Rwandans mark 27th anniversary of the 1994 genocide amid COVID-19 restrictions

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KIGALI, RWANDA - APRIL 07: People hold candles during a commemoration ceremony of the 1994 genocide on April 07, 2019 at Amahoro Stadium in Kigali, Rwanda. The country is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the genocide in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed over a 100-day period. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
KIGALI, RWANDA – APRIL 07: People hold candles during a commemoration ceremony of the 1994 genocide on April 07, 2019 at Amahoro Stadium in Kigali, Rwanda. The country is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the genocide in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed over a 100-day period. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Rwandans will today begin the seven-day commemoration of the 27th anniversary of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi where many will remember their loved ones within the confines of their homes due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

During the commemoration preparations last year, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), Jean-Damascène Bizimana, said that every commemoration is different but mourning during a pandemic was something that required adaptation.

“No two commemoration ceremonies are alike but preparing to mourn during a pandemic is particularly different,” he said.

This year has been no exception and once again, the commemoration week will be impacted by a number of organizational changes.

As was the case for last year, no community gatherings will be allowed during this year’s commemoration.

Although the weekly program to commemorate the genocide is normally fully packed with activities, this year, there will only be 3-day official activities.

A program issued by CNLG indicates that the activities will start with laying a wreath and then lighting a flame of remembrance at the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

The flame is a reflection of remembrance and is lit to honor the more than one million victims and to signify that their memory still lives on and burns bright.

Senior government officials, diplomatic corps, and other selected dignitaries are expected to converge at the Kigali Arena where the ceremony to officially launch the day will be held.

At the event, the guest of honor – President Paul Kagame – is expected to give a general address.

Locals are expected to follow the proceedings on television, radio, and social media platforms, a far cry from the norm where they converge in the national stadium or meet within their villages.

Although the official activities have been reduced significantly, visiting memorial sites or burying loved ones will be done in line with COVID-19 preventive measures.

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