France has a ‘obvious responsibility‘ for the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. “We were warned but we did not listen. We supported a genocidal regime. And afterwards, we abandoned the victims,” said President Macron during his one-day visit to Rwanda.
He didn‘t make excuses. “I acknowledge our responsibility,” said Macron. “What happened was a tragedy with a name: genocide. The goal was to eradicate all the Tutsis. France has played a role and has responsibility. And that creates duties.” He asked the Rwandans for forgiveness.
Macron gave his speech at the memorial to the genocide in the capital Kigali. That’s where the remains of 250,000 victims lie. The 1994 massacre cost at least 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutu‘s lives.
It is the first time that a French President has taken responsibility for what has happened in such clear terms.
In March of this year, a committee of French historians presented harsh conclusions on the French involvement in the genocide. Paris worked for years with the ‘corrupt‘ Hutu regime. French soldiers trained the Rwandan army, and President François Mitterrand, in particular, ignored all the signs that a massacre was threatening.
“ France is co-responsible,” wrote the committee of historians, which was set up at the request of President Macron. The words of the historians are now used by the president himself in Kigali. Commission President Vincent Duckert said, in a personal capacity, that France should also make excuses. The president didn’t take that step.
Emmanuel Macron had travelled to Rwanda to revive bilateral relations. Relations had been disrupted since 1994, partly due to ongoing accusations about French involvement in the genocide. So far, Paris never wanted to open up the matter.
“ Macron visiting our country, which French historians have done research, are already great steps towards reconciliation,” said Freddy Mutanguha, director of the memorial in Kigali.
In this video you can see how the genocide could take place: