International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda

The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) marks April 7, 2019 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 this day in 1994, was characterized by the systematic murder of over 800,000 Rwandans, most of which were members of the Tutsi community. The atrocities, which continued for a period of three months, destroyed approximately 70% of the Tutsi community in Rwanda, which at the time represented 20% of the country’s total population.

Initially established by the UN General Assembly on December 23, 2004 through A/RES/58/234, a new draft resolution, A/72/L.31, was adopted on January 26, 2018. This resolution recognizes more recent developments, such as the results of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and resolutions made by the Security Council (e.g. Resolution 2150). A/72/L.31 also serves to officially update the official name of the observance to its current title.

In commemoration of the 2019 International Day of Reflection, UN Secretary General António Guterres has published the following statement:

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, one of the darkest chapters in recent human history. More than 800,000 people – overwhelmingly Tutsi, but also moderate Hutu and others who opposed the genocide – were systematically killed in less than three months. On this Day, we honour those who were murdered and reflect on the suffering and resilience of those who survived.

As we renew our resolve to prevent such atrocities from ever happening again, we are seeing dangerous trends of rising xenophobia, racism and intolerance in many parts of the world. Particularly troubling is the proliferation of hate speech and incitement to violence. They are an affront to our values, and threaten human rights, social stability and peace. Wherever they occur, hate speech and incitement to violence should be identified, confronted and stopped to prevent them leading, as they have in the past, to hate crimes and genocide.

I call on all political, religious and civil society leaders to reject hate speech and discrimination, and to work vigorously to address and mitigate the root causes that undermine social cohesion and create conditions for hatred and intolerance.

The capacity for evil resides in all our societies, but so, too, do the qualities of understanding, kindness, justice and reconciliation. Let us work together to build a harmonious future for all. This is the best way to honour those who lost their lives so tragically in Rwanda 25 years ago.

This April 7, the Auschwitz Institute commemorates the countless victims of the violence that took place in Rwanda in 1994. AIPR echoes the call to action from UN Secretary General Guterres regarding the necessity of the international community acting to combat the trend of growing xenophobia, racism, and intolerance. The Auschwitz Institute also recognizes the vital importance of the fight against impunity. Through its programs that train and support government officials around the world, AIPR reaffirms its commitment to supporting and reinforcing the development of mechanisms of national and international criminal justice that help to prevent genocide and other mass atrocities.