Political arrangements shall not harm the search for truth about the Rwandan Genocide

Published on 25 November 2008 - Survie

Rwanda came back in French news with the recent arrest of Rose Kabuye. Survie recalls that what is at stake beyond the political and judicial maneuvering surrounding the different international arrest warrants is the truth about the Rwandan genocide and the absence of justice in the Great Lakes Region. Without justice the reign of violence will continue in that area. In this sense, the investigation launched by French judge Bruguière two years ago seems to be a biased approach aimed at obscuring the French complicity in the genocide of the Tutsi.

The attack on the evening of April 6, 1994 on Habyarimana’s personal Falcon jet piloted by French flight personnel has never been elucidated. Although this event may have set the genocide into motion, it certainly was not its cause since the preparatives were already in the making since a long time. Immediately after the crash, only the Rwandan Armed Forces of Habyarimana and certain members of the French military were able to access the site.

More than 3 years later on November 13, 1997 the widow of the flight mechanic filed charges for homicide, which were later, joined by the widow of Habyarimana who lives in France since 1994. The prosecution opened a judicial inquiry in March 1998. At the same time the French Parliament launched its own information mission into the Rwandan genocide, which ended in December of the same year. The judicial investigation was confided to the anti-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguière.

The Bruguière examination compiled a file of charges according to the judge’s own intimate convictions, which considered one single, working hypothesis based primarily on the signed statements of two “witnesses” whose ulterior public declarations revealed the weakness of their depositions [1]. Despite the fragility of his fact finding, Brugière went ahead and ordered the prosecution to deliver 9 international arrest warrants in November 2006 against the entourage of president Paul Kagamé suspected of having participated in the act of sabotage, which resulted in the fatal plane crash of 1994. Rwanda reacted by breaking off diplomatic relations with France, and since then efforts for reopening diplomatic channels on the part of our Minister of foreign affairs, Bernard Kouchner have run up against the existence of these mandates.

The recent arrest of Rose Kabuye, one of the 9 persons targeted by Bruguière’s mandates could be seen as an event inclined to reopen dialogue between France and Rwanda. Rose Kabuye and her defense lawyers are unlikely to encounter difficulty in exposing the deficiencies of Bruguière’s case which will then appear in the courtroom for what it is, namely an attempt at diverting attention from the “third party, external factor” [2] of the genocide which is the crux of the issue between Rwanda and France.

Certainly the question of who instigated the plane crash needs to be resolved by an irreproachable investigation, however this question should not obscure the infinitely more important issue of French complicity in the execution of this genocide against the Tutsi minority of Rwanda, a crime against humanity, which was in no manner improvised.

That France is implicated emerges from the documented facts of the unprecedented support which the Mitterrand executive extended from 1990 to 1994 to the military and state apparatus of Habyarimana, a government that had already fostered massacres of a genocidal character in the recent past. The “technical military” aid our country provided towards modernizing Habyarimana’s security forces encouraged the ambient discrimination practiced against the Tutsi minority and permitted the successful emergence of a virulent Hutu Power front whose political program called for the elimination of the entire Tutsi population of Rwanda. Furthermore our government helped set up the Interim Government after Habyarimana’s elimination within the very walls of its Kigali embassy, an interim government composed exclusively of Hutu Power extremists, the very same individuals who launched and supervised the progression of the racial massacres ending in genocide. France maintained delivery of arms and military equipment during the genocide and finally even provided escort and safe haven to the leading perpetrators under cover of a controversial “humanitarian” military intervention from the beginning of June to the end of August (Operation Turquoise) [3].

Although the French parliamentary information mission tried to clarify the events leading up to France’s intervention during this period, the conclusion of Paul Quilès bypassed the obvious consequences that should have been drawn from the mass of recorded evidence actually laid before the commission. The gravity of the factual evidence already exposed at that time in 1998 should have resulted in a thorough inquiry into the rational behind a foreign policy which lead our executive to side with the most criminal and extremist elements from the available political spectrum in Rwanda.

The practical consequences of our government’s fatal foreign policy, amplified as it is by a stubborn refusal to clarify our responsibilities in the Rwandan genocide has largely contributed towards the perpetuation of these wars that ravage the Democratic Republic of Congo in total impunity on the part of all the opposing factions since the genocide of 1994.The armed forces operating in the eastern Congo regions rely on manipulating and fuelling racial hatreds. The resulting chaos in turn allows transnational companies to benefit from uncontrolled mineral ore extraction [4] It is essential that all those responsible in the past or in the present, accomplices as well as those who command these war crimes in the Great Lakes Region be made to account for their crimes against humanity in an international court of justice [5]. The brutalised populations of central Africa have a right to truth and justice.

(Translated for Survie-IdF by AZ)

Note: The original French version of this press release can be found on rubric Communiqués de presse et lettres ouvertes

References and Further Reading in English :

Daniela Kroslak, France’s role in the Rwandan Genocide /London: Hurst, 2007 based on the author’s Phd dissertation at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, 2007

Linda Melvern, Conspiracy to Murder:The Rwandan Genocide /London:Verso hardback 2004.

Linda Melvern, The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide /London: Zed Books 2000.

Michael Barnett, Eyewitness to a Genocide. The United Nations and Rwanda. Ithaca: Cornell University Press 2002.

Andrew Wallis, Silent Accomplice. The Untold Story of France’s Role in the Rwandan Genocide / London: IB Tauris, 2006.

Gérard Prunier, “Operation Turquoise: A Humanitarian Escape,” in Howard Adelman and Astri Suhrke ed., The Path of a Genocide / New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1999.

[1On the subject of Bruguière’s “witness statements” checkout the articles from the electronic French newspaper site Rue89… as well as the site of the French Citizens Inquiry Commission: /

[2See the end of Daniela Kroslak’s book, cited above, in which she calls for a critical evaluation of ‘past mistakes’ and the recognition of an ‘external actor’s responsibility in cases of genocide’ (page 275). An English review of this book by Berny Sèbe can be found in Volume 8 of H-France Review 2008.

[3See in particularly Andrew Wallis, 2006 chapters 6 and 7, Arming the Genocide and Operation Turquoise. Consult Linda Melvern, 2004 chapters 10, 11 and 12, International Spin, Silence and Judgment, as well as Gerard Prunier’s article cited below. All references are cited above. A documented discussion of the political calculations and bureaucratic routines within the institutional apparatus of French foreign policy can be found in the recent book by Belgian author, Olivier Lanotte, La France au Rwanda (1990-1994) Entre abstention impossible et engagement ambivalent: Brussels: Peter Lang; The English review by David Ambrosetti, CNRS/ Institut des Sciences sociales du Politique/Université Paris Ouest-Nanterre La Défense can also be found in vol.8 of H-France Review 2008.

[4Johann Hari: How we fuel Africa’s bloodiest war/ ...the great global heist of Congo’s resources; article in THE INDEPENDENT, Thursday 30 October 2008.See in particular the critical notes attached to the translation of this article into French at pillage_ minier_ Laurent_ Nkunda_301008.htm From the media Library of;pl press release November 1, 2008: Resource plunder still driving eastern Congo conflict.

[5Chris McGreal,The roots of war in eastern Congo to be found in the Guardian, UK, Friday; May 16,2008

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