UN Security Council visits Rwanda’s Kigali Genocide Memorial
7th Oct 2013 – The 15 ambassadors of the United Nations Security Council this morning visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda’s capital, a site where some 250,000 victims of the 1994 genocide lie buried.
Established in 2004 by the Aegis Trust for genocide prevention at the request of the Rwandan Government and Kigali City Council, it continues to be run by Aegis on behalf of CNLG (Rwanda’s National Commission for the Fight against Genocide) as a place both of dignified remembrance and of learning for a new generation.
Led by UN Security Council President Agshin Mehdiyev, Azerbaijan’s Ambassador, and by US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, the ambassadors laid wreaths and roses on the mass graves which line the sloping hillside below the Memorial building. Aegis’ Deputy Director in Rwanda, Yves Kamuronsi, and Memorial guide Serge Rwigamba then showed them around the Memorial where today, young Rwandans – including children of survivors and perpetrators – come together to take part in peace-building Rwanda tourism education.
“I can’t find the proper words to express my feelings, and my only wish is that it never happen again,” said Security Council President Agshin Mehdiyev. “The Security Council is here just to promote peace and stability to the region. We are doing our best to get all countries of the region together to put an end to hostility and to guarantee that all people of the region will live in peace and stability. That’s our message to all people of the region of the Great Lakes.”
Ambassador Power also gave a personal message in response to the visit. Visibly moved, the author of ‘A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide’ was at times almost in tears. She stated, “We just want to express our thanks to the people of Rwanda for opening their hearts, sharing their photos, their stories of their family members. Nobody who comes to this memorial site is ever the same when they leave. People who come through this site dedicate themselves with new passion and new commitment to the Rwandan people, to the cause of reconciliation and peace in the region, and to the broader cause of preventing genocide forevermore.”
“We are very pleased that the UN Security Council chose to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial,” says Dr James Smith, Chief Executive of the Aegis Trust. “It is a heartening sign that the international community at the highest level is engaged in learning about how mass atrocities, such as happened in Rwanda, can be prevented in the future.”
The full text of Ambassador Power’s comments follow.
“My name is Samantha Power, I’m the US Ambassador to the United Nations. I’ve just come out of the Memorial and I honestly need time to recover. This is very soon to be talking to all of you…
“This is my third time visiting Rwandan memorials. It is almost 20 years after the genocide and the power of not only what happened here in 1994, but the strength of the Rwandan people as they seek to move forward is immensely moving to me and to my colleagues.
“I am here as part of a mission from the United Nations Security Council, and of course we all know what the United Nations failed to do back in 1994 for the Rwandan people, but the international community is determined to stand with the Rwandan people, in the same way that our guides today have … were themselves 13 year-old boys at the time of the genocide…. and they tell their stories so that diplomats like me, journalists, citizens, churchgoers, everyone in the world can know what happened here so that it never happens again in Rwanda and it never happens anywhere else in the World.
“And so we just want to express our thanks to the people of Rwanda for opening their hearts, sharing their photos, their stories of their family members. Nobody who comes to this memorial site is ever the same when they leave. People who come through this site dedicate themselves with new passion and new commitment to the Rwandan people, to the cause of reconciliation and peace in the region, and to the broader cause of preventing genocide forevermore. Thank you so much.”