Rwanda’s genocide wounds yet to heal as AU marks 27 of tragedy

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A number of diplomats from the African Union and Western countries are meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to mark the 27th anniversary of the Rwanda Genocide.

April 7, is dedicated as a day of remembrance of the victims of the 1994 genocide in which more than 800,000 people were slaughtered by ethnic Hutu extremists within a period of 100 days. The killers were targeting members of the minority Tutsi community, as well as their political opponents, irrespective of their ethnic origin.

During the time, the world witnessed neighbours killing neighbours and husbands killing their Tutsi wives, saying they would be killed if they refused. The genocide also affected Africa’s Great Lakes region, which covered Uganda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then known as Zaire), Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania.

The annual commemoration held atthe Nelson Mandela Hall of the African Union Headquarters in Ethiopia is a part of the efforts to continuously awaken the greater consciousness of the African people and the international community on the value of life and human dignity, and to renew the collective commitment to protect and uphold fundamental human rights.  

It is equally a reaffirmation of Africa’s resolve to prevent and fight hate speech and genocide ideology on the continent. As leaders gathered in Ethiopia and virtually through zoom, they said never again to genocide in Africa.  A candle was lit by those in attendance in memory of the fallen victims.

Also to speak on the occasion was Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Abiy Ahmed, then a young Africa soldier sent to respond to Rwanda’s genocide in 1995. He urged Africa and the world to ensure that genocide similar to what happened in Rwanda does not happen again.

The former European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker was among those that addressed the commemoration in Addis Ababa. 

The commemoration comes during the same week when the Duclert report on France’s role in the genocide was released. The report, based on two years of research found that Paris, under former President Francois Mitterrand — who was close to the Hutu-led government that carried out the genocide bears serious responsibility in the mass slaughter of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda between April and July of 1994.

But, it concluded there was no evidence that France was an accomplice in the killing spree. It alleged that Mitterrand had close ties with Rwanda’s Hutu president Juvénal Habyarimana, whom the report described as racist, corrupt and violent.