Background on 20th anniversary of Rwanda genocide

Saturday, April 12, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
Sorrowful wails and uncontrollable sobs resounded Monday as thousands of Rwandans packed the country's main sports stadium to mark the 20th anniversary of the beginning of a devastating 100-day genocide. The country commemorated Monday the 20th anniversary of the genocide when ethnic Hutu extremists killed neighbors, friends and family during a three-month rampage of violence aimed at ethnic Tutsis and some moderate Hutus, leaving a death toll that Rwanda puts at 1,000,050.

On Monday, Rwanda commemorated the 20th anniversary of the genocide that claimed more than 800,000 lives in 100 days. The mass killings were sparked by the assassination of President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu whose plane was shot down on April 6, 1994. Mourning officially began three months ago with a flame of remembrance that toured the country before arriving Monday at the national genocide memorial. 

In light of the anniversary, the Missourian pulled together some of our previous reporting about the tragic events:

  • Kaycee Nail, an MU junior studying communications and women's and gender studies, took part in a month-long study abroad program called "Studying the Genocide in Rwanda." In an excerpt from a speech she gave, Nail talks about her time in the country and the sadness and frustration she experienced while visiting the genocide memorial. 
  • Tanya Fredman spent eight months working with some of the 1.2 million orphans in Rwanda. By teaching art she hoped to help heal the hearts of the children who experienced genocide. 
  • Vox Magazine profiled Aaron Ruvugwa, the minister of a church that serves refugees from African countries such as Kenya, Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. Worship is based on Kinyarwanda, the native language of Rwanda and eastern parts of Congo. Ruvugwa himself is a refugee from Congo and spent 10 years in Rwanda. 

Supervising editor is Laura Johnston.

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