United in Remembrance: Commemorating the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi
12 April 2023
UN Complex in Nairobi held the 29th commemoration of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, emphasising remembrance, reconciliation, and fighting genocide ideology.
A solemn commemoration of the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda took place at the United Nations Complex in Nairobi. The commemoration , presided over by High Commissioner of Rwanda to Kenya Dr. Richard Masozera, UN Resident Coordinator Dr. Stephen Jackson, and Amb. Susan Mwangi, DG Multilateral, International Affairs, and UNON, brought together members of the Rwandan community in Kenya, representatives of the Government of Kenya, diplomatic communities, military attaches, and the general public to pay their respects and remember the lives lost 29 years ago.
United Nations declared April 7 as the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Rwanda Genocide in 2004, a decade after the tragedy. In 2018, the day was renamed the International Day of Reflection on Rwanda’s 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi.
The commemoration which also featured the laying of the wreath and lighting of candles in honour of the lives lost, had speakers united in the call on the importance of remembrance, reconciliation, and the ongoing fight against genocide ideology.
Dr. Richard Masozera highlighted the importance of commemoration, which "preserves our memory" and helps "prevent further genocides." He acknowledged Rwanda's resilience and rebirth, attributing it to Rwandans' desire for a better nation and overcoming past manipulations. Dr. Masozera called for global cooperation in bringing genocide fugitives to justice and reflecting on the significance of peace, social cohesion, and preventing future mass atrocities.
Ambassador Susan Mwangi expressed solidarity with the people of Rwanda, acknowledging the international community's collective failure to prevent the genocide. She commended Rwanda's progress towards reconciliation, healing, and economic growth, making it a beacon of peace in Africa. Mwangi urged a collective commitment to renew, strengthen, ensure, and uphold human rights by reinforcing policies that protect societies from genocide and crimes against humanity.
Dr. Stephen Jackson, while sharing his personal experience working in Rwanda during the genocide, emphasised the duty to remember that human lives cruelly ended. He urged attendees to be vigilant, stating, "It is all too tragically easy for vast, abstract numbers – 150,000 war-displaced, more than 1,000,000 massacred – to swirl and blur in the mind. We cannot permit this. We must not permit this." He reminded everyone of the importance of remembering the lives lost during this atrocity.
“We have a duty to remember the real, warm, human lives so cruelly ended.”
The International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda serves as a reminder of the importance of unity, peace, and prevention of future atrocities. The commemoration also serves to bring the international community together to ensure the memory of those who perished during this dark time is not forgotten, renewing their commitment to a more tolerant and peaceful world.
In his remarks, UN Secretary-General António Guterres emphasised the importance of remembering the past and learning from it, stating, "How easily hate speech – a key indicator of the risk of genocide – turns to hate crime. How complacency in the face of atrocity is complicity. And how no place and no time is immune to danger – including our own."
Guterres called for a united stand against rising intolerance, vigilance, and readiness to act in the face of atrocities, urging everyone to "truly honour the memory of all Rwandans who perished by building a future of dignity, security, justice, and human rights for all."