Rwanda: 7 April 2017. Never Again!

Four words:

Duhore Tuzilikana Kirazira Kwibagirwa!

We Must Never Forget!

Today, 7 April 2017 is the 23rd Commemoration of the Genocide Against the Tutsi. 

by Alan Simons

In a few weeks time, on 23 April at sundown, Jews throughout the world observe Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day. It is the day where we pay tribute to all the victims of the Holocaust and ghetto uprisings. Inaugurated 64 years ago we like you, have no intention of forgetting our loved ones. Therefore, as a Jew, my message to you is not from a stranger, but from a brother and partner. For in commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, your loss, is also my loss.

However, I ask myself what right do I have to speak of such experiences of genocide?

Who am I to speak of such unthinkable acts of violence and cruelty, unequaled in modern history?

I never witnessed killings, or had my life threatened. I never lost immediate family members, nor witnessed rape or sexual mutilation, or had to hide under corpses.

Rwanda April 7 2017 bSo, what authority gives me the right to speak about Rwanda’s genocide, to talk about your families and friends who perhaps survived these 23 years, and hopefully, I repeat hopefully, have been able to overcome their traumatic experiences and find optimism in the future, as well as speak of those who were murdered?

Well, a few years ago President Kagame of Rwanda, photographed above, said: “The world chose to watch as one million were being slaughtered. Victims were turned into perpetrators and justice was turned into a political tool. The world has shown us that we cannot afford not to fight. Do not be afraid to stand up for truth, justice and for who we are. The only way to live in this world is to stand up for ourselves, stay true to who we are and define our own destiny.”

Perhaps, more than anything, it is in these words that binds Jews and Rwandans together in a mutual understanding of what intolerance and hate is all about in our society today. And, we have only to look at the past few weeks of what happened in London, a few hours ago in Stockholm, as well as the gassing earlier this week of children and adults in Syria, to appreciate the scope and threat of the world we continue to live in.

Hate is hate, irrespective of one’s religion, colour or nationality.

Even now in Canada there are deniers of both the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust who continue to thrust their sick fermented ideas into the international arena. As Hitler remains centre stage to many antisemites, it was only a couple of months ago that Rwanda’s deniers actually competed to question who was to blame for the 1994 killings. 

It’s been said that sadness is but a wall between two gardens. May all of those who perished in the genocide be remembered for their beauty and fragrance that grace our gardens.

My dear Rwandan brothers and sisters, finding an appropriate way of honouring and remembering the dead is one of the goals of the mourning process. For, as Elie Wiesel the Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor said, “To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

(Photo credits: From Paul Kagame’s Post, in Timeline Photos)



The latest news from Sweden, France, the Netherlands and much more

What Others Are Saying

SWEDEN – Jewish pupils faced with Nazi graffiti at school

Graffiti at Vasa Real School in Stockholm. Photo: Swedish Radio

Pupils at two school campuses in Stockholm encountered Nazi graffiti when they arrived for lessons on Monday morning. At the Vasa Real School in Odenplan, which has a number of classes with Jewish pupils, “Jew swine”, “disgusting Jews”, and Nazi symbols had been spray painted on outdoor walls, while the Cyber Upper Secondary School was also vandalised. The school, which has the slogan, “Where everyone is met by tolerance and respect”, has 811 pupils from years 5 to 9 and also has a Jewish Upper Secondary School, which has three classes with Jewish pupils who take lessons in Hebrew and Judaism. On its homepage, the school wrote that the graffiti had been reported to the police and discussions with pupils will be held during the day. On Monday afternoon, Lena Posner – Körösi, President of the Jewish Community in Stockholm, said she had received several calls from upset parents today. “They have wanted to ensure that I am informed and that it is reported to the police. Since we very often are exposed within the community, so they know that I am in contact with both regular police and the Security Service, she said to news agency TT. Posner-Körösi thinks it is important that the graffiti is put into a larger perspective. “It’s the first time there has been anti-Semitic graffiti on the Vasa Real and against Jewish pupils, but it all adds to what is happening right now, it’s more than just individual coincidences. We have an extremely worrying development in both Sweden and Europe, where right-wing groups of all stripes are gaining ground.”

GAZA – Hamas’ education ministry denounce the use of UN textbooks in Gaza’s schools

Hamas’ education ministry recently denounced the use of UN textbooks in Gaza’s schools, saying the materials “contaminate the minds of our dear students” and deceive them into accepting peace with Israel. “There is a tremendous focus on the peaceful resistance as the only tool to achieve freedom and independence,” Motesem al-Minawi, spokesman of the Hamas Education Ministry, complained about the latest UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) textbooks for high school students in Gaza. In February Hamas called on Gaza’s teachers not to use the UN’s materials in their classrooms, saying they “do not fit the culture of the Palestinian society and are meant to brainwash Palestinian students and convince them to accept the Zionist enemy.” The terrorist group views the United Nations’ materials as an affront to Palestinian society, saying they ignore “Palestinian cultural mores.” In the words of al-Minawi, the textbooks are “completely detached from the reality of an Arab Muslim Palestinian student.” Hamas especially objected to the inclusion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in UN textbooks, characterizing parts of the document as a violation of Islamic Law.

TURKEY – Ex-economy minister’s ‘Jews, Zoroastrians or atheists attacked gov’t’ remarks raise concerns

Representatives of Turkey’s Jewish Community have said former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan’s remarks concerning “Jews, Zoroastrians and atheists” were anti-Semitic in nature and therefore constituted a crime against humanity, in a statement. “We have sadly learnt about Mersin Deputy Zafer Çağlayan’s remarks. We share with the public our concerns about the existence of such incidents and statements which attack our religion and causing such views to penetrate society whether intentionally or not,” said the chief rabbinate of Turkey in a statement yesterday. “We expect all to avoid such a situation at a time when we need peace in the world and in our country most and the anti-Semitism and similar statements are regarded as crimes against humanity by all of us,” said the chief rabbinate in the statement. The statement came after Çağlayan said on March 8 that he would have understood if the government had been attacked by “Jews, Zoroastrians or atheists,” … “This nation is aware what kind of a mentality we are struggling with. I have many things to tell you. But if Jews, Zoroastrians or atheists do this to us, I would understand it. But if the one who does these [against us] is passing himself off as a Muslim, shame on him,” said Zafer Çağlayan on March 8, at a rally was referring to the recent rift between Gülen and the ruling AKP.

LEBANON –  Drastic rise in Hezbollah death toll as party battles for Yabroud

Deaths among Hezbollah fighters battling rebels in Syria have increased significantly in March, as the party fights alongside the Syrian army in its struggle to capture the rebel-held town of Yabroud in the Qalamoun Mountains. Hezbollah announced that 15 of its fighters died in March, saying they fell while carrying out their “jihadist duty.” Funerals were held in various areas across Lebanon including the Bekaa Valley, the Beirut southern suburbs and south Lebanon. Facebook pages and websites affiliated with Hezbollah were flooded with photos of the dead fighters, who were mostly young, with relatives and supporters praising their “martyrdom.” One Facebook page has posted sentences from a letter written by Hezbollah fighter Mohammad Baqer Jaber to his mother before his death. “My wish is that you embrace me during the last moments of my life, but what relieves me is the fact that I know you will embrace me when I am in my shroud,” said the letter, posted above a photo of Jaber. . . A source close to Hezbollah, who requested to remain anonymous, told The Daily Star that around 500 Hezbollah fighters had been killed since the party joined the civil war in Lebanon’s neighbour.

THE NETHERLANDS –  Islamic college chief did not incite hatred, public prosecutor says

Comments made by the rector of Rotterdam’s Islamic University about non-Muslims are not a criminal offence and are covered by legislation governing freedom of speech and religion, the public prosecution department said on Friday. Last October, Ahmed Akgunduz caused controversy when he wrote on his blog that opponents of Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan are ‘godless’ and enemies of ‘religion and the fatherland’. He has also been openly criticial of the Alawites, a group within Islam, describing them as not being Muslims and saying contact with them should be avoided. This led the Dutch Alawite community to make a formal complaint against Akgunduz for inciting hatred. The public prosecution department has turned down the claim, saying the statements should be viewed in the light of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

DENMARK – Stand firm on slaughter ban, urges architect of the Cartoon Crisis

It’s not often you can say this, but Muslim and Jewish groups across the world are currently united in protest against a Danish ritual slaughter ban that requires animals to be stunned before they are slaughtered. Although the slaughter law, which was introduced on February 17, ended a practice that hadn’t been used for ten years, Arabic media last week warned of a Middle Eastern boycott of Danish products similar to the one in 2006 that followed the Mohammed Cartoon Crisis. However, debater and political activist Ahmed Akkari doesn’t think that the slaughter controversy will escalate to that level again. “No, it won’t. I believe it can be solved in a diplomatic way,” he said. Akkari was among the group of imams who travelled through the Middle East to draw attention to Jyllands-Posten newspaper’s printing of the Mohammed cartoons in September 2005. Without their input, there would have been no crisis, which included violence, fierce protests and eventually boycotts of Danish goods.

FRANCE – A manifestation of solidarity of the victims of the Holocaust with the victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda

Representatives of a French association of descendants of Jews deported from France during the Nazi German occupation of France (1940–1944)–during the Holocaust–will today testify in the trial of Genocide suspect Pascal Simbikangwa in France. Alain Gauthier, the president of France-based rights group, Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR), told The New Times yesterday that the witnesses will include such people as Léon Zyguel, the last prosecution witness in the Papon trial, and Yvette Levy, born Dreyfus, who was deported in 1994 at the age of 18. The trial of Simbikangwa–for his alleged role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi–began on February 4, in France. Gauthier said: “Their presence at the Tribunal of Paris, during the last week of the Pascal Simbikangwa trial will simply be a manifestation of solidarity of the victims of the Holocaust with the victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.” He said also present will be several representatives of the sons and daughters of Deportees from France, including Agnes Tribel, general secretary of the Buchenwald association… The trial is the first of its kind in France, 20 years after the 100-day killing spree in which several French political and military leaders are also accused of playing a part.

EGYPT – Arab League endorses Abbas’ stand on Israel

The Arab League on Sunday endorsed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s rejection of Israel’s demand for recognition as a Jewish state, as US-backed peace talks approach a deadline next month. The United States want Abbas to make the concession as part of efforts to reach a “framework agreement” and extend the talks aimed at settling the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “The council of the Arab League confirms its support for the Palestinian leadership in its effort to end the Israeli occupation over Palestinian lands, and emphasises its rejection of recognising Israel as a ‘Jewish state’,” Arab foreign ministers said in a statement in Cairo. Arab governments, distracted by the upheaval convulsing the region since the 2011 Arab uprisings, have previously taken few stands on the floundering peace talks, leaving Abbas isolated.

UK – Tory MP claims shechita is un-British

Tory MP has attacked shechita as against everything Britain stands for. Romford MP Andrew Rosindell, who is also secretary of the associate parliamentary group for animal welfare, said Jewish and Muslim methods of religious slaughter were imported foreign traditions that were unacceptable in the UK. According to The Times, Mr Rosindell said: “We have an accepted way of behaving in this country within the laws of these islands. That includes the correct treatment of animals. If people want to try to alter that, they should have more respect for the traditions of this country… The MP’s comments put him at odds with his party leader, Prime Minister David Cameron, who has repeatedly defended shechita.

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