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Rwanda Commemorates 30 Years Since Genocide

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Rwanda is commemorating the 30th anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

More than 1 million people — mostly from the Tutsi minority ethnic group, but also moderates from the Hutu majority who tried to protect Tutsis — were systematically murdered by Hutu extremists during a 100-day killing spree that started on April 7, 1994.

The killing spree, which lasted 100 days before the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebel militia took Kigali in July 1994, claimed the lives of 800,000 people, largely Tutsis but also moderate Hutus.

The tiny nation has since found its footing under the iron-fisted rule of President Paul Kagame, who led the RPF, but the scars of the violence remain, leaving a trail of destruction across Africa’s Great Lakes region.

In keeping with tradition, the ceremonies on April 7 — the day Hutu militias unleashed the carnage in 1994 — began with Kagame lighting a remembrance flame at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where more than 250,000 victims are believed to be buried.

As an army band played mournful melodies, Kagame placed wreaths on the mass graves, flanked by foreign dignitaries including several African heads of state and former US president Bill Clinton, who had called the genocide the biggest failure of his administration.

The international community’s failure to intervene has been a cause of lingering shame, with French President Emmanuel Macron expected to release a message on Sunday saying that France and its Western and African allies “could have stopped” the bloodshed but lacked the will to do so.

Kagame will also give a speech at a 10,000-seat arena in the capital, where Rwandans will later hold a candlelight vigil for those killed in the slaughter.

Sunday’s events mark the start of a week of national mourning, with Rwanda effectively coming to a standstill and national flags flown at half-mast.

Music will not be allowed in public places or on the radio, while sports events and movies are banned from TV broadcasts unless connected to what has been dubbed “Kwibuka (Remembrance) 30”.

The United Nations and the African Union will also hold remembrance ceremonies.

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