Rwanda honours those killed in genocide 25 years ago

At least 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus murdered during three-month genocide

President of Rwanda Paul Kagame (L) and his wife and first lady of Rwanda Jeannette Kagame (R) arrive for a commemoration event. Photogrpah: Dai Kurokawa /EPA

President of Rwanda Paul Kagame (L) and his wife and first lady of Rwanda Jeannette Kagame (R) arrive for a commemoration event. Photogrpah: Dai Kurokawa /EPA

 

Rwandans gathered on Sunday to commemorate the 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus murdered during the Rwandan genocide, 25 years ago.

The ceremony marks the beginning of a week of events to honour the dead. As part of commemoration, Rwandan President Paul Kagame will lay a wreath at Gisozi genocide memorial site, where over a quarter of a million people are buried.

“Remembering is necessary because it’s only thanks to looking back at what happened [that we can] ensure that it never happens again,” said hairdresser Olive Muhorakeye (26) who survived the genocide.

African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Jeannette Kagame and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, light the flame of hope during a commemoration ceremony of the 25th anniversary of the genocide at the Genocide Memorial in Gisozi in Kigali, Rwanda on April 7th, 2019. Photograph: Baz Ratner/Reuters
African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Jeannette Kagame and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, light the flame of hope during a commemoration ceremony of the 25th anniversary of the genocide at the Genocide Memorial in Gisozi in Kigali, Rwanda on April 7th, 2019. Photograph: Baz Ratner/Reuters

In the afternoon, officials joined around 2,000 people in a “walk to remember” from parliament to the national soccer stadium, where candles will be lit in a night vigil.

Various heads of state were in attendance including Canadian governor general Julie Payette and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker are also expected.

The 100 days of slaughter began on April 6th, 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.

The attack mobilised Hutu government soldiers and allied extremist militia, who orchestrated the genocide to exterminate the Tutsi minority.

In villages across the densely populated country, neighbour turned on neighbour as men, women and children were hacked to death, burned alive, clubbed and shot.

As many as 10,000 people were killed daily. 70 per cent of the minority Tutsi population was wiped out, and over 10 per cent of the total Rwandan population.

The fighting ended in July 1994 when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a Tutsi-led rebel movement led by Kagame, swept in from Uganda and seized control of the country. – Reuters