Rwanda: New Report Highlights Progress in Reconciliation

Efforts to address the dissemination of genocide ideology, divisive politics as well as ethnic-based stereotypes bore fruits in the last four years.

These details are contained in the Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer 2020 due to be presented to the Senate on April 21.

The report by the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) assess the status of reconciliation in the country running from 2016 to 2020.

It breaks down efforts made by the government, development partners, civil society, media, as well as private businesses and their role in the success story of unity and reconciliation among Rwandans since 1994.

The assessment was conducted in all 416 sectors of the country and involved 12,600 households.

The highlights

"The assessment sought to find out whether there were Rwandans who still sow genocide ideology and divisive politics and found that it has gone down moving from 31.5 per cent in 2010 to 25.8 per cent in 2015, and to 8.6 per cent in 2020," it says.

The achievement is attributed to efforts to discourage the culture of impunity and the enactment of laws to punish genocide ideology and other related crimes.

Another key factor is the number of people who view themselves as Rwandans instead of using ethnic lenses who increased from 95.6 per cent in 2015 to 98.2 per cent in 2020, meaning that those who did not agree with that statement were only 1.8 per cent.

The concerns

It is indicated that genocide denial and revisionism are the two main concerns raised by Rwandans having been repeated about 894 times (7.10 per cent) by respondents.

The report says that the respondent also raised concerns over issues related to hate speech, especially during the commemoration period, deliberate refusal or provision of misleading information about the whereabouts of the remains of the genocide victims, and threats of violence against the country.

Stakeholders react

The Executive Director of Never Again Rwanda, Dr Joseph Ryarasa Nkurunziza, whose organisation participated in NURC's research said, "This report is an assessment of whether work like ours has an impact and how we can deal with the challenges that may still be arising in the process. We are looking forward to the report."

Never Again Rwanda is a peacebuilding and social justice non-governmental organization that was founded in 2002, in response to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Jean Léonard Sekanyange, the chairperson of CLADHO, an umbrella body of human rights associations in Rwanda, told The New Times that the reconciliation barometer is instrumental in paving the way for organisations like his on where to invest its resources.

"The detailed assessment will tell us where the weaknesses are so that we focus on those but also, we will know the strengths so that we strengthen them too. This report is timely," he said.

This is the third unity and reconciliation barometer to be published on Rwanda.

In 2010, the NURC undertook a national survey that formed the basis of the first national reconciliation barometer.

The second edition of the national reconciliation barometer was presented in 2015 and it highlighted the gains but also the challenges to reconciliation that needed special attention.

At the time, the factors that hindered reconciliation as indicated in that report included ethnic-based stereotypes at 27.9 per cent, lingering genocide ideology at 25.8 per cent and what it called 'wounds' resulting from past divisions and genocide that had not fully healed at 4.6 per cent.

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