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Africa

Macron wants April 7 to be memorial day for Rwandan genocide

media At the Elysées Paris in April 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron greets members of Ibuka, France-based association for rememberance, support and justice for victims of Rwandan genocide Philippe Wojazer/AFP Pool

The French president Emmanuel Macron has called for 7 April to become an official memorial date for the Rwandan Genocide which began this day in 1994.

The 100-day killing spree in April 1994 left close to a million people dead, or mutilated, not to speak of the psychological scars born to this day by countless survivors inside Rwanda and around the world. Most of the victims were Tutsis but Hutus were also among them.

France was an ally of the government of late Hutu president, Juvenal Habyarimana, whose fatal plane crash is often deemed to have sparked the massacres.

Expected revelations

France's expert panel will have unprecedented access to official archives on the president and the government's Rwanda-policy. Kept secret until now by a constitutional clause which permits the highest level documents to remain secret for 25 years after the death of the minister or president who would have archived them, François Mitterrand then president, died in 1996. The panel's findings are due to be revealed in two years, in 2021.

For Rwandans in France, this therefore will be a year to remember.

25 years in France

On Sunday, the Paris-based Rwandan community's Ibuka (meaning rememberance in Kinyarwanda) committee organised an official ceremony in the Parc de Choisy in the south of Paris, to mark the start of the '100 days of mourning'.

Rwandan diaspora and local Parisians along with officials attend 25th anniversary Rwandan Genocide memorial ceremony in Paris, Parc de Choisy, 7 April 2019 Clara Losi/RFI 2019

A solemn march set off from the Luxembourg Gardens behind the French Senate to Choisy Park around midday.

They laid a wreath at the memorial stone in the Père Lachaise cemetery and a remembrance service was to be held at the Paris HQ of Médecins du Monde.

MDM is are part of the 'never forget' informal network of NGOs like The Shoah Memorial or the Van (Armenian) Collective and SOS Racism, who endeavour to prevent any more genocides anywhere through awareness-raising campaigns and events.

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