Dr. Vincent Biruta, former President of the Senate has called for the strengthening of international resolve in order that all the genocides committed in the past are not forgotten, minimised or trivialised.
Addressing the 3rd International Conference on genocide that took place at the California State University in Sacramento, Dr Biruta said; “The genocide in Rwanda was not the first genocide in the world. Others had happened before; compelling world leaders to resolve that such a crime against humanity should never be allowed to happen again. Yet it did and the world did nothing”.
Dr. Biruta who represented President Kagame at the conference emphasised that it was an indisputable fact that the genocide against the Tutsi happened in 1994, and that this was not an accident or instinctive reaction to an event as some people would have the world believe:
“The genocide was the culmination of a process that began under colonial rule with the classification and institutionalisation of divisions among Rwandans along what they erroneously called “ethnic” groups. Its ideology was then nurtured by post-colonial governments during which pogroms against Tutsi were carried out in 1959, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1973 and the early 1990s. A fully-fledged genocide was finally implemented by the most extreme of these governments in 1994”.
Dr. Biruta warned that if genocide denial and other underlying issues are not addressed decisively, the world would be guilty of allowing the seeds of future genocides to be planted:
“Like the planning and execution of genocide, its denial and revision are characterised by intense philosophical and intellectual justification, and pervasive propaganda. Denial is a cruel ordeal for survivors and families of victims and a vicious assault on their dignity. It is a devious means to destroy remembrance of the crime. And for the same reasons that the world resolved to prevent future genocides, we must confront denial squarely, expose and stop it”.
Rwanda was invited to third International Conference on Genocide held from November 2 to 4 by the California State University-Sacramento, under the theme; “Negationism, Revisionism, Survivors’ testimonies, Eyewitness Accounts, Justice and Memory”.
A video message from President Kagame kicked off the proceedings of the conference. Prominent academicians and experts in genocide studies also spoke during the conference which provided a unique opportunity for Rwanda to showcase progress made in various sectors and to challenge distortions and negative perceptions.
The conference resolved that the 5th International Conference on Genocide would be held in Rwanda in 2014, to coincide with the 20th commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi.