25 years after the brutal genocide in rwanda, the country has commemorated the more than 800.000 victims and survivors remembered. "History will not repeat itself," promised president paul kagame at a memorial service in kigali on sunday.
"Not only were bodies destroyed, but the very idea of rwanda was destroyed," said the 61-year-old, who was instrumental in bringing the 1994 genocide to an end. "What happened here will never happen again." the head of state warned that rwanda could not afford to be complacent. "The suffering we have gone through should be enough to keep our fighting spirit alive."
Guests from around the world gathered in rwanda on sunday to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the genocide. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the genocide. Instigated by the hutu government and a militia close to it, hutu killed around 800 people at the time.000 tutsi as well as communized hutu – friends, acquaintances, neighbors, even spouses and children. The international community largely looked the other way. Only when the rwandan patriotic front (RPF), founded in exile by tutsis and led by kagame, marched in from uganda, was the massacre brought to an end. The genocide lasted only about 100 days.
Kagame praised how far rwanda has come since then. "25 years later, here we are, all together. Wounded and heartbroken, yes, but undefeated," said head of state. He also warned any opponents at home and abroad who wanted to "mess with rwanda". "No one has the power to turn rwandans against each other ever again."The events are also a sign of hope for the world. Because the country had shown that "no community is irreparable"."
Since the genocide, rwanda has undergone a remarkable evolution. Under kagame – who has been in power as de facto president since the end of the genocide in 2000 – the east african country has experienced stability and strong economic growth. Several government and civil society programs have spurred reconciliation in the country. But freedom of expression, opposition work and civil society are also being severely curtailed. Authorities have harassed, unlawfully detained and even tortured government critics, human rights watch has criticized.
Commemorations were held throughout the country on sunday; events are also planned every day in the coming week.
Paul kagame and his wife jeannette laid wreaths at the kigali memorial on sunday morning. About 250.000 victims lie buried here. "Time can never erase the darkest hours of our history," said EU commission president jean-claude juncker, who attended the ceremony. "It is our duty to remember."
Rwanda was once a german colony and came under belgian rule after the first world war before gaining independence in 1962. Among the guests at the commemoration on sunday was belgian prime minister charles michel. Belgium bears "part of the responsibility," the belgian news agency belga quoted the head of government as saying. Former prime guy verhofstadt had once said that the genocide was also "the failure of the international community, which could not warn, which could not prevent, which could not stop".
Federal minister of the interior heiko maas said in berlin in remembrance of the genocide: "the genocide in rwanda must be a reminder for future generations. We all have a responsibility to keep the memory alive and do everything we can to ensure that nothing like it ever happens again."The SPD politician spoke of a "crime of unimaginable magnitude".
France’s presidential palace declared on sunday, the 7. April should be commemorated as a day of remembrance for the genocide in the future. Earlier, head of state emmanuel macron had appointed a commission to investigate france’s role in the genocide. France is repeatedly accused of having played an active or passive role in the preparation and execution of the genocide. Paris and kigali had broken off diplomatic relations in the past.