Kigali — AFRICA is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, where an estimated 800 000 minority Tutsi were murdered.
Victims were killed over 100 days between April and July 1994 in a deliberate government attempt to eliminate their ethnic group. Some Hutu opposed to the genocide were also targeted.
The African Union (AU) organised the commemorations following a decision to recognise April 7 as a day of remembrance of the victims and to reaffirmation Africa's resolve to prevent and fight genocide on the continent.
This past weekend marked the commencement of 100 days mourning in Rwanda.
Victor Harrison, AU Commissioner for Economic Affairs, said it was vital to keep in mind that April 7 stirred the organisation's appreciation for the gift of life and common humanity
"It obliges us to renew our collective commitment to uphold the promotion and protection of human and peoples' rights," Harrison said.
Human rights groups meanwhile pledged solidarity with victims, families and the survivors of the genocide.
"Remembering these events must serve to reawaken our conscience and arouse our shared humanity. We are all human beings with the very same human rights and desires for a life free from abuse or repression," said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International Secretary General.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said Rwanda still faced the consequences of the genocide.
"Twenty-five years later, victims and survivors must remain at the centre of everyone's thoughts. We must also take stock of the progress made in ensuring that all those who have directed these atrocious acts respond," Roth said.