Commemoration for the Belgian victims of the Rwandan genocide: speech by Jean-Pascal Labille

date: 09 April 2014

Commemoration for the Belgian victims of the Rwandan genocide: speech by Jean-Pascal Labille

Discours Labille Kigali

Dear families,

During each moment of contemplation here, there are profound emotions running high.

As a human being, just imagining for a single instant what your men experienced here reflects our deepest and most ancient fears.

As a Belgian politician, I am overcome by the irresponsibility and cowardice of some.

Like you, no doubt many times, I have been gripped by anger.

Not hatred or the desire for vengeance, but the absolute commitment never to arrive at such horrors again; to allow a population to be slaughtered for its so-called ethnicity or because we oppose this binary view of existence on the one hand, while abandoning our soldiers on the other. Dereliction of duty by the international community and too many politicians.

We must be proud of what our soldiers accomplished here, in appalling conditions.

In their honour, I wish to make a personal apology to you and all the soldiers. These men sacrificed their lives to save others. What could be nobler?

No one should remain indifferent to the reasons that bring us here today and I am honoured to be here with you.

Belgium has conducted a thorough review of this troubled period in our shared history.

There are still frustrations for some of you. For me too. The best way to understand these difficult issues is to have the ambition not only to live together but also for Europe/Africa relations.

They were fathers. They were sons. They were brothers. They were fellow countrymen that we lost 20 years ago.

These are deep wounds that neither words, nor acts, nor time will ever heal. These wounds are condemned to remain open. And we have all had to learn to live with them, and are still having to do so today.

We can never bring back your loved ones. But we can and must honour their memory by ensuring that lessons are learned from what they suffered. Remember them so that it does not happen to others in the future. This is a long path and 20 years is not long. But it is a path which is necessary and useful.

Dear families,

Through this remembrance today, your loved ones live on after this tragedy. They are a part of our history, a part of us, a part of our collective consciousness.

Rest assured that we will guarantee that they remain so for a long time to come.

Thank you.