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Premier League side Arsenal have joined the Rwandan community in the 27th commemoration of the 1994 genocide.
In a video message promoted by captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, forward Alexandre Lacazzette, midfielder Granit Xhaka and manager Mikel Arteta among the club’s officials, the Gunners praised the Rwandans’ resilience after the acts against humanity that occurred more than two decades ago.
“We stand together with Rwanda and Rwandans around the world to commemorate the genocide against the Tutsi. We honour the memory of more than one million victims and pay tribute to the strengths and courage of the survivors by being open about the past and we can build a brighter future,” Arsenal’s video stated.
“A future defined by love and respect.
“27 years later, Rwanda’s growth and determination is a testament to the enduring spirit of humanity. We remember. Unite. Renew.”
The civil war – which was triggered by the assassination of the then president Juvenal Habyarimana – occurred between April 7 and July 15, 1994 – and it is estimated almost 800,000 people, mostly from the Tutsi community, were killed.
Rwanda’s ambassador to Switzerland, Marie Chantal Rwakazina, joined Arsenal as she explained why there is a need to remember the genocide as the complete pursuit of justice for the victims goes on.
“Denial is the last step in the cycle of all genocides and a prelude to the start of a new cycle. Today, we are witnessing an unprecedented resurgence of denial of the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Most of the deniers reside in Western cities and capitals,” Rwakazina said.
“I call on all the countries to adopt laws criminalizing the denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi. Better prevention of genocide denial is about bringing justice to the victims and preserving evidence of the genocide.
“We all need to focus on this and fight against genocide denial in all its forms and everywhere it may appear.”
In 2018, Arsenal and Rwanda signed a three-year deal that will see the Premier League side promote the country’s tourism and hospitality industries.
French champions PSG later signed a three year deal with Rwanda as well.
The deal with Les Parisiens will see tea and coffee from the East African country exclusively be sold at Le Parc des Princes, the home stadium of PSG with a capacity close to 48,000.