10 Belgian peacekeepers killed during the Genocide against the Tutsi remembered

Kigali, 8 April 2019 – A commemoration ceremony to pay tribute to the 10 Belgian Peacekeepers murdered in the first hours of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was held on Monday, 8 April 2019 at Camp Kigali.

Rwanda’s Prime Minister, Dr. Edouard Ngirente, alongside Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel paid tribute to the ten Belgian peacekeepers.  The ceremony was also attended by a large delegation from Belgium, including family members of the peacekeepers.

In his speech, Prime Minister Dr. Eduard Ngirente expressed gratitude to his counterpart for having joined Rwandans for the 25th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi. He also hailed the courage of the 10 Belgian peacekeepers and reiterated that the greatest tribute to pay to them was to always cement strong existing ties between the peoples and the two countries.

“A quarter of a century after the Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda has resolutely chosen to turn the page on the future. We thank Belgium for being on the side of our country on this long journey to reconstruction. The Belgian peacekeepers had come to Rwanda, to contribute to peace, but they were savagely killed. Rwanda will always remember their courage and sacrifice in fighting evil. The greatest tribute to pay to the 10 killed Belgian peacekeepers is to always cement strong existing ties between our peoples and our two countries.” PM Ngirente said.

In his address, the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel stated that, 25 years after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the memory was still fresh and that any form of genocide denial has to be fought.

“25 years ago our 10 peacekeepers were savagely murdered. Twelve of our civilian compatriots were also victims of this murderous insanity.  Even after all this time, their memory is still in our minds and hearts.   Along the Belgian soldiers and civilians, we mourn all the victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. The denial, revisionism, and minimization of crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda have to be fought.   I would like to announce that by the end of this month, the Belgian Parliament will vote on our bill to punish the denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi” PM Michel said.

Shortly after the beginning of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, on 7 April, Rwanda’s Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and the ten Belgian peacekeepers protecting her were brutally murdered by Rwandan Government soldiers.

View photos of the Commemoration Ceremony of 10 Belgian peacekeepers here

Rwandans mark the 25th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi

Kigali, 7 April 2019 – President Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame on Sunday led Rwandans in different corners of the country and across the world in marking the 25th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi.

In the morning, the President and First Lady together with attending Heads of State and Government as well as other guests laid wreaths at the Kigali Genocide Memorial to honor the more than one million victims of the Genocide.

Attending Heads of State and Government include; President Idriss Déby of Chad, Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, Ismaïl Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, Prime Minister Charles Michel of Belgium, Governor General Julie Payette of Canada, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, as well African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat, and European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

In his Kwibuka25 address, President Kagame thanked Rwandans who joined hands in the last 25 years to recreate the country and give it new life. He highlighted that Rwanda has become a family, once again.

“Our bodies and minds bear amputations and scars, but none of us is alone. Together, we have woven the tattered threads of our unity into a new tapestry. Sisters became mothers. Neighbors became uncles. Strangers became friends. Our culture naturally creates new bonds of solidarity, which both console and renew. Rwanda is a family. That is why we still exist, despite all we have gone through,” President Kagame said.

The Head of State also reiterated that in the last two decades, Rwandans have carried an immense weight with little or no complaint- a fact, the President said, that has made Rwandans better and more united than ever before.

“At a memorial event some years ago, a girl brought us to tears with a poem. She said, “There is a saying that God spends the day elsewhere, but returns to sleep in Rwanda.” “Where was God on those dark nights of genocide?”, she asked. Looking at Rwanda today, it is clear that God has come back home to stay,” President Kagame recounted.

He further thanked survivors for their resilience and bravery which represent the triumph of the Rwandan character in its purest form and warned those who might want to mess up with Rwanda.

“For those who think our country has not seen enough of a mess, and in defence of those children you saw, and others in this country, our nation — and by the way, we claim no special place, but we have a space to claim. Those who think we have not seen enough of a mess, and want to mess with us, whether from here or from outside, I want to say: We will mess up with them big time,” the President said. “In the end, the only conclusion to draw from Rwanda’s story is profound hope for our world. No community is beyond repair, and the dignity of a people is never fully extinguished. Twenty-five years later, here we are. All of us. Wounded and heartbroken, yes. But unvanquished,” President Kagame concluded.

In the evening, President Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame together with Prime Minister Charles Michel of Belgium, Governor General Julie Payette of Canada, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, and other distinguished guests joined over two thousands youth for a Walk to Remember and Night Vigil to pay tribute to the innocent lives cut short in the Genocide.

Kigali International Conference concludes ahead of Kwibuka25


Kigali 4-5 April 2019 – The Kigali international conference concluded on Friday at Intare Conference Arena in Kigali, under the theme “Preserving Memory, Championing Humanity”, two days before the beginning of the 25th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi (Kwibuka25) on Sunday, 7th April.

The conference brought together over 500 participants from all over the world, including scholars and policymakers, to discuss theory and practice in the areas of reconstruction, resilience, dealing with trauma as well as identity politics.

First Lady Jeannette Kagame attended the conference, alongside H.E Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente and other distinguished speakers and delegates.

In his closing Keynote address, Adama Dieng hailed Rwanda’s successful recovery, 25 years after the international community failed Rwandans.

“In 1994, the International community, the African Union Organisation failed Rwanda. The humanity failed Rwanda. The 25th anniversary is not only a period of commemoration, but also an opportunity to reflect on what this country has done to heal itself. Today we are experiencing a country whose courge to unite and heal its people has been profound and remarkable. Rwanda has shown to the world that when justice and reconciliation are pursued with the sincere aim of healing and uniting the society, everyone wins” Adama Dieng said.

Johnson Busingye, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Rwanda, also in his concluding remarks, reiterated that governance was key in the country’s progress, adding that Rwanda’s governance model resulted from Rwandans’ choices.

“The choice and dynamics of governance we chose and continue to choose determine the progress we make. Democratic governance is about fairer, stronger, resilient, accountable, and prospering societies. Our dispensation currently is born out of specific circumstances. The country had to sit down everyone together and understand what works and what doesn’t work and agree on new ways of doing things. In these 25 years, we did not import our democratic governance blueprints from anywhere. We negotiated it as Rwandans and it is working for us” Minister Busingye said.

The two-day conference saw insightful keynote addresses from distinguished speakers, including HE Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr Bizimana Jean Damascene, National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide, Hon. Ba Tambadou, Minister of Justice of Gambia. Through different panel discussions, various renown authors, scholars and journalists, who tackled key issues facing Rwanda and international community regarding the preservation and transmission of memory as well as the reconstruction of a post-genocide society.

The panel sessions included the following:

  • “Perspectives of a Post-Genocide Generation”
  •  “Genocide and Collapse of Society”
  • “Choosing Humanity in the Face of Inhumanity”,
  • “Imperative of Justice: Past, Present, Future Special”, and
  • “Preserving Memory and Sustaining Gains in a Disruptive Age”

Café Littéraire on Kwibuka25

Amid the conference, a Café Littéraire under Kwibuka25 was held at the Kigali Cultural and Exhibition Village (KCEV),  featuring three authors – Virginie Brinker (France) Koulsy Lamko (Chad) and Jean-Marie Vianney Rurangwa (Rwanda) who have expressed a special interest in writing about the Genocide Against the Tutsi.

The there authors elaborated more on their shared motivation to write about the Genocide Against the Tutsi, which is to contribute to the preservation and transmission of memory.

For more information watch the following videos:

  • Opening remarks by CNLG Executive Secretary Dr BIZIMANA Jean Damascene here
  • Speech by former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo here
  • Closing Keynote Address by Adama Dieng here
  • Concluding Remarks by Minister Johnston Busingye here
  • Day 2 panel on “Preserving Memory and Sustaining Gains in a Disruptive Age” here
  • Day One – morning session here
  • Day One – afternoon session here

Over 250 youth representatives meet in Kigali for the Conversation on Kwibuka25

Kigali, 03 April 2019 – Over 250 Rwandan youth gathered in Kigali for the Youth Conversation on Kwibuka25, as part of activities leading up the 25th Commemoration of the Genocide Against the Tutsi.

Participants included young professionals and Entrepreneurs, youth leaders representatives at district level, and students from Higher Learning institutions.

Through panels sessions, the young people had an opportunity to interact with leaders and distinguished speakers on how the Genocide Ideology was conceived and implemented, the choices Rwanda made after the Genocide, the youth’s role in fighting genocide ideology and their role in the country’s transformation.

During a panel session titled “the Notion of a Nation”, Rwandan youth were taken through the history of Rwanda and the country’s 25 years journey of recovery .

The panel on safeguarding Rwanda’s growth served a platform for the youth to exchanges ideas with their successful peers  and elders  on how the youth can leverage available opportunities and play an active role in the country’s transformation.

In a closing session, Gen James Kabarebe, Senior Advisor in the Office of the President challenged the youth to utilise all the necessary analytical tools got from different platforms provided by the government,  in the ongoing battle to  build the country transformation but also contribute in fighting the genocide denial since the “Genocide ideology is the country’s first enemy”.

The Youth Conversation on Kwibuka25 proceeds the International Conference to take place in Kigali on 4th and 5th April, ahead of the 25th Commemoration of the 1994 Against the Tutsi to begin on 7th April 2019.

Rwanda’s mission to UN holds first kwibuka 25 event in memory of Raphael Lemkin

New York, 27 March 2019 – The Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the United Nations and the World Jewish Congress on Tuesday honored Father Patrick Desbois with the first Raphael Lemkin Award for exemplary work in the fight against genocide in honor of his dedication to investigating and exposing crimes of genocide around the world.

Father Desbois is the founder and president of Yahad–In Unum, a global humanitarian organization established in 2004 with the goal of identifying and commemorating the sites of Jewish and Roma mass executions in Eastern Europe during World War II. The award ceremony took place at the UN headquarters in New York at a special event in memory of Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish lawyer and refugee who coined the term “genocide” and initiated the Genocide Convention 70 years ago.

Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza, the Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations honored Lemkin’s legacy, saying, “his passion, his belief in humanity, and his commitment should serve as an inspiration to us all”. She also praised Father Desbois, saying, “I can’t think of a more deserving awardee for the first Raphael Lemkin Award than you. By reminding us all there is no genocide without the participation of neighbors, it means that there is also no prevention of genocide without the active involvement of neighbors. Let us all strive, on the individual level and in groups, to be that neighbor that does not stand by. Let’s strive to be that neighbor that will take a stance.”

Read more and watch the video of the full event here

A symposium on Kwibuka 25 held in Addis Ababa, focuses on “Preserving Memory, Upholding Humanity”

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 25 March, 2019 – The Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda in Ethiopia, in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS), organized a Symposium themed “Preserving Memory, Upholding Humanity”as part of activities of the 25th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

The commemorative event was attended by over 250 participants mainly from members of the diplomatic corps accredited in Ethiopia and staff of academic institutions based in Addis Ababa.

To start off the program, the participants observed a minute of silence to honor the memory of the victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi, as well as the victims of Idai cyclone and the Fulani villagers killed recently in Mali.

In her keynote address, Amb. Hope Tumukunde Gasatura said that “the commemoration period is always an opportune moment to pay homage to the victims and call for greater awareness of the international community in its responsibility to prevent Genocide on the continent and beyond”.

The symposium was made up of two panels featuring prominent scholars such as Mr. Tom Ndahiro, Dr. Usta Kaitesi and Dr. Matlosa among others. The first one evolved on the preservation of Genocide memory with focus on cooperation and the responsibility in fighting impunity and genocide denial. Panelists emphasized that International cooperation is very critical to fight impunity and denial, and that African Member states ought to strengthen their national human rights institutions and fight against hate speech.

The second panel focused more on the role of the youth in transforming their society. Using the example of Rwanda’s reconstruction, participants converged on saying that inclusion of youth is a key priority in the process of rebuilding destroyed communities.

The Kwibuka awareness campaign will continue in Ethiopia with other activities including, an open session of the AU’s Peace and Security Council, the official commemoration on 7th April, a Walk to Remember and a Kwibuka25 exhibition.

Rwanda’s high Commission to Kenya holds International Conference on Kwibuka 25

Nairobi, 22 March, 2019 – Rwanda’s High Commission to Kenya in partnership with The University of Nairobi, organised on Friday 22 March 2019, the International Conference to mark the 25th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. The event served an opportunity to pay homage to the victims as well as reflect on the journey of Unity and Reconciliation that Rwanda has been on for the last 25 years.

The event held at Taifa Hall in Nairobi attracted over 600 participants, including Rwandans, friends of Rwanda, University students and members of diplomatic corps.

Invited speakers made different statements and exchanged views with participants about preserving the memory, the role of international community, Genocide denial, impunity, among others.