Never Again Rwanda, a human rights and peace building organization has engaged a delegation of US students on the realities of genocide against Tutsi.
In 1994, Rwanda slipped into its darkest in a genocide that claimed over a million lives of ethnic Tutsi in just 100-days.
This year, Rwandans are observing the 22nd commemoration of the genocide against Tutsi under the theme “Fighting the Genocide Ideology”.
According to Florence Batoni, the Peace Building program Coordinator for Never Again Rwanda, orientation of US students on the genocide will help them become Ambassadors in the fight against Genocide denial ideology.
“Most people outside Rwanda sometimes don’t understand the reality of genocide and this explains why some people have ideological thoughts because they are not aware,” Batoni said.
She added, “We bring these students from outside so that they can understand our history and how genocide occurred and see the reality of genocide in Rwanda.”
Dr. Stephanie Wolfe, Assistant Professor, college of social and behavioral sciences at Weber State University says Rwanda’s initiative that also looks at genocide that happened in other countries gives students a practical approach towards conflict analysis and conflict prevention.
“This shifts students from the classroom theory to reality on ground and prepares them to participate in peace building,” said Dr. Wolfe.
For Batoni, “We need these students to monitor atrocities and genocide tendencies and language so that they can be empowered even when they are in leadership positions they are able to discern anything that can cause genocide.”
Imani Grace Lewis-Norelle from Earlham College in US says Rwanda’s history projects an experience that would help international youth in fostering peace, reconciliation, transitional justice in societies.
“I think US can learn a lot from Rwanda especially in the judicial system where it more focused on punishment rather than cohesion after a conflict,” she said.
The US youths are attending the peace building Institute that aims at empowering young people with skills to prevent and overcome violence and ethnic divides while learning from Rwanda.
Students are taken through the history of genocide against Tutsis, the post genocide society, transitional justice are expected to use the facts to tackle genocide denial.
Some key aspects that are under the concepts Rwanda is teaching the world include its homegrown post genocide traditional court system known as Gacaca.
Also, the Institute, a bi annual conference is an avenue for international, regional and Rwandan youth to discuss about the genocide committed against the Tutsis well as draw lessons learnt from it.