This week France looks to reconcile with Rwanda and Africa by acknowledging they played a role during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In a show that they remain true to accomplishing this, France has agreed to open its archives from the period to the public. The gesture will allow many who did not know of France`s role in the genocide to realize the country did participate and it was a monumental failure.
Report on the Rwandan genocide
A report published in March this year had concluded that French authorities remained blind to the preparations for genocide. According to the report, the French just provided support to the government of then-Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana. What the report left out was that the authorities knew they supported a racist and violent leader. Additionally, the report left out that the French reacted too slowly in appreciating the extent of the killings in Rwanda. The news just went on to clear the French of complicity in the slaughter that left over 800,000 people dead. The individuals were mainly ethnic Tutsis and the Hutus, who tried to protect them.
After weeks since the report was published, French President Emmanuel Macron decided to commission the report published. The President also agreed to open the archives concerned with the happenings during the period to the public. Marcon`s actions are part of his efforts to more fully confront the French role in the genocide and improve relations with Rwanda. As part of his efforts, the President also made April 7, the day the massacre began, a day of commemoration in France. Despite the reconciliation efforts being long overdue, the move may finally help the two nations reconcile.
France`s President allows access to archives
President Macron believes people must speak the truth as the truth will allow France to reconcile with Rwanda. In a statement, he said commissioning the report would mark a significant step forward towards understanding France`s actions in Rwanda.
About 8,000 documents from the French archive will be made accessible to the general public. Most of the documents from the French Presidency and the prime minister`s office will be accessible. Experts believe the documents reveal how then-President Francois Mitterrand and a small group of diplomats and military officials surrounding him shared the same views, including the desire to maintain influence on a French-speaking country. Their desires blinded them to keep supporting Habyarimana despite warning signs, including the delivery of weapons and military training in the years prior to the genocide.
French authorities in Rwanda choose to support the ethnicization, the radicalization of Habyarimana`s government. They looked away instead of ultimately supporting the democratization and peace in Rwanda. As a result, the nation was not complicit in the Rwandan genocide. But the nations actions contributed to strengthening the genocide mechanisms. France lost an opportunity in 1994 to possibly stop the genocide before it started. Eventually, the nation did step in, but Rwanda ad already lost many lives.
People all across the world ask leaders to question France`s blindness and bring the nation to trial. Others hope that access to the archives will help activists in their efforts to bring killers to justice.