Three months of remembrance and mourning culminated today in Rwanda as the country marked the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide that divided a nation and shocked the world. President Paul Kagame was joined by world leaders, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, along with a crowd of some 30,000 Rwandans, in the city of Kagali's soccer stadium to commemorate the lives lost. Several mourners, overcome with emotion, had to be escorted out of the remembrance ceremony.
The powerful images out of Rwanda are proof that while its residents and the world community have moved past the violence, the emotional wounds it created are still fresh. Kagame's words themselves were evidence of that; French diplomats refused to take part in the commemoration ceremony today after a recent interview in which Kagame was critical of what he suggested was complicity on the part of France and Belgium in the genocide.
The bloody 1994 slaughters were carried out by Hutu extremists against members of the Tutsi minority and Hutu moderates, leaving 800,000 men, women, and children dead in its wake. Today, President Kagame lit a flame at the national genocide memorial, where the torch will burn for 100 days, the same amount of time in which the killings were carried out. Read on for a powerful and important reminder of one of our generation's most impactful human-rights atrocities.