On behalf of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, and the American people, I would like to convey our deepest sympathies to all Rwandans who lost loved ones, friends, neighbors, and colleagues in the genocide. We join you today to pay respects to the victims – more than eight hundred thousand Rwandans – who lost their lives during the 100 brutal days of 1994. Rwanda bears the grave burden of this tragedy, but the international community has not forgotten and we will never forget. We live with the knowledge that we could have done more than we did. But, like you, we know that we must apply lessons learned from the past while looking to the future.
As we commemorate the genocide in solidarity and sympathy with the survivors, we look to Rwanda’s vision of its future. It is one enlightened by all Rwandans who live together in respect, commitment to reconciliation, and determination to make the lives of their children and grandchildren better in every respect than what they have known. Rwandans are a people of remarkable determination and fortitude. It is heroic work to rebuild lives.
Survivors have pushed on creating a new Rwanda, while living with mental and physical scars. Many refugees and former combatants have returned home and are living and working together throughout the country. Rwanda’s economy is growing steadily, attracting new investment and tourism. And to strengthen regional peace and security, we note that the Government of Rwanda has taken steps to rebuild its relationships with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other states of the Great Lakes region. The United States will remain a committed partner in Rwanda’s efforts to improve the well-being of its citizens and promote peace and stability in the region.
Today, as we remember the victims of the genocide, we must also remind ourselves that such atrocities committed anywhere violate our collective humanity and dignity. Rwanda’s contribution to the peacekeeping efforts in Darfur are a powerful testament to a commitment to ensure that others will not be left to experience the pain and devastation that wreaked havoc upon Rwanda’s people sixteen years ago.
On this somber occasion, the United States applauds Rwanda’s progress and wishes its people continued success in their efforts in securing a peaceful, prosperous and democratic future.
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