On behalf of President Obama and all the people of the United States, I have come to Rwanda to join with Rwandans and people from all around the world to express our enduring grief and sadness at the momentous crime that transpired in this country two decades ago. The Rwandan genocide is a devastating reminder that nightmares seemingly beyond imagination can, in fact, take place.
On this solemn day of sorrow and remembrance, we come together to honor those who survived, mourn those who perished, and move forward with the unfinished tasks of accountability, healing, and reconciliation. In so doing, we are encouraged by the remarkable progress Rwandans have made in rebuilding their society, particularly in the areas of education, agriculture, women’s empowerment, and health. Deeply conscious of the human costs of mass violence, Rwanda has also been a prominent and effective contributor to international peacekeeping operations, including the African Union mission now underway in the Central African Republic.
The United States affirms its commitment to support Rwanda and all the countries in the Great Lakes region as they endeavor, with UN assistance, to end the threat posed by irregular armed groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) which are led by those who perpetrated the genocide in 1994.
As individuals and nations, we lack the power to rewind history; we cannot restore life to the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who were so ruthlessly deprived of life twenty years ago. But we do have the power to honor the memory of those who were lost; to strive to prevent future genocides; and to join forces across every boundary of geography, culture, ethnicity, and creed to foster a climate of mutual understanding, shared respect, and lasting peace.
- Cross posted from the U.S. Mission to the UN