Saturday March 27th 2021
Report on the massacre in Rwanda
France shared responsibility for genocide
Almost three decades after the genocide in Rwanda, a commission of historians has given France political responsibility for the crimes. The scientists handed over their 1,000-page report to President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. In it they accuse France of “blindness” and “failure” for failing to prevent the 1994 genocide. A “complicity” in the killings, however, can not be proven. Paris is now hoping for a rapprochement with Kigali.
Macron had commissioned the group of historians, led by the researcher Vincent Duclert, to carry out the research two years ago. According to the report, France bears “a heavy and overwhelming responsibility” for ensuring that those responsible for Rwanda were able to carry out the genocide.
Under the then President François Mitterrand, France “unconditionally” supported the “racist, corrupt and violent” regime of the Rwandan head of state Juvénal Habyarimana, the study continues. Historians point out that Mitterrand maintained close personal relationships with Habyarimana and received him several times in Paris.
After handing over the report on Friday evening, the Elysée Palace expressed the hope that “this time the process of rapprochement can be irreversibly initiated”. The return of a French ambassador to Kigali “in the coming months” would also be a “further step” towards normalization. The ambassadorial post in Rwanda has been vacant since 2015.
800,000 dead in three months
In the former German and Belgian colony of Rwanda, members of Habyarimana’s Hutu ethnic group killed at least 800,000 people within three months in 1994. Most of the victims were members of the Tutsi minority, but many moderate Hutu were also killed.
The French army was in the region in 1994 with a UN mandate. Rwanda has been accusing France for years of being complicit in the genocide by backing the government at the time.
The scientists evaluated numerous diplomatic notes, letters and other confidential documents. Recently, a court prematurely opened the archives of Mitterrand, who died in 1996, for genocide. Actually, the documents should not be accessible until 2055. In mid-February, a diplomatic note dated 1994 emerged from these archives, according to which France helped genocide suspects escape. The document shows that the government in Paris knew the suspects were in the French-controlled security zone in Rwanda but did not arrest them.