Today, 11th March 2020, a delegation of 27 ministerial officials from Somalia visited the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG). As promoting learning experiences through learning trips is included as one of the Somalia National Reconciliation Framework (NRF), the visit aimed to draw from the lessons learnt in Rwanda, from its historical grievances, the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and its recovery and rebuilding journey to educate, to inspire, to promote humanity, and contribute to sustainable peace and development.
The Director General of CNLG’s Research and Documentation Centre on Genocide, Dr. Jean-Damascène Gasanabo who received them, explained the mission, vision and responsibilities of the CNLG such as: Genocide Commemoration and its prevention, Advocacy for Genocide survivors and conducting Research on Genocide and preservation of the documentation related to Genocide and other genocide proofs.
Dr. Gasanabo discussed the definition of the genocide, explaining its stages and how each of these stages was applied to the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda by explaining the history of its preparation and execution. He also reminded them the right appellation when referring to the genocide against the Tutsi, as provided by UN Resolution A/72/L.31, designating 7 April as the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
Dr. Gasanabo’s presentation also spent time discussing the actions taken by the Rwandan government from 1990-1994 that indicated something strange was looming. In 1993, the government purchased 581 tons of machetes from China, which added to the major store of weapons and ammunition they had been stockpiling since 1990.
He also talked about the Gacaca Courts and their role in offering justice in the aftermath of the Genocide, the strategies put in place by Rwanda in prevention of Genocide and fight against genocide ideology. He detailed the key efforts taken by CNLG to preserve, digitalize, and index documents from the Gacaca trials to create a well-coordinated archive for future use in educational and research purposes.
He also explored the ongoing threat of genocide ideology and genocide denial both in Rwandan society and abroad. He introduced specific evidence of cases of genocide ideology and denial that occurred in 2018 during the commemoration period and how they were dealt with by the laws. He highlighted the dangers of such speech in regards to re-traumatization of victims and its role in inciting genocide.
Furthermore, he discussed the ongoing preservation project at Murambi in partnership with the University of Hamburg and the Hannover Museum of Cultural Heritage, in which 20 bodies (11 adults and 9 children) are undergoing a process to ensure that they remain in good condition. He talked about the preservation of textiles at Nyamata, in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania.
After a brief description of Rwanda’s ambitions for development spearheaded by the national strategy on the transformation of the country, which includes but is not limited to Vision 2020 and 2050, the preservation and conservation of genocide proofs, the role of religion during the genocide as well as during the post genocide recovery process, reparation of genocide survivors and reintegration of perpetrators who have served their sentences among others.