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31 March 2021

Draw on Rwanda’s Example of Justice, Reconciliation after 1994 Tutsi Genocide to Stop Hate-Driven Movements, Secretary-General Stresses in Observance Message

Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message on the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, observed on 7 April:

I am privileged to participate in the commemoration of the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda. 

This year marks 27 years since more than 1 million people were systematically murdered in less than three months in Rwanda.  They were overwhelmingly Tutsi, but also Hutu and others who opposed the genocide.

Those days in 1994 remain in our collective conscience as among the most horrific in recent human history.  On this Day, we honour those who were murdered, we reflect on the suffering and we recognize the resilience of those who survived.  As we join in solidarity with the people of Rwanda, we must take a hard look at today’s world and ensure that we heed the lessons of 27 years ago.

Today, around the globe, people are threatened by extremist groups determined on boosting their ranks through social polarization and political and cultural manipulation.  These extremist movements represent the principal security threat in many countries.  While the technology and techniques that extremists use are evolving, the vile messages and rhetoric remain the same.  The dehumanization of communities, misinformation and hate speech are stoking the fires of violence.

The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the urgency of addressing deepening divides.  The global health crisis has profoundly affected the entire spectrum of human rights in every region, further fuelling discrimination, social polarization and inequalities — all of which can lead to violence and conflict.  We saw what happened in Rwanda in 1994, and we know the horrific consequences when hate is allowed to prevail. 

Preventing history from repeating itself requires countering these hate-driven movements that have become a transnational threat.  We must redouble our efforts and forge a common agenda, to renew and reinvigorate our collective actions going forward.  In doing this, we must defend human rights and continue to push for policies that fully respect all members of society.

Rwanda experienced one of the most painful chapters in modern human history, but its people have rebuilt from the ashes.  After suffering unspeakable gender-based violence and discrimination, Rwanda’s women now hold more than 60 per cent of parliamentary seats — making Rwanda a world leader.  The people of Rwanda have shown us the power of justice and reconciliation and the possibility of progress.

On this solemn Day, let us all commit to building a world guided by human rights and dignity for all.

For information media. Not an official record.