Together we prosper
By Roy Lie Atjam
The 28th anniversary of Rwanda’s liberation was celebrated on the 4th July 2022 under the theme “Together we prosper”. The Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda in the Netherlands hosted the Kwibohora 28 celebration with a reception at the Leonardo Royal Hotel in The Hague, to pay tribute to Rwandan men and women who contributed to Rwanda’s liberation.
H.E. Ambassador Olivier J.P. Nduhungirehe, his spouse and the Embassy staffers welcomed more than 150 guests including the diplomatic community, the Ambassadors of Algeria, Angola, Egypte, Morocco, Tunisia, Ghana, Nigeria, S-Africa,, Australia, Switzerland, Argentina, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama. Diplomats, Tanzania, UK, Kuwait and many others. Further, representatives of the Dutch government of international organizations, Rwandan nationals living in the Netherlands, Friends of Rwanda.
Featuring on the program:
The Dutch National Anthem – Wilhelmus, followed by the Rwandan National Anthem – Rwanda Nziza.
Video projection (The Rwanda Opportunity)
Keynote address by Mr Olivier J.P. Nduhungirehe, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Remarks by Ms Martine Van Hoogstraten, Acting Head of the Department for Sub-Saharan Africa, at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A traditional dance performance by the group Inkumburwa.
A resume of the keynote address by Ambassador Olivier J.P. Nduhungirehe and the remarks by Ms Martine Van Hoogstraten follow hereby.
Speech Ambassador Nduhungirehe.
“Good afternoon! Let me start by thanking you all for finding time to be with us today to celebrate the 28th anniversary of Rwanda’s Liberation Day. Indeed, the date of 4th July 1994 has a particular resonance in the hearts and minds of Rwandans, as it is the day on which forces of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) stopped the genocide against the Tutsi by overthrowing the regime that was committing it over the previous hundred days.
This year, we also take the opportunity to mark the 60th anniversary of the Independence of Rwanda, which was recovered in 1962 in a very difficult context of crimes against humanity committed against a part of the Rwandan population.
As Ambassador of Rwanda in The Hague, I am also accredited to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as to international organisations and jurisdictions based in The Hague. I value the friendship and growing cooperation between Rwanda and the three Baltic countries, mainly in the areas of digital transformation, fintech and industry, and I also acknowledge the tremendous contribution of institutions based in The Hague to promote accountability for the most serious crimes, including genocide, and to maintain international peace and security.
I thank Mrs Martine Van Hoogstraten, for her presence today and for her statement. Rwanda and the Netherlands have been enjoying a long-lasting relationship, dating to the time when Rwanda was also a kingdom. Indeed, the first contact between the two countries goes as back as 1957 and took place around a glass of beer. That year, the Heineken Group established in Rwanda our national brewery, which became the main producer of beer and soft drinks in our country.
Following the Liberation of 4th July 1994, the Netherlands became a reliable partner in our recovery and socio-economic transformation. The Dutch cooperation focused on critical sectors such as justice, agriculture, water resources management, trade and investment, as well as defence. The justice sector, which was obviously a top priority in the aftermath of the genocide against the Tutsi, benefited from an important support from the Netherlands, with the rebuilding, renovation and equipment of courtrooms, the training of judges, prosecutors, lawyers and other professionals of justice, but also with the prosecution, trial and extradition of genocide suspects who had fled to the Netherlands.
As both countries are now transitioning from aid to trade, we have witnessed an increase of economic exchanges over the past years, mainly export of coffee, tea and horticulture products, including flowers, but also significant investments by Dutch companies in Rwanda.
Beyond the bilateral cooperation, Rwanda and the Netherlands also share common values in the multilateral arena. One of them is an effective peacekeeping that protects civilians in armed conflicts.
As I conclude my remarks, let me call on Mrs Martine Van Hoogstraten to join me, so that we can make a toast:
“To the health of His Majesty King Willem Alexander and to the friendship and cooperation between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Republic of Rwanda”
Mrs Martine Van Hoogstraten
“Rwanda was declared an autonomous republic in 1961 and gained its independence on July 1st 1962.
This is not to say that the country faced no more challenges after 1962. In fact, the following decades proved to be full of turmoil. Ethnic tensions and political struggles went hand in hand, often resulting in violence against civilians. Tragic events eventually culminated in the genocide against the Tutsi of 1994.
The genocide destroyed the lives of countless Rwandans, including those of moderate Hutus and others who opposed the killings. It remains important to remember those who fell victim to the genocide 28 years ago.
No generation can take peace for granted. The current events in Ukraine sadly underline that point, as do the increasing tensions in Eastern DRC. I am glad to know that Rwanda and its neighbours have committed to keeping channels of dialogue open and to work towards de-escalation of tensions in the Great Laker Region.
Today is a day of hope. Because today, it is 28 years ago since the forces of the Rwandan Patriotic Front put an end to the genocide. Since then, the Rwandan government and its people have done a tremendous job rebuilding their country.
The Netherlands has been one of the major donors supporting the rebuilding of the justice sector in Rwanda. We took on this role because we believe justice and respect for human rights are essential in order to break the cycle of violence that has haunted Rwanda in the past.
This year, we find ourselves in between two chapters of our common history. Our countries’ bilateral development cooperation will end at the end of this year. That is the chapter we are closing, in line with Rwanda’s goal to become independent of foreign aid. Looking forward, both of our countries will focus on intensifying mutual trade and investments.
The Netherlands is ready for that new chapter. Minister Liesje Schreinemacher presented her new strategy for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in the Dutch parliament today. The strategy sets clear goals to enhance sustaineble trade.
A few weeks ago, Minister Schreinemacher had a fruitul meeting with her Rwandan colleague Mr. Vincent Biruta. And from 13 to 18 July, a delegation of 9 members of the Dutch Parliament will visit Rwanda to reflect on our bileral ties. These personal contacts underline that the historical bond that our countries have built in the past is strong.Today, we celebrate that new chapter in our friendship”
A Cocktail reception ended the 2022 Rwanda Liberation Day Celebration.