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Dispatch from Kigali: Rwanda Commemorates 15 Years

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Dispatch from Kigali: Rwanda Commemorates 15 Years

Posted by Laura Heaton on April 8, 2009

Dispatch from Kigali: Rwanda Commemorates 15 Years

Michael Abramowitz, Director of the Committee on Conscience at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, sent this account from Kigali, where he is attending events to commemorate the 15-year anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.

KIGALI, April 7—Silence fell over the thousands who gathered on this picturesque hill in Kigali as Karasira Venuste began the simple story of what happened to him and some 5,000 other Tutsi near this exact spot 15 years ago: “Evil people killed many of us in unspeakable conditions.” The hush was punctuated only by the occasionally audible sobs and cries from those in the audience for whom such testimony can never fail to shock.

On the morning of April 7, 1994, Venuste and his neighbors in a nearby village heard the news on the radio that the plane of Rwanda’s Hutu president had been shot down the night before. Thinking of the threats and violence directed at his fellow Tutsi over the past several years, he believed it likely that he and his neighbors would be blamed by the government and their allies for the incident.

“We are done for,” Venuste thought to himself. “We are finished.”

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Photo courtesy World Is Witness blog.