World let us down in our most trying moment - Kagame

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World let us down in our most trying moment - Kagame
Interahamwe militia seen escorted by French forces | Courtesy

Rwanda marked 30 years of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi on Sunday, kicking off a weeklong mourning period during which entertainment in whatever form, bars, sports and others will be suspended

GENOCIDE | Peacekeepers sent to Rwanda to stop the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi did not fail the people, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said, instead faulting the international community for looking away.

Mr Kagame, who was speaking as Rwanda marked 30 years since the Genocide that killed around more than a million people, the "lessons we learned are engraved in blood".

"Many of the countries representing here also sent their sons and daughters to serve as peacekeepers in Rwanda," Kagame said as he addressed several world leaders and dignitaries in the capital Kigali.

"Those soldiers did not fail Rwanda. It was the international community which failed all of us. Whether from contempt or cowardice."

President Kagame speaks at the memorial event in Kigali on Sunday | Courtesy

The Genocide started on April 7, 1994, hours after  President Juvenal Habyarimana's plane was brought down in Kanombe as it approached Kigali airport for landing.

In what had been carefully planned, thousands of Hutu extremists, Interahamwe, started scouring homes for Tutsi ethnics, whom they had been told by government propaganda machinery were inyenzi (cockroaches) that had to die.

The killings were carried out in whatever way the killers felt best. From using clubs and stabbing to machetes and smashing children against walls or dropping some alive down pit-latrines, whatever killed a Tutsi was engaged.

"Rwanda was completely humbled by the magnitude of our loss," Kagame said.

In the course of 100 days, more than a million Tutsi and some moderate Hutu who opposite the pogrom, were slaughtered.

The Genocide was stopped by Kagame's RPF forces on July 4, 1994, with remnants of the extremists fleeing into eastern DR Congo.

At Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre on Sunday, Mr Kagame led dignitaries - including former US President Bill Clinton and South Africa's current leader Cyril Ramaphosa, in laying wreathes on mass graves.

Remains of at least 250,000 victims are interred at the memorial centre.

Peacekeepers in Rwanda in 1994 | Courtesy

Among the international powers Rwanda has always faulted is France, whose government Rwanda says trained the militia that carried out the slaughter.

President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged could have stopped the genocide but lacked the will to do so.

Mr Macron reiterated the admission of failure in a video message recorded for the memorial at which President Kagame also lit the remembrance flame that will be kept running for the next 100 days.

France, under then-president François Mitterrand, was a close ally of the Hutu-led government of Habyarimana prior to the killings.

Mr Macron, who was represented in Kigali his foreign minister Stéphane Séjourné, said three years ago that France bears "heavy and overwhelming responsibilities" for ignoring warning signs and reports on the genocide.

Mr Kagame thanked fellow African countries, including Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania for their assistance in accepting Tutsi refugees and ending the genocide.

The Rwanda High Commission in Kampala is set to to hold a series of events in Uganda from Sunday, April 7, to May 4 to commemorate 30 years of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Sunday's events mark the beginning of a week-long mourning period in Rwanda and among Rwandan communities abroad.

The mourning period and the entire commemoration is observed under Kwibuka, a Kinyarwanda word for remembrance.

Kwibuka is run under the theme of remember, unite and renew and during the seven-day mourning period, all entertainment - including sports, music, films are suspended in the country and national flags are flown at half-mast.

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