He was a special guest at the grand and national event lined up with activities such as the wreath-laying ceremony and lighting of the flame by the president of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame.
The Rwandan Genocide Memorial has become a grand event witnessed by not only Rwandan citizens but also important dignitaries across the world.
However, behind this annual memorial lies one of the darkest chapters in human history: the 1994 genocide.
Briefly.co.za highlights 13 key facts everyone should know about the Rwanda Genocide:
1. When civil war broke out in Rwanda in 1900, tensions between the Tutsi minority and Hutu majority became heightened. An outcast Rwandan group created the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) with a base in Uganda from where they attacked Rwanda.
2. The Tutsis were majority members of the RPF. They blamed the Rwandan government for ignoring Tutsi refugees. Animosity brewed between the two groups as all Tutsis were seen as accomplices of RPF, while Hutus who belonged to opposition parties were seen as traitors.
3. In 1992, a peace agreement was reached to reconcile the Tutsis and Hutus.
4. However, in 1994, Juvenal Habyarimana, the then president of Rwanda, was killed when his plane was shot down outside of the capital, Kigali.
5. In a retaliatory move, some Hutu extremists who held the RPF responsible for the president’s murder launched genocide against them. However, the RPF denied being responsible for the president’s death, alleging that Hutus shot down the plane as an excuse for the genocide.
7. Government-owned media houses, particularly radio stations, were deployed for the genocide. Rwandans were asked to kill their neighbours and provide names, addresses and license plates. The radio was used to disclose locations of Tutsis and justify the genocide
7. Government-owned media house, particularly radio stations, were deployed for the genocide. Rwandans were asked to kill their neighbours and provide names, addresses and license plates. The radio was used to disclose locations of Tutsis and justify the genocide
8. Not fewer than 800,000 people were murdered by the Hutus from April to June 1994
9. In addition to the brutal mass killings, women were also assaulted. It is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped and killed during the Rwanda genocide; thousands of women were kept as sex slaves
10. The genocide ended in July 1994 as the RPF, backed by Uganda's army, seized more territory and took control of Rwanda
11. Afraid of reprisal attacks, about two million Hutus fled to neighbouring countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania and Burundi
12. Human rights groups say, upon gaining power, RPF fighters in a revenge move killed thousands of Hutu civilians. The RPF has, however, denied this
13. The genocide lasted 100 days.
In 2019, Rwanda is marking 25 years of peaceful co-existence. Rwandans will mourn for 100 days, the time it took in 1994 for about a tenth of the country to be massacred, the BBC notes.
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