Rwandans commemorate the holocaust



Rwanda has made a renewed call on the fight against genocide ideology with emphasis on putting in place laws that punish genocide denial and genocide centered activities as way of preventing a repeate another genocide anywhere in world.

The call was made by the Rwanda National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) as part of the International Commemoration of the Holocaust, which claimed over six million Jews in Germany 70 years ago.

The somber event was held at Kigali genocide memorial site and several envoys to Rwanda led by the German and Israel ambassadors laid wreaths at the graves of thousands of victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The Holocaust Commemoration takes on a very special meaning in Rwanda given the tiny Central African nation lost nearly a million people in the 1994 genocide against Tutsi. Rwanda has since recovered from the mayhem but it still struggles with effects of the genocide.

The Executive Secretary of CNLG, Jean Damascene Bizimana said “if all of us put in more efforts, genocide denial and its activities can be stopped. Rwanda is calling for more efforts to prosecute the genocide suspects and we are thankful for the US and Germany who have done this” Dr. Bizimana said.

Pointing to the way Germans and Israelis have joined in the remembrance of the victims, the Germany envoy to Rwanda, Ambassador Peter fahrenholtz said that the commemoration is a strong signal that reconciliation is possible even after horrible crimes, hatred and enmity between people.

Israel envoy to Rwanda, Ambassador Belaynesh Zevadia appealed to the international community to fight genocide ideology anywhere and everywhere around the world.

“We want to stress the need to say never again, and this is a very important message we want to make clear on this day.” Zevadia said.

Dr. Lea Prais, Director of projects at the International Institute for Holocaust Research also presented a lecture on “The Blurred Stories. The Beginning of the Final Solution.”

The United Nations Representative to Rwanda Lamin Manneh reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to fight genocide ideology and thanked Rwanda for being at the center of such efforts.

“Denying historical facts, especially on such an important subject as the Holocaust, is just not acceptable. Nor is it acceptable to call for the elimination of any State or people. I would like to see this fundamental principle respected both in rhetoric and in practice by all the members of the international community”, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement.

Rejecting any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, the General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/60/7) by consensus condemning “without reserve” all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, whenever they occur.

The UN is currently holding several exhibitions as part of its outreach programme on the “Holocaust and the United Nations”, as well as institute measures to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, in order to help prevent future acts of genocide.

One of them is the one hundred artworks created by Jewish artists during the Holocaust on exhibition in Berlin — the first time the collection from the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem has been displayed outside Israel.

The exhibition opening at the German Historical Museum Monday featured works by Jewish artists in hiding, in concentration and labor camps, and in ghettos. Of the 50 artists highlighted, 25 were murdered by the Nazis.