Rwanda marks 25 years since genocide

President lays wreath at memorial site in Kigali 25 years after mass killing began

From left,  African Union chief Moussa Faki, Rwanda president Paul Kagame, his wife, Jeannette,  and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker light a remembrance flame for the 25th Commemoration  at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in  Rwanda. Photograph:   Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP

From left, African Union chief Moussa Faki, Rwanda president Paul Kagame, his wife, Jeannette, and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker light a remembrance flame for the 25th Commemoration at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP

 

Rwanda has begun a solemn commemoration of 800,000 people killed with knives, clubs and other weapons during three months of genocide in 1994.

The president, Paul Kagame, laid a wreath at a memorial site where more than 250,000 people are buried in the capital, Kigali. Songs were sung and poems recited at the beginning of a week of events.

Speaking after the ceremony, Mr Kagame pledged that history would never repeat itself. “That is our firm commitment. Our bodies and minds bear amputations and scars but none of us is alone. Together we have woven the tattered threads of our unity into a new tapestry.”

He said Rwandans had granted themselves a new beginning and were “wounded and heartbroken – but unvanquished”.

Officials and foreign dignitaries joined about 2,000 people in a “walk to remember” from Rwanda’s parliament to the national football stadium, where candles were to be lit in a night vigil.

The vast majority of the victims of the genocide were from Rwanda’s Tutsi minority, though some Hutu moderates also died.

Forgiveness

Alice Mukarurinda, 49, whose child was killed by Hutu extremists, said she had forgiven those responsible for the mass murder.

“The anger can never give you peace. Some Hutus were killed too while protecting Tutsi friends. It was a bad leadership of the past to blame. Those who killed my families have apologised to me and I have forgiven them. The future is important to us.”

Jackie Mukamana, from Bugesera, said: “Today we live a better life and the children of Hutus and Tutsi attend the same schools and opportunities are offered equally. I can’t seek revenge because when you kill the person who murdered your relatives, you’ll become like that murderer.”

The 100 days of killing began on April 6th, 1994 after the then president, Juvenal Habyarimana, and his Burundian counterpart, Cyprien Ntaryamira, both Hutus, died when their plane was shot down over the Rwandan capital. Those responsible have never been identified. – Guardian Service