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Rwanda calls for end to hate speech, dehumanization

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High Commissioner of Rwanda to Kenya, Martin Ngoga, has stressed the need to learn from Rwanda’s dark history of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and put an end to the rising hate speech and intolerance in many parts of the world.

He said this during the Conference on the 30th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, held in Nairobi on Thursday ahead of this year’s national 100-day commemoration to begin on 07th April.

During the conference that brought together more than 500 people, High Commissioner Ngoga reminded that genocides are not born overnight, but rather stem from deep-seated prejudices, discrimination, and systematic dehumanization of a particular group, as was the case for Rwanda.

“As we renew our resolve to prevent such atrocities from ever happening again, we are seeing dangerous trends of rising hate speech and intolerance in many parts of the world. Particularly troubling is the current widespread proliferation of hate speech and incitement to violence, things that were very clearly present in Rwanda immediately before the genocide,” he said.

He went on to say that these vices threaten human rights, social stability and peace, hence calling for decisive, deliberate and timely actions by the international community.

This was also echoed by PLO Lumumba, pan-Africanist and Founder of PLO Lumumba Foundation, who observed that one thing that humans learn from history is that they learn nothing.

He added that it was unfortunate that many decades after the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, another genocide unfolded in Rwanda, and the international community stood by.

Nobody needs to be told of the pain that hatred occasions to man, he observed, reiterating the need to remain vigilant and prevent the repeat of such atrocities.

“We must never forget that eternal vigilance is critical that we may preserve dignity among men. If we are not eternally vigilant, then we are likely to repeat the things that harm us. We cannot afford the luxury of doing nothing when we know that the perpetrators of evil are always in the business of planning the next evil,” he noted.

On the failure of the international community, Charity Kagwi-Ndungu, Former Trial Attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), noted that there was a possibility to prevent the death of a million people during the Genocide against the Tutsi, had the international community had the will to do so.

“The world community could have done better for Rwanda. During that time there was still a lot of help and sympathy for Habyarimana’s regime. Also, the Security Council refused to use the word genocide because it would have required a global response,” she explained.

Meanwhile, according to Lonzen Rugira who also participated in the panel discussion, one of the remaining challenges following the Genocide against the Tutsi is refusing to repatriate or try genocide suspects who are still roaming freely in many parts of the world, consequently denying justice to genocide victims.

“If these countries are refusing to send them to Rwanda or prosecute them where they are, it means they are facilitating the evasion of justice, and, therefore, accomplices in these crimes,” he said.

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