Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from Global Information Network
(TriceEdneyWire.com) — Candle lighting, a minute of silence, the laying of wreaths and other memorial ceremonies have been held and will continue to take place through July as the Central African nation of Rwanda remembers the genocide in 1994 that claimed 800,000 mostly Tutsi lives in 100 days.
It is also a time for diplomats and local leaders to talk with communities about the atrocities of genocide and the importance of working towards a peaceful way of life. Student conferences, exhibitions, and other commemorative activities are also being held.
The United Nations designated April 7th as the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Rwanda Genocide. The genocide of Tutsis began on April 7, 1994, by Hutu extremists. The Day of Remembrance is an official UN Observance, not a public holiday.
Actor Don Cheadle starred in the 2004 motion picture “Hotel Rwanda” which brought the slaughter in Rwanda to an international audience. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards. Cheadle played Paul Rusesabaging, manager of a French-owned hotel.
President Bill Clinton’s administration knew about the genocide but chose to ignore it, burying the information to justify inaction, according to government documents declassified in 2004.
“Within 16 days of the killings, Clinton administration officials were calling the murders genocide, the Guardian, a London newspaper reported.
The commemoration will continue to July 4, marking 100 days of genocide.
This year hundreds of social workers trained to help trauma victims are expected to be available to help survivors still struggling with memories from that time.
Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, president of Ibuka, a survivors organization, said the social workers will be spread out around the country to help anyone in need.
Research in Rwanda has highlighted the magnitude of mental health problems. Almost a third of the general Rwandan population are said to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
According to the World Health Organization, a population that is distressed by tragic events and consequently suffers high levels of psychological distress is less effective and efficient at carrying out the work required to meet development targets.
The Ibuka group has a particular interest in addressing justice for survivors and coordinating joint survivors’ projects on a national level. A direct translation of Ibuka is “remember,” which is the objective of the umbrella association.
Government officials announced last month that during this commemoration period, Rwandans abroad would be taking part in the fight against genocide ideology and revisionism.
Meanwhile, in Uganda, the Rwandan community has kicked off a fundraising effort to construct a genocide museum in Mpigi, Uganda. It would be the third memorial site in that country – others are in Kasensero in Rakai district and Lambu in Masaka district.
All three sites contain the remains of some 10,935 victims who during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi were thrown into the Akagera and Nyabarongo rivers, both tributaries of Lake Victoria, and ended up in Uganda and beyond.—-Frederick H. Lowe contributed to this story.