Rwanda: Reuters’ Take on the 20th

Rwanda: Reuters’ Take on the 20th April 11, 2014

Today, I continue my 100 day series remembering the twentieth anniversary of Rwandan genocide. Please join me in prayer for those lives lost and impacted in this tragedy. #NeverAgain. LMH

I thought it would be interesting as a part of this series to see how Monday’s 20th anniversary commemoration of the Rwandan genocide in Kigali was handled by different press outlets. Today, I’d like to share Reuters’ coverage, headlined “Rwandans told ‘never again’, 20 years after genocide“.

(Reuters) – The United Nations chief told a packed stadium of sombre and weeping Rwandans on Monday the world would “never again” let genocide tear their nation apart, at a ceremony marking 20 years since 800,000 people were butchered.

A host of leaders and donors attended the commemoration, but France – an ally of the Rwandan government that ruled before the genocide – did not take part after rebel-turned-president, Paul Kagame, renewed charges of Paris’ “direct role” in the killings.

France has acknowledged mistakes in its dealings with Rwanda. But it has repeatedly dismissed accusations it trained militias to take part in the massacres and Kagame’s comments triggered fresh outrage in Paris on Monday.

Some in the crowd in Kigali were overcome with emotion on hearing a survivor’s account and stewards had to lead them out of the stadium. Many Rwandans lost entire families to killers armed with guns, grenades, machetes and cans of petrol.

A minute’s silence was punctuated by screams of dozens of survivors.

Read the full article here.

On the surface, this article is a clear reporting of the events at the memorial, but read a bit further and you see some pointing to residual tensions not only in the country, but also in the region. I was especially intrigued by this portion:

Many Rwandans, who have seen dramatic changes with new roads and other benefits, say Kagame has helped unite the nation.

“Before I would feel ashamed or afraid of saying anything at gatherings but now we feel that we are all Rwandan with no picture of ethnicity,” Samuel Munyarugerero, a 45-year-old Hutu and former soldier in the army before the genocide.

“Yes, Rwandans are reconciled.”

Some welcome the gains but worry about the methods.

“The politics of Rwanda is coercive,” said 33-year-old Hutu agronomist from Kigali, who like other critics asked not to be named for fear of repercussions. “If the government could mobilize people with no coercion, Rwanda would be much better.”

Kagame rejects the charge of restricting political rights.

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  • RufusChoate

    No matter what Africans do and no matter where in the world it occurs there seems to be an irrepressible inclination to blame others for their actions. Blaming France for the Genocide is just another example of the permanent irresponsible childhood they wish to enjoy.

    • lisahendey

      This is a very broad generalization. I am going to leave your comment up in the hopes that it will prompt a civil discussion, but I’m curious about the context of your remarks. As for “permanent irresponsible childhood” the same argument could be made about many of us, Americans included, but I have to say that I saw very little sign of Rwandans “blaming others” when I visited. I did see many confessing to and seeking forgiveness for the acts they had perpetrated. And a country deeply working towards reconciliation. Far from childish…

  • Michelle

    Re: Mr. Choate’s remarks, I’m not sure any remark brushing an entire continent of people in one stroke, can be seen as useful. I have met and spoken with Rwandan people, and am saddened on their behalf at such harsh stereotyping. The wounds on the souls of a people who have undergone such atrocities are not to be scoffed at lightly. Let us search our hearts for love and compassion, and where we fall short, let us plead with Jesus for more.