Rwanda: Six U.S. States Commemorate 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi

Rwandan communities and friends of Rwanda residing in the US states of California, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado and Michigan commemorated the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, during the past weekend and Monday, May 20.

The events demonstrated a united commitment and solidarity in the fight against genocide ideology, a statement from the Rwandan embassy in Washington noted. In California, as noted, the atmosphere was one of reflection and solidarity as California State University hosted the 30th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda.

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The commemoration in California, jointly organized by the university, the Rwandan community, and Friends of Rwanda Association, underscored the significance of education and remembrance in preventing future atrocities.

The Ambassador of Rwanda to the United States, Mathilde Mukantabana, highlighted how initiatives such as those undertaken by California State University play a crucial role in educating about history.

"This university is one of the largest in America. They are actively involved in the prevention of the genocide and in addition to this, it has a specific focus on genocide studies, offering dedicated courses on the subject," she said.

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The Senior Advisor to the President of California State University, Mark Wheeler, emphasized that higher education institutions should strive to prevent genocide, noting that California State University has begun teaching courses related to genocide.

Preventing genocide denial is everyone's responsibility, he said.

"These campaigns of disinformation are common and have to be thwarted by resolute commitment of the truth and ongoing commitment of those of us who know; to speak very forcefully, and testify against the [genocide] deniers. In this kind of falsehood lies the seed of the next genocide. So, it has to be forcefully fought against," Wheeler said.

In the Pacific Northwest, the Rwandan communities of Washington and Oregon gathered in Bellevue to honor the memory of the genocide victims. Joined by Bellevue city officials and friends of Rwanda, attendees reaffirmed their commitment to combating genocide ideology.

Arthur Asiimwe, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Rwanda in the US, reminded participants of the phases of genocide, from planning to execution, and urged them to use all available means to stand up against the current phase of genocide denial.

The Governor of Oregon, Tina Kotek, stated that the commemoration serves as a solemn reminder to reflect on the lessons learned and to focus on building a better future.

"It is our collective responsibility to prevent such atrocities. We must reject prejudice and hatred, and stand firmly against any act of genocide. The First Lady and I stand united with the Rwandan people in the call for peace, tolerance, and global human rights. As Governor of Oregon, I remain committed to standing up against hate in all its forms," he said.

In Utah, the commemoration was marked with particular emphasis on empowering youth to confront genocide denial and revisionism. Charles Kabano, the President of the Rwandan Community in Utah, urged all participants to combat genocide denial to prevent such atrocities from occurring again anywhere in the world.

Franz Kolb, the Director of International Trade and Diplomacy in Utah, who represented the Governor of Utah, Spencer Cox, appreciated the resilience of Rwandans and Genocide survivors in particular.

Yannick Tona, the Second Counselor in charge of Political Affairs at the Embassy of Rwanda in Washington D.C, added: "It is our solemn duty to remember the victims, to honor their resilience, and to ensure that their stories are forever etched into our collective consciousness."

In Colorado, the message of unity and peace echoed throughout the commemoration, with a strong emphasis on the role of the younger generation in preserving the memory of the genocide and preventing its recurrence.

In Michigan, the Rwandan community organized its first commemoration. Kentwood city Mayor, Stephen Kepley, expressed admiration for the genocide survivors' efforts to forgive the perpetrators.

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