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Syakalima calls for tough laws against hate speech

By Benedict Tembo

MINISTER of Education Douglas Syakalima has urged governments worldwide to enact strict laws to hold individuals and organisations accountable for spreading hate speech on social media platforms.

Mr Syakalima noted that in this digital age, social media platforms have become powerful tools for communication and connection.

“However, they have also been misused to propagate hate speech and incite violence. We must acknowledge the role that social media played in fueling the genocide and take decisive action to prevent history from repeating itself,” he said.

Speaking at the 30th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Lusaka dubbed Kwibuka30 on Friday, Mr Syakalima said the occasion was reminiscent of the horrors of hate and division that tore Rwanda apart.

Mr Syakalima said the world could not allow hate speech to go unchecked, whether spread online or offline.

“Thus, strict laws have to be enacted to hold individuals and organisations accountable for spreading hate speech on social media platforms. I therefore wish to take this opportunity to call upon our respective governments to remind them that as our citizens express themselves freely and participate in public discourse without fear, we must ensure that this freedom comes with responsibility,” he said.

Mr Syakalima said the world cannot allow hate speech to go unchecked, whether it is spread online or offline.

Mr Syakalima expressed happiness that against the background of the atrocities that were committed against the Tutsi and other incidences of genocide, there are also stories of hope, resilience, and reconciliation. 

“The Zambian government has witnessed and noted how Rwanda has emerged from the ashes of genocide to become a beacon of progress and transformation which most African countries respect and applaud,” he said

Mr Syakalima noted that through visionary leadership, a commitment to justice and reconciliation, and the resilience of its people, Rwanda has shown the world that healing and rebuilding are possible, even in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

“Today, as we remember the victims of the genocide against the Tutsi, let us also renew our commitment to building a world where every individual is valued, where diversity is celebrated, and where the horrors of genocide are consigned to the darkest pages of history. In honoring the memory of those we lost, let us also honour their legacy by working tirelessly to build a future of peace, justice, and reconciliation for everyone,” he said.

Charge d’Affaires at the Rwanda High Commission in Lusaka Douglas Gakumba said the under the theme “Remember, Unite and Renew”,

Rwandans, home and abroad continue the 100 days of remembrance that started on April 7 this year.

“The 30th commemoration marks a generational cycle since the genocide was put to an end, and is an opportune time for a call to reflect on the transformational journey that Rwanda has undergone in the last thirty years, building on the legacy of strength, resilience, and unity that the new generation is called upon to sustain and carry forward to adapt to today’s global challenges and future aspirations,” Mr Gakumba said.

He said Rwanda continues to advocate for the inclusion of course lessons about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in schools to educate the young and the next generation on the need to fight hate ideologies and stand against any form of discrimination and divisionism.

“For Rwandans, Kwibuka30 is an opportunity for every Rwandan to face the past and prevent intergenerational transmission of traumas through dialogue and remembrance,” Mr Gakumba said.

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