Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
President Kagame Visit
April 22, 2004

Good afternoon. It is a privilege to be here today.

On behalf of the people of Washington state, I would like to welcome President Kagame, Dr. Nyaruhirira and the rest of our distinguished guests from Rwanda. We are honored that you are able to visit our state. We hope that your stay here is both enjoyable and productive.

I’d also like to recognize and thank Rob Glaser and the Glaser Progress Foundation for coordinating this visit and this important exchange of ideas.

I know we’re all very interested in hearing from our guests. Let me first tell you something about them.

President Paul Kagame was born in Rwanda. As a young boy, he and his family fled for their lives and became refugees in Uganda. After 30 years in exile and success as a military leader in Uganda, President Kagame returned to Rwanda to lead the Rwandan Patriotic Army in liberating the country.

Following the liberation, he was appointed Vice President and Minister of Defence in the Government of National Unity. Four years ago, the Transitional National Assembly unanimously elected him President of the Republic of Rwanda.

And last August, President Kagame won a landslide victory in the first-ever democratic, multiparty elections held in Rwanda.

President Kagame holds a diploma in Professional Management and Business Studies from the Open University of London. He also holds an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from India’s Vellore Institute of Technology. The President also serves as First Vice President of the African Union.

We are very pleased to have President Kagame as our distinguished guest today.

Dr. Innocent Nyaruhirira is the Minister of State for the Ministry of Health responsible for HIV/AIDS and related diseases. He’s also the Chairman of the Country Coordinating Mechanism of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for Rwanda.

Prior to assuming his present post, Dr. Nyaruhirira was Director of the Central Hospital of Kigali, and Head of the Department of Surgery at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Butare. Dr. Nyaruhirira received his medical degree from the University of Burundi. He also received specialized licenses in general surgery, orthopedics and trauma surgery at the Free University of Brussels.

We are also very pleased to have Dr. Innocent Nyaruhirira with us today.

The world remains haunted by the terrible tragedy of Rwanda, ten years ago. In the course of 100 dark murderous days of a civil war within Rwanda, sparked by the assassination of the Presidents of Rwanda and Brundi. An estimated 800,000 innocent men, women and children were killed. The Rwandan genocide reminds us that the world must always guard against the deadly cost of bitter hatreds.

At the site of the Dachau death camp from WWII, there is an inscription above a museum entrance. It reads: “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” We must never forget those who perished in Rwanda ten years ago. We must always honor their memory. All nations of the world must assume responsibility for not intervening sooner.

We take inspiration from the courage and candor the Rwandan people have shown in addressing this tragedy.

Let us take heart in the conviction, determination and hope with which Rwanda is working to build a better future.

While the genocide in Rwanda took a frightenly awesome toll, another deathly toll is now raging across Rwanda and other countries of Africa: HIV-AIDS.

Meeting the formidable challenge of the HIV-AIDS epidemic is the key to such a future. Rwanda deserves the support of the rest of the world in meeting this challenge. AIDS is a global fight, and our common humanity knows no borders. We must join together to help the people of Rwanda—and to help all people who struggle with AIDS. That’s why gatherings like this are so important.

That’s why we’re eager to hear first hand from President Kagame and Dr. Nyaruhirira.

I know we’re all looking forward to hearing from our distinguished guests. So please join me in giving a warm welcome to President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

Access Washington