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Kigali Marks 15 Years of Genocide Tuesday


Today (Tuesday) is the 15th anniversary of Rwanda's 1994 genocide which saw hundreds of thousands of mainly Tutsis and moderate Hutus killed over a hundred day period. Some political observers believe the assassination of former President Juvenal Habyarimana led to the massacre after his plane was shot down. Current President Paul Kagame's government has vowed not to relent until all the perpetrators of the genocide are brought to justice, a move that has been embraced by the international community.

Rosemary Museminari is Rwanda's foreign minister. She tells reporter Peter Clottey that the country is determined not to have a repeat of the situation that degenerated into genocide.

"The meaning of today is number one we remember over one million Rwandese who perished in the genocide, but we also take time to think about those who survived, but also call on the world to do all that is possible to prevent such a catastrophe happening to any other people in the world. So, we think that it is very important to remember the worth of those people and because of what they meant to our country. But also to combine our forces with those who survived this and then remind the world also that the world needs to really have responsibility," Museminari pointed out.

She said Kigali would want the world to take responsibility after refusing to help those who needed help and leaving them at the mercy of the perpetrators of the genocide.

"Today we will be at the spot where those who were abandoned at that time by the United Nations forces were killed by those who were hunting them having been abandoned by those who were supposed to protect them. So, we see it as a day that the world needs to really take time to reflect, what we need to do better so it is a combination of many things," she said.

Museminari said although Kigali has been successful in its efforts to bring to book those behind the genocide, there is more room for improvement.

"Rwanda for one, we have had our own justice system whether through the ordinary court, through the Gacaca Court and we have also had few cases being tried in Arusha (Tanzania), but we feel there is still a long way to go because as we talk you hear them (perpetrators) talk on radio and on various airwaves and we think that is not correct. We also know that some of them are busy organizing and sending out hate messages, busy trying to change history to deny the genocide. So, we think that to some extent we have succeeded, but there is still a long to go," Museminari noted.

She said President Kagame's government aims to ensure through its policies that the dangers of that led to the genocide would be avoided in the future.

"President Kagame's government has been busy putting in place institutional mechanisms, putting in place laws to ensure that really what is pronounced as political messages and what is pronounced as wisdom out of our leaders really get imbedded in these laws, gets imbibed in institutions to follow through to ensure that people do not bring out these kinds of hate messages. So, it is imbedded through the legal system and entrenched in our constitution and indeed in the kind of institutions that we have to dare develop," she said.

Museminari said Rwanda is determined to move on despite the human losses to the genocide.

"If you recognize today's theme, we are remembering our loved ones we lost in the genocide, but we are also reminding the world that it should stop the denial. And also reminding people that while we went through all that there is hope for those who survived because of what Rwanda stands for today," Museminari pointed out.

Kigali carefully chose a symbolic location to commemorate today's anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi minority and highlight what President Kagame's government described as the bankruptcy of humanity during the 1994 massacres.

Today's national ceremony is expected to take place in Nyanza, a hill in Kigali where thousands of people were slaughtered on April 11 after the Belgian U.N. contingent that had been protecting them pulled out leaving the people at the mercy of the perpetrators of the genocide.

Political observers believe it took an army of exiled Tutsi Rwandans, led by Rwanda's current president Paul Kagame, to stop the killings. Kagame's government has vowed that a Rwandan genocide will never happen again. It's a policy that has reportedly had a tremendous impact on the whole region, especially in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

President Kagame's government has often accused the world of not doing enough to bring to justice genocide perpetrators still at large and particularly accusing France of failing to acknowledge its role in allowing the killings.

A French judge blamed President Kagame who at the time was the leader of the Tutsi rebel group and some of his closest associates for masterminding and carrying out the rocket attack which brought down the plane assassinating former President Habyarimana. But President Kagame has sharply condemned the accusation as a sham accusing the French of abdicating its responsibility in the genocide after it trained militants who reportedly carried out the 1994 attacks.

Kagame maintains that the genocide was the work of Hutu extremists in order to provide a pretext to carry out their well orchestrated plans to exterminate the Tutsi community, which they describe as cockroaches.

The accusation and counter accusation between Kigali and Paris has led to a frosty diplomatic relationship with Kigali severing diplomatic ties with France until recently.

Hundreds of suspects sought for their involvement in the killings are believed to be living in countries such as France, Belgium, Canada, Kenya and Congo. Kigali has vowed to bring them to justice no matter what it takes.

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