The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, has urged governments and the international community to uphold the truth about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and justice.
Mnatsakanyan made the remarks in Kigali on Friday after paying a courtesy call to Donatille Mukabalisa, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies.
The minister is in Rwanda to attend Kwibuka 25, the beginning of the mourning period to mark the 25th commemoration of the Genocide that begins on April 7.
His visit, he said, is also about discussing how both countries can work together in the human rights field and in preventing genocide and mass atrocities as well as cooperation for development.
He added that the depth of genocide was considerable, pointing out that it happened to the Armenians, the Jews (Holocaust) and to Tutsi in Rwanda.
The genocide against Armenians was committed between 1915 and 1923, and claimed the lives of an estimated 1.5 million people. The Holocaust claimed the lives of around six million people, while the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi left over a million people dead.
“I came here on behalf of the people and Government of Armenia to stand in solidarity with Rwanda on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Genocide,” he said.
In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the crime of Genocide, but denial still persists, he said.
“What is most disturbing, [is that] we fail to recognise the depth of that crime [genocide]. We fail to recognise the damage of the generations when justice is denied; the denial of genocide, the denial of justice haunts generations,” Mnatsakanyan observed.
Armenians, he said, are still denied the recognition of their genocide and they consider themselves victims because 100 years ago “we were supposed to be wiped out of the face of the earth”.
“But, today, we are a confident people, proud and strong about their identity, their history and their civilisation, a nation state, a country, developing and confident, and this is the answer to what was meant to be a total extermination of our people,” he stated.
Speaker Mukabalisa said that Armenia, as a country that suffered genocide, can understand Rwanda’s tragic experience and Rwandans also understand the Genocide that was committed in Armenia.
“We should strive so that genocide never occurs again, either in our countries or elsewhere in the world,” she said.
Mnatsakanyan urged the world to be proactive in preventing genocide instead of waiting for it to to happen before acting. “We are working with Rwanda on genocide prevention at the international level. From our experience, the experience of our peoples, we know that failure to address that problem will haunt generations,” he said.