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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 May, 2003, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK
Brothers to build 'genocide memorials'
Dr James Smith
James Smith wants to open education centres in Rwanda

Two brothers from Nottinghamshire want to raise 1m to build genocide memorial centres in Rwanda to mark the slaughter of Tutsis in 1994.

Stephen and James Smith, who run the Beth Shalom Holocaust Memorial Centre in Laxton, north Nottinghamshire, are determined to use their model to set up similar centres in Rwanda.

"The Rwandan genocide was a defining event of the end of the 20th Century and we hear so little about it," Dr James Smith told BBC News.

"One million people died there in 100 days - five times the rate that Nazis killed Jews and we failed to act."

Churches and schools

The holocaust centre has a museum telling the story of the holocaust and a memorial garden.

Dr Smith, director of the Aegis Trust, which runs the centre and co-ordinates projects to help genocide survivors in Rwanda, said both the Rwanda Government and survivors were supporting the project.

Education centres
If we don't do this, it will be shame on all of us
James Smith
Aegis Trust

"We were invited to come by the Rwandan Government to help rebuild the economy, but we also talked to some survivors and they asked us to help them build a centre there."

"It is very important that we give some dignity to survivors and they have somewhere they can go to remember their families that were murdered.

He said the Aegis Trust's Rwanda Fund would help preserve memorial sites in Rwanda and open education centres so that people can learn lessons from the genocide.

"There are six sites in Rwanda, including churches and schools where tens of thousands of people were killed."

Dr Smith said the United Nations "had little interest in what was happening over there at the time".

He said the UN pulled out its peacekeeping force because the member states did not have the will to prevent the genocide from happening.

"This is a chance to show solidarity and we need to raise 1m by next spring to pay for the project - and we will eventually need 3m to complete it.

"If we don't do this, it will be shame on all of us."

Geldof launches genocide centre
09 Sep 02  |  England

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