Thursday 7 April 2016
International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda
The Rwandan Genocide was a genocidal mass slaughter of Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority. During the approximate 100-day period from April 7 to mid-July 1994, an estimated 500,000–1,000,000 Rwandans were killed, constituting as much as 70% of the Tutsi and 20% of Rwanda’s total population. The genocide was planned by members of the core political elite known as the akazu, many of whom occupied positions at top levels of the national government. Perpetrators came from the ranks of the Rwandan army, the National Police (gendarmerie), government-backed militias including the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi, and the Hutu civilian population.
On 23 December 2003, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution (A/RES/58/234) designating 7 April, the start date of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, as the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda. Every year, on or around that date, the United Nations organizes commemorative events at its Headquarters in New York and at United Nations offices around the world.
God is not absent
What I learned in Rwanda was that God is not absent when great evil is unleashed. Whether that evil is man-made or helped along by darker forces, God is right there, saving those who respond to His urgings and trying to heal the rest.
Great human trauma
Rwanda, which is one of the younger independent states in Africa, must be regarded as a model of how great human trauma can be transformed to commence true reconstruction of people. Human trauma can lead to stunted growth and mass withdrawal.
I believe that we can heal Rwanda - and our world - by healing one heart at a time.
I know there is a God because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil. I have seen him, I have smelled him and I have touched him. I know the devil exists, and therefore I know there is a God.
Model or truth and reconciliation
Given the scale of trauma caused by the genocide, Rwanda has indicated that however thin the hope of a community can be, a hero always emerges. Although no one can dare claim that it is now a perfect state, and that no more work is needed, Rwanda has risen from the ashes as a model or truth and reconciliation.