Americans on April 7th joined people around the world as they paused to mark the 20 years since the start of the genocide in Rwanda that took the lives of more than 800,000 men, women and children.
Americans on April 7th joined people around the world as they paused to mark the 20 years since the start of the genocide in Rwanda that took the lives of more than 800,000 men, women and children. Reflecting on the tragedy, President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to help ensure that other nations do not face the suffering that Rwandans endured two decades ago.
As they honor the memories of those who were lost, Rwandans have also much to be proud of. They have rebuilt their nation from a tiny rural economy to one of the fast growing economies in the world, with thriving agricultural and tourism sectors. According to the World Bank, since 1994 Rwanda has reduced poverty by a third and increased per capita growth almost five-fold.
“We stand in awe of the families who have summoned the courage to carry on, and the survivors who have worked through their wounds to rebuild their lives,” President Obama said. “And we salute the determination of the Rwandans who have made important progress toward healing old wounds, unleashing the economic growth that lifts people from poverty and contributing to peacekeeping missions around the world to spare others the pain that they have known.”
As the United States marks the Rwandan tragedy, we are committed to pursue more effective ways to identify countries at risk for genocide, mass atrocities and other human rights abuses throughout the world. With the creation of the Atrocities Prevention Board in 2012, the U.S. government brought together numerous government agencies and departments to address these issues. We also continue to promote human rights and policies of inclusion to prevent the tensions and circumstances that can lead to violence. A government that passes a law restricting civil society hinders its citizens’ freedoms of peaceful assembly, association and expression, thereby setting the stage for frustration and possibly violence.
Finally, the United States continues to support mechanisms to ensure accountability for genocide so that would-be perpetrators know that the international community will demand justice.
Let us honor the victims of 1994 by ensuring that genocide never occurs again.
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