The Government of Rwanda says it is Belgium which recalled two of its diplomats in Kigali in April after Rwanda complained about the duo holding a commemorative event on April 6, an act which was seen as denying the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Contrary to the reports, Kigali says it did not expel the two diplomats, whose names have been withheld but said to be the First Secretary and the Defence Attaché, but a complaint was submitted to the Belgian government which recalled them.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation confirms that two Belgian diplomats have been recalled by their government after organising a commemoration ceremony a day before the official mourning day and without informing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as it is the practice,”
“The National Mourning Ceremony for the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi takes place on 7 April every year and other subsequent ceremonies are organised by interested parties in conjunction with competent national authorities,”
“Some of the key symbols used during commemoration ceremonies like the lowering of the national flag to half-mast are provided for by the law and thus cannot be done without following the right procedure,” the Ministry said in a statement.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry further said that after this event which took place on 6 April 2020, the Government of Rwanda protested to the Government of Belgium which decided to recall the two diplomats.
The duo left the country on Saturday aboard an evacuation flight after they were held up in the country to the COVID-19 restrictions on travel.
Every year, a commemoration event is held for the Belgian peacekeepers who were killed at the beginning of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi at Camp Kigali.
The ten Belgian officers known as ‘casques bleus’, were killed on April 7, 1994. They were part of the second battalion of Flawinne of the Belgian Army who came to Rwanda in 1993 as part of Mission des Nations Unies Pour l’Assistance au Rwanda (MINUAR).
They were killed as they attempted to protect former Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, who was murdered by the Presidential Guard alongside her husband as the country descended into chaos which saw over one million people killed during the genocide.
Last year, Charles Michel, the Prime Minister of Belgium, attended the event to honour the officers who included Caporals Debatty Alain, Bassinne Bruno, Dupont Christophe, Meaux Bruno, Plescia Louis, Lhoir Stephane, Renwa Christophe and Uyttebroech Marc.
Others killed at the time were Sgt Leroy Yannick and Lt Lotin Thierry. The event is one of the most important commemoration events of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.