Today marks the start of the 15th anniversary of the genocide that occurred in Rwanda where an estimated 800,000 women, men and children were murdered. This evening in Rwanda's capital, Kigali, an official hundred day commemoration of the genocide will begin. As part of this event, 10,000 candles will be lit to remember the victims and express support for the survivors in the national stadium. Speaker Pelosi lights a candle in commemoration:
Genocide anywhere is a challenge to the fundamental morality of all humanity.
In Rwanda, we failed to meet that challenge. All of us – the international community and the United States Government did not do enough to stop the genocide, to end the violence, and to save the lives of hundreds of thousands.
There were many heroes in those very dark days. Brave Rwandans who saved the lives of friends and strangers; international aid workers and human rights organizations who faced terrible danger to save others; many who spoke truth to power.
As we confront genocide even today, I light a candle in the hopes that we can say ‘never again.’
President Obama on the 15th Anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda:
This week marks the 15th commemoration of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. It is a somber occasion that causes us to reflect upon the deaths of the more than 800,000 men, women, and children who were killed simply because of their ethnicity or their political beliefs. The memory of these events also deepens our commitment to act when faced with genocide and to work with partners around the world to prevent future atrocities. The figure of 800,000 is so enormous, so daunting, that it runs the risk of becoming a statistic. Today, we must remember that each of the 800,000 individuals who died in 1994 had their own story, their own family, and their own dreams. As we mourn their senseless passing, we must also acknowledge the courageous men and women who survived the genocide and have since demonstrated remarkable strength and generosity in forgiving those who committed these heinous acts. These individuals inspire us daily by working to restore trust and rebuild hope in Rwanda. The United States is committed to its partnership with Rwanda and will continue to support efforts to promote sustainable development, respect for human rights, and lasting peace in Rwanda.