Rwanda in Mourning, for a Week

Country marks 20 years since genocide began
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2014 1:05 AM CDT
Rwanda Marks 20 Years Since Genocide
Roses lie on top of one of the burial chambers at a Kigali memorial center that hold more than 250,000 victims of the genocide.   (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Rwanda has launched a week of national mourning to mark the anniversary of the genocide that began 20 years ago today when the country's president's plane was shot down. At a ceremony today, President Paul Kagame will light a torch that will burn for 100 days—the length of time it took for at least 800,000 people to be killed, many of them hacked to death with machetes by ethnic Hutu militias, the BBC reports. Most of the victims were ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and heads of state from around the world will take part in the ceremony in Kigali today, Voice of America reports—but France's ambassador to Rwanda will not be present. The ambassador says he has been barred from ceremonies as part of a dispute that began when Kagame told reporters that France and Belgium had helped lay the groundwork for the slaughter and French troops had even protected militias carrying out the killings. (More Rwanda stories.)

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