This weekend marked the 20th anniversary of the start of the Rwandan Genocide. This genocide was one of the most brutal infliction of human rights in our history. It began after Hutu extremists within Rwanda’s political elite blamed the entire Tutsi minority population for the country’s social, economic and political issues. Through the use of propaganda and political maneuvering, President Habyarimiana increased separation between the Hutu and Tutsi creating a social divide. On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying Habyarimana was shot down and violence broke out immediately after that. In the following weeks, 800,000 men, women and children were brutally killed by Hutu extremists in Rwanda. Children were murdered, rape was used as a weapon against women and entire families were killed at a time. It is estimated that as many as three quarters of the Tutsi population perished during this genocide.
Now, 20 years later, many are still feeling the scars of the genocide. Survivors used their strength to carry on but some say they would have preferred to die then to a face a future haunted by what they saw. However, many have persevered on as they saw the surviving children as the legacy to bring hope to Rwanda. A decade after the genocide, Rwanda faced endless problems, as their jails were filled with Hutus accused of killings and the justice system became overwhelmed. Many Tutsi’s were unable to receive justice as many of the killers were released from prison.
Yet, there is hope for Rwanda looking forward. Rwanda’s youth population remains optimistic for a brighter future for Rwanda and have been quoted saying that “education is key in preventing a repeat of the past.” This week, remember those who were lost during this harrowing time. Be sure to spread messages of hope for Rwanda and pray for those still mourning the losses.