Press Releases

                                                                                                                            8 April 2004

     “We Must Remember the Victims”, Says Secretary-General in Message to Headquarters Observance of 10th Anniversary of Genocide in Rwanda

    NEW YORK, 7 April (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the ceremony and “minute of silence” at United Nations Headquarters marking the tenth anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, delivered today by Catherine Bertini, Under-Secretary-General for Management:

    Around the world, people are gathered today to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the most flagrant and incontrovertible instance of genocide that humanity has witnessed in half a century.

    UN staff who were in Rwanda at the time have particularly painful memories, and far worse, some of our Rwandan UN colleagues were murdered.  But each of us remembers what we saw on television, our growing horror as we began to grasp the enormity of what was happening, and our frustration at the inability of the international community to act effectively.  We all know what scars the genocide has left on our Organization.

    On this International Day of Reflection, we must remember the victims.

    Today we remember the people who were brutally murdered, and their families.

    We must pay tribute to the few who did do their utmost to save lives.  They included, of course General Romeo Dallaire, the force commander of the small UN peacekeeping force that was on the ground at the time, and also the late Captain Mbaye Diagne, the young Senegalese officer, who saved many lives, but who lost his own when a mortar shell landed near his jeep.  Such courage and self-sacrifice should not be forgotten.

    We must also think what more we can do to help Rwanda and her people to recover from an unimaginable trauma.

    And most of all, we and the world’s governments must pledge to act decisively to ensure that such a denial of our common humanity is never allowed to happen again.

    Only if we do these things can we honour the victims whom we remember today.  Only so can we save those who might be victims tomorrow.

    I will now ring the Peace Bell and ask you to remain silent for one minute to remember all of those who lost their lives in Rwanda.

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