Preventing future atrocities best way to honour Rwandan genocide victims – Ban

7 April 2010

Securing justice for the victims of genocide and preventing future atrocities are the best ways to honour the hundreds of thousands of people slaughtered in Rwanda 16 years ago, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed today as the United Nations observes a global day of remembrance for the tragedy.

Securing justice for the victims of genocide and preventing future atrocities are the best ways to honour the hundreds of thousands of people slaughtered in Rwanda 16 years ago, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed today as the United Nations observes a global day of remembrance for the tragedy.

More than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutus were murdered in the tiny African nation, mostly by machete, during a period of less than 100 days beginning in April 1994.

In a message to commemorate the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, observed annually on 7 April, Mr. Ban said the UN is fully committed to securing justice and to preventing future atrocities.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), he noted, delivered the first-ever verdicts in relation to genocide by an international court. “These and similar actions from the halls of justice have sent a clear message to the genocidaires and would-be genocidaires. Simply put, their heinous crimes will not go unpunished.”

The Secretary-General urged Member States to cooperate with the tribunal, which is based in the Tanzanian city of Arusha, to arrest and hand over the remaining 11 fugitives as the court continues to deliver justice and ensure accountability.

“Together, let us pledge our determination to prevent genocide as the best way to remember those who lost their lives so tragically in Rwanda,” said Mr. Ban.

This year’s commemoration features a candle-lighting ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York with music performed by young Rwandan and international musicians.

Speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro noted that through the UN’s outreach programme on the Rwandan genocide, the world body has worked with survivors and perpetrators of the crimes to tell their stories of life since the atrocities.

“I thank the Department of Public Information (DPI) for leading this effort,” she stated. “It has contributed to the country’s recovery, and brought lessons for our global campaign for human rights.”

Also addressing the gathering was the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng, whose office monitors situations of concern around the world, alerts relevant actors where there is a risk of genocide and advocates and mobilizes for appropriate action.

“Understanding the processes and root causes of genocide is critical to these efforts,” he pointed out. “I therefore believe it is critical to raise awareness and create better understanding of this horrific phenomenon.”

Mr. Deng added that the international community cannot forget the genocide in Rwanda. “Today is a timely occasion to remind ourselves of our collective failure to recognize the warning signs of impending violence and to prevent the deaths of so many.”

The film As We Forgive, a documentary about the power and pain of reconciliation in Rwanda, will also be screened.

The UN Office in Geneva is marking the Day with a ceremony featuring statements by, among others, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. Ceremonies, film screenings and panel discussions are also taking place around the world, from Accra and Antananarivo to Bogotá and Brazzaville.

Also in connection with this year’s commemoration, a student videoconference entitled Rebuilding After Genocide: Justice, Reconciliation and Reintegration will be held tomorrow. It will connect students in New York, Illinois and Mexico City with representatives from the ICTR, the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission and the National Service of Gacaca Courts in Rwanda and a Rwandan genocide survivor.

 

♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Former Rwandan colonel gets 25-year sentence from UN war crimes tribunal

The United Nations war crimes tribunal set up in the wake of the 1994 Rwandan genocide today sentenced a former top officer in the country’s armed forces to 25 years of imprisonment after being found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.