The National Commission against Genocide (CNLG) has said that the 26th commemoration of genocide against the Tutsi will go on as usual but with specific guidelines in response to the current coronavirus situation in the country.
“Since we are in extra ordinary times of preventing spread of Covid-19, the commemoration will be done in extraordinary ways,” said Dr. Jean Damascene Bizimana, the Executive secretary of CNLG.
Bizimana made the comments during a televised interview of the national broadcaster this Saturday evening ahead of the official commemoration week which normally starts on April 7 to April 13, followed by 100 days of commemoration which end on July 3 every year.
On April 7th, Bizimana said, the official opening of the commemoration will be held at Kigali Memorial site as usual but as a brief event, with only a few mourners present.
Bizimana said that official event on (April 7th) will start at 10am, where few mourners will be in attendance, to lay wreaths and pay respect to the victims buried at the site and a minute of silence observed therein.
Though this event will be done at Gisozi, the rest of the country will stay at home to pay respect to the genocide victims buried in various sites countrywide.
“The rest of the people will be following the event on TV, radio and social media, which will be vital for the media to follow up,” Bizimana said.
This will also be followed by the address of the guest of honor, most likely from President Paul Kagame, which will all together take less than thirty minutes.
“This obviously means that citizens and friends of Rwanda will be following the address on the available channels, and get the key commemoration message which will also hint on the periods we are going through,” Bizimana added.
For the commemoration to be done nationally, CNLG said that each of the districts will choose one memorial site where few selected people will be allowed to represent the rest in laying wreaths, pay respect to the victims buried at the respective sites and hold a minute of silence.
After this, they will return home.
In this year’s twist, the usual Walk To Remember which has been done in the afternoon on April 7th for 25 years, followed by the commemoration night vigil, will not happen this year, according to CNLG.
“No walk to remember at the national or district levels and night vigils because these converge many people together and not in line with this Covid-19 period,” Bizimana emphasized.
These two key events will be replaced with other events. For example the Walk To Remember will be replaced by a public talk (normally held at Gisozi site in Kigali at 3pm).
This time, it will be broadcast live on radio and TV, with interactions locally and internationally.
Then the night vigil, normally meant for testimonies, will be done using through live broadcasts and the media will also be able to show films and testimonies of success stories of survivors.
After April 7th, moving towards the 100 days, all community and institution public talks on genocide prevention will this time take place at village level and be broadcast live on national TV and radio- for one and half hours, starting at 3pm every day.
Special dates in April
April 8th and 9th will be designated for the role of the youth (who constitute 70% of the population) in preventing genocide, April 10th will be specifically for the media role in genocide while April 11th will be the role of the global community in never again campaign.
These dates will be matched with areas were the genocide killings took place specifically. For example on April 10th the commemoration will focus at ETO Kicukiro in Nyanza where thousands of Tutsi were killed at ago in the eye of UN peacekeepers.
All these events will be broadcast for the public to follow from home.
Same applies to April 13th, the closing date of the official commemoration which will see few officials attend a commemoration of politicians killed during the genocide, an event at Rebero site where 14,000 are buried.
On the same day, at 3pm, a talk show on the role of the world in genocide will involve Rwandans and friends of Rwanda, all giving their views.
“We hope that this will go according to the restrictions on Covid-19,” Bizimana said.