Always Rwanda

This started as my on-line journal while I was living, working, and conducting my master's field research in Rwanda in 2003. I returnedto Rwanda as an Assistant Director for an educational program and decided to pick it up again.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The 12th Anniversary

Rwandan leader to critics: 'You kept quiet' during genocide
Ceremony to bury remains marks 12th anniversary of genocide
KIGALI, Rwanda (Reuters) --

Rwanda's president denounced on Friday critics who accuse him of using the 1994 genocide as an excuse for autocratic leadership, saying their inaction in the face of the slaughter gave them no right to condemn.
President Paul Kagame spoke at a ceremony to mark the 12th anniversary of the genocide, at which more than 100 victims were exhumed from the mass graves where their ravaged bodies were cast, to be re-buried at proper memorial sites.
"You kept quiet ... when these victims wanted your help to survive the slaughter," Kagame told a crowd of thousands gathered in the southern Nyamasheke district.
"Now you begin criticizing us when we are struggling to sort out this mess caused by divisionism and sectarianism -- your unfounded criticism is not welcome," Kagame, a Tutsi, said in a speech broadcast on state television.
Critics say Kagame has clamped down harshly on political dissenters in the name of stopping divisiveness -- which he says was a cause of genocide in which 800,000 Tutsis and their Hutu sympathisers were hacked, burned and shot to death.
In Nyamasheke and the capital Kigali, decomposed skulls and other body parts gathered from mass graves hidden in valleys, hilltop jungles and pit latrines were placed into wooden coffins and buried in concrete crypts.
Up to 45,000 bodies are believed buried in the former stronghold of Hutu militias who carried out the killings.
Survivors' stories draw tears
Survivors -- including one who hid under a pile of bodies for days and survived by drinking blood oozing from the dead and his own machete wounds -- recounted their ordeals and moved many in the crowd to tears.
The ceremonies are the beginning of a week of mourning during which bars and nightclubs will be closed, flags will fly at half-staff and radio and TV will broadcast remembrances.
Kagame led a Tutsi-dominated rebel army across the small central African country in 1994 to stop the killing, overthrowing the Hutu-led government behind the slaughter.
Human rights groups accused some of his soldiers of carrying out atrocities of their own in reprisal.
In Kigali, a survivor who had come to bury remains of her two brothers said she saw no chance for peace between the Hutu and Tutsi survivors because some 54,000 culprits have been pardoned and released from prison.
"How do you expect me to swallow that bitter pill of reconciliation when I see people who killed these two brothers of mine walking freely on the streets of Kigali?" Claire Uwineza told Reuters.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kagame using the genocide to vindicate his own autocratic style of (killing and) governing...? Nooo.. never! Now who would say a mean thing like that?

3:08 PM  

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