Rwanda Massacre: Nation Marks 25 Years Since Genocide and Honors 800,000 Victims

source: Pixabay

Rwanda commemorates today 25 years since the genocide which took the lives of 800,000 people. The African country will mourn 100 days, the time it took in 1994 to massacre all the victims, the majority of which belonged to the ethnic group of Tutsis. They lost their lives to militias loyal to the government.

President Paul Kagame who was the leading the rebel force that stopped the mass slaughter lit a remembrance flame at the memorial in the capital city Kigali. The flame at the monument where it is believed that nearly 250,000 victims are buried will burn for the next 100 days.

The 61-year-old president who has been in office since the end of the civil war in 1994, will lead a vigil at the Amahoro National Stadium, which was used by the United Nations officials to try to protect the Tutsis during the massacre.

Rwanda expects some high profile politicians to attend some of the ceremonies. The Canadian Governor General Julie Payette, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, and the Prime Minister of the former colonial ruler Belgium, Charles Michel confirmed presence.

Among the missing key participants is the French President Emmanuel Macron.  Herve Berville, a Rwandan-born MP will represent Paris during the commemorations.

Earlier last week, President Macron has named a commission to investigate the role and engagement of France in the genocide. Macron appointed several historians and researchers to examine all the available information scientifically and to analyze the involvement of France in Rwanda from 1990 to 1994. 

The previous French President Francois Hollande had already declassified presidential archives on the subject four years ago. Back then, the researchers complained that only a fraction of these documents went public. Now, Macron aims to have a detailed report in two years and to identify the potential role of France in the massacre.

According to sources familiar with the matter, back in the 1990s, France was a close ally of the Hutu-led Rwandan government which started the slaughter. France was often accused of ignoring the warning signs and providing training of the militias who carried out the attacks.

The three-month-killing spree started 25 years ago on April 7 and lasted until mid-July 1994. On April 6, 1994, a plane having the then-President Juvenal Habyarimana from the Hutu ethnic group, was shot down. No one on board survived. The Hutu extremists blamed the Rwandan Patriotic Front comprised of the Tutsi ethnic minority which declined involvement.

A well-organized massacre started the day after to exterminate the Tutsi minority. In acts of appalling brutality, 800,000 Tutsi people lost their lives. 

The international forces represented in Rwanda did little to stop the killings. The UN mission did not receive a mandate to intervene. The Belgian military forces pulled out.

Do you think that the Western politicians do enough to prevent any more genocides anywhere through awareness-raising campaigns?