Belgian Police halt vigil by alleged “Genocide deniers”
Kigali: Brussels Police on Tuesday blocked dozens of Rwandan nationals who were preparing to hold a protest they call a vigil at the genocide memorial located in the commune of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, reports say.
The Genocide commemoration officially starts on April 07 – the date when the Tutsi mass killings started en-mass. The protestors have often chosen the date of 6 April, the day of the attack against the presidential plane to assert the link between the event and the start of the Genocide.
Belgian police told the small group that they cannot be allowed to converge at the Woluwe-Saint-Pierre site at the request of the government of Rwanda. The site was built in 2004 and each year vigils are held there on April 07 organised by the Embassy in Brussels.
According to reports, women could be seen weeping uncontrollably for having been refused to reach the memorial.
Over the years, such vigils have repeatedly been blocked. Last year, the day before, Sunday (April 6), about 60 Rwandans who were protesting in front of the court building were arrested by the Belgian police.
The protest, qualified as “negationnist” by the IBUKA association of survivors and the Rwandan Community in Belgium (RCB), had been prohibited by the Mayor of Brussels.
In an open letter sent to the mayor, Mr. Joseph Matata, the main organizer and President of the Center for the Fight against Impunity and Injustice in Rwanda (CLIIR), claimed that the protest was in the “memory of all the victims of the Rwandan genocide killed in Rwanda and in the DRC”.
Kigali considers such functions which are commonly held by Rwandan exiles as aimed at undermining the Tutsi mass slaughter – branded here as Genocide ideology.