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Rwanda: Genocide Survivors Ask Blinken to Retract ‘Misleading’ Statement

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The umbrella association of Genocide against the Tutsi survivor organisations, Ibuka, has asked United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken to retract a statement he made on April 7 at the occasion of the 30th commemoration of the Genocide.

Despite United Nations resolutions that have recognised that what happened in Rwanda in 1994 was a genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi, the US government continues to refer to the tragic events as the genocide or the Rwandan genocide.

In the statement posted on X, Blinken referred to April 7 as a day to remember “the victims of genocide” and to “mourn the many thousands of Tutsis, Hutus, Twas, and others whose lives were lost during 100 days of unspeakable violence.”

In a letter to Blinken on April 17, Ibuka said his statement contradicts the definition of genocide and “obscures the primary, intended victims” of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

“Survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda are emotionally devastated and offended by your misleading statement issued on the day they were mourning the loss of their loved ones that were brutally killed during the genocide,” Ibuka said in the letter seen by The New Times.

“In not explicitly stating that the genocide specifically targeted Tutsi, your statement obscures the primary, intended victims. While some Hutus and Twas also lost their lives, they were not the primary targets; the genocide overwhelmingly aimed at exterminating the Tutsi population. Indeed, it was extremist Hutu factions who orchestrated these atrocities.”

The signatories of the letter, 16 presidents of survivors’ organisation all over the world, said they had “no doubt” that Blinken was aware of the judicial and historical background about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, adding that his statement had “retraumatised many survivors, exacerbated our pain and suffering, and undermined the effort to advance knowledge and understanding of the genocide and human rights.”

Recalling the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, which defines genocide as a ‘crime committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such,’ Ibuka said, “it is impossible that the 1994 genocide targeted ‘Tutsis, Hutus, Twas, and others’ indiscriminately.”

“That would mean there were three separate genocides in Rwanda one against each group, [or alternatively,] a single genocide against the Rwandan national group, which would mean that victims would have been targeted, not for their “ethnicity” but for their Rwandan nationality. And we know that both options are historically not true,” the presidents said.

In the letter, they cite legal and official facts that proved that the tragic events of 1994 were a genocide against the Tutsi.

These are: the 1998 decision by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which ruled in the case of Jean-Paul Akayesu that the crime of genocide was committed in Rwanda in 1994 against the Tutsi as a group.

They add that the judgement was upheld by the Appeals Chamber, which said, in June 2006 in the case of Edouard Karemera, Mathieu Ngirumpatse and Joseph Nzirorera, that it was a ‘fact of common knowledge’ that between April 6 and July 17, 1994, there was a genocide in Rwanda against the Tutsi ethnic group.

The Ibuka representatives also recalled that the UN had recognised the events of 1994 as a genocide against the Tutsi, first through a 2014 Security Council resolution, second through a General Assembly resolution and through a 2020 resolution that recognised April 7 to the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

“The above context unambiguously shows that there was indeed a genocide specifically against the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994,” they said.

“Thus, we are profoundly hurt and outraged by your misleading statement issued on a day of mourning and reflection for the loss of Tutsi lives. We urge you to rectify this misrepresentation by retracting your previous statement and issuing a new one that accurately reflects the historical truths of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.”

Various people, including US public officials have on various occasions asked the US government to recognise the 1994 massacres in Rwanda as the Genocide against the Tutsi.

An American lawyer Barbara Mulvaney, who was an attorney in the trail of Col Theoneste Bagosora, one of the masterminds of the Genocide against the Tutsi, recently told The New Times that Blinken’s statement mirrored the tropes used by Genocide denialists and revisionists.

“Basically, the US is parroting the propaganda of Bagosora and his crew,” said Mulvaney. “That’s why it is so dangerous and appalling and annoying to those who understand the facts of the Genocide against the Tutsi and the history of Rwanda, 1990-94.”

During a commemorative event held on April 15 at Capitol Hill, US Congressman Trent Kelly called on the State Department to adopt the proper appellation of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

“The facts are the facts,” said Kelly. “It’s not the Rwandan Genocide, it’s the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.”

In an interview with The New Times, published on April 12, UN Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu said she could not comprehend why anyone would hesitate to use the appellation of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

“I really don’t know what would inform that thinking,” Nderitu said. “If 30 years down the line, you still need to do education that a genocide happened against the Tutsi, when an international criminal tribunal … determined that a genocide happened here, I really need to pay attention to those who do not acknowledge it as such.”

By  New Times.

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