Rwanda: the French authorities persist in their denial

Published on 9 April 2014 - Survie

Traduit par Traduit par Jenny Bright, Edité par Supriyo Chatterjee সুপ্রিয় চট্টোপাধ্যায়, sur Tlaxcala.

April 7th is the international day of remembrance of the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994, which caused nearly one million deaths in three months. Every year for 20 years, Survie and other associations mobilized in the struggle for truth and justice after this crime, expect a speech from the French authorities to recognize the role they played during the genocide: a multifaceted complicity (diplomatic military, economic) documented by a considerable amount of works and confirmed again this morning by a former French officer on the ’France Culture’ radio station.

Rwanda 1994 - La France complice © Régis Marzin

For the association Survie, the position of the Socialist government on the genocide and the role of the French state must, in 2014, be to go beyond what has already been expressed by Nicolas Sarkozy and Bernard Kouchner in 2010 which had recognized France’s "mistakes" [1].

However, we may be witnessing a sharp decline in French public discourse on the genocide. After missing several meetings [2], the French authorities have decided this time to cancel the announced participation of the Minister of Justice at the 20th annual commemoration of the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda, following public accusations of complicity and direct participation in the genocide, brought against France by Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Contrary to the Belgian government which has also been challenged, but has maintained the expected representation, French leaders have chosen to move backwards in history and not to honour the memory of the victims with the consideration they deserve.

This decision is further proof of the inability of the French government to assume the sins of its past and to take lessons from history, while it freely lectures other countries about doing this. [3].It also marks the growing fracture of the French government with civil society in our country and younger generations, including in the ranks of socialist activists [4] for whom complicity in this crime is proven and should be recognized. Rather than the lucidity of the youth of his own party, will François Hollande choose to adhere to Alain Juppé’s calls for denial, repeated in recent days after a citizens’ questioning for his role during the genocide?

Under the pretext of protecting a certain vision of France’s army and it’s honour, former political and military leaders urge François Hollande to keep silent on the most shameful secrets of the French army and diplomacy in Rwanda: Alain Juppé, then Minister of Foreign affairs; Hubert Védrine, Secretary General of the Elysee under Mitterrand; Paul Quilès, (who in 1998 smothered the most damning of the parliamentary information mission conclusions); or the former officers of the association France Turquoise. For many of these defenders of the role of France in Rwanda, there is the recurring issue of the termination of the current Rwandan regime and its role in the sub-region since 1994 - a subject that should in no way overshadow the role of French state in the genocide.

It is not the responsibility of our association to comment on recent statements by Paul Kagame, but instead to continue to question our former politicians who have acted on our behalf. Numerous testimonies, documents, investigations demonstrate the multifaceted complicity of the French state in the genocide and even the possibility that French officers had knowingly allowed crimes to be committed, or that French soldiers themselves had committed crimes (rape or murder). The example of Bisesero Hill, where thousands of Tutsi were left in the hands of the murderers between 27 and 30 June 1994, is illuminating in this regard. More generally, it should be noted that the French authorities argued extremists committed genocide through training, arms supplies, diplomatic support, up until organizing their evacuation to Zaire. Providing this assistance, knowingly, regardless of motivation, has a precise legal qualification: complicity in genocide.

In 2005, Survie as a civil party filed several complaints against X by survivors of the genocide aimed at the French militaries’ Operation Turquoise. Today, the revelations continue. On the ’France Culture’ radio station, a former French officer, William Ancel, testified that Turquoise was initially for offensive purposes, until mid-July 1994, when France surrendered their weapons to the former FAR (Rwandan Armed Forces) refugees in Zaire though a number of them had participated in the genocide, and that our country had paid them their soldiers’ wages in dollars [5]. Which political and military leaders were able to give such orders?

These facts have not been put at trial, and many documents remain classified, which allows French officials to comfort themselves with denial. However, the role played before and during the genocide by a number of French politicians and military officers, some of whom still bear administrative or political responsibilities, should one day be considered by the courts. If our association has welcomed the first trial of a Rwandan genocide perpetrator on French soil and the recent conviction of Pascal Simbikangwa, as it frequently points out, it is the case that many legal cases drag on for too long, beyond the reasonable time necessary to judge.

As a duty to the victims, it is time for the French leaders and justice to illuminate the many grey areas that surround the action of the French State from 1990 to 1994, and to prosecute and try any French accomplice complicit to the genocide. To do this, it is essential that all French documents on the role of France in Rwanda are finally declassified and published [6].

[1Mr. Kouchner has even stated recently that there were "some strange orders" during Operation Turquoise, and concerning the genocide, that "everything was prepared with illicit consent, implied .. I don’t really know".Rwandan genocide: Kouchner recognizes the "implied consent" of France ,, 06/04/2014.Updated: 07/04/2014 12:30by Liberation Kouchner recalled these last days "that" genocidal government was formed within the walls of the Embassy of France in April 1994, "and that "Paris had delivered arms until August 1994.""

[2precipitated departure of Kigali Secretary of State Muselier in April 2004, notable absence of a political representative at the commemoration of 2013 in Paris.

[3Note that Hollande had "urged Turkey on January 27 to write the "memoire"of the genocide of hundreds of thousands of Armenians." Hollande calls on Turkey to write the "memoire" of the Armenian genocide , AFP, 01/27/2014

a lire aussi