AJC remembers with profound sorrow the more than 800,000 victims of the Rwanda genocide 20 years ago. The UN General Assembly designated April 7th as the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda.
“This unimaginable slaughter ended the illusion that after the Holocaust genocide would not happen again,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “The refusal of governments and international institutions to intervene as systematic murders and related atrocities consumed Rwanda only furthered the magnitude of the genocide.”
“The Rwandan people admirably have pursued the difficult path of recovery, rebuilding their society, but tragically many in the world have forgotten the lessons of genocide and the international community’s promise of never again,” said Harris. “From Democratic Republic of the Congo, to Syria, to the Central African Republic and other nations, deep-seated hatreds fuel the evil of genocide.”
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, established by the UN Security Council, has been instrumental in pursuing justice. Over the last 20 years, nearly 30 individuals — including some of the key architects of the mass murder — have been convicted by the Tribunal for their involvement in the genocide.
On the eve of the 20th anniversary, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “We draw inspiration from the ability of the Rwandan people to unite and show that reconciliation is possible even after a monumental tragedy. Together, let us commit to remember, unite and renew for the people of Rwanda and for our actions to prevent genocide around the world.”
AJC presented its 2008 Moral Courage Award to Jacqueline Murekatete and Yolande Mukagasana, two Rwandan survivors of the genocide who are engaged in public advocacy on genocide prevention. At its 2005 Annual Meeting, AJC honored the director of the film Hotel Rwanda.
AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights was a strong advocate for creating the UN’s international criminal tribunals and works to prevent genocide. AJC’s Africa Institute has organized visits to Rwanda to raise awareness of the genocide and its continuing impact.