Saturday 21 September 2019

Rwandans begin a week of ceremonies to mark anniversary of 1994 genocide

Hands across borders: African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, his wife Jeannette and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker light the flame of hope during a ceremony in Kigali. Photo: REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Hands across borders: African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, his wife Jeannette and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker light the flame of hope during a ceremony in Kigali. Photo: REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Clement Uwiringiyimana in Kigali

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has begun a week of solemn ceremonies to commemorate the lives of 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus murdered during the Rwandan genocide, a three-month-killing spree that began 25 years ago.

Mr Kagame laid a wreath at the Gisozi genocide memorial site, where over a quarter of a million people are buried, before the government began an afternoon of speeches and song.

"There is no way to fully comprehend the loneliness and anger of survivors and yet over and over again we have asked them to make the sacrifices necessary to give our nation new life.

"Emotions had to be put in a box," Mr Kagame said.

"We are far better Rwandans than we were. But we can be even better still. We are the last people in the world who should succumb to complacency."

The 100 days of slaughter began on April 6, 1994, after President Juvenal Habyarimana and his counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi - both Hutus - were killed when their plane was shot down over the Rwandan capital. The attackers have never been identified.

Among the legacies of the genocide is the International Criminal Court, which grew out of tribunals to prosecute those responsible for atrocities committed in Rwanda and during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Irish Independent

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