Rwanda seeks to punish those involved in genocide denial


Rwandans paying their respects at one of the Genocide memorial sites in the country.

KIGALI-Those involved in the denial of the 1994 Genocide could face punitive action as the country prepares for the 21st Genocide Commemoration Week on April 7, 2015.

On April 1 the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide held a workshop on Genocide Prevention in the Northern Corridor member countries, with the view of enhancing regional collaborative support to punish those involved in genocide denial.

This year’s theme will focus on genocide denial and pre-empting the idea of a double genocide and, ahead of the main commemoration event which also entails 100 days of mourning in remembrance of at least one million Rwandans killed during the 1994 genocide.

There are some ongoing activities that include a workshop hosted by the City of Kigali aimed at developing a comprehensive resilience plan, while student survivors of the genocide have also embarked on building homes for survivors and cleaning up genocide memorials countrywide.

Last year over 3,000 cases of trauma were recorded during the commemoration events, a situation that has prompted the Ministry of Health to announce that its staff and volunteers will be at hand to offer psychological support to all trauma victims.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Sports and Culture has said that it will focus on sensitizing the community to participate in the fight against Genocide denial, the minister, Julienne Uwacu has said.

Ms Uwacu says Genocide denial has become rampant both in and outside the country, in the process negatively impacting on efforts aimed at unity and reconciliation.


Genocide Survivors remembering loved ones lost in the Genocide

Since 1994 Rwanda has been struggling with Genocide ideology and fighting the spread of the idea that there was a double Genocide (one against Tutsis and the other against Hutus), in the country, an aspect that compelled the country to pass a law on Genocide denial.

Although there is some moderate Hutus who perished in the Genocide, the number is quite insignificant compared to the number of Tutsis who were massacred.

Dr Andrew Wallis, a seasoned British freelance journalist and researcher, says that there are signs that genocide denial is on the rise, with incidences appearing in mainstream media, but it’s difficult to quantify the extent of Genocide denial.
According to the Chairperson of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Unity, Human Rights and fight against Genocide, François Byabarumwanzi, one way of dealing with denial is continuous sensitization “since the deniers seem to have an organized way of operating”.

Some local journalists and politicians have been imprisoned for propagating the Genocide ideology, The United Nations (UN) last year officially declared the 1994 mayhem in Rwanda Genocide against the Tutsi.

Even this many years after the bloodshed, the UN, US and other Western powers are still struggling with the fact that they never used their resources and influence to prevent the Rwandan Genocide.

Rwandans in the diaspora will also observe the 21st commemoration of the Genocide, events are planned from Portland, Maine to Dallas, Texas in the United States. Rwandans in Canada and the UK are planning commemorative events as well.