Rwanda on Thursday commemorates the 28th anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in which over a million people were beaten, hacked, and shot dead in a hundred days of slaughter.
As has become the tradition every April 7, the day the genocide began, President Paul Kagame is expected to lead the nation in mourning the genocide victims and light a remembrance flame in a national commemoration event at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where more than 250,000 victims rest.
The national mourning will last for a week until April 13 while commemoration activities will go on until July 3, ahead of the celebrations for Liberation Day on July 4. The national event can also be followed on digital platforms.
Twenty-eight years on, the anniversary comes as Rwanda recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic shocks that have restricted public gatherings and events.
Events such as the “Walk to Remember” and the mourning vigil were cancelled to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The events used to attract thousands of people from Rwanda and across the world.
This year’s commemoration message will focus on fighting against the genocide ideology and educating the country on what led to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Several world leaders and officials have joined Rwanda in remembering, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“The genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda was neither an accident nor unavoidable. As we remember the bloodshed 28 years ago, we must recognise that we always have a choice. To choose humanity over hatred, compassion over cruelty, courage over complacency,” the UN Secretary-General said in a statement.
“Today of all days, we must recognise the dangers of intolerance, irrationality, and bigotry in every society. As we look back with remorse – let us look ahead with resolve. Let us commit to being ever vigilant and to never forget.”
British High Commissioner to Rwanda, Omar Daair, said, “My thoughts are with the Rwandan people on the 28th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi. We must honour the memory of all those who were killed and stand with the survivors. And we must all work to ensure that such atrocities never happen again, anywhere.”
The Ministry of National Unity and Reconciliation has released guidelines for the public during commemoration week.
From April 8 to 10, places of worship will disseminate messages regarding the country’s history that led to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
On April 10, experts and historians will discuss the role of the media in the Genocide against the Tutsi and the rebuilding of the Rwandan community in the genocide aftermath.
April 11 will be dedicated to remembering the Tutsi victims who were killed on the same day after being abandoned by UN peacekeepers.
The Ministry of Health has assigned more than 80,000 professionals to all districts to support and counsel trauma victims.