To commemorate the International Day of Reflection on the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, the United Nations Information Center (UNIC) and the Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in partnership with the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and the Embassy of Rwanda in Dakar, Senegal organized a film screening exercise followed by a roundtable panel discussion on Tuesday 31 May 2016.
The roundtable, which was moderated by the Executive Secretary of CODESRIA, Dr. Ebrima Sall, took place at the UNIC office complex in Dakar, Senegal. In a room named after him, Captain Mbaye Ndiaye, a hero of the Rwandan genocide, hosted a screening of the film, 7 Days in Kigali. The 50-minute documentary chronicles the horror of the genocide as experienced by perpetrators, victims and observers. The film served as a launchpad for the discussion by the panel.
Mehdi Ba, a journalist at Jeune Afrique and co-Director of the film, deplored the lack of intervention by the international community in the massacre of Tutsis despite desperate appeals and repeated calls for assistance. According to Mr. Ba, if there had been international involvement, “lives would, could and should have been saved." The same conclusion was arrived at by a report sponsored by the OAU. Andrea Ori, representing the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, reaffirmed OHCHR’s commitment in the fight against any form of racial hatred and to the enforcement of fundamental human rights.
Ms. Yvette Nyombayire Rugasaguhunga, Deputy Counsellor of the Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda and a genocide survivor, testified to the killings perpetrated against her family and the Tutsi ethnic group. She was 14 years old when she witnessed so many of her kin murdered. The Rwandan Ambassador to Senegal, H.E. Dr. Mathias Harebamungu, emphasized the tragic ramifications the non-intervention by external forces had in not putting an end to the massacre and also highlighted the role played by the Rwandan Patriots in stopping the killings. Diplomatic adviser to the President of the Republic of Senegal, Mr. Maguette Sèye, stated that the fight against genocidal ideology should have at its core "the need to instill in young people, from the earliest age, tolerance and respect for others.”
The same conclusion was drawn by the moderator of the roundtable, Executive Secretary of CODESRIA Dr. Ebrima Sall. Dr. Sall discussed genocidal ideologies and the manipulation of ethnicity for political purposes, saying "in Africa, it is imperative that we work to create a culture of citizenship and strive to ensure that all citizens are treated equally. We must guard against discriminatory treatment of others simply because we do not think like them." Dr. Sall also reminded the audience that CODESRIA organized the first international meeting on the Rwandan genocide held in Africa in Arusha, Tanzania in September 1995. That meeting centered on the causes of genocide and how to avoid such atrocities in Africa in the future.