News / Africa

Rwanda Marks 20 Years Since Genocide

Rwanda Marks 20 Years Since the Genocidei
X
Gabe Joselow
April 07, 2014 9:24 PM
In an emotional ceremony in the Rwandan capital, African leaders and foreign dignitaries paid tribute to the victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. As VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from Kigali, Rwandan President Paul Kagame also took a swipe at the international community, following a diplomatic rift with France.
Gabe Joselow
On the 20th anniversay of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, President Paul Kagame paid tribute to the victims and also took a swipe at the international community following a diplomatic rift with France.

African heads of state and foreign dignitaries joined commemoration events in the Rwandan capital, beginning with a ceremony to light the National Flame of Mourning at the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

April 7 marks the day 20 years ago when ethnic Hutu militias began a killing rampage targeting Tutsis and moderate Hutus who would not take part in the slaughter. Some 800,000 people were killed within 100 days.

Kagame honored the victims at a memorial event at Kigali's Amahoro Stadium.

“As we pay tribute to the victims, both the living and those who have passed, we also salute the unbreakable Rwandan spirit to which we owe the survival and renewal of our country,” he said.
People follow the proceedings of the 20th anniversary commemoration of the Rwandan genocide, in Kigali April 7, 2014.People follow the proceedings of the 20th anniversary commemoration of the Rwandan genocide, in Kigali April 7, 2014.
Thousands of people filled stadium seats to watch speeches, performances and a video to commemorate the anniversary.

Shouts and wails could be heard throughout the crowd as some became overwhelmed with emotion. Handlers in the crowd helped soothe those who had become distraught.

Current and former leaders from around the world also turned out for the occasion, but France withdrew its delegation in protest over comments from Kagame accusing France of having a role in the planning and execution of the genocide. France has long denied the claims.

France was the Rwandan government's main Western backer before the genocide, and trained its Hutu-dominated army.
 
  • Bizimana Emmanuel, who was born two years before the genocide, is consoled by an unidentified woman while attending a ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, at Amahoro stadium in Kigali, April 7, 2014.
  • Performers re-enact some of the events enter a public ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, at Amahoro stadium in Kigali, April 7, 2014.
  • Performers re-enact events at a ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, at Amahoro stadium in Kigali, April 7, 2014.
  • Two wailing women, some of dozens overcome by grief at recalling the horror of the genocide, are carried away to receive help during a ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, at Amahoro stadium in Kigali, April 7, 2014.
  • U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Jeannette Kagame and AU Commission Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma participate in the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Kigali, April 7, 2014.
  • Rwandan children listen and pray during a Sunday morning service at the Saint-Famille Catholic church, the scene of many killings during the 1994 genocide, in the capital Kigali, April 6, 2014.
  • Rwandan worshippers attend the Evangelical Restoration Church, Kimisagara, one day ahead of the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Kigali, April 6, 2014.
  • Family photographs of some of those who died hang in a display in the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Kigali, April 5, 2014.

While not directly mentioning the dispute, Kagame said Rwandans will continue to seek “concrete explanations" for the genocide.

“People cannot be bribed or forced into changing their history and no country is powerful enough - even when they think they are - to change the facts,” Kagame said.

The international community has been criticized for not doing enough to prevent the genocide, despite numerous warnings.

Speaking at the memorial event, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged these shortcomings.

“Many United Nations personnel and others showed remarkable bravery, but we could have done much more," he said. "We should have done much more.”

Ban said the international community still has more to learn from the lessons of Rwanda, noting the failure to stop the conflicts in Central African Republic and in Syria.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wilhelm Hesse from: Zambia
April 26, 2014 4:12 AM
Great article, indeed the shortcomings of the international community were also to blame for letting the violence spiral out of control. I remember very vividly as a teenager listening both to VOA and BBC radio services in 1993 about the tensions before the violence started and when the violence begun the appeals from journalists on the ground for more to be done to stop the violence. It was a terrible time, a feeling of helplessness, a lot must be done to stop this repeating itself, firstly democracy, real democracy is key to preventing hatred and vengence from festering in Africa and this is where African leaders must have the compassion within to do the right thing by governing in a transparent, tolerant way, caring for their people, with an ambition to really improve the lives of their people. Without a change in the mindset of the leaders and the people as well, we can have all the peacekeepers in the world deployed but the violence will continue. Change has to start from within.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs