Greetings, my dear Brothers and Sisters! First, allow me to express my profound gratitude to all of you for attending, the Annual General Meeting of Temple Beth Ora’ here in Edmonton. I take this opportunity to thank Ann Goldblatt, for inviting the Memory Keepers Association of 1994 Genocide against Tutsi of Rwanda to come tonight and share with you our sad history which is the Genocide against Tutsi we experienced 20 years ago in Rwanda.
Before I start this presentation, I would like to kindly invite you to observe one minute of silence in memory of the six million Jews and over one million Tutsis who perished in both historical genocides.
As you may know, Rwanda is a small country located in Central Africa, with 342 square kilometres per habitat,
Gross domestic Product is $644 , and the population is now estimated to 11M,)
We have four neighbouring countries: In the North: Republic Democratic of Congo, East: Uganda, West: Tanzania and South Burundi.
Rwanda was called a “Country of thousand hills” because of her beautiful nature; however, in only 100 days in 1994, she was covered with dead bodies on the streets, in schools, in churches and rivers, which filled our hearts with hatred and desolation.
Every April, we choose to take the time to remember and honour the memory of over one million souls slained under the cruel hand of their fellow compatriots. We get together to remember the Tutsis who were killed because of who they were. We also remember foreign citizens who perished just because they refused to take part in the extermination of the Tutsis or those who were brutally massacred while protecting the Tutsis.
Each year, the Memory Keepers Association continues to revisit this painful past history by gathering and comforting each other as survivors of this 20th century Genocide. We also renew our efforts, as Rwandans, to preserve our young generation from future atrocities.
Ladies and Gentleman
The Genocide plan started long time ago, with the division of the people who lived together under one religion, one culture, one language all shared one land. This macabre ideology was introduced by the colonizers who included the Belgium Catholic priests.
According to the analysis of first colonizers to Rwanda and Burundi, (Germans first, and Belgians later) the population of Rwanda and Burundi were divided into three ethnic-based classes: Hutus, Tutsis and Twas. By then, the ethnic breakdown of the nation is roughly 84% Hutu, 15% Tutsi, and 1% Twa. Hutus were considered socially inferior to Tutsis.
I would like to inform you that Rwanda was under the Germany Power before the International Conference of Berlin which took place in Feb 26 1885 in Berlin, where their objective it was to see how the continent of Africa can be divided by different countries of Europe.
After this meeting, The Belgium were in charge of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. Their named those countries Congo-Ruanda-Urundi.
Belgians have replaced more than one thousand years of Rwandan’s life style by European one; they intentionally convinced the Hutus majority to see themselves as oppressed by the Tutsi minority; as a result the road of hatred was paved for ever.
One of the tools which facilitated the Hutus to exterminate Tutsis during the genocide it was the ethnic Identification card initiated in 1933 by the Belgium. This card with a picture indicated that your were”Tutsi”, “Hutu” and “Twa” and was used to classify one’s ethnicity, that’s why people were asked for an IDs during the genocide. The Belgium were in power since 1918-1962.
Briefly this is how thing led up to 1994 Genocide
In 1957, the Hutu manifest is written by the Bishop of Kabwayi, (Andre.PERODE: Overheated by hatred and fully supported by Roman Catholic Church, they wanted elections.
The assassination of the King Mutara III Rudahigwa and the Timeline of events leading to the 1994 Genocide since the 1st Republic
1957: Parmehutu (Party for the Emancipation of the Hutus) is formed while Rwanda is still under Belgian rule.
1959: During his annual dental check-up in Burundi (Bujumbura), the King died in a Belgian’s dentist cabinet; With his death, more than 100 000 lives were claimed among the Tutsis just in few days after and more than 150 000 flee the country . The Hutu majority seized the power. They stripped the Tutsis out of their lands and cattle;
This was the first genocide against the Tutsi committed by Hutus. That genocide has never been reported by any media. It was covered up by the Powerful Catholic Church.
1960: Hutus win municipal elections organized by Belgian colonial rulers.
1961-62: Belgians withdraw. Rwanda and Burundi become separated and independent countries.
A Hutu revolution in Rwanda installs a new president, Gregoire Kayibanda; fighting continues and thousands of Tutsis are forced to flee.
1963: Further massacre of Tutsis, this time in response to a military attack by exiled Tutsis in Burundi. More refugees leave the country. It is estimated that by the mid-1960s half of the Tutsi population is living outside of Rwanda.
1967: Renewed massacres of Tutsis.
1973: The army chief of staff, General Juvenal Habyarimana, seizes power, pledging to restore order. Purge of Tutsis from universities. Fresh outbreak of killings, again directed to Tutsi community.
1975: Habyarimana’s political party, the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND) is formed. A policy of ethnic quotas is entrenched in all public services employment, and Tutsis are restricted to 9% of available jobs. People from the president’s home area of northern Rwanda are given overwhelming preferences in public services and military jobs. This pattern of exclusion of the Tutsis continues throughout the ’70s and ’80s.
1986: In Uganda, Rwandan exiles are among the victorious troops of Yoweri Museveni’s party the National Resistance Army who takes power, overthrowing the dictator Milton Obote. The exiles then formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).
July 1990: Under pressure from Western aid donors, Habyarimana concedes the principle of multi-party democracy.
Oct. 1990: RPF soldiers invaded Rwanda from Uganda. After fierce fighting in which French and Zairean (RD Congo) troops are called in to assist the government, a cease-fire is signed on March 29, 1991.
1990/91: The Rwandan army begins to train and arm civilian militias known as interahamwe (“Those who stand together”). For the next three years, Habyarimana stalls on the establishment of a genuine multi-party system with power-sharing. Throughout this period thousands of Tutsis are killed in separate massacres around the country (Kibirira, Bugesera and Bigogwe). Opposition politicians and newspapers leaders are persecuted.
November 1992: Prominent Hutu activist Leon Mugusera appeals to Hutus to send the Tutsis “back to Ethiopia” via the rivers Nyabarongo, Akanyaru and Akagera; (The source of Nile River).
August 1993: Following months of negotiations, Habyarimana and the RPF signal Accord in Arusha Tanzania) that allows for the return of refugees and a coalition MNRD-RPF government. 2,500 U.N. troops are deployed in Kigali to oversee the implementation of the (accord or agreement)
Sept.1993-Mar.1994: Training of militias intensifies. Extremist radio station like Radio Mille Collines, begins broadcasting exhortations to attack the Tutsis. Human rights groups warned the international community of impending calamity.
April 6, 1994: The President Habyarimana and the President of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira, are killed when Habyarimana’s plane is shot down near Kigali Airport. Extremists Hutus, suspecting that the president is finally
about to implement the Arusha Peace Accords, are believed to be behind the attack. That night the systematic killing of Tutsis and moderate Hutus begins.
April 7, 1994: The Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) and the Interahamwe set up roadblocks and go from house to house killing Tutsis and moderate Hutu politicians. Thousands died on the first day. U.N. forces stand by while the slaughter goes on, they are forbidden to intervene, as this would breach their “monitoring” mandate.
April 8, 1994: The RPF launches a major offensive to end the genocide and rescues 600 of its troops surrounded in Kigali. The troops had been based in the city as part of the Arusha Accords
April 21, 1994: The U.N. cuts its forces from 2,500 to 250 following the murder of ten Belgian soldiers assigned to guard the Hutu prime minister Agathe Uwiliyingimana. The prime minister is killed and the Belgians are disarmed, tortured, and killed. They had been told not to resist violently by the U.N. force commander, as this would have breached their mandate.
April 30, 1994: The U.N. Security Council spends eight hours discussing the Rwandan crisis. The resolution condemning the killing omits the word “genocide.” Had the term been used, the U.N. would have been legally obliged to act to “prevent and punish” the perpetrators. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of refugees flee into Tanzania, Burundi and Zaire. In one day 250,000 Rwandans, mainly Hutus fleeing the advance of the RPF, cross the border into Tanzania.
May- June 1994 the tutsis all over the country they were killed like animals
July 1994: The RPF captures Kigali. The Hutu government flees to Zaire, followed by a big number of refugees. The French end their mission and are replaced by Ethiopian U.N. troops. The RPF sets up an interim government of national unity in Kigali.
November 1994: U.N. Security Council established an international tribunal that will oversee prosecution of suspects involved in genocide.( Installed Arusha Tanzania)
Ladies and gentleman,
It is not easy to talk about Rwanda is history in short time as we have, I have given you a short idea how things went up to Genocide in 1994. May be we will get enough time to go in deep and explain more. As Avigdor Lieberman, Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel said last week in Rwanda June 11 2014; when he was visiting Rwanda with his delegation – Rwanda and Israel share a similar destiny; “Rwanda suffered for many years and for the Jewish people, it is much easier to understand your history. Our political relations (Rwanda and Israel) are very stable and very good,” he said. Twenty years ago, Rwanda succumbed to a 100 rainy days of horror, flooded in the blood of victims and in the tears of survivors. Today, Rwanda emerged and her citizens are rebuilding the country that was destroyed. Twenty years ago, the right to life was denied by genocide perpetrators. Today, Rwanda is committed to fight all revisionists who have vowed to deny its citizens the right to remember. Rwanda is committed to fight against these forces that continue to obstruct the truth of what happened in 1994 hoping that their sins will slip away in intervening years.
Twenty years ago, Rwandans were abandoned. First, by its own army killing its own people. Second, abandoned by the international community and, by the UN peacekeepers present in Rwanda at that time and leaded by the Canadian General Romeo Dallaire. Today, Rwanda is responding to those in distress beyond its borders, and is committed to prevent and fight against genocide and other mass atrocities, through its participation in peacekeeping operations and through its continued commitment towards the responsibility to protect. Ladies and gentleman, The Memory Keepers Association of 1994 Genocide against Tutsi of Rwanda, choose to keep the memory of our beloved ones killed during this horrible tragedy happened in Rwanda after the Never again said by the UN in 1945 where over 6 millions of Jewish perished and the world watched instead to react quick and serve many souls of humanity. Every year we do commemorate and remember the Genocide against Tutsi in April of each year. In two month ago it was our 20 th commemoration. After 100 days the genocide took place, we established a day called Hope day in July where we gathering to gather and see how we can see the sun shining and live again with hope and a strong vision to sake a better future.
Our Association decided to inform the world, educate the new generation about this dehumanisation, humiliation, divisionism and discuss the consequences of these indifferences may be our children they will not face what we experienced 20 years later in Rwanda and 69 years for Jewish people.
In the spirit to help and comfort each other, we initiate a project
Titled: Post 1994 Genocide Survivors in Edmonton: Rwandese Community-based Research Project Exploring Mental Health Challenges, Strengths and Pathways to Healing. It will be conducted with Prof. Dr.Linda University of Calgary, Assisatant Prof. Dr Sophia Yohani, and Dr Ernest Kalema, researcher of University of Pretoria South Africa and some members of the community. We think that, this will help our brothers and sisters who are suffering and stay home without any help to be reached and get the assistance needed.
Ladies and Gentleman,
As mentioned and emphasized by Gregory H. Stanton, before the Genocide happened, there is 8 Stages of Genocide which must be completed: Classification, Symbolization, Dehumanization, Organization, Polarization, Preparation all six are warning signs and two more signs of execution.
Extermination and Denial. All 8 stages were completed in Rwanda. Now we are experiencing the last stage which is the Denial of the Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda. We, as the survivors we can not tolerated any actions and tentative of denying where and anyhow this can occur. We think that we will work together with Jewish community to discourage these activities.
Once again thank you very much for allowed us to come and share with you our history and my wish is to build a strong community both Memory Keepers and Jewish community we can say one day never again is never again.
MUHIMA Rubarake Seth
The president of Memory Keepers Association of 1994 Genocide against Tutsis of Rwanda.