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RIT students and faculty commemorate 1994 Rwandan Genocide

RIT students and faculty remembered the 1994 Rwandan Genocide during a commemoration and candlelight vigil on Monday night. Apriil 7th marked the 20th anniversary of the harrowing period in Rwandan history that led to the deaths of nearly one million ethnic Tutsi citizens. The event was organized by Golisano College information sciences and technologies associate professor Brian Tomasweski, who has traveled frequently to Rwanda where he uses his expertise in geographic information systems to teach spatial thinking to Rwandan high school students.

Tomaszewski and computing security student and native Rwandan Patrick Muhire spoke with Fox Rochester about the event, with Muhire relaying his first-hand account of the genocide, explaining, “the three months of the entire genocide were horrible…I was lucky to escape the killings.” Muhire, who was thirteen years old at the time, lost family members during the violent 1994 killings.

Juels Mupemzi-Karafira, another Rwandan RIT student working with Tomaszewski, spoke with WXXI about his experiences as a seven year old during the period, stating, “It was really hard to believe what was taking place and it was really hard to see people who you loved, my beloved people, being killed.”

Tomaszewski urges persons to not only reflect on the tragic events of 1994, but to consider Rwanda's growth in the aftermath. "We're talking a lot about 20 years ago," he told Fox. "But I think it's also important to talk about where Rwanda is today and the progress that's been made, as represented by somebody like Patrick [Muhire]."