Looking Back

04.09.14

Rwanda Vows ‘Never Again’

In a memorial ceremony, Rwandan leaders swore never to repeat 1994's genocide.

This Monday marked the 20th anniversary of the beginning of Rwanda's mass genocide, an atrocity fueled by tribal divisions within the region. Following the assassination of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana in 1994, Hutu military extremists targeted Tutsis in a wave of violence that claimed an estimated 800,000 lives in little more than three months. Two decades later, in a commemoration ceremony held in the capital city of Kagali, Rwandan survivors, U.N. diplomats, and several heads of state held an emotional memorial. The New York Times reports that people wailed in the crowd while speakers, including U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, shared a unified message: "Never again.” Since the genocide, President Paul Kagame has led efforts to improve Rwanda’s national health care, raise living standards, and protect women's rights. In a speech at the commemoration, he told the crowd, "If the genocide reveals humanity's shocking capacity for human cruelty, Rwanda's choices show its capacity for renewal."