It was one of the worst slaughters of the century -- matched by Hitler's attempt to exterminate the Jews and Pol Pot's killing of his own people in Cambodia. Nearly 1 million people were killed in Rwanda within a period of 100 days in the spring of 1994.
What some call the fastest genocide in history was triggered by the shooting-down of a plane carrying Rwanda and Burundi's leaders on April 6, 1994. Within hours the massacres started, cheered on by a local radio station.
Day after day, men, women and children, mainly Tutsis but also Hutus who refused to take part in the killings, were murdered with machetes, clubs and other farming tools. Or they were simply set upon by dogs or herded into houses which were then set on fire. Bullets were often considered too expensive. All the while the world watched.
"I realized after the genocide that there was more that I should and could have done to sound the alarm," UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told a memorial conference about Rwanda in New York recently.
In April 1994, he was the head of the UN peacekeeping operations, which has since received fierce criticism for ignoring the calls for help from Canadian general Romeo Dallaire, who was heading the UN contingent in Rwanda at the time.
Dallaire, instead of receiving extra troops and the right to try to stop the killings, saw his force of 2,000 cut to 270 by the Security Council in the first few weeks of the genocide. Today he is still bitter, and says the massacres are infused "in the pores of my skin."
The US government was well aware of the scale of the killing, even labeled it "genocide" internally, but avoided using the term in public for fear of being pressured into action, according to a recent report by an independent US research group, the National Research Archive.
A decade on, Rwanda's government and people are still trying to patch its savaged country back together, but the hurdles are obvious.
How can people who have seen their entire family butchered forgive the perpetrators?
And how can it be made sure that nothing similar ever happens again?
The question of guilt is dealt with on two levels. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in the Tanzanian town Arusha has indicted several high-ranking former members of Rwanda's Hutu establishment.
The tribunal has so far passed 21 judgements, including one against former Rwandan premier Jean Kambanda -- the first sentence ever to be imposed for genocide on a former head of government.
The tribunal has however been criticized for its high costs and lack of progress.
Inside Rwanda, the government revived the traditional village-based Gacaca courts in 2001, when it became evident they would not be able to deal with the 90,000 inmates in Rwandan jails through the formal judicial systems.
The Gacaca, literally meaning "in the grass," hear cases in which the accused are confronted with relatives and neighbors of their victims.
Rwanda's National Unity and Reconciliation Commission says the Gacaca can provide justice and reconciliation, since for most of the survivors it is important to know how their loved ones died. Being told is the beginning of healing, they say.
But the success of the Gacaca courts is questionable, though, as survivors say many of the accused do not tell all, only what they believe is already known.
The village trials are also very slow at gaining pace.
Many survivors find themselves living next door to people who took part in the murders, but have not yet been made to stand in front of the Gacaca.
In an effort by the government to erase the ethnic divide, citizens are now encouraged to call themselves Rwandan rather than Hutu or Tutsi.
Ethnic identity cards, introduced during the Belgian colonial regime, have been abolished, and it is forbidden to make any statistical breakdowns by tribe.
But critics say the Tutsi-dominated government, which sprang out of the rebel army that finally stopped the killings in 1994, is trying too hard -- that in his efforts to ensure that nothing like it ever happens again, the country's president, Paul Kagame, is trying to control every detail of life, that he has transformed Rwanda into an autocracy.
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