French NGO Survie files a complaint against French officials for complicity in the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda

Published on 4 November 2015 - Survie

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

On November 2nd, 2015 the association Survie lodged a complaint against unknown persons ("plainte contre X") with the Prosecutor of the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris, for complicity in genocide and complicity in crimes against humanity. This complaint targets French political and military officials who were responsible, in the early 1990s, for providing assistance to the regime that prepared and then committed genocide against Rwandans designated as Tutsis in 1994, especially through delivery of arms and ammunition before and during the genocide.

Prior to the genocide, our association had already denounced the involvement of the French authorities with the regime that was preparing the extermination of the Tutsis in Rwanda. Our association further denounced this closeness to the Rwandan regime in the book Complicity in genocide written by François-Xavier Verschave at the end of 1994. In 2004, Survie accompanied by journalists, lawyers and ordinary citizens, led a “citizens’ inquiry” which concluded that complicity in genocide had been committed. Our association, which is independent of any government, company or political party, has continued its voluntary advocacy work in order to get the citizens inquiry verdict translated into a judicial verdict. Today, the documentary evidence and the testimonies available are solid enough for us to make the decision to lodge this complaint.

Justice is necessary first for the Rwandan victims murdered in 1994 by application of the racist ideology of the allies of our authorities at that time. It is also a moral imperative for French citizens with regard to our own State: we must shed light on acts such as this and get the perpetrators punished.

The complaint focuses on two areas:

  • On the one hand, every French delivery of arms, ammunition or other type of military equipment to the pre-genocidal Rwandan regime in early 1994, even though at that time the regime had already perpetrated massacres. These are facts which, in our considered opinion, constitute complicity in crimes against humanity. For example, on 21 January 1994, ammunition was delivered to the Forces armées rwandaises / Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) – the national army of Rwanda – from the city of Chateauroux in France.
  • On the other hand, every French delivery of arms, ammunition or other type of military equipment to the Rwandan regime while it was committing genocide. These are facts which, in our considered opinion, constitute complicity in genocide. For example, on 9 April 1994, military ammunition was unloaded directly to members of the FAR (Rwandan Armed Forces) from the first military planes of the French operation Amaryllis that landed in Rwanda. According to law, a person is an accomplice to genocide if he or she has provided assistance to the perpetrators of the crime while knowing that they will perpetrate it, even if he or she does not share in the genocidal intent.

Furthermore, President Francois Hollande committed himself this year to providing transparency with regard to the involvement of France in Rwanda, through the declassification of documents. Today, many documents are still under the seal of secrecy. For example, the Delegation for Strategic Affairs (DAS) memorandum of 24/02/1995, which makes reference to arms deliveries during the genocide, and which was quoted by the journalist Patrick de Saint-Exupéry [1] has still not been declassified.

With regard to other countries, the United Kingdom, Israel and South Africa, among others, also delivered arms to the regime that was committing the genocide. With regard to UK/Crown Dependencies, Mil-Tec, a company domiciled in the Isle of Man and with a correspondence address in the UK (Sussex), delivered weapons to the FAR (Rwandan Armed Forces) during the genocide. Documentary evidence is public - for instance documents that figure in the appendices of the French parliamentary Enquiry held in 1998. Those documents are attached to this release. Twenty years later, impunity nevertheless still prevails [2].

We encourage the citizens of these countries (UK/Crown dependencies, Israel, South Africa) to fight against impunity for the accomplices in their respective countries. For our part, as French activists, our responsibility is primarily to investigate the role of our state, which was the main ally of the genocidal regime.

We hope our complaint will also contribute to deterring our leaders from supporting other criminal regimes, especially in Africa.

To see the documents presented during the press conference held on 3 November 2015:

[1This document was read by the journalist on Mediapart. It bears the reference 109 DEF / DAS / SDQR / PC / CD.

[2As required by the United Nations, States must prosecute people responsible for acts of genocide or complicity in genocide relating to the events in Rwanda in 1994. The law of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was adapted, after the fact, in most countries, including in the UK. But the Crown dependencies were “forgotten” in that adaptation, thus providing, until now, impunity to those who delivered arms to the people committing the genocide.

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