Remembering Rwanda, 20 Years On

8 April 2014

A monument to victims of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda
A monument to victims of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda

The University of Sydney will host the Rwandan community of New South Wales on Thursday as it partakes in a global commemoration to mark 20 years since the genocide against the Tutsi

The University of Sydney will mark Kwibuka 20, which translates simply as 'remember', with an address by Rwanda's High Commissioner to Australia, Dr Charles Murigande, which will be attended by Rwandans who bore witness to the 1994 genocide and have since forged new lives in Australia.

Kwibuka 20: Journey of Hope for Rwanda, is being hosted by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies with Dr Murigande's talk to be followed by a Q&A led by Dr Wendy Lambourne, Deputy Director of the Centre. Dr Lambourne's research focuses on justice and reconciliation in post-genocide Rwanda.

The event will hear of Rwanda's vision of hope, dignity and prosperity in its recovery from genocide. Participants will focus on the experiences of genocide survivors and on health, education, women's empowerment, reconciliation and healing.

"Kwibuka 20 is an opportunity for the University of Sydney, and the Australian community more broadly, to join Rwandans in remembering the lives that were lost and uniting to ensure that genocide never happens again," said Dr Lambourne.

"More specifically, the event on April 10 is an opportunity for us to focus on understanding how a country rebuilds after such mass violence, and to critically examine the challenges of political stabilisation, socio-economic reconstruction and psychosocial healing involved in recovery and prevention."

"It is important also that we reflect on our role, both individually and as a nation, in avoiding the kinds of discriminatory and dehumanizing attitudes that enable genocide to occur," she added.

Joining Dr Lambourne for the Q&A will be Professor Shirley Randell AO, who founded Gender Studies at the Kigali Institute of Education, genocide survivor Lambert Ndakaza, Michelle Shaw of HOPE: Rwanda, and Mohamed Dukuly of the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS).

Dr Murigande welcomed the University of Sydney commemoration and said a people should never again be victim to such an atrocity.

"The 1994 genocide against the Tutsi was not only a crime perpetrated against the Tutsis of Rwanda, but a crime against humanity," he said.

"Gathering together at University of Sydney is a demonstration of our shared humanity irrespective of where we live on this planet Earth. It is also a reaffirmation of our collective commitment to ensuring that never again should a people anywhere be victim of genocide," said Dr Murigande.

The Kwibuka commemoration takes place as the University of Sydney continues to support vital work to highlight the causes and indicators of genocide and to fight against its recurrence.

Associate Professor Ben Goldsmith's Atrocity Forecasting Project led to the development of a mathematical model for predicting, and hopefully preventing, mass atrocities around the world. Forecasts up to 2015 are available on the project's website.

Eyal Mayroz of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies recently completed his PhD in which he researched lessons from genocides to examine obstacles to timely and effective international responses, which include frequent tensions between state-level interests, the UN's ideal of collective security, and political and ethical issues.

"After the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the international failure to stop it, many believed that the world would begin to take the 'never again' pledge much more seriously," said Mr Mayroz.

"Unfortunately, twenty years after the catastrophic events, perpetrations of mass atrocities, including threats of genocide, continue to devastate populations and communities around the world, with at times more organised but still insufficient global responses," he added.

Kwibuka 20: Journey of Hope for Rwanda will be held at the University of Sydney this week.

Date: Thursday, April 10

Time: 6pm to 8pm

Venue: John Woolley Building, Level 3, Lecture Theatre N395, Science Rd, University of Sydney

Refreshments: 5.30 pm, Woolley Common Room, Level 4, John Woolley Building.

Contact: Luke O'Neill

Phone: 02 9114 1961

Email: 55365b3d79392b0213151a12153e2e070e031e311340052923