Comfort survivors of Genocide Against Tutsi as we begin this difficult period

Sunday April 09 2023

Rwandan President Paul Kagame (left) and First Lady Jeanette Kagame light the ‘Flame of Remembrance’ at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre on April 7, 2020. PHOTO | URUGWIRO


This week Rwandans will start the commemoration of the 1994 Genocide Against Tutsi 29 years after the attack were conducted the government-backed militia.

While 29 years may feel like a very long time, for survivors, it still fresh on their minds, and it feel like it happened yesterday because it left permanent scars.

For instance, some survivors still live in the same houses where the killings took place. Many live with lifelong trauma where they relive the horrors of the genocide every was king day of their lives, something other people cannot understand.

One of the reasons healing has not been possible for many of the survivors is that many genocide perpetrators have continued to evade justice 29 years later. Some feel their perpetrators could return to finish them off.

According to the National Prosecution Authority, at least 1,094 genocide fugitives are still at large, having successfully evaded justice thus far, but to add salt to the injury, the evasion of justice has been aided by some countries, many of which are even Rwanda’s partners in many ways.

Countries like France whose role in the Genocide Against the Tutsi is well documented continues to be a save haven for the masterminds. Justice delayed is justice denied and we are increasingly seeing a new trend where the children of some of the masterminds of the Genocide Against the Tutsi who have lived for all these years abroad are resuming the work of their parents to promote hatred and propagate genocide denial ideology


Others like Felicien Kabuga were arrested too late to see any form of justice. He was arrested while already at advanced age, where the court has even deemed him unfit to stand trial on grounds of his failing health and fitness to stand trial.

This came as a blow to many survivors who had regained hope that justice will be finally served for such a key mastermind of the 1994 Genocide Against Tutsi.

Many of the survivors have died before getting justice, while those still alive continue to be haunted by how the world around them has quickly moved on.

A few years ago, while giving a commemoration speech, President Paul Kagame said, it is the survivors who have something to give. And indeed they have given up, because many have forgiven those who killed their families, raped them and left them for dead, who some live with side by side on the same hills they were hunted and killed.

Across the world, we continue to see acts of senseless killings, school shootings in the US that have claimed countless innocent children, rebels ravaging villages and miming people and husbands hacking their wives to death.

As we start the commemoration period, let us also be close to those who went through the horrors and survived, so they are less scared during this period, lending them an ear and encouraging them, is the least we can do.