Remembering All Rwandans Equally: Marie Rose Habyarimana Calls for Inclusive Commemoration

Marie Rose Habyarimana

On April 6, 2024, Marie Rose Habyarimana, the daughter of the late President Juvénal Habyarimana of Rwanda, highlighted the importance of remembering all victims of Rwanda’s tragic history without discrimination. Speaking at a commemoration event marking 30 years since the assassination of her father on April 6, 1994, when his plane was shot down near Kigali, Marie Rose voiced her distress over the unresolved questions surrounding the culprits of the attack. This event is widely regarded as the catalyst for the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.

During a mass held at the Basilique Nationale du Sacré-Cœur in Koekelberg, Brussels, Belgium, she criticized the selective justice and commemoration practices in Rwanda, stating, “There should not be justice for some Rwandans at the expense of others, nor should we remember some Rwandans and forget others.”

Marie Rose expressed her sorrow for the loss of her loved ones and the lack of justice for families like hers. She pointed out the disparity in commemorative practices, where some families are denied the right to publicly mourn their losses. This, she argues, undermines the unity and healing process among Rwandans, as it disregards the significance of truth and justice for all citizens, regardless of their ethnic background or political affiliation.

The Rwandan government maintains that it does not prevent anyone from mourning their lost relatives. However, efforts to talk about acts of violence of RPF during the period with the genocide are criticized by the government as attempts to dilute and deny the genocide.

The 30th anniversary of President Habyarimana’s plane crash was attended by 500 to 1,000 Rwandans, including families of the other Rwandans who died alongside President Habyarimana. Notable passengers on the ill-fated Falcon 50 flight included Major General Déogratias Nsabimana, Colonel Elie Sagatwa, Juvénal Renzaho, Dr. Emmanuel Akingeneye, and Major Thaddée Bagaragaza, alongside Burundi’s President Cyprien Ntaryamira.

Marie Rose Habyarimana’s call for an inclusive approach to remembering Rwanda’s painful past is a poignant reminder of the complexities surrounding the events of 1994. Her message underscores the need for a reconciliation process that acknowledges all victims and seeks justice equally, promoting unity and healing among all Rwandans.