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UNIS/INF/561
7 April 2020

Message of the UNOV/ UNODC Director-General/ Executive Director Ghada Waly:

Commemoration of International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda

7 April 2020

VIENNA, 7 April (UN Information Service) - April 7th is a day of mourning. Today, we hold in our hearts and remember the more than one million people who were murdered within three months in Rwanda in 1994. The Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda is a stain on all of humanity and a painful reminder of the horrors that dehumanization and discrimination can lead to if we do not work together to stop the hate.

As we commemorate those killed - overwhelmingly Tutsi, but also moderate Hutu, Twa and others opposed to the genocide - we pay tribute to the many heroes who helped save lives. We honour the survivors, including the thousands of women who were raped and abused, the families torn apart, and the children orphaned and deprived of innocence. No human being should ever suffer like they have.

The COVID-19 public health crisis has forced us to cancel planned commemorative events. In my first year as Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna and Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, I was looking forward to welcoming Rwandan representatives and the broader international community at the Vienna International Centre so that we could light candles in memory of the victims of the genocide, learn from the testimonials of those who experienced the unspeakable, and renew our commitment to stopping such atrocities from happening again.

Although COVID-19 has hindered our ability to meet in person today, we can meet virtually and engage with each other online, and the commemoration loses none of its relevance or meaning.

Today and every day, we stand firmly together against xenophobia and racism. Secretary-General António Guterres has made the commitment of the United Nations to this fight very clear through his initiatives to stop the "wildfire" of hate speech.

The world now needs to unite against a common enemy, the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that Africa will be severely affected. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is committed to working with Rwanda and all partners in the region to help protect the most vulnerable in this time of crisis. Solidarity among nations and among people will be essential to stop the spread of the disease and help our societies recover.

We are together in spirit as we reflect upon the many lessons Rwanda has to teach us. I very much admire what the people of Rwanda have achieved in terms of reconciliation and rebuilding their lives and country. Your resilience and great courage in pursuing justice while practicing forgiveness is something we can all learn from.

I thank Rwanda's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Vienna, Ambassador Marie Chantal Rwakazina, for inviting us to a virtual commemoration. We will all light a candle today in our hearts.

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For further information please contact:

Sonya Yee
Speechwriter and Spokesperson, UNODC
Phone: (+43 1) 26060-4990
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-4990
Email: sonya.yee[at]un.org