After a genocide, leaders compete to fill the postwar power vacuum and establish their preferred story of the past. Memorialisation, including through building memorials, provides a cornerstone of political power. The dominant public narrative determines the plotline; it labels victims and perpetrators, interprets history, assigns meaning to suffering, and sets the post-atrocity political agenda. Therefore, ownership of the past, in terms of the public account, is deeply contested. Although many factors affect the emergence of a dominant atrocity narrative, this article highlights the role of international interactions with genocide memorials, particularly how Western visitors, funders, and consultants influence the government's narrative. Western consumption of memorials often reinforces aspects of dark tourism that dehumanise victims and discourage adequate context for the uninformed visitor. Funding and consultation provided by Western states and organisations – while offering distinct benefits – tends to encourage a homogenised atrocity narrative, which reflects the values of the global human rights regime and existing standards of memorial design rather than privileging the local particularities of the atrocity experience. As shown in the cases of Rwanda, Cambodia, and Bosnia, Western involvement in public memory projects often strengthens the power of government narratives, which control the present by controlling the past.