Today Rwanda has two days commemorating the Genocide. It is the 7th of April marking the start and 4th of July marking the end, the Liberation day. However this weekend two groups commemorated, one on the 6th and one on the 7th in Brussels, Belgium.
Rwandan commemorating in front of memorial. Photo: cliir.org
The commemoration of the 6th was organized by CLIIR– coordinator and activist Joseph Matata and his group.
A crowd of approximately 30 people gathered at Montgomery and marched together to the memorial dedicated to the victims of the Genocide 1994 where then prayers were held and poems* were read.
Before reaching the memorial, Mr. Matata was stopped by the Belgian police and advised to hold back his group of continuing as the mayor of Woluwe St. Pierre, Mr. Benoît Cerexhe had previously prohibited the assembly, due to the ban of commemorations on the 6th of April set in 2007, claiming that the authorization of such commemoration has been prone to cause incidents that have had consequences on the relations between Belgium and Rwanda, particularly those between the municipality of Woluwé-Saint-Pierre and the district of Kamonyi, sector of Musambira ’’. As the coordinator explained that the group was peaceful and that the march was not politically motivated the police finally let the crowd continue and followed them to the memorial.
Be that as it may, accused of desecration, Benoît Cerexhe had to comment the non-intervention of the police and justified it by saying:
“As a mayor I had forbidden the manifestation of the “commission against the impunity and injustice in Rwanda (CLIIR)” that was supposed to take part the day before the commemoration, but to prevent damages the police decided not to interfere.”
The commemoration ceremony of the Embassy started the with tree opening speeches held by the Ambassador of Rwanda Mr. Robert Masozera, the representative of the Belgian Government and Ibuka Chairman. The greetings were followed by a moving testimony and a speech of the Founder of Souvien toi le 7avril*. The morning ended with a minute of silence for all victims of the genocide against the Tutsi.
For the afternoon the Embassy had invited the ACP* Secretary General, HON. Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni who declared:
“It is important that we continue to commemorate this day in order not to forget one of the most heinous crimes against humanity perpetrated by one group of people against another.
As we take time out to commemorate this day, we honour the lives of the nearly one million people who were senselessly murdered, and the many more who survived with painful physical and psychological scars they carry to this day.
This terrible tragedy occurred 19 years ago, but its effects are still being felt today by its survivors. The ramifications are still evident in the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa.”
“NEVER AGAIN, I say! For this to become a reality, we must resolutely attack the root causes of the genocide, namely hatred, intolerance, racism, fundamentalism and tyranny, as well as poverty and exclusion. I call on all States, therefore, to remain mobilized and to strengthen cooperation so as to meet the challenges and eradicate these scourges that can serve as weapons of mass destruction.”
The afternoon program ended after a movie on the genocide was played and the attendees had the opportunity to make comments and ask questions.
The memorial march organized by IBUKA started at 7pm. at the “Place Royale” where around a hundred of people were gathered and walked together to the “Palais de Justice”, where a last memorial speech was held.
The mourning night itself was opened by a speech of IBUKA President Eric Didier Rutayisire and followed by a testimony of a survivor of the Genocide against the Tutsi. After exchanging solidarity messages, the night ended with songs, prayers and poems for all victims.
Why the 6th and not the 7th?
At first it seems as the division finds its roots in a terminological inexactitude.
If Matata’s group chose the 6th it’s because the Government of Rwanda officialized the label “Genocide against the Tutsi” instead of “Rwanda Genocide”. Matata explains that this would exclude Hutu other non-Tutsi victims from the official annual commemoration that now only talks about the Tutsi casualties, even though there were obviously thousands of non-Tutsi victims.
‘’The 7th of April is not a date chosen by the Tutsi, it is a date that has been imposed by the President. Kagame could not choose April 6th, because on April 6th he is accused of the crime committed against the head of states Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira. April 6th scares Kagame. There is no neutral date, one has got to choose the right date. The date on which the chaos was created must be chosen, that is to say on April 6th.’’ Matata on Jambonews
So instead, they seeking justice in organising their own marches of peace and commemoration services, one being notably the 6th and not the 7th of April, because to them, April 6 is the day that marked the beginning of the mass slaughters as then Rwandan President Habyarimana and Burundian President Ntaryamira were killed in the shooting down of their plane.
Obviously the problem is that the one commemorating on the 6th think that the current regime of President Kagame tries to cover the real implicity of those responsible by continuing to advocate that the shooting down of the presidential plane on April 6th, 1994 which carried the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, did not have any relation with the tragedy which unfolded immediately.
Comments like the one of the Rwandan Ambassador, in The Netherlands, Immaculée Uwanyiligira at a commemoration conference saying that the non-Tutsi victims were not caused by the Genocide, but that they were caused due cross fighting of the Rwandan Armed Forces (RAF) and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), only subsists the irritation and division.
…that the assassination of Habyarimana’s and Ntaryamira’s airplane was a catalyst for the Genocide 1994, but curiously the responsibility is still a matter of contention, with both Hutu extremists and the Rwandan Patriotic Front under suspicion.
…that the Genocide 1994 was the apex of a three year Civil war between the Rwandan Patriotic Front and the national Government, that started 1990.
…that the Genocide was prepared and organized by the mainly Hutu-led government of Habyarimana, the local military and the Akazu at that time, with strong implicitly of France and other countries as a reaction to the Habyarimana’s signature of the Arusha Agreements in Tanzania 1993, that intended a sharing of power between the rebels and the Rwandan government. Hutu racial nationalists felt doubled by their President, as they continued to be strongly opposed to sharing power with the former insurgency and to the Agreement, which called for them to lose control of the army and the government without compensation.
…that the Genocide propaganda was supported by state controlled mass media which triggered daily the killings of Tutsis or any kind of “traitors” and “Tutsi-collaborators”. A few days before the assasination of the presidential airplane, warning messages were diffused on the national radio, claiming that something will happen in Kigali around the 7. or 8. of April!
Can we agree to disagree and at least commemorate together?
If the Rwandan government chose the label « The Genocide against the Tutsi » so it’s to accentuate that, as cruel, as it sounds Tutsi were the main target group of this Genocide. And even if there might be various types of victimhood during the Genocide, there was a clear aim there, and this was to have a pure Hutu nation. That is important and significant to remember, as it is brutal and hateful!
Were all Rwandan, Tutsi, Hutu or Twa aware of this atrocious idea of the national government? Of course not! In 1994 Rwanda’s population was estimated to about a number of 10’950 000 and a great bunch of them were totally indifferent towards their ethnical origins, as all they felt and needed to know is that they are Rwandan.
As the human history shows, a war hits the ones, who know the less. But still, we (as the Rwandan people) are all responsable for what happened and by claiming ignorance towards what was going on we just make it worse.
500’000-1’000’000 people Tustsi, Hutus + Twas, 20% of the nation, were killed. A Genocide led by a few hundred politicians, nationalists and extremists, witnessed and ignored by the UN and other Nations.
Some think President’s Kagame regime is going the right way now, as Rwanda strives for self reliance and independence. Some think that we haven’t learned anything and Rwanda’s current government is a threat to justice.
Whoever is right, at least we had 19 years of peace…
Maybe we should just agree to disagree.
Mr. Matata, himself said:
“With all the elements that we now have, can we agree on one date to commemorate all our dead together?”
The New Times, 11.04.2013
Rwanda: UN Admits Failure in 1994 Genocide, Pledges Support
The United Nations has pledged to unreservedly support Rwanda’s road towards development, self-reliance, and peace after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, despite the organisation’s poor response during the Genocide...read all