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Genocide conference opens in Brussels on 20th anniversary of Rwanda mass slaughter

01/04/14 06:13 CET

A minute’s silence for the victims of genocide worldwide opened a conference in Belgium which is looking into ways of preventing mass atrocities.

It came as Rwanda marks the 20th anniversary of its own orgy of ethnic killing in which at least 800,000 people died.

It is claimed that such slaughter often begins as political events and it is up to politicians to act.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders addressed fellow political figures, scholars and academics:

“Let’s now turn this engagement into concrete deeds in order to prevent genocide, and even better, to outlaw it,” he said. “We owe it to the memory of those who have been victims.”

In 1994, Rwandan Hutu extremists killed neighbours, friends and family during a three-month rampage of violence aimed at ethnic Tutsis and some moderate Hutus.

It had been unleashed by the fatal downing of a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana.

Thousands fled to refugee camps in neighbouring countries which grew into small cities of squalor and disease. Many of them died there from Cholera.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to address the conference on Tuesday.

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