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'Never again' says Rwanda on 18th anniversary of genocide

Delhi,Diplomacy, Sun, 08 Apr 2012 IANS

New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) "Never again" would such a monstrosity be allowed to happen, the East African nation of Rwanda declared Saturday, the 18th anniversary of the genocide against the minority Tutsi tribe that claimed over one million lives - 20 percent of the population - over a 100 day period and left the country in tatters.


"We forgot our humanity and turned into animals and wreaked havoc on each other. This will continue to define our past but it can't define our future," Rwandan High Commissioner to India Williams Nkurunziza said at a solemn commemoration here.


"This is a scar that should not have happened. We will ensure that what happened will never, never happen again," Nkurunziza added.


"Over the last 18 years, Rwanda has risen from the ashes in an example that has no parallel in living memory," he said.


Proof of this is in the fact that the Rwandan economy has expanded a whopping 300 percent in the past decade and poverty has been slashed by 121/2 percent in the last five years.


Today, 50 percent of the Rwandan population has been born after the 1994 genocide and "these are the inheritors of a blemished past but beneficiaries of good governance", the high commissioner said.


"Three hundred thousand Rwandans will become adults this year. They are the repository of our history and the drivers of our dreams. We are not yet at the mountain top but our journey is continuing," Nkurunziza added.


It's a journey that began when Paul Kagame, the sixth and current president of Rwanda rose to prominence as the leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) after his decisive military victory over the incumbent government in July 1994 effectively ended the genocide.


"He looked at the perpetrators (of the genocide) in the eye and gave us a chance to rebuild," the high commissioner said.


The commemoration was held on the theme: "Let's learn from our history to shape a bright future." A key feature of the event was the screening of a documentary on testimonies by genocide survivors, songs by Rwandan and East African musicians condemning genocide in all its manifestations and a candle lighting ceremony.


The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Indian government, members of the diplomatic corps and international agencies, members of the Indian business community and civil society, friends of Rwanda and Rwandans resident in Delhi.


Commemoration events were also held on Saturday at Pune and Salem, and on Sunday at Chidambaram, Coimbatore and Bangalore, where large communities of Rwandan students reside.


In Bangalore, over 400 people, including prominent personalities from the public and private sectors, civil society and Rwanda students, participated in a Peace March, also known as Walk2Remember, from Gandhi Statute to Bangalore University campus.


Over 1,500 Rwandan students, many of them survivors of the 1994 genocide, presently study at different universities and colleges in India.


A UN resolution has established April 7 as the Day of Reflection on the Rwandan Genocide and this is annually marked both in Rwanda and across many capitals around the world.


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