News / Africa

Official Hails Rwanda’s Reconciliation, Economic Transformation

Mike Nkuzumuwami stands by the rows of human skulls and bones that form a memorial to those who died in the redbrick church that was the scene of a massacre during the 1994 genocide, and which he helps to look after, in the village of Nyarubuye, eastern R
Mike Nkuzumuwami stands by the rows of human skulls and bones that form a memorial to those who died in the redbrick church that was the scene of a massacre during the 1994 genocide, and which he helps to look after, in the village of Nyarubuye, eastern R
Peter Clottey
Rwanda’s attorney general and minister of justice says the country has made significant strides to reconcile citizens in the past 20 years following the 1994 genocide that left about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus killed in a 100-day massacre.  Rwanda begins the commemoration of the genocide on Monday.

Busingye Johnston says the commemoration of the tragedy is a period of stocktaking, to remember, renew and for Rwandans to commit to the country’s unity, as well as the legacy of the genocide and its aftermath.

“It is also to take stock of what is happening to the world 20 years down the road.  Is genocide still, never again?  Is it still crime against humanity?  Is the world behaving as if genocide will never happen again?  Are people being brought to account who got involved in the perpetration of the genocide?  So we are taking stock of the 20 years and looking at the future with a lot of hope,” said Johnston.

Rwanda’s economy, infrastructure, social services, education systems and health system, were totally shattered after the genocide, according to Johnston.

He says President Paul Kagame’s government has since made significant efforts to reconcile the people after the genocide and has implemented policies that have improved the lives of the people.

“We came to a point that we wrapped around policies that can foster unity, working together, building a nation, having diverse views, but also knowing the limit of what we do, and being sure that we don’t rupture our society again,” said Johnston.  “We are not 100 percent, but we have made very good progress.  We are working on all facets of national, political, social and economic life and Rwandans feel one nation again.”         

The government in Kigali says Tutsis were mainly targeted to be wiped out during the 1994 genocide, although moderate Hutus were also killed during the same period.

Some Rwandans contend the administration’s insistence the genocide mainly targeted Tutsis could breed divisions among the population.

But Johnston disagreed.  He says the government honors and commemorates those non-Tutsis who stood up to the ethnic cleansing, but lost their lives as a result of their effort.

“The genocide happened certainly against the Tutsis, but there are people of all walks of life who died standing up against the genocide,” said Johnston.  “For us it is giving everything its proper place and those who fought against the genocide, we really do commemorate with them, every remembrance week.”

Johnston says there is need for politicians to be cautious about their utterances that could undermine efforts made to reconcile the people as well as maintain the country’s peace and stability. He outlined some of the lessons learned from the legacy of the genocide.

“We have learned that divisive politics, we have learned that an ideology that is capable of nothing else but hatred of one community against another community, of one people against the other ends up causing you mass atrocity.  And the mass atrocity that we saw in 1994 was without an action process that preceded it many years, and then it culminated in the 1994 genocide,” said Johnston.

“We have also learned that you can do your best to reconcile the people and also that you can pick up from a shuttered and written off state with determination with modest efforts to continue moving and you can get to where we are,” said Johnston.  “We are certainly not where we want to be, but we have made some progress and we now have something that we can proudly call a nation.”

Critics say the government has narrowed the country’s political space making it difficult for opponents to freely operate without fear of intimidation or harassment. 

Johnston disagrees.  He says several opposition political parties freely operate in the country without hindrance.

“I know there are about seven or eight political parties operating in this country.  I do not know those who lack space and they lack space to do what?  It might depend really on what they want that space do.  Otherwise, all the political parties in this country are operating normally like any other party would operate,” he said.

Johnston says Rwanda is looking to the future with a lot of hope after what he says has been the country’s economic transformation since the genocide.
Clottey interview with Busingye Johnston, Rwanda's attorney general
Clottey interview with Busingye Johnston, Rwanda's attorney generali
|| 0:00:00

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: eusebio manuel vestias from: Portugal
April 07, 2014 11:26 AM
God Bless population Rwanda

by: yophes bosire from: nairobi kenya
April 06, 2014 11:40 AM

Rwandans move forward .

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs