‘Lessons not learned’ from historic genocides amid Gaza conflict

The world’s response to civilian deaths in the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza indicates it has not learned the lessons of previous genocides such as the one carried out in Rwanda, the African country’s president said Monday.

“We always talk about ‘lessons learned,’ but I don’t see many in the world learning lessons,” Paul Kagame said at the World Governments Summit in Dubai.

Drawing comparisons between the Rwandan genocide and alleged atrocities committed against Palestinians in Gaza by Israeli forces, Kagame added: “(In Rwanda) there wasn’t much mobilization to stop and prevent what was happening, but at least we were left with an opportunity to learn from it.

“We learned ourselves, the world needed to learn, but when you see what’s happening in the world, you question whether those lessons were learned.”

Kagame also said it was not just in Gaza where similar inactivity from those with power to stop such atrocities or offer quick resolutions was having an impact.

“The power and the influence some big countries have in their hands are not being put to good use, and that’s why we see conflicts, instability and loss of life to this extent,” he said.

“Countries, nations, international institutions should be there to ensure that there is a capacity to a actually prevent these things that consume people’s lives, that is not happening, so there are big question marks to those in whose hands lies so much power and resources to stop them from happening,” he added.

During his address, Kagame also said it is important that Africa decides its own future, that it is powerful enough to determine its own fate, and is able to resist outside influence.

However, a lack of leadership and governance across the continent is one of the main reasons for coups in Africa, he said, adding: “We need to look at the root cause.”

Referring to external influence in Africa from the US, China, Europe and Russia, he said: “This is a responsibility we carry; this is something that is urgent, to make sure we are not there to take a certain line or another because it has been decided so by someone else.

“Africa must be that powerful to make sure we do what has determined by ourselves to be important to us and our people.”

Kagame, who has been president of Rwanda since 2000 and is reportedly seeking reelection for a fourth presidential term in the July elections, added: “Elections are for the people to decide who is the most qualified, voting counts, and history counts.”

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