Kigali, Apr 8 (IANS): Rwanda has started a commemoration week to mark the 29th anniversary of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi ethnic group that left over one million people dead, with President Paul Kagame calling for self-determination to build a better and more prosperous country through unity, hard work, and perseverance.
Kagame made the remarks on Friday at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the genocide, in the capital Kigali, reports Xinhua news agency.
"Today, we gather to honour the continued sacrifice of survivors and remember all those we lost during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, which means people were being targeted and killed for who they were," Kagame said.
"We have incredible strength coming from this history that informs us and tells us that you should never allow anybody else to dictate to you how you live your life, and that is Rwanda today."
The President highlighted that Rwanda has undergone a transformation and that from the beginning, the people understood the need to cultivate and preserve a spirit of togetherness, which has given them hope for a better future.
He said denying genocide is dangerous, and it is crucial to oppose any attempts to rewrite history, adding that the most important lesson the country has learned is to transform its challenges into opportunities and also use so little to do a lot.
"There is nothing Rwandans cannot overcome through unity, hard work, and perseverance. We will forever be very grateful to those friends and partners who stood by our side, and some continue to do so in the search for justice as well as in development," the President said.
Earlier, Kagame, along with First Lady Jeannette Kagame and other dignitaries, laid wreaths at the memorial before lighting the flame of remembrance to mark the start of the genocide mourning week.
This year's commemoration is observed under the theme "Remember-Unite-Renew".
Throughout the mourning week, the Rwandan flag will be flying at half-mast in honour of the victims.
Rwandans gathered in their respective villages to commemorate the genocide, where a wide range of discussions on national unity, reconciliation, and prevention of genocide ideology and revisionism were held.
After national mourning week, genocide commemoration activities will continue until July 4 to mark the 100-day calamity, during which over one million people, mainly Tutsi and moderate Hutus, were killed.