Rwanda 20 Years Later
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. In 100 days, from April to July 1994, between 500,000 and one million Rwandans, predominantly Tutsis, were massacred when a Hutu extremist–led government launched a plan to wipe out the country’s entire Tutsi minority and any others who opposed their policies. The genocide ended when the Tutsi-dominated rebel movement, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), captured Kigali and overthrew the Hutu government. The RPF leader, Paul Kagame, became president in April 2000 and continues to hold this position today.
Programs and Events
The Museum is commemorating the anniversary of the genocide in a number of ways.
As part of the Failure to Prevent: International Responses in the Age of Genocide initiative, the Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide, in partnership with the National Security Archive, is conducting a documentation and oral history project examining turning points in the Rwandan genocide when international action could have made a difference. The first turning point is devoted to the so-called “genocide fax” that Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, then commander of UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda, sent to UN headquarters in New York in January 1994 in an effort to warn his superiors of the genocide to come.
The Rwandan Genocide 20 Years Later, a conversation with author and journalist Philip Gourevitch and others, takes place in New York on March 4. Produced in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, the program will explore the difficult questions about Rwanda that still haunt us today: about the leaders who instigated violence, the individuals who participated willingly in mass murder, and the international community that looked away.
At the time of the anniversary, a high-level delegation from the Museum will travel to Rwanda to bear witness to the events of the past and to add the Museum’s voice of conscience to the commemorations.
On April 30, the Museum will present Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire with our highest honor—the Elie Wiesel Award—at our annual National Tribute Dinner, held in conjunction with Holocaust Days of Remembrance events in Washington, DC. We will honor General Dallaire for his bravery and moral courage in standing up to his superiors, for saving countless lives, and for trying to protect thousands more. Previous winners of the award include Elie Wiesel and Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi.
Turning Points in the Rwandan genocide
Timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the genocide, this project includes collecting, declassifying, and making accessible key documents from a wide variety of sources, as well as interviewing decision makers and eyewitnesses for their firsthand perspectives about key moments when international action could have made a difference.
Between January and July 2014, the Museum and the National Security Archive are posting a series of “electronic briefing books” that provide in-depth analyses of pivotal events before and during the genocide. Released on the anniversary of each event, each briefing book includes a selection of annotated and analyzed documents, photographs, and eyewitness testimony.
The first book is devoted to the so-called “genocide fax” that General Dallaire sent to UN headquarters in New York on January 11, 1994.