Rwandans on Sunday will begin a three-month observation to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of more than 1 million people.
Known as Kwibuka with its theme to “remember, unite, renew,” the observance will begin with President Paul Kagame lighting the Flame of Remembrance at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. It is the final resting place of 250,000 victims, among those who died in the wave of ethnic violence directed primarily at Tutsi but also including moderate Hutu and others opposed to the brutal killings.
There are a total of six memorial sites across the nation. The April 7 ceremony marks the beginning of the ethnic attacks that claimed about 80 percent of the Tutsi population by July of the same year; the 2019 anniversary events will run through July 4.
Foreign dignitaries attending Suunday’s Kwibuka ceremonies include Canadian, French, German and Russian diplomats.
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, currently on a tour of Middle East and North African nations including the World Economic Forum in Jordan and a Libya in deepening crisis, offered a special message as Rwandans mark the day.
“On this day, we honor those who were murdered and reflect on the suffering and resilience of those who survived,” he said. “As we renew our resolve to prevent such atrocities from ever happening again, we are seeing dangerous trends of rising xenophobia, racism and intolerance in many parts of the world.
“Particularly troubling is the proliferation of hate speech and incitement to violence. They are an affront to our values, and threaten human rights, social stability and peace,” he added. “Wherever they occur, hate speech and incitement to violence should be identified, confronted and stopped to prevent them leading, as they have in the past, to hate crimes and genocide.”