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Rwanda marks 30th anniversary of Tutsi genocide

Photo: Brian Inganga Associated Press A tourist walks past photos of some of the deceased at an exhibition at the Genocide Memorial Center in Kigali, Rwanda.

Ammu Kannampilly – Agence France-Presse and Ivan Rush Mugisha – Agence France-Presse in Kigali

April 6, 2024

  • Africa

Rwanda marks from Sunday the 30th anniversary of the Tutsi genocide, the extermination of 800,000 people in 100 days that France “did not have the will” to stop even though it had the possibility, according to President Emmanuel Macron.

Official commemorations begin on April 7 — the day of the first killings in what would become the last genocide of the 20th century, leaving 800,000 dead, mostly among the Tutsi minority, but also among moderate Hutus.< /p>

On the occasion of this anniversary, the French president, who had already recognized in 2021 the “responsibilities” of France in the 1994 genocide, took an additional step, considering that Paris, “which could have stopped the genocide with its Western and African allies, but did not have the will.”

Like every year, President Paul Kagame – leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) who overthrew the genocidal Hutu regime in July 1994 and has since been the strongman of this country in the Great Lakes region – will light a flame of remembrance at the Gisozi Memorial, Kigali.

This ceremony will take place in the presence of foreign leaders and officials, including former American President Bill Clinton, stationed at the White House during the massacres, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Séjourné and the Secretary of State at the Sea Hervé Berville, born in Rwanda.

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Music will not be allowed in public places or on the radio. Sporting events and films will be prohibited from broadcast on television, unless they are linked to commemorations.

The killings of spring 1994 were triggered the day after the attack on the plane of Hutu President Juvénal Habyarimana, in a frenzy of hatred fueled by virulent anti-Tutsi propaganda.

For three months, the army, the Interahamwe militias (armed arm of the genocidal Hutu regime), but also ordinary citizens massacred — with rifles, machetes or clubs — the Tutsis, called “Inyenzi” (“Inyenzi” (“Inyenzi”)). cockroaches” in the Kinyarwanda language), and Hutu opponents.

The carnage ended when the Tutsi RPF rebellion seized Kigali on July 4, triggering an exodus of hundreds of thousands of Hutus to neighboring Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Thirty years later, mass graves continue to be uncovered.

The international community had been strongly criticized for its inaction before and during the genocide.

Paris, which maintained close relations with the Hutu regime when the genocide began, has long been accused of “complicity” by Kigali.

After decades of tensions, going as far as a breakdown in diplomatic relations between Paris and Kigali between 2006 and 2009, a rapprochement was made possible between the two countries following the establishment of a commission by Emmanuel Macron which concluded in 2021 that France had “heavy and overwhelming responsibilities”, while ruling out complicity.

“Hate Speech”

For 30 years, Rwanda has been carrying out reconciliation work, notably with the creation in 2002 of community courts, “gacaca” where victims could hear the “confessions” of the executioners.

Justice also played a major role but according to Kigali, hundreds of people suspected of having participated in the genocide are still at large, particularly in neighboring countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). and Uganda.

A total of 28 fugitives have been extradited from foreign countries, including six from the United States.

France has not extradited any of them but has sentenced half a dozen.

Human rights organizations, including Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, have called for accelerated prosecutions of those responsible for the genocide.

“I urge States around the world to redouble their efforts to bring to justice all surviving alleged perpetrators — including through universal jurisdiction — and to combat hate speech. hatred and incitement to commit genocide”, urged the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116