The Rwandan Diaspora living in London launched the 20th genocide commemoration ‘Kwibuka20’ and the lighting of the Remembrance Flame at Malborough House, home of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The event brought together over 100 people, including members of the Diplomatic corps, Members of the UK Parliament, the Rwandan Diaspora and a cross-section of civil society organisations attended the event.
The event which was jointly organized by the Rwanda High Commission and the Commonwealth Secretariat took place on January 7, 2014.
Presiding over the event Rwanda’s High Commissioner to UK, His Excellency Williams Nkuruziza lauded the courage and fortitude of survivors, he called for support to their journey of healing.
“We remember to honor those who perished in the genocide; to comfort those who survived and to share the narrative of our tragedy with the world,” Nkurunziza explained.
“Rwandans cannot exorcise the ghosts haunting survivors through acts of remembrance. But we can clothe the survivors in our compassion and assure them that in times of emotional vulnerability, they have us to lean on,” he said.
He observed that Rwandans may not change their past, but we can be their anchors as they craft new pathways to a better future.
Nkurunziza invited the world to join Rwanda in remembering the Kwibuka20.
“As we remember, we also invite the rest of the world to pause and share in this act of remembrance in the hope that our horrors are not visited on others around the world, certainly not on our watch and not through our collective inaction or indifference,” he reiterated
“This is our call to the global community to stand together against genocide, everywhere,” he said.
The High Commissioner also shared details of Rwanda’s journey of reconciliation; reconstruction, development, noting that while much has been accomplished, opportunity still exists for Rwandans to unite in building a better future.
“Where we are and where we aim to be is a long way from the basket case Rwanda became in 1994. Good leadership and the hard work of ordinary people have delivered opportunity out of the improbable, “he stated.
As we stand on the threshold of the third decade after the genocide against the Tutsi, we do so with a strong sense of optimism rooted in our abiding faith in our resilience; in our commitment to reconciliation; and in the simple, but unimpeachable truth that: we are all her children and together we can build enduring peace and shared prosperity,” he said.
The Secretary General of the Commonwealth, His Excellency Kamlesh Sharma, also lauded Rwanda’s journey since the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi; describing it as “an inspiring story of reconciliation and nation building.”
Sharma said the images of the genocide were grim and continue to haunt people to this day.
“The images of what took place in Rwanda remain etched on our consciousnesses and our consciences. The memories continue to stir deep emotion within us – of revulsion, sorrow, grief and shame,” he said.
He stated that for one to understand this legacy in whatever measure, and to begin to overcome it people should know that serious efforts have been made to recall and acknowledge the gravity of the offences and the gross violations that occurred.
He also focused attention on reconciliation as a mechanism for sustainable peace in the commonwealth and commended the Government of Rwanda for building a harmonious society, with emphasis on peace, unity and reconciliation.
Other participants included Hon. Lord Jack McConnel, MP Parliament and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes Region as well as the Chief Executive Officer of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.
In his remarks, Lord McConnel noted that in spite of the horrors of the past, Rwanda’s post-genocide of reconstruction and development “inspires optimism”.
Rwanda’s leadership and people have achieved so much in the last 20 years, he said, adding that while there remains a lot of work to be done to secure a more democratic and prosperous future; he had “trust in the strong determination of the people of Rwanda.”
The somber ceremony kicked off with a prayer by Reverend William Scott, Sub-Dean of Her Majesty’s Chapels Royal followed by screening of the ‘Kwibuka documentary’ highlighting the genesis of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and the theme for the 20th anniversary: “Remember, Unite and Renew”.
Other launch events were held by members of the Rwandan community in other parts of the UK
Two powerful testimonies by survivors were read out highlighting the brutality of the interahamwe in implementing the 1994 Genocide and their unbelievable survivor.
At the end of the ceremony a flame was lit set to travel to several parts in UK ending up in Burmingham on 12th April 2014, where Rwandans and friends of Rwanda in this country will meet to mark the start of the mourning period marking the 20th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi.