Kigali, 7 April 2012

I would like to begin by welcoming the guests who have come to commemorate with us the 18th anniversary of the genocide that happened in our country, and thank those who sent messages in solidarity with us as we remember our loved ones who perished in the genocide now and in the past.

We will always remember them so that even those who did not experience it may learn the history of the genocide and its causes, and draw lessons that will make it impossible to repeat it. That’s the value of history.

But as we remember those we lost, some of those who killed them are still moving freely in some capitals of the so-called free world. There is little effort to apprehend them, and when this happens, it is a token meant to blind us and give us the impression that they are doing something about it. Even when that happens, they are released shortly after.

Yet, when acts of terrorism are committed against their people, the whole world is mobilised, in fact sometimes forced, to join in the search of those criminals so that they can be brought to justice. It would appear that Rwandan lives or similarly lives of Africans are less valued than the lives of their citizens.

Worse still, those who committed genocide in this country and those who wish to deny us peace and security are said to be exercising their political freedoms.

To the point that they are accorded facility to celebrate genocide, to say that what they did was right. We understand better these freedoms being talked about, and the value of life than those who utter this nonsense. Those who back them accuse us of all manner of things: lack of democracy, human rights and freedom of expression – even when what we do is in the best interests of all our people.

What else can it be if not utter hypocrisy, injustice and a clear example of double standards that we Africans have had to confront for a long time that we must always reject by all means. If we in Rwandan had not learned from this ugly history, to build unity and reconciliation of our people, we would still be having our own affairs managed by other people.

This is the sense and spirit with which we have confronted the post-genocide period. We have continued to make good progress because of the courage and the strength that Rwandans have always displayed out of patriotism, and striving for unity and a form of governance that seeks to foster the interests of all citizens.

Today we are stronger, with greater ability and capacity than ever before. We have achieved stability; Rwandans feel good about their lives; their participation in the social and economic transformation of our country gives us hope that we can seize the many opportunities to rebuild our country even further.

Fellow Rwandans: there is no doubt that we are on course. Let us keep working together; let us do more of what we have done, using our home-grown solutions that have brought us this far.   Every Rwandan should do all that is possible, seek strength from within us to overcome our challenges and work for the life we desire and deserve.

And there are other good reasons for our optimism about the future.  Rwandans still show the same tremendous courage as they have always done. Indeed as we commemorate the genocide, we must commend the survivors who have shown remarkable resilience. They have refused to be consumed by sorrow, but asserted their right to live.

Our optimism is also built on the youth of Rwanda. A generation that was born during the genocide is now mature. They have grown up in a dignified Rwanda, in a country where every child has equal rights and opportunities, and where everyone is equal before the law.

I wish to point out that the history of a people belongs primarily to them. And although many of our people perished in the genocide, it is still our history.  The aftermath of the genocide – whether it is evidence given in court, judgements delivered by those courts, or a new country that emerged after it – all these are ours, even if this is to be shared with the rest of the world, especially our own continent.

This is why we should be the primary custodians of all these things because they are the core part of our history and of great value to us. There is no sound reason why all records regarding the genocide should be in our custody in our country, here in Rwanda. There is no sound reason whatsoever.

Let me take this opportunity to thank our friends – individuals and countries – who have been by our side in the last eighteen years. They did not only support us in our development programmes, but also helped make the genocide in our country understood in other parts of the world, and supported the fight against genocide deniers.

I thank Rwandans for your role in the Gacaca courts that are concluding their work this year. We all know the value and role of Gacaca. What these courts achieved went beyond anyone’s expectations. They administered justice and united Rwandans at the same time. These courts were evidence of our ability to find solutions to challenges that seemed insurmountable.

In conclusion, I wish to assure all Rwandans that the government will do all in the power of all its institutions to see that we consolidate what we have achieved in the last eighteen years.

It is on this basis that I say without any doubt that those who still harbour negative or genocidal ideologies, will not be allowed to take us back into our tragic history. They will no, they cannot, and have already failed. There is not a chance in many millions for them to succeed. We stand ever more than ready to be tested on this. We are more than ready – it doesn’t matter who they are and who backs them. It will not happen, not a chance in millions

Rwandans, I wish you all strength and peace in these difficult moments.

Thank you.