AU-Rwanda Embassy-IPSS Symposium: “28th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda”

5 July, 2022

On Thursday, June 16, 2022, IPSS in collaboration with the African Union Commission’s Political Affairs, Peace and Security Department, and the Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda in Ethiopia, hosted a triplet symposium at the African Union Commission, Nelson Mandela Hall under the theme “28th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.”

The symposium intends to raise awareness regarding Genocide denial and hate speech and detect current alarming trends of growing xenophobia, racism, and intolerance that have frequently led to the widespread distribution of hate speech and incitement to violence. Hate speech may have devastating consequences for individuals or organisations, as it is directed towards as well as for society as a whole. When hate speech is tolerated in ordinary discourse, democracy, peace, and social cohesion are all in danger. The preponderance of genocidal crimes committed globally is greatly influenced by hate speech. Every democratic society must respect the right to free speech, but when it is exercised in a political setting, hate speech has the potential to spark the “crime of crimes”—genocide. Considering the Rwandan genocide being viewed as an internal conflict, the international community failed to stop it. The international media, which emphasised the deliberate death of people, likewise referred to the conflict as a civil war.

Dr. Fana Gebresenbet, Director of IPSS, stated in his introductory remarks that we a/ll must work together to prevent genocide and other severe tragedies on our continent. Symposiums like this one help us better comprehend the various expressions of genocidal violence and establish a cohesive approach to oppose them.

Amb. Tumukunde G. Hope emphasized in her preliminary speech that while we mourn the lives lost and pay tribute to those who died in the 1994 Tutsi Genocide, we must also reinforce our determination to prevent similar crimes from occurring in the future.

Solomon Dersso, PhD, remarked when a society commits genocide, it is mostly because of a lack of political vision and leadership on the part of the leaders who failed to defend their population. When committing crimes, individuals or organisations frequently refuse to accept responsibility and instead refute the evidence. Hence, genocide denial is an obstacle to meaningful reconciliation and healing.

Lastly, we mourn for the lives lost while also learning from Rwandan society’s fortitude and the nation-building process that Rwanda experienced.