Remembering the Genocide in Rwanda – Medium

In Rwanda no one is playing music. We’re sitting in a bar called Papyrus.

“That’s where there’d usually be karaoke.” The guy I’m with points towards a corner. “The place would normally be packed; wall to wall.”

It’s twenty years since the genocide against the Tutsis — when 800,000 were murdered by their friends, neighbours, and acquaintances — and this is a week of mourning. “Kwibuka20” signs are hung prominently everywhere in capital city Kigali; their slogan: “Remember — unite — renew”.

The past few days have been heavy with disclosures, admissions, apologies. On Saturday a former genocidaire told a packed stadium never to listen to their parents, because his parents were the ones who told him to kill. A Belgian soldier testified that his colleagues had seen “killers wielding machetes” in their rear view mirrors as they left behind the Tutsis they had been protecting. A survivor told us about the moment a Hutu leader told a group of Interahamwe to “start the work”.

On Monday United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced: “We could have done much more. We should have done much more.”

The press have been told to respect the emotions of those we talk to, but on a bus a man asks loudly: “So are there Tutsi or Hutu neighbourhoods?” “Would they just go door to door?” “Were there many incidences where people tried to protect themselves?”

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