Rwandans in the Netherlands were joined by the diplomatic community and friends of Rwanda this week for the 26th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Jean Pierre Karabaranga, Rwanda’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, said the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was the last stage of the genocidal ideology and plan that started in 1959.
“Since then, mass killings against happened openly in the eyes of the international community in different parts of Rwanda,” he said.
The ambassador indicated that remembrance – Kwibuka – allows Rwandans to live in a country free of hatred and discrimination, but also a time to reiterate the need to fight ideology.
Christine Safari, Chairperson of Ibuka in the Netherlands, said it was important for Rwandans to remember as a sign of honour to those who were brutally murdered in 1994.
Ibuka-Netherlands was created in 2003 with core principle of advocating for justice and support survivors, among other things.
“Ibuka strives for bringing all those who committed the genocide, as well as those who trivialize it be brought to justice wherever they are,” Safari said.
She reiterated the call to Dutch government to allow survivors to have a memorial site in the Netherlands, as it has been done in Belgium, France, Italy and in Switzerland.
Ibuka Chairperson in the Netherlands also requested the Dutch government to establish a law that punishes the denial of Genocide against the Tutsi.
“This would give us a basis to legally combat the denial and the trivialisation,” she said.
Yoka Brandt, the Secretary General of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who participated in the commemoration admitted that Rwanda has faced challenges to bring to justice those who perpetrated the Genocide.
She said there cannot be reconciliation and justice without accountability, and Rwanda has shown incredible resolve and commitment in that respect.
“The Netherlands has been a strong supporter of Rwanda in this endeavour, and will continue to support Rwanda to bring perpetrators to justice,” she noted.
“Genocide suspects will not find a safe haven in the Netherlands. We believe, genocide suspects, should as much as possible be tried in the country where they committed their crimes,” she added.
Judge Carmel Agius, the President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, also known as the Mechanism, joined Rwanda to commemorate.
The Mechanism, formerly known as ICTR was created by the United Nations Security Council in order to bring to justice the perpetrators responsible for the atrocities.
However, it has been criticized for its slow pace in bringing to justice those who committed the genocide.
Judge Agius insisted that the Mechanism is taking steps “within our mandate to ensure that the judgments of the ICTR are respected.”
“The Mechanism is also working to complete the residual functions of the ICTR, with the Prosecutor continuing to track the eight ICTR fugitives still on the run,” he said.
“We know that Rwanda not only demands, but also deserves, that the fugitives’ hiding places be uncovered and that they be brought to face justice. The Mechanism joins Rwanda in demanding that justice be done,” he added.
However, Carmel highlighted that the Mechanism cannot execute this mandate alone.
“We remain reliant on States to take all necessary steps to cooperate fully with the Mechanism in locating these eight fugitives. And once they are found, States must act immediately to secure their arrest and transfer,” he noted.
Amb. Gebre Million of Ethiopia and his wife.
Amb. Lawrence Lenayapa of Kenya and his wife.
Amb Irene Mkwawa of Tanzania
Amb Kevin Kelly of Ireland
Amb Oji Ngofa of Nigeria
Amb Peter Wilson of United Kingdom