Antony Blinken Angers Rwandan Genocide Victims, ‘Retraumatized Many Survivors’


An organization representing the ethnic Tutsi survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide against Tutsi people issued a statement condemning Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Rwanda’s New Times reported on Monday, for claiming the atrocities were committed against a variety of populations.

The outrage stems from a post that Blinken published on X on April 7, which Rwanda observes as the first day of the genocide, attempting to express solidarity with the victims of the atrocity. Rwanda calls the ceremonies to remember those killed and vow not to repeat the crimes of 1994 “Kwibuka,” or “remembrance.” April 7, 2024, marked the thirtieth anniversary of the genocide.

In his message, Blinken wrote that America “stands with the people of Rwanda,” adding, “We mourn the thousands of Tutsis, Hutus, Twas, and others whose lives were lost.”

The Rwandan genocide was the culmination of years of ethnic tensions, immediately preceded by then-President Juvénal Habyarimana and then-President of Burundi Cyprien Ntaryamira dying on April 6, 1994, when unknown attackers shot down a plane they were both traveling on. Both presidents were ethnic Hutus, the overwhelming majority group in Rwanda. Hutu militias responded to the killing by using mass media to call for the genocide of Tutsis, whom they generally blamed for the assassination, comparing all Tutsis to “cockroaches” and broadcasting lists of names of alleged Tutsis to kill all over the country.

The United Nations estimates that more than one million people were killed in the genocide, more than 800,000 of those killed estimated to be Tutsis. Hundreds of thousands of others endured rape as a weapon of war and severe mutilation, as Hutu mobs used machetes and clubs to beat or hack as many people to death as possible.

The genocide ended in July 1994 — with no useful international aid or intervention — after current President Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) seized Kigali and ousted the Hutu genocide leaders.

buka, an organization representing Tutsi survivors of the genocide, effusively condemned Blinken for not specifying that Tutsis were the overt target of the genocide. The organization published a letter signed by 16 leaders of organizations representing Rwandan genocide survivors.

“Survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda are emotionally devastated and offended by your misleading statement,” Ibuka wrote in an official letter to Blinken, “issued on the day they were mourning the loss of their loved ones that were brutally killed during the genocide.”