Up to 10,000 innocent people were butchered to death on a daily basis in the African country during a three-month ethnic massacre between April 7 and July 15, 1994. The genocide would eventually claim the lives of 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus murdered in cold blood by former neighbours, lovers and friends – who inexplicably turned cold-blooded killers as members of the extremist Hutu militia overnight. Stomach-churning killings saw victims hacked to death by machetes, burned alive, clubbed and shot.
The mind-blowing agonies visited on almost a million men, women and children in 100 days of hate-fuelled carnage included:
– AIDS patients released from hospitals with the purpose of forming “rape squads” to infect Tutsi women, many of whom would go on to give birth to HIV and AIDS-infected babies.
– Children whose limbs were torn from their bodies in front of their parents who were tied-up by machete-wielding militia and FORCED TO WATCH. Many of the inhuman killers had been their neighbours just days earlier.
– Priests and nuns betraying Tutsis who had sought sanctuary in their churches in order to protect themselves. Hiding Tutsis would be wiped out en-masse as their location was given away.
This week, Rwanda and the world remember the lives of those lost during the 25th anniversary of the genocide on April 7, 1994.
The killings were sparked by the death of Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana, whose plane was shot down allegedly by Tutsis the day before.
Rwandans gathered this afternoon for a commemoration headed by President Paul Kagame, in which a flame of hope was lit and a wreath laid at Gisozi genocide memorial site where 250,000 people are buried.
In July 1994, Mr Kagame led the Tutsi-majority Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) from Uganda to overturn the extremists and seize the country.
Survivors have spoken out about how their enduring daily mental struggles about what went on.
Edith – not her real name – told the Thomson Reuters Foundation of the evil visited upon her by militia in Rwanda’s southern Kamonyi district.
She said: “My four brothers and sister were killed during the genocide. This commemoration is important and we must remember them.
“But when I hear the songs or poems on radio, I get flashbacks of hiding in the forest and of how the men from the militia came with their machetes and found me.
“I remember how they took turns to rape me – and how they impregnated me.”
This afternoon, officials are participating in a “walk to remember” from parliament to the national football stadium along with 2,000 people.
At least 10 heads of state are at the commemoration which will culminate in a nightime candlelit vigil.
They do not include France’s President Emmanuel Macron, who will be represented by Tutsi survivor and French Parliament member Herve Berville.
France stands accused of being complicit in the bloodshed by arming the Hutu militias and later helping them to escape, something President Macron denies.
Canadian Governor General Julie Payette and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker are among the attendees.