today marks the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the rwandan genocide. 800,000 people (men, women and so many children) were massacred in a 100-day period. it feels "far away" and foreign to most of you, i'm sure. but to our family, it's a part of us. and it always will be. neither lincoln nor levi were alive during the genocide (obviously) but the tiny country of Rwanda and every person that has been born since, continue to feel the effects of the horrific event.
the following was written by a political officer in Rwanda and a friend (that lives in Rwanda) posted it on her blog. it is a great summary of the events that took place:
On April 6, 1994, an airplane carrying the Rwandan president was shot down over Kigali. On April 7 - twenty years ago today - extremist Hutu government and militia leaders began executing one of the fastest and most devastating genocides in all of history, killing one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus, or about 20% of the country's population, in just one hundred days.
Unlike genocides perpetrated primarily by governments, Rwanda's leaders twenty years ago called upon Hutu citizens to slaughter their Tutsi neighbors, friends, and family members. Many who opposed or resisted the call to genocide were also killed, regardless of their ethnic group.
On April 10, ten thousand Tutsis from Nyamata gathered in the Catholic church, seeking safe haven from the wave of death engulfing their village. The church would become their final resting place, as the interhamwe militia and neighbors breached the fortified walls, first throwing grenades into the sanctuary and then entering to kill survivors with machetes, spears, and blunt force. Babies and children were not spared, as the attackers smashed them against the wall of the sanctuary.
Today, Nyamata church and the 45,000 people buried there remind us of the horror of genocide which began 20 years ago and continued for 100 days, ending when the Rwandan Patriotic Front defeated the forces of the former government, military, and genocidal militias.
Today, Rwanda's people have not allowed themselves to be defined by their past, building a nation that is a beacon of peace, stability, and growth in an often troubled region. Rather than seek vengeance for the crimes committed during the genocide, Rwanda has undertaken a process of national reconciliation, seeking to set aside the ethnic labels that divided the country in order to move forward as one nation and one people.
there are so many horrific pictures. i had to search and search for a picture that i felt i could even post here. a mass grave being dug...
and this is the church where 10,000 people fled and sought safety...assuming it WOULD keep them safe. it became their grave. the church remains today...and these children listen and pray 20 years later.