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Rwandans in Diaspora mark Genocide anniversary

Diginitaries chat after the official opening of the 2015 Genocide commemoration at Kigali memorial centre yesterday.(Timothy Kisambira)

Diginitaries chat after the official opening of the 2015 Genocide commemoration at Kigali memorial centre yesterday.(Timothy Kisambira)

Rwandans from across the world, yesterday, joined compatriots back home in activities to commemorate the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The parallel events were all held under the auspices of this year’s theme; “Remember, unite, renew” with focus on Genocide denial and revisionism, and honouring those who rescued people during the Genocide.

Some of the cities that hosted commemoration events include; London, Moscow, New Delhi, Dakar, Brussels, Addis Ababa, the Netherlands, Kampala, Arusha and Paris.

In London, United Kingdom, the Rwandan community association held a solemn walk to the BBC headquarters, as a sign of standing against Genocide denial.

The British public broadcaster last year aired a controversial documentary, ‘Rwanda’s Untold Story’ which has been widely criticised for revising the Genocide.

Mourners presented a protest letter addressed to the Director General of BBC, Tony Hall, challenging the kind of journalism that brutalises, traumatises and belittles Genocide survivors.

“Today we have solemnly decided to lead this silent walk to remind the broadcasting corporation that survivors, their families and majority of Rwandans still need an answer on why a thinly sourced Rwanda’s  Untold Story was allowed to be aired without consulting even one single survivor in the UK,” the letter read in part.

They called on BBC to apologise for the damage  the documentary caused, saying that it fell in the category of ‘genocide denial and revision.’

The one-hour documentary, done by Jane Corbin, makes several questionable suggestions, including an allegation that only 300,000 Tutsis could have been killed.

In Paris, Rwandans were joined by the Deputy Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, at the Pere Lachaise cemetery where they laid wreaths in memory of the victims of the 1994 Genocide.

In Ethiopia, Rwandans gathered at African Union Headquarters for commemoration events presided over by African Union top officials while others met at the Rwandan Embassy in Ethiopia.

They called on the world to commit to upholding human rights and to keep the memory of the victims alive.

Rwandans serving under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, also held a commemoration event in the town of Bor.

Rwanda’s High Commissioner to India, Ernest Rwamucyo, led Rwandans living in the Asian country in rememberance of the victims of the Genocide.

He said the fight against Genocide denial and trivialisation required concerted effort.

In Canada, Rwandans gathered outside the Canadian parliament in Ottawa for commemorative events while others gathered in Toronto city hall.

Dr François Xavier Ngarambe, Rwanda’s ambassador to Switzerland, in his commemoration address to Rwandan Diaspora in Geneva, urged the youth to learn from the past and ensure that no one is deprived of their rights in future.

“We urge young people to carry the torch of memory and help build a world in which no one shall be deprived of their rights and human dignity,” Ngarambe said.

He paid tribute to the soldiers and officers of the Rwanda Patriotic Front who put their lives on the line to stop the Genocide, saying that their bravery and selflessness should instill virtue in the current generation.

In Washington DC, Rwandans and friends of Rwanda convened at the FHI 360 Conference Centre for a commemorative event.

As part of this year’s commemoration, the National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide says it looks to engage Rwandans in the Diaspora to confront head on Genocide denial and revisionism.

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