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BigLogo.gif UN Member States on the Record
Snapshots and stories: genocide survivors in Rwanda
06 April 2009 / 11:54

[Dateline: New York | Author:  iSeek/DPI]

Invitation to photo exhibitionReadings, musical performances, conferences, film screenings and more are planned around the world throughout the month of April in observance of the 15th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide.  In New York, two powerful photo exhibitions will be on display and survivor testimonies will be read on Tuesday, 7 April.

A full list of events organized by UN offices and information centres is available online.

In a message issued for the occasion, the Secretary-General said that survivor stories and photographs are "poignant accounts and many others like them depict a country on a path toward reconciliation.  The resounding voices of survivors touch us in ways that no other words could.  Yet the silence of the more than 800,000 innocent victims still haunts our collective conscience."

New York

A commemorative event will take place in the Trusteeship Council Chamber on Tuesday, 7 April, from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m., followed by a book signing by photographer Jonathan Torgovnik, author of Intended Consequences, in the Visitors’ Lobby from 2:30 to 3 p.m.

The commemorative event, organized by the Department of Public Information (DPI) in conjunction with the Permanent Mission of Rwanda, will include the reading of testimonies of genocide survivors by United Nations officials, Permanent Representatives, well-known personalities and students.

Readers include: the GA President; Deputy Secretary-General, Asha-Rose Migiro; the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng; and the Permanent Representative of Rwanda, Joseph Nsengimana, himself a genocide survivor.  Also reading will be the Permanent Representatives of Israel, Libya and the United States and two students. Ms. Jacqueline Murekatete, a genocide survivor now living in New York, will read her own testimony.

Similar readings of testimonies of survivors of the Rwanda genocide will take place in cities worldwide, including Brazzaville, Canberra, Cape Town, Johannesburg, London, Melbourne, Mexico, Tokyo, and elsewhere in New York.

A selection of testimonies is also available online.

Photographs

Visions of Rwanda photographsAlso on Tuesday, two photographic exhibitions will be launched which will remain on display in the Main Gallery of the Visitors’ Lobby through 10 May. 

As previously reported on iSeek, genocide survivors and perpetrators in Rwanda came together in November 2007 to document their daily lives, hopes, dreams and memories as part of the “Visions of Rwanda” photo project

The 12 participants included orphans, widows, rape and assault survivors, a judge and perpetrators, some of whom were responsible for the deaths of family members of other participants. 

The participants, many of whom had never used a camera before, were trained and given general photography tips by a United Nations facilitator and were then free to document topics of importance to them –- their “visions of Rwanda.” 

Examples of subjects portrayed in the photographs include memorials to the genocide, children and families, important buildings, landscapes, weddings and burials.

The “Visions of Rwanda” project and exhibit are an initiative of DPI’s Outreach Programme on the Rwanda Genocide and the United Nations.

The exhibit “Intended Consequences:  Photographs and Interviews” features powerful documentation of the accounts of several Rwandan women who were subjected to sexual violence during the 1994 genocide.  Due to the stigma of rape and “having a child of the militia,” the communities and few surviving relatives of these women have largely shunned them. 

The portraits and testimonies featured offer intensely personal accounts of these survivors’ experiences of the genocide and the challenges they face today, as well as their conflicted feelings about raising children who are a reminder of the horrors they endured.

This exhibit is supported by the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations and DPI.