A commission that spent almost two years taking France’s position in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda concluded Friday that the world responded so slowly to the scale of the horror that has leftover 800 000 people dead but has cleared them of slaughter complicity.
France bears ‘strong and overwhelming responsibilities’ in the drift which led to the killings, which were mainly victims of the ethnic Tutsi minority in Rwanda.
The Franco/Rwandan relations since the 1990s have been affected by persistent allegations that France under then-President Francois Mitterrand was unable to avoid the genocide.
In consequence, French President Emmanuel Macron requested in May 2019 the 15-member commission to clarify what occurred between 1990 and 1994 in Rwanda.
Furthermore, the study omitted any French ‘complicity in the genocide,’ noting that no proof of intention to conduct genocidal acts was present.
Vincent Duclert, President of Rwanda’s Committee of Historians, expresses his position:
“The French authorities pursues an entirely unrealized policy which bore a colonization stigma and ultra-ethnicist sight that Rwanda did not actually see to be able to get out of it and which, in essence, emphasized an ethnic crisis, aligned themselves with the Habyarimana regime, a racist regime which failed to get the Habyarimana out of extremism. It’s still a major issue, but if we have to take into account the complicity of genocide, it means, essentially, that the whole international community will be complicit in this genocide.”
Macron wanted to see a catharsis in that document, so that the arguments France had cooked for over a quarter of a century could relax.
The involvement of France in the Rwandan Tutsi Genocide was doubled by Jessica Mwiza, Vice President of the Ibuka France Organization.
“These terms “overwhelming responsibility”, “failure”, it’s not something new in fact. It’s good if political discourse takes these terms into account, it changes a lot because there is a lot of denial, particularly in France, due to the presence of genocide perpetrators and their families on the territory, so the fact that politicians are finally taking these strong words into account can only be a good thing because it allows this feeling of impunity to be reduced.”
The report’s ability to strengthen France’s relations and Rwanda, in particular, the satisfaction of Rwandan President Paul Kagame who is highly outspoken about what he sees as the complicit position of France in violating the human rights of its country’s people, is uncertain. Security of believed perpetrators of this violence on French soil included.
In its late Friday announcement, the Government of Rwanda expressed approval of the study as a significant move towards a mutual awareness of the role of France in genocide.
” The report, requested by the government of Rwanda, will be published within the next few weeks.”
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