It is a week with no social activities as Rwandans dedicated much of their time to honour and pay tribute to victims of 1994 Genocide against Tutsis.
The official mourning week started on April 7 under the theme of “Remember, Unite and Renew” with President Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame laying a wreath on burial site of over 250,000 victims.
President Kagame and the First Lady also lit the Flame of Remembrance at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Gisozi, marking the beginning of the mourning week and the 100 days of commemoration.
In his commemoration speech, President Kagame said that although this is the 24th year of commemoration of the Genocide Against Tutsi, to Rwandans the memory is still fresh as it involves their nature, loved ones, communities and nation.
“Every time we commemorate, we come face-to-face with our history and learn once again how to live with it.
“It is a time to reminisce about our tragic past, a history that was not meant to happen, and it is also a reminder that if we don’t stay vigilant, it might happen again. We are reminded of what we need to do to ensure that genocide never happens again.”
While delivering a lecture before 500 police officers at The Rwanda National Police headquarters, Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, executive Secretary of CNLG focused talks on stages of genocide which include, classification, symbolisation, discrimination, dehumanisation, organisation, polarisation, preparation, persecution, extermination and denial and how they manifested during the preparation and execution of the Genocide Against Tutsi.
All districts chose villages where discussions were supposed to be carried out to mark the commemoration week.
For example, in Rubavu District, activities to start the national mourning week began by lighting of the Flame of Hope at the district’s offices while other commemoration activities took place in Cyanzarwe sector.
Bernadette Nyirabuhinja who survived the killings in this village took participants gathered in Nyakabanda Village on the bloody journey of Tutsis who were fleeing the country to DRC but were intercepted by the killers.
Meaning of genocide
At Kicukiro District, activities kicked off in Intwali Village, in Nyarugunga Sector where presentations about the difference between genocide and other massacres were given.
In her message, MP Agnes Mukazibera who was the guest of honour, urged everyone present to use the right references to the Genocide Against Tutsi to fight those who are in denial.
The week, which closed on April 13, was marked by visit of Rwanda dignitaries at Rebero genocide memorial where politicians who opposed the genocide were buried.
The commemoration activities, however, will continue for 100 days until July 14, which is celebrated as the day former RPF soldiers liberated the country and put an end to the genocide.