Eritrea and UN pay tribute to victims of Rwanda genocideApr 8, 2013
Asmara -- The United Nations in Eritrea and the Government of Eritrea marked the International Day to Remember the Victims of the Rwanda Genocide, starting with a "Walk to Remember," at Expo Ground, a prominent setup for Eritrean festivals.
The Walk was formally kicked off by the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator Ms. Christine N. Umutoni and Ambassador Fessehazione Petros, Director General at Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Government Ministers, Ambassadors, UN Heads of Agencies, and staff, and invited guests from various Government institutions and civil society organizations joined in.
In 1994, Rwandan Genocide claimed 800,000 innocent civilian lives, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus over a period 100 days.
Speaking to participants during the opening of the walk, UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Mr. Odallo who was also Master of Ceremonies, said the Walk was to promote awareness of genocide, and empower participants to take an active stance against genocide and its causes while giving hope to survivors.
“We thank all of you for having left everything you were doing on Sunday evening and come to pay respect to the victims of the genocide,” Odallo said.
After prayers for the victims of the genocide, all participants stood to observe a moment of silence in honor of the victims. This was followed by candle lighting to pay respect and tribute to the victims. Documentary films, music and video clips on the Rwanda genocide were also screened and a choir from National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students (NUEYS) sang several peace songs and recited poems both in English and Tigrinya languages. One of the songs presented by the choir during the event was:
We are the children, walking hand in hand;
We are the children watch us as we stand;
For liberty and freedom, peace and brotherhood;
We are children, we stand for good.
Speaking to the gathering, the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator, Ms. Christine N. Umutoni, thanked the government of Eritrea and all present for their support and solidarity.
Umutoni read the UN Secretary General’s message, which highlighted that Rwanda is forging on a new path, progressing towards more peaceful and just society. The Secretary General called on member states to uphold their obligations under international laws regarding abuses and protection of their populations.
She thanked the leadership of Rwanda under the leadership of Paul Kagame for having done what seemed impossible in rallying the people to unite, reconcile and rebuild the nation.
Representing the Government of the State of Eritrea, Ambassador Fesehazion Petros of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed solidarity of the people and Government of Eritrea with the Rwandan people in their resilience and efforts to recover from the devastating effects of horrific events.
“April 7 is a reminder to all of us individually or collectively to shoulder our responsibilities and to renew our commitments not to allow such slaughter of human beings, as the one that took place in Rwanda in 1994," Petros said.
"We must say never again with one voice.”
The United Nations 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (known as the “Genocide Convention”) defines genocide as any crimes committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, national, ethnical, racial or religious groups.