Remembering Rwanda, Ban urges a firm stand against hate speech

In 1996 in Rwanda, wooden crosses mark the graves in a cemetery in the village of Nyanza in a rural area of Kigali, the capital. During the 1994 genocide, over 10,000 people were burned to death in Nyanza as they tried to escape towards Burundi. Photo: UNICEF/Giacomo Pirozzi

7 April 2016 – On the 22nd anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today highlighted the role hate speech plays in inciting division and violence, and urged the international community to “fight genocide ideology.”

In his message for the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda, the Secretary-General noted that genocide is not a single event, and part of a process that takes time and preparation.

“One of the key warning signs is the spread of hate speech in public discourse and the media that targets particular communities,” Mr. Ban said, noting this year’s theme for the Day, ‘Fighting Genocide Ideology.’

He urged Governments, the judiciary and civil society to “stand firm against hate speech and those who incite division and violence.”

With a nod to the instability ongoing in parts of the Great Lakes, he urged taking inspiration from survivors’ courage in showing that reconciliation is possible even after such a tragedy.

“With the Great Lakes region still facing serious threats to peace and security, healing and reconstruction remain essential,” he said.

In 1994, more than 800,000 people were systematically murdered throughout Rwanda. The vast majority were Tutsi, but moderate Hutu, Twa and others were also targeted.

The Secretary-General will join survivors of the genocide in Rwanda and the Holocaust next week, when the United Nations officially marks the Day of Reflection on Monday, 11 April.

This will be one of numerous events underway over the course of the next 100 days, which is the length of time that the genocide was underway. The commemoration will end on 4 July, which is Rwanda’s “Liberation Day.”

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