April 12, 2013
Fossey Fund Participates in Rwanda’s Genocide Remembrance Week
In Rwanda, a somber week-long remembrance and commemoration period is underway, on the anniversary of the genocide that took place there this month 19 years ago.
On Sunday, April 7 all Karisoke staff participated in a ceremony at the Busogo Memorial site, one of the 200 or so memorial sites throughout Rwanda, to honor the many lives that were lost during the onslaught. Every day this week, memorial and commemorative services are taking place at the sites throughout this small and most densely populated country in Africa.
In his speech on Sunday, at the largest genocide memorial site, located in the capital city, Kigali, Rwandan President Paul Kagame stated, “Remembrance of the genocide is an obligation for every Rwandan. It also falls on us to teach and pass on that responsibility to the youth so that they, in turn, can pass it on to successive generations.”
This sentiment has been tangibly evident all week. In addition to the daily youth marches through the streets of even Rwanda’s smallest cities, carrying purple banners with messages such as “Learning from our history to build a bright future” and “Plus Jamais — Never Again”, and the sounds and sights of survivor testimonials which can be heard on the radio or watched on television at any time, the majority of all businesses throughout the country have been closing at 12 noon every day.
Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International staff at the headquarters in Ruhengeri, as well as the trackers in the field, have had shortened work days this week to recognize the national commemorative holiday. This allows everyone an opportunity to grieve and remember the tragic events of April 1994 with friends and family.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who attended the ceremony in Kigali on Sunday, recognized the importance of education and reconciliation in his speech: “Out of the ashes of the genocide, Rwanda has forged a new path, progressing towards a more peaceful and just society. I encourage the people and government of Rwanda to continue promoting the inclusive spirit and dialogue necessary for healing, reconciliation and reconstruction.”