24 years after one of the most shocking genocides in Africa – which the Tutsi of Rwanda were mainly victims – the emotion remains intact, and responds by the strength of memory, to the ever-underlying paradoxes of the country today.
It is all the more important to underline the legitimacy of this vigil in remembrance of the decimated families of this planned savagery that created nearly a million victims.
Each year, the association IBUKA – Mémoire et Justice Europea – symbolically marks the long journey of pain to reconciliation, by its torch walk between the Place Royale and the courthouse of Brussels, with a thousand participants. The NGO also continues to fight with all of its forces against the ambitions of negating or forgetting national and international responsibilities in this genocide.
It has been supported since the beginning of this action by several associations representing peoples also affected by massacres and genocides, such as the Armenian community, the secular Jewish community Centre, and of course political bodies Regional and national governments, and the European Union, alongside the Rwandan embassy.
By 2000, serving prime minister, Guy Verhofstadt, had asked the Rwandan people for their forgiveness for the responsibility Belgium played in allowing the genocide by withdrawing their protection quota. In turn, Louis Michel underlined this April 7, 2018: “We must bear to the end the immense responsibility we carry in the name of an international community that is bent arrogantly on its dogmas, its taboos, its double standards…”
Until June, several cities in Belgium will follow Brussels in demonstrations of remembrance and homage to the victims of this barbarism perpetrated in the name of ethnic affiliations. It remains vivid among the survivors of the massacres, despite the growth and prosperity of the country, which is now seen as a model of economic progress in Africa, and stability in the heart of a Great Lakes region; yet still plagued by much deadly violence and guerrilla warfare.
There is no doubt that next year, on the occasion of the half-century that will separate us from this historical tragedy; and its remembrance is as indispensable for Rwanda as it is for the European countries that have been involved in this tragedy.
Good to know:
The various Belgian commemorations will take place in Liège on 14 April, Louvain-la-Neuve on 21 April, in Antwerp on 28 April, in Charleroi, on 5 May, in Mons on 12 May, and in the whole of Flanders on 19 May.