Rwanda: Dutch Military Officers Pay Tribute to Belgian Peacekeepers Killed in Rwanda

18 February 2020

A delegation of 20 Dutch military attachés to different African countries has paid tribute to the 10 Belgian peacekeepers that were killed at the onset of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

This happened on Monday at Camp Kigali Memorial, where a monument has been set up in honour of the Belgian blue berets.

The visit is part of the 'Annual Regional Africa Conference for Netherlands Defence Attachés', that started in Kigali on Monday.

According to the Dutch ambassador to Rwanda, Matthijs Wolters, the visit was important for them because of the existing political and military ties between The Netherlands and Belgium.

"We are here to pay respects to the Rwandan population, in view of the events in 1994, as well as our military colleagues from Belgium. The Netherlands and Belgium have a strong relationship, in EU, but also bilaterally through cooperation of the armed forces of both countries," Matthijs said.

He further explained what the world would learn from the visit.

"This event that happened in Rwanda should never happen again. We can't stop asking ourselves why it happened, and how could it have been prevented? Those are questions that were relevant in those days, but also in the future."

Brig. Gen. Jan Blacquière, the Chief of International Military Cooperation at the Ministry of Defense in the Netherlands, urged for peaceful co-existence across the world.

"Things like this should never happen again. We, as military people, should realise that in a world where there is a lot of people together, the message is living in peace with each other. We are there to try and keep a safe and secure environment."

"My message would be 'please do not let us act, because when military has to act, then maybe it is too late. So, it is better to solve problems the diplomatic way without fighting."

He also explained that Rwanda is hosting the conference because it "could be seen as a country of example on prosperity, and the development of the people."

About the peacekeepers

The ten Belgian peacekeepers who were killed were part of the entourage that guarded former Prime Minister Agathe Uwiringiyimana, who was opposed to the murderous regime of the time.

Uwiringiyimana and the Belgian peacekeepers were brutally killed on April 7, the first day of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

The Belgian peacekeepers were part of the Second Battalion of Flawinne of the Belgian Army, and they were deployed to Rwanda in 1993 as part of United Nations Assistance Mission to Rwanda (UNAMIR).

The delegates will also visit Kigali Genocide Memorial in honour of the over one million victims of the Genocide.

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