Rwandans and friends of Rwanda outside the country, on Monday, joined in activities to mark the 20th anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
There were Walks to Remember events, candles of hope were lit, songs were sung and many other activities at the 20th commemoration in Sweden, Netherlands, USA and other places across the world.
During a commemoration event held in Stockholm, Sweden, former Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson, noted that the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda was the biggest failure in the history of the United Nations.
Carlsson, who chaired an independent UN inquiry into the mass killings that left over one million Tutsi dead, said the presence of an ineffective UN force in Rwanda gave false hope to Rwandans that their security was guaranteed.
Carlsson said: “Many Rwandans we spoke to in our inquiry said Rwandans would have been better off without UN at all.”
Venetia Sebudandi, the Rwandan ambassador to Sweden and other Nordic countries, said two decades after the Genocide, Rwanda is back on its feet and resolutely oriented towards the future.
However, she said denial of the Genocide continues, especially in Europe and North America.
“The chilling efficiency of the 1994 Genocide was such that, on average, 10,000 people, the equivalent of a small Swedish town, were killed daily,” Amb. Sebudandi said.
Lisbet Palme, a member of an AU international panel investigating the Genocide, observed that rape was used as a weapon to wipe out the Tutsi population during the Genocide.
He added that more than 80 per cent of the children at the time lost a member of their family, while 50 per cent witnessed a killing.
In Bujumbura, Burundi, Desire Nyaruhirira, the Chargé d’Affaire at the Rwandan embassy, explained that after 1994, there is a need to remain vigilant while defending the truth about what transpired 20 years ago.
Not being vigilant in protecting the truth, he said, would result in dishonouring the memory of the victims of the Genocide. He added that reconciliation was difficult but it was necessary to rebuild the country.