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«An inquiry commission is necessary». Interview with S. Courtoux in La Libre Belgique

7 August 2008

Verbatim translation from La Libre Belgique

August 7, 2008

Gérald Papy

For Sharon Courtoux of the association Survie, France cannot escape its responsibilities any more. She insists on the seriousness of the Mucyo report published in Kigali.

Interview

Sharon Courtoux is vice-president of the non-governmental organisation Survie which has been denouncing the misfeasance of the French government’s «Françafrique» way of operating in Africa since many years.

She explains why her association calls for an inquiry commission after the publication of the Mucyo report in Kigali.

What retains your attention in this report ?

What seems to me most important is how seriously the report demonstrates that France knew exactly what could happen in Rwanda. Nevertheless, France continued its complicity with a government planning a genocide and intending to execute it. In 1998, a «parliamentary information mission» took place in France which opened up all the paths possibly leading to truth and therefore to justice. But none of them were pursued to the end. In reading this report, I didn’t learn anything revolutionary but the Mucyo commission verified everything with the utmost care. To me, it seems obvious that France cannot just say: «This is not serious». There has to be an inquiry commission; we already asked for it when the «information mission» came to an end. In France, inquiry commissions have much more legal power and their work has to be made public on demand.

Do you have any real hope that this inquiry commission will be constituted?

When you think something is necessary you try to fight for its realization. When you loose hope you give in. We will not give in. This report must be read by the nation’s representatives. They must understand that France has to assume its responsibilities. It is politically and morally disqualified in this issue. If it wants to become again what it claims to be - an important country – it has to create this inquiry commission.

As to the knowledge that the French government had of the preparation of the genocide, the United Nations, Belgium etc. had it as well … in what way would the responsibility of Paris be greater?

Certainly the entire international community is responsible in this affair. Nevertheless the actual physical presence of France in Rwanda was predominant: all kinds of soldiers, politicians, diplomates, secret service members. France was everywhere on the roads, saw the roadblock barriers, participated in meetings with the Rwandan authorities…. France was the country which knew most about what was going on, and all the more so because France had been purveying Rwanda with the necessary equipment at the time . For instance, French training provided the computer know how to compile and printout lists of people «under surveillance», lists which later also served to exterminate the victims.

A particularly severe accusation concerns the assassination of Tutsis and the rape of Tutsi women. Does this correspond to reality?

I didn’t read that part of the report yet [it comprises nearly 500 pages; translator’s note]. But I should like to remind you that a certain number of Rwandans are lodging a complaint against unknown soldiers at the military court in Paris, an ongoing procedure since two years. We will see what comes out of it. These complaints go in the direction of the accounts in the Mucyo report containing as I heard, supplementary evidence.

In the final recommendations, the hypotheses of lawsuits but also of diplomatic negotiations are mentioned. Don’t you think that given the diplomatic warming between Kigali and Paris since the arrival of President Nicolas Sarkozy, the second option would rather be prefered?

The answer is twofold. It is entirely possible that Paris and Kigali make a «deal». But as a French citizen, I think it is my duty to demand truth and justice. And if there is pressure from organisations, the report could get off the library shelves.

verbatim translation by SSH, Survie Paris, sept 08. For the original version of this presse release as well as documentary references please consult the French version

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