Rwanda is commemorating the 28th anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that saw over a million people beaten, hacked, and shot dead in a hundred days of slaughter.
As per the tradition every April 7, the day the genocide commenced, President Paul Kagame is set 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 over 250,000 victims rest.
The national mourning is set to last for a week until April 13 while commemoration activities will go on until July 3, ahead of the Liberation Day celebrations on July 4. The national event will also be streamed 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.
Among the canceled events are the “Walk to Remember” and the mourning vigil in a bid to tone down the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The events previously attracted thousands of people from Rwanda and across the world.
This year, the 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 global leaders and officials have already 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.”
Omar Daair, the British High Commissioner to Rwanda 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.”
So far, the Ministry of National Unity and Reconciliation has released guidelines for the public during commemoration week.
Between 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 are set to 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 over 80,000 professionals to all districts to support and counsel trauma victims.