Rwanda reflects on 30 years since the 1994 genocide: observing a solemn week of mourning

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Rwanda reflects on 30 years since the 1994 genocide: observing a solemn week of mourning
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Rwanda's President, Paul Kagame, has emphasised that Rwanda's tragedy serves as a warning, highlighting the potential consequences of division and extremism if left unaddressed.

His remarks came as Rwandans commemorated the 30th anniversary of a genocide that ravaged their nation, tearing apart communities and resulting in one of the most devastating massacres of the 20th century.

Leading the commemoration on Sunday, President Kagame laid wreaths on the mass graves in the capital city of Kigali, accompanied by foreign dignitaries, including the leaders of South Africa and Ethiopia, as well as former US President Bill Clinton, who had previously denounced the genocide.

In his address, Kagame acknowledged the remarkable progress that Rwanda has achieved, attributing it to the collective choices made by its people in rebuilding their nation.

He emphasised the foundational importance of unity, expressing gratitude to the survivors who have shouldered the burden of reconciliation, and acknowledging their ongoing efforts for the nation.

"Our hearts are filled with both grief and gratitude today. We honour the memory of the deceased and we are grateful for the Rwanda we have become," stated Kagame.

He highlighted the Rwandan story as a testament to the immense power inherent in humanity, emphasising the responsibility to uphold truth and do what is right.

Kagame called upon the people of Rwanda to steadfastly reject the politics of ethnic populism in all its forms.

He described genocide as a distilled manifestation of populism, rooted in political causes, and asserted that the remedies to prevent such atrocities must be political as well.

He reaffirmed that Rwanda's politics would never again be organized along ethnic or religious lines.

Recognizing the gravity of the root causes of genocide, Kagame stressed the necessity of commemorating the lives lost and expressed Rwanda's unwavering commitment to addressing these threats.

"Even if we stand alone, we will always remain vigilant. We aim to foster solidarity and forge partnerships to collectively recognize and confront these challenges as a global community," he declared.

The genocide, which commenced on April 7, 1994, persisted for 100 days until the rebel militia known as the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) captured Kigali in July of that year.

The violence claimed the lives of approximately 800,000 individuals, primarily Tutsis but also moderate Hutus.

The assassination of Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana on the night of April 6, when his plane was shot down over Kigali, triggered the onslaught by armed Hutu men and the notorious "Interahamwe" militia.

Fuelled by virulent anti-Tutsi propaganda disseminated via television and radio, the perpetrators executed their victims through shooting, beatings, and hacking.

The United Nations estimates that at least 250,000 women were subjected to rape during this period.

Since then, Rwanda, despite its tragic past, has made significant strides under Kagame's leadership.

Nevertheless, the scars of the violence endure, leaving a trail of destruction across Africa's Great Lakes region.

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