Thursday, June 24, 2021

27 Years After the Genocide Against the Tutsi: How Can We End Genocide Denial?

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DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands. Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. "Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions." Dr. Mayelinne De Lara, Publisher

On April 17th, the Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda in the Kingdom of the Netherlands hosted a virtual conference with the theme ’27 Years After the Genocide Against the Tutsi: How Can We End Genocide Denial?’ The event was part of the 27th commemoration of the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi in Rwanda, known as ‘Kwibuka27’.

The online conference attempted to answer critical questions relating to the topic of genocide  denial namely, it’s definition and its various  forms,  how it is understood in the context of international rights and freedoms, ways of effectively preventing genocide denial for present and future generations and the role can accountability for the crime of genocide itself play the fight against genocide denial and  finally given the steady rise of genocide denial in the world and the fact that Rwanda and few other countries have adopted laws to criminalize the denial of the genocide against the Tutsi, should other countries adopt similar legislations?

The moderator of the conference was Ms. Diana Mpyisi, Founder and Managing Director of Blue Oceans, a media and communications consultancy firm and host of The Square, a weekly current affairs English show on Rwanda Television. 

Ms. Diana Mpyisi.

In his welcoming remarks the host of the conference, H.E. Mr. Olivier J.P. Nduhungirehe, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, re-iterated  that  after 27 years after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, there is still a need to better understand the concept of genocide denial.

We have indeed been witnessing a resurgence of genocide denial under many forms. Denial is no longer limited to genocide fugitives’ circles, it also received support in a number of countries from scholars, regional experts, criminal lawyers and journalists. Let me hope that today’s discussion will be enriching for all of us, especially for the young generation and the diplomatic community gathered here with us,” Ambassador Nduhungirehe said.

The welcoming remarks were followed by remarks by Mr. Serge Brammertz, Chief Prosecutor at the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) who highlighted the importance of combined effort to fight against genocide denial. “For example, in my last report to the United Nations Security Council, I denounced the lack of cooperation being provided by a number of countries. Public pressure on these countries is important to improve the situation and ensure fugitives are brought to justice,” Mr Brammertz said.

This theme raises a number of critical questions on how to face the challenge of Genocide denial and ideology that has been increasing over the past years in many countries globally.  To try to tackle  this  issue   the  conference  bought  together 3 experts to give the audience a comprehensive view of the concept of genocide denial and how to effectively handle it. 

The first expert was Dr Roland Moerland, an Assistant Professor of Criminology at the Maastricht University and a member of the International Association of Genocide Scholars and is an editor on the editorial board of Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal. Furthermore  He is the author of “The Killing of Death, Denying the genocide against the Tutsi”. Professor Moerland addressed and  provided  insight  on the “Concept of Genocide Denial”, its intentions and the  various  forms it takes.

Freddy Mutanguha.

The second expert who shared his views was Mr. Freddy Mutanguha, who is the Executive Director of AegisTrust and Director of the Kigali Genocide Memorial who  talked about “Commemoration, education and public engagement: tools for the prevention of genocide denial and pillars for unity and reconciliation”.

Providence Umurungi.

The third expert was Ms. Providence Umurungi, who is a Principal State Attorney at the Ministry of Justice of Rwanda, where she is the Head of International Justice and Judicial Cooperation Department since 2016. Prior to her current position, Ms. Umurungi was the Associate Legal Officer at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania; and an Assistant Lecturer at the Law Faculty at the University of Rwanda where she taught Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law courses. She took the audience through the topic “The importance of accountability for genocide and its denial”.

Following   the presentations  of the  panelists,  the  conference  was opened  for an interactive session  where  members of the audience who included members of  the Rwandan community in the Netherlands  and  members of the diplomatic were  given the opportunity to ask questions and share  their thoughts with Ambassador Nduhungirehe, Mr. Serge Brammertz and the 3 experts.

More information, including the statements by the speakers and the link to watch the entire conference at a later stage, please go to the following page on the Embassy’s website:

www.rwandainthenetherlands.gov.rw/info/info-details/17-april-virtual-kwibuka27-conference

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