Tributes, Solemn Moment as Rwanda Commemorates 30 Years Since Genocide

Tributes, Solemn Moment as Rwanda Commemorates 30 Years Since Genocide

Tributes, Solemn Moment as Rwanda Commemorates 30 Years Since Genocide

Rwanda solemnly honored the victims of genocide on Sunday, marking three decades since a brutal campaign by Hutu extremists ravaged the nation, resulting in one of the deadliest massacres of the 20th century.

Excel Magazine International recalls that the 100-day killing spree, commencing in April 1994, claimed the lives of 800,000 people, predominantly Tutsis but also moderate Hutus.

Under the leadership of President Paul Kagame, who spearheaded the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the nation has made strides, yet the wounds of the violence endure, casting a shadow over Africa’s Great Lakes region.

Traditional ceremonies on April 7, the day the carnage erupted in 1994, commenced with Kagame igniting a remembrance flame at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, the resting place for over 250,000 victims.

As Kagame laid wreaths on the mass graves amid mournful melodies played by an army band, foreign dignitaries, including African heads of state and former US president Bill Clinton, paid their respects. Clinton had previously labeled the genocide as the most significant failure of his administration.

Acknowledging the international community’s inaction, French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to release a statement, expressing regret over France and its allies’ failure to prevent the bloodshed.

Kagame will deliver a speech at a 10,000-seat arena in the capital, followed by a candlelight vigil in memory of those lost to the slaughter.

The week-long period of national mourning will see Rwanda halt regular activities, with flags flown at half-mast. Public music and TV broadcasts of sports and movies will cease, except for content related to the remembrance.

The United Nations and the African Union will also conduct memorial services.

Former Czech diplomat Karel Kovanda, who was the first UN ambassador to label the events as genocide, emphasized the importance of preserving the memory of the massacres, cautioning against allowing them to fade into obscurity.

The genocide was sparked by the assassination of Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana on April 6, 1994, leading to orchestrated violence by Hutu extremists and the “Interahamwe” militia. Propaganda fueled the killings, with at least 250,000 women subjected to rape, according to UN reports.

Despite efforts to bring perpetrators to justice through community tribunals, Rwanda continues to grapple with the legacy of the genocide.

The nation’s educational curriculum includes lessons on the genocide, and it hosts over 200 memorials, with four recently designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

While Rwanda has made progress in pursuing justice, hundreds of genocide suspects remain at large, some sheltered in neighboring countries. France, historically linked to Habyarimana’s regime, has faced criticism for its role in the genocide, with President Macron acknowledging France’s complicity but stopping short of an official apology in 2021.

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