Kwibuka26: Rwandans in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia commemorate virtually
18th April 2020
Today, 18th April 2020, the High Commission of the Republic of Rwanda to Singapore, which is also accredited to Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia, hosted a virtual 26th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi. The event was hosted live on webcast in conformity with social distancing requirements related to controlling the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The virtual commemoration included the observation of a moment of silence and lighting of candles in memory and honour of the over one million lives lost during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The event saw the participation of about two hundred members of the Rwanda Communities in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia as well as some from Rwanda and beyond.
In her testimony on behalf of the victims and survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi, Ms Frida Umuhoza, a survivor who currently lives in Melbourne, Australia, narrated her ordeal as a 14-year-old girl in 1994 who had already experienced ethnic hatred, dehumanisation and persecution of Tutsis in Rwanda since the age of six while at school. She further narrated that although her family was wiped out, leaving her traumatised, broken and lost, what she witnessed was still fresh in her mind, adding that it is sad that genocide denial is still alive and that it should be a collective responsibility to fight the geocide ideology and denial.
In his address, the High Commissioner of Rwanda to Singapore, who is also designated to Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia, Amb Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye, cited the testimony of Ms Umuhoza as similar to what most of the survivors went through and offered his consolation to them and assured them that himself and the community members will have them at heart throughout the commemoration period and after.
“It should be our wake-up call that we need to play a leading role in countering those who attempt to reshape the facts of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi to serve their own agendas. Using available facts, we can counter that by publicly denouncing those who spread such hate both on social media and in our communities”, emphasized Ambassador Uwihanganye.
He called on the youth to play a more significant role in countering efforts of the inhuman genocide deniers and revisionists.
“I want to give a special call to young people, many of whom are present with us. Today, you are the hope and the future of Rwanda. Twenty-six years ago, the RPA soldiers, under the leadership of His Excellency President Paul Kagame, stopped the genocide that was being committed against the Tutsi, and for that, we are grateful. They were at the same age as most of you and us. We, as the young generation of the Rwandan community living abroad, need to actively join the fight against the genocide ideology and the genocide denial. A few of our fellow nationals in these countries, mainly Australia, are being misled to join the denials. Let us play our part in ensuring the end of the victims’ suffering and the resilience of the survivors”, he added.
The leaders of the Rwandan communities across Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia also highlighted the need to unify and join hands in countering and defeating those that want to reshape the history of Rwanda and twist the facts about the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi.
In his remarks, The Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Rwanda to Australia, Mr Michael Roux, stated that there are still genocide deniers and revisionists in Australia and New Zealand whose actions disrespect the victims, survivors and Rwandans in general adding that such people must be exposed and they should question their motives, study the facts and stop the lies. He called on the wider community to stand-up for the truth and challenge the re-writing of history.
On her part, Lady Clare de Lore McKinnon, Rwanda’s Honorary Consul-General in New Zealand, honoured the victims and expressed solidarity with survivors and Rwandans in general. She recalled that in 1994, despite early efforts by the then New Zealand’s Ambassador to the UN, Ambassador Collin Keating, to force the UN to intervene did not succeed yet would save thousands of lives.
She further noted that Rwandans in New Zealand and across the world have shown resilience and rebuilt their country after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, which happened as the world looked on. She also said that in New Zealand, the contagion of hatred lives on in genocide deniers who want to demean survivors and their families by denying the reality of what happened during the genocide against the Tutsis.
Songs related to the Genocide Against the Tutsi were also played on the live podcast in order to honour the victims and comfort the survivors.