Remembering Genocide in Rwanda: Vatican Radio recalls how Pope John Paul II spoke out against it, referring to it as “genocide”

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By: Vatican insider staff

“John Paul II was the first head of State to use the term “genocide” in public.” As Rwanda marks the 20th anniversary of the massacre that swept across the country, wiping out much of its population, Vatican Radio aired a special programme recalling John Paul II’s condemnation of the atrocity.

The violence began when an aeroplane carrying the then president Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down; it dragged on from 7 April until mid July 1994. According to the UN, at least 800, 000 people were brutally murdered by Hutu extremists who started killing the Tutsis. They reacted and the reciprocal violence which ensued was met with a long silence from the international community.

The ‘Kwibuka Flame’ was lit in Kigali, Tuesday 7, to commemorate the victims of the genocide and will pass through all the districts of Rwanda.

Journalist Daniele Scaglione who has produced a number of news reports and written various books on the subject commented on this act of remembrance saying that the massacre did not just involve the deaths and injuries of numerous people: a whole country was razed to the ground.” “It is truly impressive to see Rwanda overtaking other developing countries when it comes to the Millennium development goals.”

According to Scaglione, forgiveness was crucial in this process of rebirth. “In Rwanda’s traditional court houses, the so-called gachachas (essentially meaning “field”), where millions of trials were held, victims were asked to forgive those responsible for the violence and survivors found this very hard indeed.” “After speaking to many Rwandans, I realised that these trials, which some refer to as “mass-scale psychoanalytic sessions”, were crucial in giving people the chance to say: “let us reconstruct everything that happened and then let us try to move on,” the journalism concluded.

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