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Says people must ‘create their own peace’

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, May 5, 2009) – A Rwandan genocide victim and survivor encourages Solomon Islanders to create their own peace.

Didacienne Mukahabeshimana arrived in the country on Sunday.

She was supposed to take part in the Winds of Change conference but could not make it because she missed a connection flight while in Nairobi.

Still, she wishes to come to share her experience during the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

She said if Solomon Islanders want true peace they must start today.

"It’s a shame to see people from other countries coming to stay in your country so that you can sleep at night."

Foreigners such as RAMSI, she said are here to help support peace.

"But how can they support peace that you do not create?" Ms. Mukahabeshimana asked.

"You have to find your own peace and these people can help you maintain this peace."

She added that it is not the outside people that can come and create peace in the Solomon Islands.

"It’s not the other person that can do it for you, the choice is in your hands."

For Mukahabeshimana, now a nurse and trade unionist from Rwanda, the journey from fear to love had led to founding a women’s group which visits prisoners accused of taking part in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

She is one of the victims who stayed in Hotel Rwanda for 25 days.

She works for peace in Rwanda and in the Great Lakes region of Africa which Rwanda is part of.

As a victim, she said she has decided a long time ago to look towards the future instead of remaining locked in the past.

"It was very hard to make that decision just after the genocide because in Rwanda we have no more hope of life and living," she said.

She lost many families members and friends who were killed in a treacherous way.

Mukahabeshimana said the reason she came to the country is to learn and also to give.

She said Solomon Islanders cannot rebuild the country without perpetrators of the ethnic conflict.

She added that the only way forward is to try and help these people and how victims can offer forgiveness.

"In order for you to have a better country you must include rather than discriminate and make space for the other person.

"You cannot build your country without your friends, without the ones that now you call your enemies," she said.

Mukahabeshimana said each person needs to reflect on their own responsibility however small that responsibility might have been in the conflict.

She added that those who have suffered the most have the most to give and the ones who must take the first step.

"And you will see how miracle this will happen," she said.

The Rwandan Genocide saw the 1994 mass killing of almost a million of Rwanda's Tutsis and Hutu political moderates by Hutus under the Hutu Power ideology.

About a million people were killed in three months genocide.

Mukahabeshimana’s home was attacked but she was lucky to have escaped and stayed in Hotel Rwanda for 25 days during the conflict.

While in Honiara, Mukahabeshimana will meet women victims of the ethnic tension, visit schools and communities.

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