sustainable prevention of genocide begins with education. We must make sure that the education of our young ones is built from tolerance”.
Consolee Nishimwe, a Genocide survivor, author, and women 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.
Attending the commemoration were more than 40 students from various universities on the East Coast some of whom led the solemn crowd in a candle lighting ceremony.
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.
Mukantabana commended the recent resolution by the UN to modify the name and recognize April 7 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 Mukantabana, designating this event as a step forward in the fight against genocide denial.