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“We are all Rwandans”

Seventeenth Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi of Rwanda in Canada National Capital Region/
17ième commémoration du Génocide contre les Tutsi du Rwanda dans la Région de la Capitale Nationale
Hon. David Kilgour
7 April 2011
Parliament Hill

Let me first congratulate the Association Humura and the High Commission of Rwanda to Canada for the 17th commemoration of the genocide against Tutsi. This event will be followed by others tonight at the Ottawa City Hall and elsewhere in the days ahead.

Chaque année en avril nous commémorons le triste anniversaire du génocide contre les Tutsi du Rwanda.

Permit me to agree with President Kagame when he said at the tenth anniversary of the genocide in Kigali to a large audience, which included a number of us Canadians, including Romeo Dallaire:

    "I start where we must all start, by paying tribute to them (Rwanda’s genocide victims) not as statistics, not as a nameless, faceless, anonymous mass of humanity but as our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and our children. They all should have been a part of our future, not our past."

Vous êtes les survivants intrépides du manquement du monde à protéger plus d’un million d’innocents Tutsi en 1994 pendant les horreurs et les atrocités des cent jours du génocide et ses conséquences. Je vous salue pour votre détermination à survivre et à réussir dans votre nouvelle patrie, le Canada. Vos contributions à notre société sont appréciées.


The words, "Never Again" are engraved on the Kigali memorial to the genocide, but of course there have since been others, including Bosnia and Darfur.

To avoid future genocides, should the international community, not be prepared to breathe some life into the UN Genocide Convention of 1948? It contains language that compels signatories to intervene as soon as the occurrence of genocide is transpiring.

In reality, as Canada’s best-known national hero from Rwanda, Romeo Dallaire, has said, averting future Rwandas is really a matter of political will.

When the wall divided Berlin, President Kennedy famously declared, "Ich bin ein Berliner." When New York's twin towers were destroyed, newspapers proclaimed in effect: "We are all New Yorkers." In recent years, Kofi Annan, Bill Clinton and many others have apologized for not having shown solidarity when it mattered in Rwanda. No-one then prominent enough said, “We are all Rwandans!”

Quite the contrary, again quoting Dallaire, in 1994 the world community

    “was careful to ignore the unmistakable evidence of genocide. It refused to build up the size and to strengthen the mandate of the peacekeeping force so as to give it the muscle to stop a genocidal bloodbath…Political will to intervene and stop the onslaught is a function of this human solidarity. It is easier to ignore the human tragedy that is unfolding. This tendency to cover one's eyes to the bloodshed next door is hypocritical and cowardly but enables the bystander to refrain from acting and to avoid taking risks.”

In conclusion, I can only echo Romeo Dallaire that for the next genocide, human solidarity must find the courage and honesty to say, “We are all Rwandans”.

Thank you/Merci.

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