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Rwanda marks 22nd anniversary of 1994 genocide

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-04-08 09:12

Rwanda marks 22nd anniversary of 1994 genocide

Teenagers hold candles to mourn victims of the Rwanda Genocide, at the United Nations Office at Nairobi, in Kenya's capital Nairobi, on April 7, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]

KIGALI - Rwanda on Thursday paused once again to mark 22nd anniversary of the 1994 genocide in which more than one million people, mainly Tutsi and moderate Hutus, were killed.

A series of activities were taking place across the country, with the main commemoration being held at Kigali Memorial Center, where Rwandan President Paul Kagame, and his visiting Tanzanian counterpart, John Magufuli, laid wreaths on graves in which more than 250,000 victims were buried.

Later the two presidents lit the Flame of Remembrance, beginning the 100 days of mourning.

The Flame of Remembrance symbolizes the courage and resilience of Rwandans over the last 22 years.

The commemoration period is locally known as Kwibuka, Kinyarwanda word for remembrance.

During the 100 days of remembrance, guests are invited to leave a message in the memorial's digital guestbook as a way to remember the victims and show support to survivors.

"During Kwibuka22, we invite visitors to pay their respects by touring the memorial and laying a flower on the burial place. In Rwandan culture, we light a fire as we mourn lost loved ones and we will honour this tradition by lighting the Flame of Remembrance on April 7, 22 years after the Genocide," said Honore Gatera, Manager of the Kigali Genocide Memorial in a statement.

More than 500 guests, including international leaders, dignitaries, survivors and their families, and representatives of survivor organizations gathered at the center, and marked the day with moments of silence.

"We come here every year but we shall not tire as long as I'm still alive," said a woman survivor who gave her name only as Jackline, whose husband perished in the genocide. "Memories are still fresh, it's like it happened yesterday."

Speaking at the commemoration activities, Jean Damascene Bizimana, the executive secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide, called on Rwandans and friends of Rwanda to join the fight against genocide ideology.

"Genocide ideology should be relentlessly fought because genocide perpetrators and their backers have continued to distort the truth around it," Bizimana said, adding that education is key to fighting genocide ideology and denial.

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