“The French state bears a heavy responsibility for making a foreseeable genocide possible.” This is the conclusion of a report commissioned by the Rwandan government and presented this Monday to the Council of Ministers in Kigali about the French involvement in the genocide of the Tutsis in 1994. This document of more than 600 pages was written by a cabinet of American lawyers. It was made public three weeks after the results of a commission of inquiry of French historians mandated by French President Emmanuel Macron.
The Duclert Commission – named after its president Vincent Duclert – also concluded that France was “overwhelming” in the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994. This dossier has since plagued relations between Paris and Kigali but the work of memory undertaken separately suggests a breakthrough. The French president could soon visit Rwanda. His counterpart, Paul Kagame, who has held his country with an iron fist since 1994 after having militarily defeated the Hutu genocidaires, is expected in Paris next month.
The American lawyers of the Levy, Fireston and Muse study do not go so far as to accuse France of complicity in the genocide, which left 800,000 dead, mainly members of the Tutsi minority. The Duclert Commission had also ruled out this thesis. However, the authors of the report submitted to the Rwandan government wish to point out that their conclusions diverge from those of French historians on several points. Unlike the Duclert Commission, which considered that Paris was “blind”, American lawyers believe that the “genocide was foreseeable” and that France, the main military ally of Rwandan President Habyarimana, made it “possible”.
François Mitterrand on the dock
“For many years, the French state has supported the corrupt and murderous regime of Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana. French officials armed, advised, trained, equipped and protected the Rwandan regime, ignoring the will of President Habyarimana’s regime to dehumanize the Tutsis in Rwanda, and ultimately ensure their destruction and death. These officials acted in this way in order to serve the interests of the French state, in particular to strengthen and extend the power and influence of the French state in Africa, ”the lawyers conclude.
The latter especially implicate François Mitterrand, the French President being the main responsible for “inconsiderate support” to the Habyarimana regime obsessed by the threat of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) of Paul Kagame for the French precinct. “As bodies littered the church benches and piled up along the roads, several of President Mitterrand’s closest advisers continued to view the advance of RPF troops as a greater threat to Rwanda than those who were committing genocide ”, we can read in the summary of the report.
Operation Blasted Turquoise
The authors also castigate the military-humanitarian intervention Turquoise launched by France with the blank check of the UN two and a half months after the start of the massacres. The French soldiers allowed the genocidaires to take refuge in neighboring Zaire. “Ultimately, Operation Turquoise contributed to the destabilization of the region and saved few lives compared to those swept away by the genocide,” they assert.
The American law firm, unlike the Duclert Commission, also looked into the attitude of France after the genocide to denounce its “camouflage” of the truth. Despite the opening of the archives by Emmanuel Macron, the lawyers regret that certain documents are still not available, despite their requests to Paris remained dead letters. They recall that many presumed responsible for the genocide are still refugees in France, like the widow of President Habyarimana.
On the other hand, the authors of the report submitted to Rwanda are careful not to recommend judicial follow-up to their investigative work. They note, however, that some countries have apologized for their conduct during the genocide in Rwanda. This is the case of Belgium, the former colonial power which exacerbated ethnic differences, or of the United States, which failed to prevent massacres. Now, more and more voices are calling Emmanuel Macron to such an act of repentance on behalf of France.