April 7th is Rwanda’s National Mourning Day for the Genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda.
It is observed to:
- Remember what happened during the Genocide
- Sympathize with, and provide support to, Genocide survivors as they go through tough moments of remembering atrocities that happened.
- Restore the dignity of our beloved ones who were killed, by burying them properly, remembering the good things about them and paying tribute to those who struggled to save lives during that period. (Guhesha icyubahiro abacu bapfuye, tubashyingura neza, twibuka ibyiza bakoze, tunashimira abagerageje guhisha no kurokora abantu)
- Reflect on the crime of Genocide, and other related crimes against humanity
- Resolve to “Never Again” allow Genocide to occur
- Observe a minute of silence at 12 noon on April 7th
The Government of Rwanda has not only assigned April 7th as a day of National Mourning, but has included the entire week of April 7th – 13th. This week of mourning will be observed through conducting various activities including, but not limited to, semi-formal discussions, visits to Genocide memorial sites, dignified burials of those bodies that were discovered in mass graves, and visits to Genocide survivors, especially orphans and widows. The Government of Rwanda has also dedicated April 13th to the recognition and commemoration of the politicians who were killed because they stood against the killing of the Tutsis. This particular day will be commemorated at Rebero Hill in Kigali, where those identified among the politicians are buried.
The 1994 Genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda is a Rwandan tragedy but it is also a global tragedy. The United Nations has recognized the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda as a global tragedy that should be mourned and reflected upon by the entire World, regardless of nationality or religion.
The 18th Commemoration of the Genocide against Tutsis will last 100 days, as the Genocide did in 1994. At the end of the commemoration period, on or around July 17th, the Genocide Survivors’ Umbrella Group “IBUKA” will organize a closing ceremony. Details shall be communicated as soon as they are received.
Each year, the National Commission Against Genocide issues a communiqué, stating the theme of the year and a general overview of activities. This year’s theme is known, but the entire message has not been issued yet. The theme is “Commemorating the Genocide Against Tutsi: Let’s learn from the past and build our future”.
Ceremonies at the National level are scheduled to be held at the National Stadium in Remera, Kigali, on April 7th. No other activities are conducted on that day. People are asked to observe the day and not celebrate or have other joyful events. At mid-day, a minute of silence is to be observed by everyone. Apart from the National activities that will be held at the National Stadium, each village (umudugudu) will also hold its own commemoration activities. PCVs are encouraged to attend these ceremonies. You are encouraged to ask your supervisor or other community members where and when exactly the activities are going to take place; however, please be patient with them as they may be informed of these details as late as the evening before. Also, in each umugudugu, there is usually an organizing committee that collects funds to support people who may be traumatized. You are encouraged to contribute. With the little contributions, organizers are able to buy drinking water and tissues to use while helping trauma or strong emotional cases that arise during the events.
We recognize the uniqueness and the challenges associated with working in a Post-Conflict society, especially in Post-Genocide Rwanda. Therefore, it is very understandable that a PCV may choose not to attend these events at all. Feel free to excuse yourself; but, also remember that the PSN representatives and PC staff members are here for you. Please talk to fellow volunteers, PSN representatives, and PC staff for any questions related to these events. Contact the PCMOs if you feel the need for further support.
I include this mainly so any that people realize, although it is a sad time it is not a dangerous time. And also so that you can see how well PC supports volunteers here in what is understandably a unique service situation. Note that despite PC's focus on community integration volunteers are not encouraged to participate if they do not feel comfortable.