Rwanda National Police (RNP) has reassured the general public of safety and security during the upcoming 22ndcommemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi but called upon the population to stand together against any form of action aimed at genocide ideology, negating and denial.
According to the Police Spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Celestin Twahirwa, RNP has worked with all stakeholders including the Ministry of Sports and Culture, National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), IBUKA and all security organs to ensure that commemoration events are conducted in a calm and safe environment.
“We have mapped all sites where commemoration events will be held, prepared necessary resources and ready to deploy. Besides ensuring safety, we will jointly conduct sensitization campaigns against genocide ideology in line with this year’s commemoration theme,” said ACP Twahirwa.
Every April 7, Rwandans and friends of Rwanda across the globe, join to pay tribute to over one million innocent lives massacred in just one hundred days 22 years ago.
Events to mark the 22nd commemoration will be held at Village level (Umudugudu).
Throughout the commemoration week that ends on April 13, citizens will gather in all villages nationwide to reflect on the country’s history, and discuss different genocide-related topics focusing on fighting against genocide ideology.
According to ACP Twahirwa, police’s security plan is drawn from experiences of the past 21 years.
“We looked at the challenges that we encountered in the past 21 commemoration events and drew plans of how best we can ensure that this year’s events are safer,” he said.
Among those challenges include genocide denial,genocide ideology and trauma.
At least forty people were detained during the 21st commemoration week over cases related to genocide ideology.
In preparation for this year commemoration over 200 police officers, also completed post-trauma counseling training. The trainees were equipped with knowledge on causes and signs of trauma, and counseling trauma victims.
“The public should always be quick to provide information on anyone or anything that is likely to cause insecurity during the commemoration period; be it, genocide ideology, denial, revisionism and any other acts that may cause insecurity,” said the police spokesperson.
Genocide ideology is punishable under the law No. 84/2013 of 11/09/2013. According to the law, genocide ideology is a deliberate act, committed in public, whether orally, written or video or by any other means which may depict ethnic, religious, or racial bias with the aim of advocating for the commission of genocide or supporting genocide.
Genocide ideology-related offences include incitement to commit genocide, negation of Genocide, minimisation of Genocide by downplaying its gravity or consequences, justifying Genocide, and concealment or destruction of evidence of Genocide or other crimes against humanity.
It can also mean theft or destruction of remains of victims of the Genocide, demolishing a memorial site or cemetery for the victims of the Genocide, and violence against a Genocide survivor.
Such genocide crimes are punishable under articles 112 to 119 of the penal code. The penal code states that any person who commits the crime of genocide ideology and other related offences shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of between five and nine years and a fine of between Rwf100,000 and Rwf1,000,000, or both.
Destroying remains of victims, demolition of memorial sites / cemeteries of genocide against Tutsi attracts a punishment of life imprisonment.
Meanwhile Police has also urged all owners and users of various communication mediums including the media and users of social platforms to use them in a way that doesn’t harm or hurt genocide survivors or mourners, which can also amount to a crime.