France was not an accessory to the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, but was largely responsible. That is the conclusion of a committee of inquiry set up two years ago by President Macron to investigate the French role in genocide. According to the report, France was blind to preparations for the large-scale massacres.
During the genocide in the East African country in 1994, at least 800,000 people were killed in a few months after a plane, with President Habyarimana of the Hutu led government, was shot down. According to the researchers, France has failed to prevent the mass murder of the Tutsi minority and moderate Hutu by Hutu extremists.
The experts also point out the central role played by the then French President Mitterrand, who had close links with Hutu Habyarimana. The former French President is blamed for pursuing a failing policy towards Rwanda in 1994. According to the researchers, France had a “serious and overwhelming” responsibility in Rwanda.
Involved in regime
At the time of the genocide, there were French troops with a UN mandate in Rwanda. France has always maintained that, despite their mistakes, they have saved many thousands of people. The investigation now shows that the troops did indeed save many, but that the operation started far too slowly.
Although Kigali and Paris have been moving towards each other in recent years, relations have been bad for decades. This is partly because Rwanda accuses France of supporting the Hutus and helping those responsible for the genocide escape. Historians have found no evidence of such complicity.
“Is France an accessory to the genocide of the Tutsis? If this means that there was a willingness to join the genocidal enterprise, then there is no evidence of this in the archives,” the committee states on the basis of the official French documents about the presence in Rwanda. “Nevertheless, France was involved in a regime that encouraged racist massacres.”
The 15-headed committee of inquiry had access to presidential, diplomatic and military archives over the past two years. The researchers also consulted the archives of the intelligence services for their report of more than 1200 pages. That was handed over to Macron today by historian Duclert. Archives of former President Mitterrand have also been used in the investigation.
Whether the report meets the grievances of the current President of Rwanda, Kagame, is not yet clear. However, the Rwandan Government speaks of an important step towards a shared understanding of the French role in the genocide of the Tutsis. Rwanda wants to publish its own report in the short term, which should “enrich” the French research.