The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Children Honour Youngsters Killed in 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi

Thousands of children from schools across Kigali gathered at Amahoro National Stadium yesterday to honour fellow youngsters killed in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The event, which marked the closure of series of commemorative events held all over the country, coincided with the Day of the African Child.

The Minister for Sports and Culture, Protais Mitali, said there was need to promote unity among children as one way of building a resilient generation that would lead the country's vision and ambitions.

"As we remember the children killed in the Genocide, we must recall that they were defenceless, brutally murdered yet they had no idea why," he said.

Mitali said killers wanted to ensure that no one survived, the reason they had to dehumanise the children using statements like "to exterminate a snake, you must kill its child as well."

"Today, we are happy that we have built a generation of youth that cannot be misled into any genocidal acts," the minister said.

During the Genocide, the killing of children was characterised by extreme brutality where infants were smashed against walls, young girls raped, tortured and slaughtered.

Many of those who managed to escape death say they had lost hope of living but have now regained it.

Realising dreams:

The commemoration event at the stadium was characterised by plays and poems performed by children and focused on the 20th commemoration theme, "Remember, Unite, Renew."

One-UN Resident Coordinator Lamin M. Manneh said the children who were killed in the Genocide were denied a chance to realise their dreams and rallied for unity as one people.

"This commemoration is an opportune time to identify the challenges we face in our communities and strategise on how to overcome them," he said.

The national president of the children's forum, Alex Murenzi, thanked the government for its endless efforts in establishing a conducive and enabling environment for the children.

He also pledged, on behalf of the children, to use the opportunity and resources in place in growing into responsible and patriotic citizens.

"Today we have a vision that we need to realise ... but we have a right to know our history because that is the only way our country is going to move forward," he said.

Dr Jean Pierre Dusingezemungu, president of Ibuka, an umbrella organisation for Genocide survivors associations, described how the pogrom was prepared, particularly the killing of children, and how the Rwanda Patriot Army came in came in to save them.

The first vice president of Unity Club, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, lectured the children on unity under the Ndi Umunyarwanda programme and also offered to advocate for the inclusion of anti-genocide education in school curricula.

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