SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 14 April 2024, Sunday |

France ‘did nothing to stop’ 1994 genocide in Rwanda

A 600-page report commissioned by Rwanda government, based on 250 witnesses, diplomatic cables, documentaries, videos, and articles, says France holds responsibility for “enabling a foreseeable genocide” in which 800,000 people were slaughtered.

The French government bears “significant” responsibility for “enabling a foreseeable genocide,” a report commissioned by the Rwandan government concludes about France’s role before and during the horror in which an estimated 800,000 people were slaughtered in 1994.

The report comes amid efforts by Rwanda to document the role of French authorities before, during, and after the genocide.

The 600-page report says that France “did nothing to stop” the massacres, in April and May 1994, and in the years after the genocide tried to cover up its role and even offered protection to some perpetrators.

It is to be made public later on Monday after its formal presentation to Rwanda’s Cabinet.

It concludes that in years leading up to the genocide, former French President Francois Mitterrand and his administration had knowledge of preparations for the massacres — yet kept supporting the government of then-Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana despite the “warning signs.”

“The French government was neither blind nor unconscious about the foreseeable genocide,” the authors stress.

The Rwandan report comes less than a month after a French report, commissioned by Macron, concluded that French authorities had been “blind” to the preparations for genocide and then reacted too slowly to appreciate the extent of the killings and to respond to them.

It concluded that France had “heavy and overwhelming responsibilities” by not responding to the drift that led to the slaughter that killed mainly ethnic Tutsis and the moderate Hutus who tried to protect them.

The two reports, with their extensive even if different details, could mark a turning point in relations between the two countries.

Rwanda, a small but strategic country of 13 million people, is “ready” for a “new relationship” with France, Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vincent Biruta told AP.

“Maybe the most important thing in this process is that those two commissions have analysed the historical facts, have analysed the archives which were made available to them and have come to a common understanding of that past,” he said.

“From there we can build this strong relationship.”

The Rwandan report, commissioned in 2017 from the Washington law firm of Levy Firestone Muse, is based on a wide range of documentary sources from governments, non-governmental organisations and academics including diplomatic cables, documentaries, videos, and news articles.

The authors also said they interviewed more than 250 witnesses.

In the years before the genocide, “French officials armed, advised, trained, equipped, and protected the Rwandan government, heedless of the Habyarimana regime’s commitment to the dehumanisation and, ultimately, the destruction and death of Tutsi in Rwanda,” the report charges.