In the Path of Mahatma Gandhi – India-Rawanda towards Peace and Non-Violence

150 Years of Mahatma Gandhi

In continuation of the series of programmes initiated with different Embassies and High Commissions to propagate the relevance of the Gandhian Philosophies of Peace and Non-violence in the international realm the GSDS in association with the High Commission of Rwanda in India organised a interactive session on January 7, 2020. His Excellency Mr. Ernest Rwamucyo, High Commissioner of Rwanda in India delivered the lecture on the history of Rwanda and how the country evolved itself as a peaceful state after the Rwandan genocide of 1994 on the principles of reconciliation and dialogue.
Addressing a gathering of 125+ participants including students from Raman Munjal Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School, Delhi-Jaipur Highway, Haryana and Manthan School Ghaziabad, Father Agnel School, academicians and representatives from other Embassies and High Commissions in India, Mr. Ernest began by mentioning the influence he had had since his early days from Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. He said, “I grew up a Gandhian, long before I came to India. Mahatma Gandhi Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela had huge effect on me. They taught me the way of non-violence for attaining global peace”. He added, “Their ideas should be taken to the younger generation”.
In his emotional outburst of the tragic history of Rwanda that killed between
500,000–1,074,017 people during the mass murder or genocide of 1994, Mr. Ernest said that there was none to blame but ourselves. “It happened within our community and ethnic groups. It happened at a time when the world outside had all the opportunities to stop this massacre”. Those were troubled times. The scale and brutality of the massacre caused shock worldwide, but no country intervened to forcefully stop the killings. Most of the victims were killed in their own villages or towns, many by their neighbours and fellow villagers”.
He said, “As a nation, we could not afford to lose our own men. We had to go back to the same villages and live next to the same perpetrators and this was a huge challenge”. “The government decided to go for a process of reconciliation – ‘no revenge’. The government realised one fact that only the victims can give back and forgive. ‘Never Again’ became ‘Never Again’ as the motto of the process of reconciliation.
Mr. Ernest also mentioned about the ‘Gacaca Courts’ which the government established at all administrative levels of Rwanda. He informed that the Gacaca Courts system traditionally dealt with conflicts within communities, but it was adapted to deal with genocide crimes. Among the principal objectives of the courts were identification of the truth about what happened during the genocide, speeding up the process of trying genocide suspects, national unity and reconciliation, and demonstrating the capacity of the Rwandan people to resolve their own problems.
“We looked into ourselves to evolve a process for long-term solution that involved the community, taking the help of women in rebuilding the societal process, where perpetrators of a family were asked to donate something to the family of the victims as an asset”.
“Today Rwanda is a colourful country that came back from the dark”, informed Mr. Ernest and the government machinery along with the people in the community are working hand in hand towards the progress of the country.
A documentary of the history, art, culture and community life of Rwanda was also shown on the occasion. Earlier students of both the schools presented songs of harmony and Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite hymns.