Rwanda To Mark 25 Years Since Genocide That Killed Tenth Of Its Population
Rwanda on Sunday marked the 25th anniversary of the genocide that killed about tenth of its population.
The country will mourn for 100 days – which is the time it took in 1994 for 800,000 Rwandans to be massacred.
Many of the 800,000 were minority Tutsis, who were killed by the maority Hutu.
President Paul Kagame, who led the rebel force that ended the genocide, lit a remembrance flame at the memorial in the capital, Kigali.
Kagame has led the country since the end of the genocide.
The commemoration activities began with the flame-lighting ceremony at the memorial where about 250,000 victims are said to be buried.
The flame will burn for 100 days, the time of the mourning.
Kagame akso delivered a speech at the Kigali Convention Centre and later lead a vigil at the Amahoro National Stadium, which was used by United Nations officials to try to protect Tutsis during the killings.
He said the resilience and bravery of the genocide survivors represented the “Rwandan character in its purest form”.
The commemoration was attended by a number of foreign leaders – mainly African, although Prime Minister Charles Michel will represent the former colonial ruler, Belgium.
The genocide started when a plane plane carrying then-President Juvenal Habyarimana – a Hutu – was shot down, killing all on board.
The maority Hutu blamed the utsi rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which denied the accusation.
This led to a campaign against Tutsis that saw many macheted in broad day light in what wa wesll orchestrated attacks, that included house to house searches and radio broadcasts to kill any Tutsis.
Belgium, who colonised Rwanda, and the UN pulled out of the country leaving the Tutsis to be killed brutally.
The RPF, backed by Uganda, started gaining ground and marched on Kigali. Some two million Hutus fled, mainly to the Democratic Republic of Congo,
The RPF was accused of killing thousands of Hutus as it took power, although it denies this.
Dozens of Hutus were convicted for their role in the killings by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, based in Tanzania, and hundreds of thousands more faced trial in community courts in Rwanda.
Ewanda has recovered economically with President Kagame’s policies encouraging rapid growth and technological advancement.
In 2017, he was re-elected into his third term. Critics however say he is too authoritarian and does not tolerate dissent.