Uganda’s State Minister for regional cooperation, Philemon Mateke, has called on the United Nations (UN) to draw lessons from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi to prevent crimes against humanity from being committed.
Mateke was speaking Saturday at the commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi by the Rwandan community and friends of Rwanda in Uganda over the weekend in Entebbe.
“As we reflect on the past 24 years, it is my hope that the international community will be reminded that complacency is too costly,” the Minister said to hundreds of mourners that gathered for the event.
“We should strive to make sure that the UN and international community make timely and robust actions to protect civilians and prevent mass atrocities. In this context, political commitment and sustained international support is vital.”
In a message to the world in line with observing the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, lauded Rwandans’ efforts at reconciliation after the atrocities.
He also urged countries across the world to learn from Rwanda’s experience and take steps to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
“It is imperative that we unite to prevent such atrocities from occurring, and that the international community sends a strong message to perpetrators that they will be held accountable,” he said.
On the over a million Rwandans who died in the Genocide, the UN Secretary General added: “Today we remember all those who were murdered and reflect on the suffering of the survivors, who have shown that reconciliation is possible, even after a tragedy of such monumental proportions”.
The ceremony was marked by songs from students, illustrating how the Genocide against the Tutsi was executed.
Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Uganda, Frank Mugambage, was joined at the occasion by several heads of diplomatic corps accredited to Uganda.
Speaking at the event, Mugambage lashed out at those that keep trivializing the Genocide against the Tutsi, some through publications.
“You find some people arguing as to whether it should be called the Genocide against the Tutsi. Genocide always targets a group of people. Genocide goes through phases. It can never be spontaneous,” he told the audience.
Frank Rusanganwa, vice chairperson of the Banyarwanda community in Uganda, underscored the need to keep remembering the Genocide victims.
He commended the Rwanda Patriotic Army (now Rwanda Defence Forces) for having stopped the Genocide at a time when the international community turned a deaf ear.
A number of activities have been lined up for the Rwandan community in Uganda.
Later this month, they will lay a wreath at Kasensero Genocide Memorial in Rakai District.
Among other planned activities, there will be fundraising for the construction of the Ggolo memorial site in Mpigi District in June this year.
Officials says the Rwandan community and friends of Rwanda have already raised close to Shs40 million (roughly Rwf10 million) towards the construction of the memorial site.
There are three memorial sites in Uganda, including Ggolo in Mpigi District, home to over 4,000 Genocide victims, while the others are Kasensero and Lambu in Rakai and Masaka districts, respectively.
In 1994, some victims were dumped into different rivers only to turn up on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda.