By Edwin Ashimwe
Judence Kayitesi, a Genocide survivor residing in Germany has called on the German government to criminalize the denial of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, as part of the efforts to strengthen the battle against Genocide ideology.
Kayitesi, who has resided in the European country for the past 11 years, was speaking during an online roundtable dubbed ‘Germany and the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, alongside various other researchers.
In her remarks, she said, “I wish to start with making some clarification, what happened in Rwanda is not 1994 Rwandan Genocide, it is not Rwanda Tragedy and it is also not Genocide in Rwanda.”
“It is not ethnic conflict, it is not a civil war,” but rather, Kayitesi said, “What happened is the Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda.”
According to her, the Genocide in which over a million lives were lost, showed the failure of United Nations as well as the International Community at large.
“After the Holocaust, the world through the 1948 Genocide Convention vowed to prevent, fight and punish the crime of genocide in order words to make Never Again a reality.
Unfortunately, however, “The UN and Western countries were informed especially between 1990 and 1994 about preparation of Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda by Hutu extremist regime and during those years, there were intensification of systematic killings of Tutsi across the country, training militia groups, distribution of arms and using media to stoke ethnic divisionism.”
Kayitesi decried that much as the UN and other western countries agitated for a cease-fire and peace agreement between RPF-Inkotanyi and Rwandan government at the time, and deployment of UN Peacekeeping Mission in Rwanda from end of 1993, they ignored the factual information of the plan of genocide against Tutsi.
“Germany like other countries has to recommit their responsibility of preventing and fighting genocide with all possible means,” she said.
In Europe so far, France and Belgium have passed legislations that criminalise denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Kayitesi argued that the German government, as ruled by the UN General Assembly on April 7, should dedicate April 7 as the International Day of Reflection on Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda.
She thinks that some activities including preparing the events of commemoration of Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda annually at different levels through public and academic institutions are great ingredients.
“We believe that commemoration and keeping the memory of Genocide against Tutsi is way of prevention of Genocide and this effectively raises awareness.”
Meanwhile, she commended Germany’s efforts for giving justice to survivors following the arrest of Onesphore Rwabukombe, a notorious genocidaire who played a key role in the massacres that took place at the Kiziguro Parish in Eastern Province.
During genocide, Rwabukombe was the mayor of Muvumba commune in the north of Rwanda.
He was arrested near Frankfurt am Main and placed in pre-trail custody. On February 18, 2014 Rwabukombe was convicted to 14 years in prison for aiding and abetting genocide.
On appeal, the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt rejected his appeal and instead sentenced him to life imprisonment on December 29, 2015.
While urging her residential government to criminalize Genocide denial, Kayitesi highlighted that after committing genocide against Tutsi, many genocidaires fled in Western countries and hiding there.
Some of them, she said, were arrested and judged but others are still living freely.
“With their sympathizers they deny genocide against Tutsi by masquerading as political opponents, human rights activists and humanitarians etc. They often use social media and given platforms in different institutions such universities and media.”
“Denial of genocide is not only the last stage of Genocide but also the continuity of genocide itself. Those who deny genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda do it by saying they have freedom of speech. Denial of genocide is not freedom of speech; it is crime against humanity.”
Kayitesi is the author of “A Broken Life”, a book in which she seeks to expose Genocide deniers.
Culled from New Times.