In a message commemorating the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda, Secretary-General António Guterres underlined that everyone must “take a hard look at today’s world and ensure that we heed the lessons of 27 years ago”.
More than one million were systematically killed in Rwanda, over the course of just 100 days.
“Today, around the globe, people are threatened by extremist groups determined on boosting their ranks through social polarization and political and cultural manipulation”, Mr. Guterres warned, adding that the while the technology and techniques that extremists use are evolving, the “vile messages and rhetoric remain” the same.
“The dehumanization of communities, misinformation and hate speech are stoking the fires of violence.”
COVID-19 fueling discrimination, polarization
Mr. Guterres underlined the urgency of addressing deepening divides, especially given the COVID-19 crisis, which has profoundly affected the “entire spectrum” of human rights everywhere and further fueled discrimination, social polarization and inequalities “all of which can lead to violence and conflict”.
“We saw what happened in Rwanda in 1994, and we know the horrific consequences when hate is allowed to prevail”, he said, calling on everyone to defend human rights and ensure full respect all members of the society.
“On this solemn Day, let us all commit to building a world guided by human rights and dignity for all”, Mr. Guterres added.
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Rwandans ‘rebuilt from the ashes’
The Secretary-General went on to note that having experienced “one of the most painful chapters” in modern human history, the people of Rwanda “rebuilt from the ashes”.
“After suffering unspeakable gender-based violence and discrimination, Rwanda’s women now hold more than 60 per cent of parliamentary seats – making Rwanda a world leader”, he added, noting also Rwandan’s display of the “power” of justice and reconciliation.