From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Rwanda: LWF General Secretary Denounces the Silence that
"Frank Imhoff" <FRANKI@elca.org>
Wed, 07 Apr 2004 11:15:53 -0500
Rwanda: LWF General Secretary Denounces the Silence that Permits Genocide
Permanent Challenge to Complacency of Religious Leaders Worldwide
GENEVA, 7 April 2004 (LWI) * As Rwanda commemorates ten years since the 1994
genocide, the general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Rev.
Dr Ishmael Noko has appealed for an end to the silence and inaction that
permits genocide and social cleansing in any part of the world.
"Silence and inaction on the part of the international community as a whole
allowed the genocide in Rwanda to occur," Noko says in a letter today to
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. He notes that the killings in that country a
decade ago continue to be a powerful indictment against a global community
that "after the Second World War, had sworn that genocide would never be
allowed to occur again."
The LWF general secretary says it is particularly painful to reflect on the
role played by religious leaders in fomenting and carrying out the killings
in Rwanda a decade ago. The genocide history, he said, "should be a permanent
challenge to the complacency of religious leaders in all regions of the
The LWF general secretary writes to Kagame also in his capacity as the
convenor of the October 2002 Inter-Faith Peace Summit in Africa, a
continent-wide forum of religious leaders and networks pursuing practical
inter-faith action for peace on the continent. "The challenge and the
indictment of what happened in Rwanda ten years ago must be taken by all
those who participate in this process or who share its objectives as one of
the foundations of our commitment," Noko says.
It is Noko's prayer that healing, reconciliation and peace prevail in Rwanda,
and that the world would "never again respond to genocide with silence and
An estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in 100 days during the 1994
The full text of LWF General Secretary Noko's letter to President Kagame
H.E. Paul Kagame
Republic of Rwanda
7 April 2004
On this day, people of conscience around the world join with the people of
Rwanda in marking the tenth anniversary of the commencement of the genocide
in your country. Though they occurred a decade ago, those events still seem
fresh with pain and guilt. They continue to burden the memories and dreams of
all Rwandans. They also continue to be a powerful indictment against an
international community that, after the Second World War, had sworn genocide
would never be allowed to occur again. The history of your country, and
particularly the events of ten years ago, carry an inexpressibly deep
significance for the whole world.
As the General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, a worldwide
federation of Christian churches of the Lutheran tradition, I join with many
other religious leaders around the world in remembering the victims of the
Rwandan genocide, and in praying for peace and reconciliation in your country
and in our world. The killing of neighbor by neighbor offends the most basic
religious and moral teachings. And so it is particularly painful to reflect
on the role played by religious leaders in fomenting and carrying out the
genocide in Rwanda. This history should be a permanent challenge to the
complacency of religious leaders in all regions of the world.
Silence and inaction, on the part of the international community as a whole,
allowed the genocide in Rwanda to occur. Silence and inaction continues to
give tacit permission to killings and ethnic and other forms of 'social
cleansing' in different regions of the world today. In its tragedy, Rwanda
presented a shocking insight into the depths of human cruelty and brutality.
In this commemoration of that tragedy, Rwanda demands of the international
community an end to the silence and inaction that permits genocide and social
cleansing in any part of the world. And in pursuing the path of
reconciliation, I pray that Rwanda will yet be an example for the world to
In Johannesburg in October 2002, I had the privilege of convening the first
continent-wide summit of African religious leaders on the topic of
inter-faith dialogue and cooperation for peace in Africa. This event brought
together more than 100 religious leaders from across the continent, and from
all of the major faith traditions represented in Africa. It was, amongst
other things, an occasion for building links between existing inter-faith
groups and networks working for peace in many different countries in Africa.
The summit participants committed themselves to a program of practical,
rather than rhetorical, inter-faith action for peace in our continent. The
challenge and the indictment of what happened in Rwanda ten years ago must be
taken by all those who participate in this process or who share its
objectives as one of the foundations of our commitment.
I write to you now - on behalf on all those communities, networks and
individuals participating in the 'Inter-Faith Action for Peace in Africa'
process commenced in Johannesburg in October 2002; on behalf of the member
churches of the Lutheran World Federation in all parts of the world; and on
my own behalf - to assure you of our prayers on the occasion of this awful
anniversary. We pray for healing, for reconciliation and for peace in Rwanda,
in the African continent, and in the world. We pray that the world will never
again respond to genocide with silence and inaction.
Yours most sincerely,
Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko
Convenor, Inter-Faith Peace Summit in Africa
General Secretary, The Lutheran World Federation
[The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran
tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund (Sweden), the LWF now has 136 member
churches in 76 countries representing 62.3 million of the almost 66 million
Lutherans worldwide. The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas
of common interest such as ecumenical and inter-faith relations, theology,
humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication, and the various aspects
of mission and development work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva,
[Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the LWF's information service. Unless
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