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The Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (AIPG) marks April 7, 2023, as the annual International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, recalling that Hutu and others who opposed the genocide were also killed. The Rwandan Genocide, which began on April 7, 1994, was characterized by the systematic murder of over one million people, most of whom were Tutsi community members. The atrocities, which continued for a period of three months, resulted in the destruction of approximately 70% of the Tutsi population, which was 20% of the country’s total population at the time.
The United Nations General Assembly established the International Day of Reflection on December 23, 2004, through A/RES/58/234. However, in 2018, a new draft resolution, A/72/L.31, was adopted, recognizing recent developments such as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s results and Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 2150. The resolution also updated the observance’s official name to its current title. In 2020, another resolution, A/RES/74/273, reaffirmed the International Day’s potential to prevent future genocides by honoring the victims and considering lessons learned from the genocide.
On this occasion, the Auschwitz Institute remembers and commemorates the victims of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, as well as their friends, families, and loved ones. AIPG also recognizes the advancements that have been made, both in Rwanda and more broadly by the international community, in the name of preventing future genocide. Future tragedies can be prevented only through active efforts to reduce and mitigate risk factors. In this spirit, AIPG reaffirms its commitment to supporting and reinforcing the development and implementation of policies and practices that stop genocide by equipping and empowering government officials and other stakeholders around the world with the necessary knowledge and skills to do so.
Dr. Ashad Sentongo, Director of AIPG’s Africa Programs, emphasized the value of AIPG’s work in the region, explaining that:
Decades of hate speech and related propaganda helped to frame the 1994 Rwanda genocide and manifested in social-political and other forms of disagreements, discrimination, and the promotion of exclusion by the Hutu against the Tutsi. The use of hate speech remains a key escalator of genocidal conditions and has the power and ability to negatively impact states as well as communities. Hate speech is equally central in fueling ethnically mobilized insurgencies in the Democratic Republic of Congo and The Central African Republic, but also during electoral-related violence across many parts of Africa. AIPG collaborates with the African Union, the International Conference on the Greats Lakes Region, the East Africa Community, the Regional Center for Human Security, and other civil society organizations to address hate speech, among other causes and drivers of genocide and mass atrocity processes, as a part of preventing their escalation to genocidal levels. During these programs, AIPG builds capacities to facilitate the implementation of policies and programs that help to deemphasize hate, while enabling states and communities to construct and disseminate narratives that are inclusive, reconciliatory, and progressive.
Roland-Sylvestre DAWA is a Legal Lecturer and Researcher at the Faculty of Legal and Political Sciences at the University of Bangui in the Central African Republic (CAR) and a Ph.D. student in International Relations, specializing in international politics at IRIC Yaoundé in Cameroon. He has participated in three AIPG online training courses and in-person training sessions on the prevention of genocide and identity-based violence.