Page last updated at 11:23 GMT, Monday, 23 March 2009

School remembers Rwanda genocide

By Kasia Madera
BBC News

As the 15th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide approaches, in which an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed, a group of students have been ensuring the victims are not forgotten.

Under the guidance of their teacher Andrew Lawrence, pupils from the Hampton School in Twickenham have set up a website urging people to post a comment explaining why those events should be remembered.

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Pupils remember genocide victims

'Human tragedy'

The students, many of whom were not even born when the massacres took place, have proactively contacted well known personalities asking them to take part.

Comedian and presenter Stephen Fry, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow are among some of the public figures who have posted their views on their website Why Should We Remember?

Genocide memorial site guardian Danielle Nyriabazungu
Some 800,000 people were killed in Rwanda's genocide in just 100 days

The former prime minister Tony Blair wrote: "We should remember so that we do not repeat...Each life was sacred; each a human tragedy and each had a family, loved ones and friends."

The messages collected so far have been compiled into a book of the same name, with all proceeds going to the charity Survivors Fund.

But the students have not stopped there. In their attempts to raise awareness of what happened and ensure the victims will continue to be remembered they delivered the list of messages to Downing Street.

The desire to do something positive for the victims was inspired after a group of pupils watched the film Hotel Rwanda. They were so horrified by the events portrayed they wanted to find out more.

1994: RWANDA'S GENOCIDE
6 April: President Habyarimana killed in plane explosion
April - July: Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus killed
July: Tutsi-led rebel movement RPF captures the capital Kigali
July: Two million Hutus flee to Zaire, now DR Congo

Jean-Louis Mazimpaka, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide and founder of the Hope Survivors Foundation, was invited to the school to talk about his experience.

The students described his words as "very moving", and said they enabled them to "understand the numbers killed in terms of people rather than just numbers".

As part of their work to raise awareness of their website the students at Hampton School are taking part in the BBC News School Report project. On the 26 March they will join around 500 other schools in the UK and abroad in turning their classroom into newsrooms.



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