Apr 07, 2020 17:55 UTC
  •  African Union urges countries to mark 26th anniversary of Rwanda genocide

The head of the African Union Commission has called on all Africans to commemorate the 26th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide, which claimed over one million lives, as efforts to bring key perpetrators to justice have so far failed.

Moussa Faki Mahamat made the plea on Tuesday after the Rwandan government announced last week that the commemoration would take place on April 7 but with limited events and participants due to the global coronavirus outbreak.

“Although we will not be formally gathering at the African Union Commission for this event as usual, I encourage you to commemorate this day from wherever you are,” Mahamat said in a statement.

“I would like to pay tribute to the leadership and the people of Rwanda for consistently working towards ‘Never Again’ and for emerging through resilience and unity from the terrible past and putting Rwanda on a development path that continues to inspire many countries on our continent and beyond,” he added.

The chairman of the African Union Commission went on to say that the anniversary would be an opportunity to reflect and continue to fight genocide and “its ideology, denial, and impunity with a view to ensure that never again shall Africa experience such a heinous crime against humanity.”

An estimated one million people, mostly from the Tutsi minority, were massacred over a span of 100 days in 1994 by Hutu extremists and militia forces in Rwanda.

The mass killing was triggered over an accusation by Hutus that the ethnic minority had assassinated Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana in April that year, when his plane was shot down in the capital, Kigali.

“We should not be oblivious to the fact that genocide is always well planned, deliberately executed with impunity, yet genocide is also always followed by denial,” Mahamat underlined.

The 26th anniversary of the genocide comes as Rwanda continues to grapple with the challenge of bringing to book key perpetrators of the 1994 killings.