On April 7, UNESCO commemorates the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly.
The genocide began on April 7, 1994, and lasted for 100 days, ending in mid-July of that year.
The United Nations holds commemorative events at its headquarters in New York and at United Nations offices around the world every year. The day also serves to remember the victims and pays tribute to the survivors, as well as to raise awareness among younger generations about the genocide’s legacy and the values of a culture of peace.
In just 100 days, 800,000 Tutsi from Central Africa, Rwanda, and Burundi, were massacred in Rwanda. Everything began on April 6, 1994, when Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu ethnic group member, was shot down in his plane. Hutu forces and nationalist military groups blamed the attack on the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a guerrilla comprised of Tutsi deported from Uganda, without knowing for sure who was behind it. On April 7, the event sparked a widespread massacre that nearly resulted in the annihilation of Tutsis.
The Rwandan genocide, also known as the Tutsi genocide, occurred in Rwanda during the Rwandan Civil War, which began in 1990. During the 100-day period between 7 April and mid-July 1994, led by members of the Hutu majority government. Between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Rwandans were killed accounting for roughly 70% of the Tutsi population. (Source: https://www.un.org/press/en/2018/ga12000.doc.htm)
In addition, 30% of the Pygmy Batwa were massacred. After the Tutsi-backed heavily armed Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) led by Paul Kagame took control of Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, the genocide and widespread slaughter of Rwandans came to an end. An estimated 2,000,000 Rwandans were displaced and became refugees, the majority of whom were Hutu.
Members of the Hutu political elite in which many held high positions in the national government orchestrated the genocide. The Rwandan army, the Gendarmerie, and government-backed militias such as the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi were among the perpetrators.
The United Nations General Assembly declared 7 April 2004 as the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, following a recommendation from the African Union’s Executive Council. In March 2003, the Council recommended that the United Nations and the international community declare a global day of reflection and recommitment to the fight against genocide in commemoration of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
To commemorate the 27th anniversary of the start of the genocide in Rwanda, UNESCO is hosting a panel discussion titled From hate speech to genocide: lessons from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. On April 7, 2021, the event will be streamed live online.
The commemoration is being organized by UNESCO and the Shoah Foundation UNESCO Chair on Genocide Education at the University of Southern California, in collaboration with the Permanent Delegation of Rwanda to UNESCO and Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes (GAAMAC).
UN Secretary-General Message
“This year marks 27 years since more than one million people were systematically murdered in less than three months in Rwanda. The people of Rwanda have shown us the power of justice and reconciliation, and the possibility of progress. On this solemn day, let us all commit to building a world guided by human rights and dignity for all.”