afrol News: International conference of genocide survivors in Rwanda


Rwanda genocide
International conference of genocide survivors in Rwanda

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afrol News, 25 November - An international conference of genocide and holocaust survivors was opened in the Rwandan capital Kigali under the theme "Rebuilding the lives of Genocide survivors", on Sunday morning by the Rwandan President, Paul Kagame. 

The conference will reflect on the challenges of "Life after Death" among the survivors of genocide around the world, according to a statement by the Rwandan government. "It will enable holocaust survivors, Armenians, Bosnians, Cambodians and other survivors of genocide exchange ideas with Rwandans about how to honour the memory of the dead while improving the living conditions of the living." 

International participants at the conference include genocide survivors and descendents of survivors from Israel, Armenia, Native Americans, Native Australians and Bosnians. Leading academics and scholars from the fields of law, psychology, economics, history, sociology and religion are also participating. 

Delivering the keynote address at the conference, Rwandan President Kagame said that genocide is by no means a phenomenon of the past. The President said, "Time and again, the world has witnessed the genocidal mass murder of innocent people: nearly 12 million native Americans were decimated in North America between 1600 and 1850; tens of millions of black Africans died during the 200 years of the international slave trade; millions died in the wars of colonization in Africa, Asia and Australia." 

President Kagame added that, "world events since 1945 have sadly confirmed that mass murder based on racial, ethnic, nationality or religious differences is by no means a thing of the past, as recent events in Rwanda and elsewhere have shown." 

The President said that genocide is not exclusively a phenomenon of the past either. "The risk genocide poses to humanity is as real today as it has always been throughout history. In our particular set of circumstances, the forces responsible for the 1994 Rwanda genocide were defeated, not destroyed. They remain ideologically committed to completing the genocide in Rwanda," President Kagame said. 

President Kagame appealed to the conference participants to discuss the issues with the seriousness that they merit. "The dialogue you are about to begin is not an academic exercise or a discussion about abstract issues. It is a crucial discussion of issues that are of immense importance to the future of our societies. We cannot, unfortunately, change the past. However, we can and must, drawing from the lessons learned from the past, influence the future," the President said. 

In his remarks, Dr. Antoine Mugesera, the Chairman of Ibuka, the umbrella organisation of genocide survivors associations, said that Rwandans should face the past with commitment and courage because one cannot build a future without coming to terms with the past. 

He added that they faced a number of challenges related to justice, trauma and the wounds of genocide, unity and reconciliation based on truth and justice, poverty and the collective memory of genocide. Mugesera, however, commended the government for setting up a fund to assist genocide survivors, particularly in paying school fees for orphans and caring for the sick. 

The conference, which will closes on Friday 30th November, 2001 has been convened by Ibuka with the assistance of the Rwandan governmentAn international conference of genocide and holocaust survivors was opened in the Rwandan capital Kigali under the theme "Rebuilding the lives of Genocide survivors", on Sunday morning by the Rwandan President, Paul Kagame. 

The conference will reflect on the challenges of "Life after Death" among the survivors of genocide around the world, according to a statement by the Rwandan government. "It will enable holocaust survivors, Armenians, Bosnians, Cambodians and other survivors of genocide exchange ideas with Rwandans about how to honour the memory of the dead while improving the living conditions of the living." 

International participants at the conference include genocide survivors and descendents of survivors from Israel, Armenia, Native Americans, Native Australians and Bosnians. Leading academics and scholars from the fields of law, psychology, economics, history, sociology and religion are also participating. 

Delivering the keynote address at the conference, Rwandan President Kagame said that genocide is by no means a phenomenon of the past. The President said, "Time and again, the world has witnessed the genocidal mass murder of innocent people: nearly 12 million native Americans were decimated in North America between 1600 and 1850; tens of millions of black Africans died during the 200 years of the international slave trade; millions died in the wars of colonization in Africa, Asia and Australia." 

President Kagame added that, "world events since 1945 have sadly confirmed that mass murder based on racial, ethnic, nationality or religious differences is by no means a thing of the past, as recent events in Rwanda and elsewhere have shown." 

The President said that genocide is not exclusively a phenomenon of the past either. "The risk genocide poses to humanity is as real today as it has always been throughout history. In our particular set of circumstances, the forces responsible for the 1994 Rwanda genocide were defeated, not destroyed. They remain ideologically committed to completing the genocide in Rwanda," President Kagame said. 

President Kagame appealed to the conference participants to discuss the issues with the seriousness that they merit. "The dialogue you are about to begin is not an academic exercise or a discussion about abstract issues. It is a crucial discussion of issues that are of immense importance to the future of our societies. We cannot, unfortunately, change the past. However, we can and must, drawing from the lessons learned from the past, influence the future," the President said. 

In his remarks, Dr. Antoine Mugesera, the Chairman of Ibuka, the umbrella organisation of genocide survivors associations, said that Rwandans should face the past with commitment and courage because one cannot build a future without coming to terms with the past. 

He added that they faced a number of challenges related to justice, trauma and the wounds of genocide, unity and reconciliation based on truth and justice, poverty and the collective memory of genocide. Mugesera, however, commended the government for setting up a fund to assist genocide survivors, particularly in paying school fees for orphans and caring for the sick. 

The conference, which will closes on Friday 30th November, 2001 has been convened by Ibuka with the assistance of the Rwandan government. 

Source:  Based on Rwandan govt. and afrol archives 

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