20th commemoration and remembrance of Rwandan Genocide April 7 at RIT

Discussion with Rwandan survivors and activists explores country’s past and present

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The Rwanda Genocide Twenty Year Commemoration and Remembrance ceremony will be held April 7 at RIT. The flame symbolizes remembrance, as well as the resilience and courage of Rwandans over the past 20 years.

Rochester Institute of Technology will host a public ceremony April 7 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, a state-backed campaign in which more than 800,000 people were killed.

The three-month period of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide was a campaign perpetrated by the military, as well as organized civilian militias and everyday citizens, designed to exterminate the country’s minority Tutsi population.

RIT will host the Rwanda Genocide Twenty Year Commemoration and Remembrance ceremony at 6 p.m. April 7 in Xerox Auditorium, James E. Gleason Hall. Speakers at the event will discuss an overview of Rwanda and the genocide, as well as the experiences of those affected. Speakers include Francis Rutagarama, who will tell the story of how he made it out of Rwanda to Syracuse, N.Y.

Brian Tomaszewski, an assistant professor in the Department of Information Sciences and Technologies, B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, organized the event. He regularly travels to Rwanda to aid education efforts in the region, as part of a Rwanda Innovation for Education grant and Department for International Development award.

“It is important to remember and discuss this because events like the Rwandan Genocide must never happen again and people in the United States have little to no understanding of Rwanda in general or the genocide,” said Tomaszewski.

The talk will include perspectives on the genocide in terms of international law, human rights and reconciliation from Kristin Doughty, an assistant professor of anthropology at University of Rochester who has been conducting ethnographic research in Rwanda since 2002.

Several RIT students from Rwanda will also discuss life in Rwanda today and where the country is heading.

“We will talk deeply about what really happened during the genocide and share some of the lessons that Rwanda has learned,” said Patrick Muhire, a graduate student in computing security who is originally from Rwanda. “You will also learn how people learned to live together despite what happened in Rwanda 20 years ago.”

The evening will end with a genocide candlelight vigil at 8 p.m. and reception at 9 p.m.

The event is co-sponsored by RIT’s College of Liberal Arts, The Barber B. Conable Jr. Endowed Chair in International Studies and the Office of International Education and Global Programs. For more information about the event, contact Tomaszewski at bmtski@rit.edu.