April 7: International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda

[This post was originally published on April 7 2015. It is being reposted because of how relevant it is today]

April 7th each year has been established as the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda. It is a day when we are called upon to remember and reflect upon the horrible genocide which took place, costing the lives of some 800,000 human beings, while the world, all of us, did not do enough to stop it.

And stopping it – then, as now – was within our power. Today the killing is not taking place in Rwanda, but in the Congo, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Mexico and many other countries around the world. Today, this year, April 7th marked not only the International Day of Reflection for the Genocide in Rwanda, but also a day in which the world was called to show global solidarity and action for the people of Syria ( Planet Syria – كوكب سوريا) to show them that they are not forgotten. 

Yet we can, and must, do more. We can invest in, support and train practical peacebuidling and violence prevention capabilities for less than 2% of what is currently being spent on war. We can stop engaging in measures and policies which increase war, violence, terrorism and insecurity and instead courageously engage in the profoundly difficult but much easier task of addressing wounds, resolving underlying causes and drivers, and contributing to build real, meaningful, lasting and sustainable peace.

And that ‘we’ is all of us – you, me, citizens, governments. Like every major achievement in world history – from putting people in space to the abolition of slavery, ending apartheid, overthrowing the authoritarian and military regimes in Latin America, Eastern Europe and elsewhere – we as a species are capable of incredible and extraordinary achievement. But we need to engage. We need to dedicate our hearts, minds, passion, commitment and efforts to make it happen.

Today is 11 years since the genocide in Rwanda. We have come a long way in this time. We have not come far enough. A global mobilisation and campaign for peacebuilding has been launched. We are asking you to join it.

Let this day be more than a day of reflection. Let this be a day of decision. We will not sit back and do nothing in the face of war and violence which can be abolished. We will rise.

The time has come to make a difference in the world, and it is up to us – together – to be that difference.