Speaking out

13 Jan 2010

I was fortunate to undertake a course whilst studying at New York University with Irshad Manji, Founder of the Moral Courage Project. Moral Courage is “the willingness to speak truth to power and risk backlash for a greater good.”

There are a number of survivors that I meet during the course of my work, that have great moral courage. The President of SURF’s partner IBUKA, the umbrella body of survivor’s organisation in Rwanda, is amongst them.

Theodore Simburudali spoke out this week about the ongoing threat to survivors posed by the release of prisoners of the genocide as a result of them giving evidence at gacaca, sparked by the killing of four survivors over the past week. As he commented:

“These assassinations still bear the hallmarks of the genocide ideology and are punishment for victims who have testified in the gacaca tribunals.”

Thankfully, the perpetrators of the grenade attack have been arrested. However, the news is testament to the continuing need to tackle genocidal ideology in Rwanda, as well as to ensure the security of survivors – an aim to which SURF is working towards, in particular addressing the threat to women survivors through a gender-based violence programme funded by the Sigrid Rausing Trust. Through a grant from Comic Relief, SURF has also been working with IBUKA and other survivor’s organisation to strengthen their capacity to advocate for the rights of survivors.

As demonstrated by this recent episode, there is sadly much more work still to do.