UN special adviser condemns genocide denial, explains its detrimental impact on healing and reconciliation

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 7 April 2024 at 09:00

Alice Wairimu Nderitu, the Special Adviser to the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, has condemned the deniers of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda, terming their actions as worrisome.

In a message for the 30th commemoration of the genocide dubbed “Kwibuka30”, Nderitu emphasized that genocide denial is detrimental on healing and reconciliation efforts.

“Denial or distorting the facts of the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda coming in the form of hate speech or constitutes an indicator of risk for the commission of genocide,” Nderitu said.

Without mentioning names, Nderitu noted that it was concerning that the deniers continue to ignore judicial decisions by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda UN-ICTR, which proved beyond reasonable doubt, using international fair standards, that the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda happened.

“These threats are particularly worrisome as we are making the 30th commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda,” she added.

The adviser highlighted that the hate speech, which played a key role in dehumanizing the Tutsi targeted for extinction in 1994, is one again, especially on social media, helping to spread and amplify denial at an alarming rate.

She called for concerted efforts to face head-on the challenges of addressing denial and distortion of the tragedies to prevent a repeat of the painful history.

"The story of Rwanda in the past 30 years is a story of deep learning and drawing lessons from the past to ensure that future generations do not experience the same horrors. Those whose lives and futures were taken must be remembered always. There is everlasting pain in remembering, but there is also strength.

"There must be determination in ensuring that these lessons learned from Rwanda are truly learned, risk factors mitigated early, and populations protected from another genocide. This determination and these efforts remain essential. This is why Kwibuka30 is especially important today, to remind us of our obligation to learn, to prevent, to act for those whose lives were taken away in the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and for those whose lives are at risk today," she affirmed.

More than one million people were killed in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

Several heads-of-state and government are in the country to participate in the commemoration of the genocide today.

Some of the leaders include Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Petr Pavel (Czech Republic President), Andry Rajoelina (Madagascar), Mohamed Ould Ghazouani (Mauritania), Salva Kiir (South Sudan) South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), Faustin-Archange Touadéra (Central African Republic) and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed among others.

Former US President Bill Clinton, Ugandan Vice President Jessica Alupo, Kenya’s Deputy Rigathi Gachagua, and Stéphane Séjourné, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, are also attending the event.

Alice Wairimu Nderitu, the Special Adviser to the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide