April 8, 2011
As the United Nations observes a global day of remembrance for the Rwandan genocide victims on Thursday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it was important to pay special tribute for their “resilience and dignity ” that led them to national recovery.
“On this day of remembrance, let us pay special tribute to the people and government of Rwanda for the resilience and dignity they have shown in working towards national recovery and managing the trauma of this atrocious episode of history,” Ban said in his message to mark the global day. “I encourage them to continue promoting the inclusive spirit and dialogue necessary for healing, reconciliation and reconstruction.”
The event, under the theme of 17th commemoration, “Rebuilding Rwanda: Reconciliation and Education” featured a speech from Rwandan Ambassador to the UN Eugene-Richard Gasana, a candle- lighting ceremony, a musical performance, and the testimony of a survivor.
Rwanda experienced a devastating tragedy in 1994 when over the course of three months, an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.
Ban said that the responsibility to prevent such acts of genocide is both collective and individual.
“Rwanda’s survivors have made us confront the ugly reality of a preventable tragedy,” he said. “The only way to truly honor the memory of those who perished in Rwanda 17 years ago is to ensure such events can never occur again.”
The secretary-general noted the UN’s commitment as a global organization to preventing events like the Rwandan genocide from happening again.
“The recognition of the collective failure of the international community to come to the assistance of the people of Rwanda, and to shield the victims of the wars in the Balkans, led to the endorsement by the 2005 World Summit of the responsibility to protect,” he said.
“Recent measures by the Security Council in response to the crisis in Libya, in particular the adoption of Resolutions 1970 and 1973, mark a significant stop along this path,” he said.
Also, in connection with the anniversary of the Rwanda genocide, the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) will organize a student conference at UN Headquarters in New York on April 8 which will feature Francis Deng, UN special adviser to the secretary- general on the Prevention of Genocide, and Clementina Wamariya, a survivor of the Rwanda genocide and student of Yale University.
April 7 was designated as the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda by the General Assembly in December 2003.