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Former US President Clinton Reflects on Rwandan Genocide - 2004-04-06

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton says he hopes the international community will continue to learn from the mistakes made in Rwanda in 1994, when it failed to properly respond to the genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 people.

In an article published in the Washington Post, Mr. Clinton says it is important to remember the horrors of 1994 with clarity and honesty, both to benefit from the lessons learned and to honor the memory of those who perished.

But he says it is also important to focus on the progress that has been made toward reconciliation in Rwanda and the country's commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS.

Mr. Clinton says that among other things, the international community needs to improve intelligence-gathering capabilities and muster the global political will required to respond to the threat of genocide, wherever it may occur. He says that by helping Rwanda confront HIV/AIDS, "we all have an opportunity to move decisively and to stop a second national tragedy."

Rwandans are making final preparations for this week's 10th anniversary of the genocide. A new museum (The Gisozi National Memorial) in the capital, Kigali, built to chronicle the 100-day bloodbath will officially open Wednesday. A range of officials and world leaders are expected to attend.

On Sunday, Rwandan President Paul Kagame opened a three day conference on the 1994 genocide by accusing the international community of deliberately failing to stop the killings. He said the world's inaction was a failure and suggested racism may have played a part.

On April 7, 1994, Hutu extremists began a killing spree that ended in the deaths of an estimated 800-thousand minority Tutsis and their Hutu sympathizers.