Rwanda, with other few places to have witnessed Genocide, will perpetually continue to suffer from Genocide’s consequences; including a tendency to deny or defy it-a process commonly known as Genocide denial. It’s been only 25 years since the crime of all crimes was committed in Rwanda and despite a remarkable reverse towards development, the country is still facing Genocide’s brutal effects afresh.
Genocide is a huge crime that none can wish to be branded of. Even international organizations, countries and prominent figures struggle to accept it, or slacken its magnitude, in a bid to avoid shame, loss and other unpredictable outcomes that may arise in connection with their failure to react against it.
For instance, United Nations (UN) had categorized killings of 1994 in Rwanda as Genocide in October of the same year but it took almost 20 years to accept its right terminology, ‘1994 Genocide Against Tutsis’, after years of aggressive persuasion from government of Rwanda. Even till now, there are stillsome differences regarding the number of victims-UN affirmed that 800,000 people were killed while the government of Rwanda, after conducting census that recorded names of the victims, concluded that 1,074,056 were killed.
Given how countries and organizations are reluctant to apologize for their role in Genocide and how some chose to cut off official ties with Kigali, it reflects the magnitude of this crime.
Individually, only the brave can dare to admit and apologize for their roles in Genocide. Only 6000 in 27,591 Genocide convicts have come out to ask for forgiveness and reconciled with the survivors.
It is very hard to properly quantify the extent of Genocide denial worldwide but considering the amount of efforts invested by government of Rwanda in tackling genocide ideology and its denial, it is fair to say that the problem is worst abroad compared to Rwanda.
The main reason is that most perpetrators who escaped justice are based in foreign countries, some of which do not criminalize Genocide Against Tutsi as a crime, and so they can easily spread baseless facts about Genocide Against Tutsiin defense of their own guilt. They often use different platforms like books, lectures, documents and most notably, social media in the form of ‘Freedom of Speech’. They invest all their knowledge to confuse the world about Genocide and so their role can’t be well studied.
Nevertheless, Genocide denial isn’t something to joke with, especially to a country which has directly devoured such bitter experience like Rwanda. It poses serious threats to national security because it halts justice process against perpetrators and cease any possibility for reconciliation between perpetrators and survivors as there is no fundamental base of understanding to be used in order to conduct discussions or reconcile.
Genocide denial also continue to inflict more misery to an already burdened community, which weakens the survivors’ intention to participate in reconciliation process or to give their needed pardons.
Moreover, Genocide denial spoils the reality of history which is supposed to teach future generations. And so, the descents of current generation will receive poisonous history which will not teach them any real lesson.
All these reasons, and more others, in worst cases; without earnest measures to manage such sensitive situations, can result in vengeance, perhaps in form of genocide, and so the country can stay in rounds of killings for generations and generations.
That’s why for Rwanda, it is unbearable to let genocide denial flourish. The country has vowed to use all its resources in order to erase any attempt dedicated to spread genocide denial. Among the resources are its citizens, additional to institutions like National Commission to Fight Against Genocide (CNLG) and programs like NdiUmunyarwanda, among other measures, all in place to distract Genocide ideology and its denial.
Due to the highest manifestation of Genocide denial in foreign countries, Rwandan diaspora is expected to play a considerable role in this fight. Diaspora is in exactly the same places as Genocide Against Tutsi deniers; whether perpetrators, academicians, politicians or others, and so they are most positioned to confront their ideas in an accurate way than Rwandans residing in the country.Let’s look some of their efforts invanquishing such danger of Genocide ideology and denial.
High Attendance in Commemoration events
During the past week of Commemoration of more than one million victims of 1994 Genocide Against Tutsi, Rwandans in diaspora, and their friends, have gathered to pay their tributes to the victims of Genocide Against Tutsi. From United States to Australia and China, Rwandans attended these activities in great numbers. The ceremonies were mainly organized by Rwandan embassies and commissions and were designed to commemorate and share history of what happened in Rwanda.
Such high attendance is a special attribute towards the fight against Genocide denial because it keeps the attendees with important information that can be used in tackling Genocide denial. Mostly, the sessions include testimonies of survivors who provide vivid views of what Genocide in Rwanda was like. Also, there are lectures, speeches and documents that equip audiences with special evidences about 1994 Genocide Against Tutsi. All this data includes facts and figures to further prove that there was indeed a Genocide Against Tutsis in Rwanda.
The knowledge will protect Rwandans and their friends to fall in traps of deniers because they will have learnt the real truth that happened in Genocide Against Tutsi. Instead, the knowledge will enable Rwandans to confront deniers by providing evidences and facts against their claims.
All 1994 Genocide Against Tutsi deniers base their opinions on a single term; facts. They mostly declare to have some staggering facts that can lead to truth no one has ever said. If given opportunity, they provide baseless insights and sometimes praised as the lovers of truth, all of which tend to ignore Rwanda’s remarkable journey towards reconciliation. Deniers use popular platforms that helps them to reach to wider audiences, among them are books, speeches, documents and social media.
Rwandan diaspora acknowledges those tricks and has gradually reacted to silence deniers. They are using different techniques to provide accurate information to the wider world. For instance, Mr. Edouard Kayihura, member of diaspora, published “Inside Hotel Rwanda: The Surprising True Story…and Why It Matters Today”. The book intends to reveal a true story behind what is proclaimed to have happened in the infamous Hotel Rwanda story.
Kayihura stressed the need to stand up against growing tendency of changing Rwandan history. “We are facing a growing number of people with indifference and lack of empathy who are trying to rewrite our history. Because of them, facts are changed, abbreviated, and conflated, like in the film ‘Hotel Rwanda’ or to an even more troubling degree, the BBC documentary, ‘Rwanda’s Untold Story’.
Kayihura argued his countrymen and women in diaspora, to use commemoration period as a platform to listen to testimonies of the survivors in order to understand what happened in Rwanda.
Speaker of Chamber of Deputies Right Hon. DonatilleMukabarisa, indicated that testimonies can be a good fact to contract Genocide deniers, and so she demanded them to be written.
“We shouldn’t only give testimonies in words since any time they can be forgotten. Instead, we must write all the truth we know about the history of our country especially about 1994 Genocide Against Tutsi which is also the main tool to fight against genocide denial.”
Debating with deniers on live scenes
Diaspora members have used this technic of directly challenging deniers in their live discussions. Mostly, the members on denying side have little or no information regarding the genocide and so they swallow everything without any significant analysis. The technic however, brings facts, figures and other needed information to oppose false statements from deniers and so their audience can find truth and make their own comparison.
The strategy has worked well according to former chairperson of the Rwandan Diaspora in Belgium, PulcherieNyinawase.
“We identify their forums and we counter them with facts. We openly engage and challenge them right before their audience.” She said, adding, “This strategy works.”
Profiting from social media
Social media is one of highly used platform to spread all kinds of stories. Genocide deniers have used it to spread their propagandas but luckily, Rwandans inside and outside the countries have countered their claims in mass.
According to Jean-Pierre Dusingizemungu, president of Ibuka, the umbrella of Genocide survivors, “Rwandans should train themselves to be assertive regarding what they read on the internet and analyze of online reports regarding the genocide are accurate.”
Rwandans in diaspora have also tied to use legal ways to squeeze deniers’ activities. They have written letters asking to stop planned events by deniers, which again highlights their commitments. The most recent example took place in Australia, Rwandans wrote to Australian parliament to cancel event that was supposed to take place in its hall and conducted by a group of renowned genocide deniers.
The same attempts to vanquish deniers-planned-events have been done in other places like Belgium.
Overall, Rwandan diaspora is referred as the sixth province of Rwanda. It has grown in the past few years to the extend it sprung a forum, Rwanda Diaspora Global Network (RDGN). Such network improved the organization’s activities both in tackling Genocide denial and other important aspects of the country.
The community contained about 100,000 people scattered in 60 countries and embodied into 70 organizations. This is a powerful force that a country can rely on not in suppressing genocide denial, but also in helping the country to develop. For instance, Rwanda received $1.13 billion in remittance from diaspora between 2013 and 2018.
However, despite its brave achievements, Rwandan diaspora needs to increase its efforts in order to sustain their invariable role in the overall development of this country.
The Express News