Rwanda begins commemoration of 25th anniversary of the genocide
Rwandan President Paul Kagame will on Sunday light a flame at the memorial where some 250,000 victims of the infamous 1994 genocide are said to be buried.
The ceremony will mark the start of a one-week commemoration of the genocide. President Kagame will also make a speech at the Kigali Convention Centre, followed by a vigil at the Amahoro National Stadium, which was used by United Nations officials to try protect Tutsis during the killings.
The genocide started on April 6, 1994 when a plane carrying then Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, and his Burundian counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down, killing everyone on board.
Both presidents were from the tribe of Hutus. About 85% of Rwandans are Hutus.
The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF ) was blamed by Hutus for the crash and immediately started a well-organized killing spree.
Neighbors turned against neighbors and some husbands even killed their Tutsi wives, saying they would be killed if they refused.
Militants set up roadblocks and identified the Tutsis from the ID card which had people’s ethnic group. The Tutsis were slaughtered, often with machetes which most Rwandans kept around the house.
By the end of the 100-day killing spree, around 800,000 Tutsis and a few Hutus had been killed. Thousands of Tutsi women were taken away and kept as sex slaves.
The international community had advance evidence of the coming genocide. Once it launched, they had evidence of where it was going, and still did nothing.
In January 1994, Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, who commanded the small UN observer force tasked with implementing the peace agreement, heard the Hutus were planning a genocide. He informed the higher-ups at the UN but wasn’t permitted to act.
French only sent a special force to evacuate their citizens. They later set up a safe zone though they did nothing to stop the killings.
On July 1994, the RPF led by Paul Kagame backed by Uganda’s army seized the capital Kigali, defeated the government and ended the killings.