Rwanda Liberation Day

Rwanda Liberation Day

July 4
The Republic of Rwanda is a landlocked country in central Africa. It is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Rwanda's original inhabitants were the Tutsi and Hutu people. The country was ruled by Tutsi kings until the Europeans began arriving in 1894. Rwanda became a German colony in 1899, but the Belgian military from Zaire took control of the country in 1915. After World War I, Rwanda became a mandate territory of the League of Nations under the administration of Belgium.
The Belgian rulers established discriminatory practices throughout the country, leading the Batutsi king and his chiefs to form the Union Nationale Rwandaise (UNAR), a political party that demanded independence. In response, the Belgian authorities created another party called Parmehutu. In 1959, under the Belgian supervision, the Parmehutu began the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Batutsi. On July 1, 1962, the United Nations terminated the Belgian trusteeship and granted full independence to Rwanda.
On July 5, 1973, Major General Juvenal Habyarimana led the military and took power. He dissolved the National Assembly and the Parmehutu Party and abolished all political activity. In December 1978, Rwandans overwhelmingly endorsed a new constitution and elected Habyarimana as president. He was re-elected in 1983 and again in 1988. In response to public pressure for political reform, President Habyarimana announced in 1990 his plans to transform Rwanda's one-party state into a multi-party democracy. Later that year, Rwandan exiles, primarily ethnic Tutsis, formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and invaded Rwanda. A cease-fire took effect on July 31, 1992.
On April 6, 1994, an airplane carrying President Habyarimana and the President of Burundi was shot down, and both presidents were killed. The Rwandan Army and militia groups immediately began rounding up and killing all Tutsis and moderate Hutus throughout the country. As many as 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus had been killed by July. On July 4, 1994, the RPF took over Kigali, and the war ended on July 16. This is now known as the Rwandan genocide.
Today, Rwandans across the country celebrate the anniversary of their liberation on July 4. The main celebrations take place at Amahoro Stadium in Kigali. Delegations from Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Uganda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe attend the colorful ceremony that includes a military parade, music, dancing, and recitals. The president addresses the nation, calling on the people to reflect on the past tragedies of Rwanda and the successes that have been made since 1994 to rebuild and develop the country. The celebrations in Kigali also include an official state reception and a football game between Rwanda and Uganda. Similar ceremonies are held around the country to mark Liberation Day.
CONTACTS:
Republic of Rwanda Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Investment Promotion, Tourism & Cooperatives
www.minicom.gov.rw (c)
References in periodicals archive ?
4th of July is observed as Rwanda Liberation Day that marks the end of Rwanda Genocide in 1994.

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