LET’S COMMEMORATE OUR PEOPLE, REMEMBERING OUR PAST, REFLECTING ON OUR PRESENT, AND LOOKING FORWARD TO OUR FUTURE
1. Dear Rwandan sisters and brothers, dear friends of Rwanda, on behalf of the Rwanda National Congress – RNC, and personally, I would like to start by presenting you our greetings and wishing you peace and divine blessings wherever you are.
Dear fellow Rwandans, the time we devote each year to commemorating the loss of our people is a very precious time in the life of every Rwandan and in the existence of Rwanda as a country. This is an opportunity for all of us, whether in public, or each one in their heart, to pay a tribute to the memory of our dear loved ones, lost during the Rwandan tragedy. That is why I would first of all respectfully bow to the honour of our brothers and sisters who have left us, carried away by the deadly madness; the victims of the 1994 Tutsi genocide, of war crimes, of crimes against humanity perpetrated on Hutu people, as well as in honour of foreign citizens who lost their lives in the midst of the conflicts between Rwandans. I would like to comfort all their families from the bottom of my heart, wherever they are, while asking them to keep their courage and not to remain under the grasp of sorrow. I also implore God to protect them and cover them with his infinite goodness, he who reigns above all things and brings the supreme consolation to all who are suffering.
2. Dear sisters and brothers, twenty five years since the tragedy that occurred in our country. The years may seem many or not depending on where we look from. Twenty five years is a short time when you think of the physical and psychological wounds that many Rwandans carry. Those who escaped the killings but remained with permanent physical disabilities feel as if the war has gone on in their flesh all these years.
Others who live with broken hearts for having lost everything are constantly torn by sorrow and have a feeling of being prisoners of an endless night. The daily life of these two categories of our brothers and sisters is a hard fight, to be joyful is a giant effort and courage from them.
3. On the other hand, twenty-five years seem like a long time when one looks at certain facts that have occurred and have radically changed people's lives on the individual level and the whole look out of Rwanda as a country. For example, analyzing the composition of the current population of Rwanda shows that 60% of the population is composed by young people who are less than twenty five years old, and were not yet born in 1994.
4. In order to reconcile the two perceptions about this twenty-five years period since our country Rwanda suffered the worst tragedy in its history, I would like to suggest, for this year, we commemorate our loved ones by remembering our past, examining our present and thinking about our future.
5.At the end of war in 1994, all Rwandans thirsted for peace and security. The new government, which was qualified as one of National Unity, promised the citizens that they would no longer fight, that they would leave behind them the conflicts that had constantly opposed them, conflicts that ended in tragedy. The new authorities promised to bring relief and consolation to all grieving people, to bring justice to all the victims and to heal the physical and psychological wounds of all the sons and daughters of the country without discrimination. They also promised to respect and apply the Arusha Peace Agreement. This peace agreement was seen as a pact between Rwandans with the help of friend countries especially those of the region.
6. What were the foundations of this pact? In a few words, this pact was intended to once and for all put an end to the violation of human rights, to definitively break the culture of persecutions of the populations in all their forms, to put the power in the hands of the people and to equitably share the riches of the country whatever they are. This pact was also to allow all refugees to return home and permanently end exile. The new authorities promised us not to betray this pact, Unity was the chorus, Reconciliation the couplet.
7. Foreign friends spared no effort to assist us. They generously provided aid to widows and orphans, helped rebuild what had been demolished, rehabilitate what had been damaged, and repatriate and resettle the countless refugees and displaced persons who were scattered everywhere.
8. Unfortunately, all these promises of the new government have remained only dreams, unfulfilled wishes until today. Some of the members of this government resigned and then went into exile and swelled the ranks of the refugees; others have resumed the refugee status which they had lived in thirty years of their life before. Worse still, all those people have been hunted down to be killed just because they have dissociated themselves from a government that oppresses the Rwandan people. What was a state supported by the great pillar of the unity of ALL Rwandans became a state operating under the dictation of ONE SINGLE man.
9. From then on, the noble ideals we had at the end of the war in 1994 not to betray the pact we had made and to live together as brothers and sisters have all vanished. What was to be unity has been usurped by discord. The splendid voice of reconciliation that we wanted to hear has been chocked by scary rackets of trouble. Rwanda, instead of proudly advancing, having broken the chains of its sad history, has fallen back at a brisk pace and is now at the edge of an abyss.
10. The current regime, instead of guiding the people with wisdom and insight on the right track, has lost all its bearings and leads the people into criminal activities, resulting in conflictual relationships between Rwandans themselves as well as with their foreign brothers, especially those from neighboring countries. We have reached a point where a Rwandan citizen abroad is subject to mistrust, suspected of duplicity. The countries that once welcomed Rwandans with open arms will now feel safe only after expelling and driving the latter back out of their borders. We have reached the point where the government is closing its borders with neighboring countries, turning Rwanda into a prison, holding Rwandans hostage and starving them, while asking them to remain impassive in the name of dignity.
11. Dear sisters and brothers, when we look at all these facts which describe the situation prevailing in 1994 and the current state of affairs twenty-five years later, there is no other way out than that Rwanda must rapidly and completely change its direction to ensure that the tragic events we commemorate each year never happen again, and that young Rwandans today can write a story different from that of their parents. We must return to the ideals of the pact we had made between us as Rwandans and rekindle the bright flame of hope. It is for this reason that the Rwanda National Congress – RNC, as well as the other political parties with members of the P5 platform have asked for a dialogue with the Kigali government in order to search together for solutions to the sensitive problems that Rwanda faces.
12. Dear sisters and brothers, like all those who wish lasting peace to the Rwandan people, I have a deep conviction that the best way to honour the memory of our people is not to be overcome by sorrow, but rather to pay tribute to their memory by raising our spirits so that the horrible tragedies that have sank us into mourning never happen again.
April 7th, 2019
Joseline Muhorakeye, Unity and reconciliation commissioner