19.10.07 - CANADA/GENOCIDE - "REMEMBER THE SURVIVORS"- A RWANDAN WOMAN

Montreal, 19 October 2007 (FH) - "I give you the challenge to come to the aid of the victims of the Rwandan genocide", cried out Esther Mujawayo to the 500 people brought together for the opening ceremonies of the Global Conference on the Prevention of Genocide last week in Montreal.      
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At her side were a holocaust survivor and a Cambodian genocide survivor. Mrs. Mujawayo, 49, said that she was "sceptical" about the sincerity of the leaders to act. "You knew and you did not act. It is not as if you did not know, but you did not have the will to act ", she declared in front of the NGO representatives, leaders of international organizations, lawyers, academics and journalists that gathered for these three days of conference.
 
Living in Kigali at the time of the 1994 genocide (800 000 dead according to the UN, 1 million according to Rwandan authorities), Mrs. Mujawayo found refuge at the Hôtel des Mille Collines, while a large part of her family was killed. In 1995, with others survivors, she took part in the creation of the AVEGA association, which, today, comes to the assistance of 35 000 widows.
 
In Montreal, Esther Mujawayo did not stop placing the victims at the hearth of the debates. "With all that is said at the conference, I have the impression that we think "a genocide is finished, let's prevent those to come". But, I say: it is not yet finished, the victims are still there!", she explained to the Hirondelle Agency. According to her, "if the survivor of the genocide was recognized as a victim to compensate, we would not need to beg".
 
She, who now lives in Düsseldorf (Germany) where she is psychotherapist, denounced the treatment that ICTR defendants receive. "We have ensured that the accused are taking care of, we even help the family of alleged criminals... but nothing has been set up for the victim!". Mrs. Mujawayo, thus, underlined on several occasions the paradox that has accused receiving anti-AIDS treatments, while the victims have difficult access to such medication.
 
"We met Carla Del Ponte (appointed prosecutor of the ICTR and ICTY in 1999, ndlr) on this subject. She recognized that it was aberrant, but told us that no financial provisions had been planned in the statutes. In spite of her will, legal limits prevented her from doing anything". For Mrs. Mujawayo, the ICTR demonstrated the growing pains of international justice: "Since these errors, there have been improvements: the ICC (International Criminal Court which came into effect in 2002, note) foresaw provisions for the witnesses".
 
At the end of these three days of debates, the lobbyist said that she was less sceptical than at the beginning of the conference. Nevertheless, she explained to the Hirondelle Agency why her fight was far from over. "My broader objective is that the UN recognizes than it failed and that the member countries give compensation, but that, I am still a little far..."
 
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