EAST African Community (EAC) citizens in Tanzania have expressed solidarity with Rwandans in marking the 25th anniversary of genocide with 100 days of mourning the massacre of over 800,000 people.
At the EAC Headquarters grounds here over the weekend, over 200 Rwandans and their counterparts from other EAC member states marched, before laying the wreath to commemorate the killings. Kwibuka25 in Kinyarwanda, the country’s official language, refers to ‘ remember.’
A somber mood reigned here as the ceremony marked the beginning of a weeklong of events to honour the dead. In Rwanda, the EAC Chairperson, President Paul Kagame laid the wreath at Gisozi genocide memorial site where over 250,000 people were buried.
Longido District Commissioner Frank Mwaisumbe presided over the Arusha event, condemning the genocide but hailing the East Africans for their unity.
He called for more efforts to ensure peace and tranquility prevail in all six partner-states, stressing that all efforts should start at national level.
The 100 days of murder began on April 6, 1994, after President Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira— both Hutus–were killed by shooting down their plane over the Rwandan capital— Kigali.
Following the attack, Hutu government soldiers and allied extremist militia mobilised themselves and orchestrated the genocide to exterminate the Tutsi minority.
The fighting ended in July 1994 when Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a Tutsi-led rebel movement under Mr Kagame, swept in from Uganda and seized control of the country.
Official policy is to strongly discourage any talk of ethnicity but the opposition says the tight control of the media and political sphere is also used to stifle dissent, something the government denies.
During the commemoration period in previous years, Rwandans have held memorial ceremonies in villages and districts where victims were buried, listening to survivors’ testimonies and genocide stories from local and national leaders.
After the genocide, Tanzania hosted the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), an international court that the UN Security Council, through Resolution 955, established in November 1994 to prosecute people behind the Rwandan genocide and other violations of international law in Rwanda or by Rwandan citizens in nearby states, between January 1 and December 31, 1994.
The tribunal consisted of 16 judges in four chambers, with three presiding over the trials and one for the appeals. Additionally, there were nine ad literim judges, bringing their total to 25.
All the nine ad litem judges were assigned to Chambers II and III. There was an additional pool of nine further ad literim judges who would be called on in case of judge absenteeism.
ICTR was closed on December 31, 2015 and replaced with International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism) that is still mandated to perform a number of essential functions previously carried out by the ICTR and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
In carrying out the essential functions, the Mechanism maintains the legacies of the two pioneering ad hoc international criminal courts