Twenty-two years ago one of the worst crimes against humanity in the twentieth century occurred in Rwanda. More than 800,000 men, women, and children were systematically murdered during 100 days of unspeakable violence.
The killings, deliberately planned and sanctioned by then ethnic Hutu-led government, began in earnest April 7, 1994, the day after a plane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was shot down, killing both leaders. —Ethnic Tutsi citizens a minority in the country’s population of about 7 million, were specifically targeted; however, politically moderate Hutu and ethnic Twa sympathizers were also killed .
"We honor not just the victims," said President Barack Obama in a written statement delivered on the Commemoration of the 22nd Anniversary of the Genocide, "but also those who risked their lives to save others as well as the survivors who carry the memories of these atrocities."It is important to mark these occasions in order to "remind ourselves," said President Obama, "of our common humanity and shared commitment to protecting civilians and ensuring that mass atrocities of this magnitude never happen again."
Over the last two decades, Rwanda has made progress in moving beyond these horrible crimes and in building a more peaceful and prosperous future for its citizens.
The United States remains deeply committed to preventing the horror of mass atrocities and genocide from occurring again, and to continuing to work with the people of Rwanda and the international community to finish the task of bringing those responsible for those heinous acts to justice.