‘What happened here will never happen again’

KIGALI: Twenty-five years after the genocide in Rwanda, President Paul Kagame reflected on the tragedy at an official commemoration event in Kigali on Sunday. “What happened here will never happen again,” Kagame said. “Our prayer is for no other people to ever endure the same tribulations, especially our brothers and sisters in Africa.” The genocide in the former Belgian colony began on April 7, 1994, when representatives of the Hutu majority began killing members of the Tutsi minority and moderate Hutus. The massacre ended about 100 days later, when the Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), founded outside the country, invaded from Uganda, with Kagame – now president of Rwanda – at its head.
Some 800,000 people were killed in the genocide.
“This history will never repeat again. This is our commitment,” Kagame said. Kagame and his wife Jeannette laid wreaths at the genocide memorial site in Kigali, where 250,000 victims are buried. “Time can never erase the darkest hours in our history. It is our duty to remember,” said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the ceremony at the memorial site. “The duty of remembrance must be a sacred requirement,” said Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. Belgian peacekeepers were among those killed in Rwanda during the genocide. Kagame not only looked back on the past, but also commented on the state of the East African nation and its future. “Twenty-five years later, here we are. All of us. Wounded and heartbroken, yes. But unvanquished,” he said.
In post-genocide Rwanda, young people must take on a larger role, Kagame said, noting three quarters of Rwandans are under the age of 30, with 60 per cent born after the genocide. Since the genocide, Rwanda has been through notable developments. Under Kagame — who has been in power de facto since the end of the genocide and became president since 2000 — the country has achieved stability and economic growth. Programmes initiated by the government and civil society have promoted reconciliation. — DPA