13 March 2019

Rwanda: Canadian Lawmakers Call on Speaker Mukabalisa

Countries of the world should draw inspiration from how Rwanda has invested efforts in dealing with the aftermath of the Genocide to restore peace, reconciliation and harmony.

This was said by the Co-Chair of Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association (CAPA), MP Robert Oliphant as he led a delegation of Canadian legislators to a meeting with Speaker of Parliament Donatille Mukabalisa, yesterday.

Seven members of the Canadian two houses called on Mukabalisa as part of their visit to the country ahead of the 25th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, which begins early next month.

"We are here to look at the reconciliation which has been profound. And the cooperation, and the truth telling that has happened, and accountability that has happened," he said.

"And, the world learns lessons from the way you forged the country out of that very difficult time. And now you are leaders in peacekeeping, and leaders in genocide prevention, and leaders in harmony among different groups of people," he observed.

The purpose of the visit,Oliphant added, is to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries and their respective parliaments.

Speaking about their impression about Rwanda, he said: "[In Rwanda] we observed two things: the tragedy of the Genocide, which Canada recognised very early - and we learned a lot about it from General Roméo Dallaire who appealed to the UN to have more support - and was let down," he said.

General Dallaire, a Canadian, was the Force Commander of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda, which was deployed in Rwanda when the Genocide against the Tutsi broke out.

"But also, recognise reconciliation that has gone on, and the teaching that Rwanda has done to the world about genocide," Oliphant added.

He pointed out that they commemorate "the huge loss of life" and the tragedy that took place in Rwanda 25 years ago.

However, he said, some parts of the world have not learnt enough from crimes against humanity saying that "even though we say Never Again, it continually happens," citing violence against Rohingya people of Myanmar, a country in Southeast Asia.

MP Oliphant said that they will, with Rwanda and Canadian friends, hold the 25th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, an event which will take place in different parts of Canada citing Montreal, and Toronto.

He explained that they hold such commemoration events in Canada every year.

Speaker Donatille Mukabalisa said that having other countries commemorate crimes against humanity such as the Genocide against the Tutsi is significant.

However, she said, this should go in tandem with bringing to book those who committed the Genocide and found safe haven in different countries saying they should be brought to account.

"It is a responsibility of the entire world; be it in pursuing the crimes that were committed and the genocide fugitives, and for countries to continue assessing their laws and consider what can be done so that legal action is taken against those who deny and minimise the Genocide," she said.

During their stay in the country, the Canadian lawmakers have different activities lined up including visiting memorials of the Genocide and campaign against the Genocide.

They will also call on different institutions to be briefed on the country's journey in terms of economic development, dealing with the aftermath of the Genocide, state of unity and reconciliation, promoting gender equality among others.

The delegation will be here through Saturday.

It's the second of such visit by the Canadian legislators from both Chambers of Parliament.

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