20 years ago, during those fateful 100 days in 1994, over 800,000 Rwandans lost their lives in the systematic and widespread mass killings committed against the Tutsi, moderate Hutu and others in Rwanda.
20 years later, we remember that we can never forget; and that we must never forget. We remember and honour the hundreds of thousands of victims who perished in homes, schools, hospitals, churches, stadiums and hills. We remember and admire the untiring strength of the survivors who, two decades later, still live with the unspeakable horror and scars inflicted during those 100 days, but whose resilience continues to inspire us - demonstrating the commanding power of the human spirit.
As the world commemorates the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, it is a great honour and a privilege for the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, as the successor of the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, to be part of this commemoration event organised by the ICTR. As the Head of the Registry at the Arusha branch of the Mechanism, I am deeply honoured and humbled to be with you in this solemn remembrance of the genocide.
I very sincerely thank the Government of Rwanda for the invitation to Kigali where I had the honour of joining the multitudes in various Kwibuka20 activities guided by the theme "remember-unite-renew". The evident trauma that overcame many victims and people gathered at the Amahoro Stadium is a stark reminder of the horrific effect of what happened in Rwanda in 1994.
As we remember this tragedy that should not have been, we must maintain our unwavering resolve to act. In establishing the ICTR, the international community confirmed that there can be no impunity for mass atrocities. And through the creation of the Mechanism, it reiterated that no one can elude the long arm of the rule of law, and reaffirmed its commitment to the transformative role of international criminal justice.
As United Nations staff members, and as proud representatives of this new institution, we at the Mechanism remain ever mindful of the legacy that we are mandated to continue. With renewed vigour each day, we work to bring to justice those who still escape it, so that Rwandans, and survivors in particular, may find further inspiration to continue on the path of reconciliation.
We strive to carry on the pioneering work of the ICTR in providing protection and support to nearly 3,000 witnesses who embodied the essence of international criminal justice when they travelled to Arusha and courageously recounted their tragic experiences.
We work to safeguard the largest international criminal justice archives to date –comprising thousands of hours of testimony and video recordings of historic proceedings, scraps of clothing taken from bodies found in mass graves and perpetrators’ diaries – and to provide access to the archives. We do so in order to ensure that this unparalleled collection continues to remind and teach, serving as a catalyst in the continuing fight against impunity and a guard against revisionism.
With solemnity, we at the Mechanism remember; and with dedication and inspiration, we join the efforts of the world in endeavouring to make sure that “never again” is not just a slogan, but a reality.