A school in Peterborough hosted a conference to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

Key speakers at Jack Hunt School included distinguished guest High Commissioner of Rwanda to the UK, His Excellency, Johnston Busingye, Laura Marks CBE, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust who oversees all the annual commemorations of the Holocaust and other internationally recognised Genocides.

Investigative journalist Linda Melvern and Dr Richard Benda, a survivor and expert in trauma care, were also in attendance.

The third conference about Rwanda of its kind hosted by the school was led by Mr Jonathan Salt, a Holocaust and Genocide educator and teacher at Jack Hunt School, part of Peterborough Keys Academies Trust.

Mr Salt who has been teaching about Rwanda for 20 years said: “This year we commemorated the 30th Anniversary of the Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda. 

“Commemoration is important because it encourages to reflect not just on events 30 years ago but also on what is happening in the world today. 

“It enables us to find connections with people in other parts of the world, and especially in our country, gives us the opportunity to encounter people from across the globe.  

“There is a phrase we use in Holocaust Education:  rescuing the individual from the pile of bodies.  

“It easy to get lost in numbers and figures when studying something like Rwanda.  Over one million were killed in just 100 days. It is shocking. 

“What we can do in the Conference is to consider also individual stories which is important.”

Around 150 Year 12 students attended the conference learning about recovery and injustice while listening to key speeches from the guests.

On his visit to Jack Hunt School, High Commissioner of Rwanda, His Excellency, Johnston Busingye said: “One old adage in Kinyarwanda (the Rwandan language) says, 'Ifuni ibagara ubushuti ni akarenge,' which can be translated as 'Repeated visits are pillars to friendship.

“My return to Jack Hunt School on March 22, 2024, particularly for the 30th Commemoration of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, cements our relationship and friendship.

“At this event, I will be honoured to join our good friends, including students and staff.  To Rwandans and our friends, this occasion holds immense significance, marking a generational change since the genocide.

“It presents a valuable opportunity for us to reflect on Rwanda's remarkable journey of rebuilding and progress since those dark times.

“Rising from the ashes, we have transformed into a flourishing nation, driven by determination and resilience. 

“I am eager to engage with the students and staff, sharing our story of resilience and hope as we collectively strive to ensure that 'Never again' becomes a tangible reality.”

Linda Melvern, an investigative journalist who spoke at the Conference on Rwanda is arguably the world expert on what happened there in 1994. 

She was also a key speaker to address the UN on the occasion of the 25th Commemoration of the Genocide five years ago.

Mr Salt said: “Because the Genocide was a relatively recent event, the survivors are younger, and it is easier for students to engage. 

“Our school is very international with a huge array of languages being spoken.  

“The focus of the conference was to examine how Rwanda has brilliantly succeeded in moving on after the Genocide and rebuilding.  

“It is an incredibly impressive culture and that is what we aimed to get across.”

Peterborough Matters: Left to right Jonanthan Salt, His Excellencey High Commissioner for Rwanda Johnston Bsingye, Dr