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MSU remembers genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda with Commemoration and International Symposium

The community is invited to honor those who perished in the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, marking 25 years since over 1 million Rwandans, mostly Tutsis, were killed in 100 days.

Michigan State University is one of two host sites for the commemorative event in the United States. Jean Kayitsinga, assistant professor at the Julian Samora Research Institute, and Jean Pierre Nshimyimana, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow in the department of fisheries and wildlife, are the lead organizers of the event, 25th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi and the International Symposium on Genocide.

Jean Kayitsinga was an MSU graduate student when news about the bloodshed began arriving from his native Rwanda. He lost his parents, eight siblings, numerous extended family members and friends. One of his sisters was in Canada at that time, while his youngest sister, who was five years old, escaped under traumatic circumstances. This is the story of many survivors of that genocide who lost their family members and friends.

“The hope comes from our next generation,” said Kayitsinga. “We host these events to remember what happened. We also want to unite people so that we can bring understanding, and to share knowledge about the consequences of genocide. We want to renew our commitment to continue social transformation by instilling a ‘never again’ attitude—especially among the younger generation.”

Most of the Rwandan students attending MSU today were not yet born when the genocide against the Tutsi occurred, but pay homage to their heritage while driving change for generations to come.

“Lessons of our tragic history are fueling their commitment to contribute to building a peaceful Rwanda and inclusive community, whether they live in Rwanda or—in our case—at MSU,” Nshimyimana said. “We are remembering loved ones we lost and engaging the MSU community and beyond to promote unity, to fight against genocide denial ideology, to share our experiences, and to foster diversity and inclusivity,” said Nshimyimana.

International Symposium on Genocide: Confronting the Past and Understanding the Present
Friday, April 19
9 a.m. to 5:30 pm
MSU Union Ballroom

Join interdisciplinary and international scholars to discover the social, historical, and political contexts and detailed processes of genocide, as well as the consequences of genocidal experiences.

The keynote address features Zachary D. Kaufman, a senior fellow at Harvard while teaching at Stanford, , who will address recent approaches to preventing genocide. Kaufman has served in all three branches of the U.S. government and at three international criminal tribunals, including Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Court.

25th Commemoration of Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda
Saturday, April 20
2-6 p.m.
Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, Room Big Ten A

This event honors loved ones who died in the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, and begins with a Walk to Remember. A brief film, music and testimonials from survivors are included in the program.

The keynote address features Professor Mathilde Mukantabana, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Republic of Rwanda to the U.S., and non-resident Ambassador to Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

Both events are free and open to the public.

“There is so much to learn from a tragedy of this magnitude, and we face it by working together,” said Paulette Granberry Russell, senior advisor and director of the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives. “We support every effort to learn what leads to these awful events, and how we can work to diffuse future genocidal behaviors. Standing with survivors, remembering their loved ones and their unimaginable losses, is something that the MSU community is honored to participate in,”

Sponsors include: Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives; International Studies and Programs, Year of Global Africa; University Outreach and Engagement; Julian Samora Research Institute; College of Education; and Honors College.

More information is available at