Kigali, 7 April 2015
This year, like every year, we remember. On this 21st Anniversary, Rwandans come together to commemorate the Genocide against the Tutsi.
This was the genocide during which people were hunted down like animals, sought everywhere and killed. by those who were supposed to be their brothers and sisters. They were hunted down and killed by those with whom they were supposed to share equal rights.
And it didn’t stop there. People are still being hunted, but in a different way. Today, hunting down to kill is no longer easy to do, but it happens in another form. It happens through genocide denial, and denigration survivors everywhere.
Just like it had been done before, the hunting was carried out by Rwandans supported by foreigners, who joined in the hunt after spreading the gospel on how it should be executed. They collaborated with those they taught and worked together with Rwandans to kill fellow Rwandans.
And it hasn’t stopped, the hunt is still on. I can cite many examples, even as we speak today.
But I will leave the past and talk about what happened more recently. In 2012, the whole world ganged up against Rwanda because of a war in neighbouring Eastern DRC. Rwanda was blamed for a problem for which someone else should have been held responsible.
The M23 war in Eastern DRC that you heard about was not caused by Rwanda. It was started by Congolese of Rwandan origin who were fighting for their rights, something that should have been resolved in Congo not in Rwanda. But we were accused of being the cause.
Then the international community decided that they were going to solve those problems, including the one they had forgotten about for 21 years: that of genocide perpetrators on the other side of the border.
The world descended on DRC and started off by finishing M23, because of who they were. They misled everyone that they were going to solve the problem of M23, FDLR, ADF and many other groups which are not related to Rwanda. This was their main objective they claimed.
But imagine how the whole world decided to solve problems dating three, two, one, or even ten years, but ignored the problem that goes back 21 years.
When they finished off M23 and it was time to fight FDLR they declared those were no longer perpetrators but grandsons of FDLR therefore, should not be attacked.
In fact, they went further than declared the issue political in order to give the group political legitimacy.
This meant the people we are remembering today, whose graves are here, the hundreds of thousands we remember, according to world interpretation, the cause of their death was not genocide but could have legitimate political reasons.
This is the reason why FDLR is treated the way it is. They are trying to show the world that the group has political cause, and everyone takes it that way.
Recently in one of the European countries, at the trial of a genocide suspect, who is widely known to all Rwandans for his role in the genocide, the judge confidently pronounced “the crime this person is accused of, happened before the laws concerning this crime existed. So for this reason he is innocent”..
This actually means that the people he killed deserved to die because there were no laws to protect them. And that this is exclusively a judicial issue that does not concern government. Implying that even others accused of genocide should be considered innocent.
Before this, filmmakers and documentaries, which we normally consider something good and creative, started portraying genocide against the Tutsi as something that was brought on by the victims themselves.They depicted the victims, those who were being hunted, as having caused the genocide.
You have heard of “Rwanda’s Untold Story”. In this story that hadn’t been told, they wanted to show that what hadn’t been said is that the victims are the ones who caused the genocide.
We know many foreign countries who treat genocidaires like VIPs, as untouchables. Even those based in other countries, planning to continue their genocide agenda receive special treatment and are protected. But we are told that those are not bad plans, but rather legitimate plans to topple the “dictatorial leadership in Rwanda”, the leadership that “does not value democracy, freedoms and human rights”.
If you ask which country lacks democracy and freedom in the whole world, they will tell you that its Rwanda.
Fine, let’s assume all that is lacking. But Rwanda has changed. This country has changed, it will never be the same. It has changed for good and forever. Even when they claim there is no democracy and freedom in Rwanda, there are people. Rwanda has people who value their dignity and fight for it. And everything else is available, and whatever is still lacking is attainable.
Those who teach us about freedom, democracy and human rights are the very same ones welcoming genocidaires who killed one million Rwandans, giving them special treatment, comforting and advocating for them. They even try to lure the few remaining Rwandans whose minds and hearts are still hostages of our history, who are nostalgic about the past. But they are seriously mistaken. These are the people who need to know that this country has changed, for good and forever.
We know how to fight for the lives of innocent Rwandans which were snatched away by either their fellow Rwandans or foreigners. We will always fight for our right to live, no one can take that from us. No one can control our lives for us. We survived, even after what befell us in 2012, when we were hit from all sides. We are still here and we are going nowhere.
It’s about Rwandans and their rights. Those who departed are gone and will always be remembered. The reason we remember them today is not because we are afraid that our memories might fade. We can never forget them. They remain vivid in our minds. By remembering we give them the honour they deserve. This is why we come here to remember. We don’t even have to be reminded to do so. We know it’s important because it dignifies the innocent lives that were taken and also means dignifying those who are still alive.
I want to tell Rwandans and friends of Rwanda that all those injustices which Rwanda has suffered, have motivated us to work even harder to find solutions to the problems we face.
Rwandans should never give anyone a chance to put you down. When you despair, you give an opportunity to those who want to destroy you. That would be betraying the more than a million lives lost. When you allow the enemy in, you are betraying all those whose lives were cut short due injustice.
The Rwandans I am talking about, in this changed Rwanda understand that it’s unacceptable to let in those who want to destroy us. All Rwandans: men, women, children, the youth, generations to come, should follow the same line of thinking. They should understand our dignity as a nation, and the value we give all our people, without discrimination.
Anything else, those lectures they keep giving us is insignificant. How do you plot my death at night and in the morning claim to know, to lecture me on how I should live my life? How is that even possible?
We admit that there are issues we cannot solve as Rwanda. A small country in the middle of nowhere on this continent of ours that has many other problems.
But we are a country of people. People who have pride in themselves. Who are ready for peace and for war, for our lives. We are ready for both. If it’s for peace, we are more than ready. If it’s for war, to take us back into our past, we are more than ready to fight that war.
Thank you very much.