In an unprecedented manner, Rwanda has kicked off 2020 battling denial and trivialisation of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi at the international level.
The country continues to deal with events that in one way or another minimize, trivialize or outright deny the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi which claimed more than one million lives.
In one of the latest developments, Rwanda is condemning the invitation of politician and genocide denier Paul Rusesabagina to be keynote speaker at an event in San Antonio, U.S, with Rwandans and officials’ alike expressing concerns over it.
Rusesabagina will be a keynote speaker at the Opening Breakfast Ceremony to celebrate the commencement of DreamWeek 2020, a 16-day summit of 200+ events in and around downtown San Antonio, USA.
His invitation has met disapproval, with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in charge of East African Community Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe calling out San Antonio Current weekly for putting Rusesabagina among the speakers.
“Dear @SAcurrent, how on earth can you invite a genocide denier who currently serves as the Chairman of @MRCDUbumwe, a terrorist organisation which has an armed wing in eastern DRC (CNRD-FLN) to destabilise #Rwanda and the region?” Minister Nduhungirehe said in a protest tweet, attaching an interview by Global Research in which Rusesabagina made outrageous statements denying the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Rwanda Community Abroad (RCA) has also condemned the decision to invite Rusesabagina, who is still riding on the controversial movie Hotel Rwanda to masquerade as a ‘humanitarian’ and ‘philanthropist’ who helped thousands during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Rusesabagina has been severally mentioned, including by Maj Callixte Nsabimana, as one of the founders of National Liberation Forces (FLN), an armed wing of Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD) which mainly operates in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Sankara who was arrested and transferred to Rwanda last year faces 16 terror-related crimes, including attacks in Southern Rwanda which left up to nine people dead and many others injured.
He was also charged with forming a rebel group that carried out the terror attacks, mainly in southern Rwanda. He has pleaded guilty to the charges and admitted to Rusesabagina’s involvement.
The invitation to DreamWeek series, an umbrella for dozens of San Antonio events commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of inclusion and community, now in its eighth year, has caused uproar on social media, with many challenging SA Current to drop the highly controversial figure.
Minister Nduhungirehe said that official communication will be delivered to the organisers of the events.
The former Prosecutor General Jean Bosco Muntangana, who has in the past played a crucial role in investigating, indicting and prosecuting genocide-related cases, weighed in on the debate, pointing out that the organisers should be aware that Rusesabagina is wanted on suspicion of financing terror activities.
“Please be aware that Rusesabagina is a key suspect in financing terrorism against my country and should not continue to walk away with impunity. He does not deserve such platforms but rather decisive actions by law enforcement,” Mutangana reminded SA Current.
Mutangana said that the decisive action by law enforcement wherever he travels and bringing Rusesabagina to justice is the only way to deter his continued criminality.
Many took to social media to use the hashtag #StopRusesabaginaTalk while disputing the story that he saved 1,268 people during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi when he was one of the Managers at Hôtel des Mille Collines.
The claim, which formed the storyline of the 2004 movie has been disputed by many, including genocide survivors who were hiding in the hotel and had to pay lots of money for protection in testimonies published in a 2015 book by Edouard Kayihura punching holes in the Hotel Rwanda storyline.
Sandrine Uwimbabazi, the Director of RCA at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says an official petition signed by Rwandans in diaspora will be delivered to SA Current.
“Our team in the U.S is working on the petition and it will be delivered ahead of the planned event,” Uwimbabazi said adding that they hope that the organisers will reconsider their decision to give Rusesabagina a platform.
Rwanda maintains that Rusesabagina and former Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu are behind terrorists outfits in Eastern DRC which have been dealt a heavy blow by recent operations Congolese government forces.
French publication condemned
In a separate development, the Association of Survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi –Ibuka has protested against an article by French dictionary and encyclopaedia publisher Larousse which is said to be minimising and denying the genocide.
Ibuka has issued a notice to sue the Paris-based publisher if they don’t retract an article in Larousse Junior edition 2020 in which they refer to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi as a ‘civil war’.
Citing different declarations by the United Nations and an article adopted by France, referring to the killings in Rwanda between April 7 and July 3, 1994 as ‘the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi’, Ibuka wants the publication to retract the article, appropriately use the right name or risk going to court.
“While you decide to write about Rwanda, you are required to provide appropriate information, respect our history and avoid misleading your audience or negate our history of the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi,” a letter signed by IBUKA President Prof. Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu reads.
“We are heading to the 26th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and we hope that there is no more doubts about what happened in Rwanda. Let the Genocide be called by its name that reflects what happened on our territory and this will help in paying respect to the victims and survivors of this genocide,” it adds.
The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the fight against Genocide (CNLG) Dr. Jean-Damascène Bizimana said that it is not the first time that individuals and organisations in France have deliberately engaged in acts of negating the Genocide against Tutsi.
“There is no doubt that the likes of Larousse follow other examples of publications in France which openly deny the genocide. It must be corrected or legal action will be the only remedy,” Bizimana said.
Ibuka says that nearly 26 years, cases of genocide denial and negationism continue to emerge, reminding the international community to be mindful of this issue which is of great concerns to survivors and for the history of the country.