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Rwandan genocide anniversary a chance to reflect, heal - Analyst

Patrick Hakizimana who was jailed from 1996 to 2007 for his alleged role in the genocide, shows a photo during his time as a soldier near Kigali, Tuesday, April 4, 2024   -  
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Brian Inganga/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved


As Rwanda prepares to commemorate 30 years after the genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 people, mainly ethnic Tutsis, a transitional justice expert described the period between April to June 1994 as a dark time for the country.

Martin Mavenjina, a senior program advisor on transitional justice at the Kenya Human Rights Commission emphasized the significance of remembering the genocide.

He said it's not just as a moment of remembrance but an opportunity for victims and survivors to reflect, heal, and look towards the future.

"It reassures the world that never again that such an event will happen anywhere on this continent or even anywhere (else) in the world," Mavenjina said.

Since the end of the genocide, Rwanda itself has remained largely at peace with itself.

Praising President Paul Kagame's leadership, Mavenjina lauded his success in fostering reconciliation between the Hutu and Tutsi communities post-genocide.

"It is not easy for any country around the world that has gone through what Rwanda has gone through to be able to bring two warring tribes and communities to live harmoniously together,"

But many human rights activists and Rwandan opposition leaders have accused Kagame of oppressing his opponents, silencing the opposition and going as far as killing and imprisoning his dissidents.

Supporters of Kagame’s rule applaud him, saying that without his firm grip on power, Rwanda could slide back to the chaos that could ignite another genocide.

"I strongly disagree with the notion that you must suppress a few Rwandans in order to preserve peace," said Mavenjina, suggesting that Kagame should loosen his grip on power and allow for more freedoms.

The genocide started after the assassination of President Juvenal Habyarimana - an ethnic Hutu, an act blamed on then Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels commanded by Kagame but which they deny.

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