Rwanda: CNLG Releases Genocide Commemoration Themes

Photo: New Times
Family and friends lay wreaths on the graves of victims of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi at a commemoration event ( file photo)

Discussions at the grassroots level during the forthcoming Genocide commemoration week will focus on educating members of the public on the difference between the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and earlier atrocities committed in Rwanda, the head of the commission charged with fighting genocide in the country has said.

Jean-Damascène Bizimana, the executive-secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), said Rwandans will also get to discuss how the Genocide was implemented and evidence to prove its execution, and the unique strategies that Rwanda adopted in bid to overcome Genocide consequences.

Starting April 7, Rwandans will observe a week of commemoration of the Genocide, which claimed at least one million lives in three months.

Events to mark the 24th commemoration will be held at the local level with citizens converging at sites in their communities to pay homage to the victims, examine the circumstances that led to the killings, and reflect on the country's healing and reconstruction process.

"The idea is for people to understand the uniqueness of the Genocide against the Tutsi so as to avoid situations where people will say that they didn't fully appreciate the nature and scale of the Genocide when they find themselves in trouble with law for getting involved in acts that promote genocide ideology or undermine the Genocide," Bizimana said in an exclusive interview with The New Times on Friday.

The second topic will include examining the evidence of the Genocide against the Tutsi with speakers explaining the basis upon which what happened in Rwanda in 1994 was later qualified by the international community as a genocide.

"This is an important topic because some people, especially the youth tend to read information on the internet being promoted and circulated by Genocide deniers, those who claim that the Genocide against the Tutsi did not happen. We want Rwandans and foreigners alike to understand well the facts around the Genocide and why it is called genocide in the first place," he said.

The third topic will cover the measures that the Government and people of Rwanda took to deal with Genocide consequences, we will be looking at Rwandans' efforts to deliver justice after the Genocide, how Genocide survivors were helped to rebuild their lives, and how the country was able to develop itself after the Genocide, the anti-genocide watchdog chief said.

Bizimana said that CNLG has since deployed more than 16,000 volunteers across the country to help lead discussions in their respective communities during the commemoration period, which will start on Saturday, April 7 through Friday, April 13.

Rwandans across the country will be expected to attend commemorative events in their neighbourhoods every afternoon for six days and in the morning of April 7, the last day of the official mourning period.

CNLG's guidelines also indicate that commemoration activities should be kept short, at a maximum of three hours, to keep fatigue at bay.

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