Survivors to Speak at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia
Twenty-Five years ago, during 100 days in April 1994, the hills of the tiny African country of Rwanda ran red with the blood. The well-organized genocide against the Tutsi by Hutu extremists left more than 800,000 Rwandans dead. Fear and propaganda incited ordinary people to murder their neighbors, workmates, and fellow churchgoers. Most victims were butchered or maimed by machetes, clubs and other weapons of war, including savage rape. The killers carried lists of those marked for death. On one such list: Tharcisse Seminega, a Tutsi professor at the University of Rwanda in Butare. He and his family narrowly escaped the machetes. Charles Rutaganira, who lived in the capital Kigali, did not. Attackers slashed him repeatedly and left him to die. Somehow he survived.
On April 4, 2019, at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia, these survivors will reflect on the genocide and speak about the urgent message it conveys for citizens of the world today. The event theme is “A Chronicle of Hope—Revisiting the Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda.”
Knowing that many people recoil at the sheer horror, Dr. Seminega asks, “Why am I compelled to tell our story? Is it just one more account of horrific events that, frankly, people would rather not exhume?” A soft-spoken former Catholic seminarian, he continues: “Most genocide accounts focus on abject failure: the failure of neighbors, the failure of colleagues, the failure of friends, and what is the most poignant and most soul-wrenching is the failure of the church to exercise any restraint on its members.” But, he says, he has a different story to tell. “My family of six and I survived the wholesale murder because of the concerted efforts of a small group of honorable Rwandan Hutu who took extreme risks to hide us.” Dr. Seminega explains that his family’s rescuers “acted, not only as individuals, but as a principled community—a real-life demonstration of the way that love and hope can inspire unwavering courage and compassion in the face of terror.” Dr. Seminega and his fellow survivors speak about their experiences in the hope that listeners can look past the horror of the genocide. In our polarized world, where ethnic and social divides threaten to plant the seeds for future genocides, what can quash that toxic growth? The survivors would answer in a word: LOVE.
The program at the Center begins at 7:00 p.m. It is free to the public, but pre-registration is required at https://www.rwanda-nogreaterlove.com/en/press-and-events. Courtesy of the program sponsor, the Arnold-Liebster Foundation, attendees will receive gift copies of Dr. Seminega’s newly published memoir No Greater Love: How My Family Survived the Genocide in Rwanda. To arrange interviews with Tharcisse Seminega and Charles Rutaganira, contact Sandra Milakovich, U.S. representative for the Arnold-Liebster Foundation, (563) 391-1819, Ext. 2.