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In just 100 days between April 7 and July 4, 1994 , 800,000 men, women and children were killed in Rwanda. The reason: they were Tutsis or tried to oppose the killings themselves. The fastest genocide in history was followed by two decades of scars, impunity and concealment.
France protected numerous suspects of having planned and executed the massacres, manipulated evidence and diverted attention without apology. In March, a court judgment first tried to appease bilateral relations, and there are still 30 more cases awaiting trial in Paris which prosecute people for participating in genocide. More recently, Rwanda has vetoed the French presence at the 20th anniversary celebration of the national tragedy.
President Paul Kagame used an official speech on April 7 given in the the stadium Amaharo Kigali, to state for the third time in two weeks that France played a leading role in the massacres. Kagame has given interviews to the magazine Jeune Afrique and the newspaper Libération. During the second interview, he said: “France and Belgium played a nefarious role in the history of Rwanda, and contributed to the emergence of a genocidal ideology.”
But the harshest indictment was the first interview on March 27: “The Western powers would like Rwanda to be a normal country. But it is impossible. See the case of France. Twenty years later, the only criticism is that its effort did not do enough to prevent genocide”.
What president Kagame says is a fact, but hides the essential: the direct role of Belgium and France in the political preparation of the genocide, and the participation of the latter in its execution. France was not only a participant, it was an instigator. Ask the survivors of the slaughter of Bisesero in June 1994, and they will tell you what the French troops did during of Operation Turquoise. The French were undoubtedly accomplices in the massacre, even within the safe humanitarian zone.
The words of Kagame, the president who embodies the victory against the genocidal and the reawakening of Rwanda, have opened a new diplomatic crisis between Kigali and Paris. The conservative Alain Juppe, Foreign Minister François Mitterrand in 1994; and Laurent Fabius, the current socialist minister have expressed their discomfort, demonstrating that the block formed by the right and left agree on trying to mute the aberrations committed by the French in Rwanda.
Kagame has reason to be angry with Paris. He had invited President François Hollande to attend the celebration, but Paris decided to send against any institutional logic, its Minister of Justice, Christiane Taubira.
On Monday, local authorities in Rwanda indicated that the French ambassador was not “welcomed”. Soon after, the French issued a note saying that the memory of the victims must be celebrated, while boasting that “preventing genocide is a core element of the external action of France.”
The Secretary General of United Nations Ban Ki -moon, who was was in Kigali, acknowledged that genocide is “an embarrassment ” to the UN: ” We should have done more. The Blue helmet peacekeepers were withdrawn from Rwanda at a time when they were more needed.”
The absence of France erodes the image of African liberation that Hollande has tried to construct after the French military intervention in Mali and the Central African Republic. Edwy Plenel, Mediapart director, recalled that France took half a century to assume direct responsibility in this Holocaust, and wondered why Hollande has not gone to Rwanda to “apologize, apologize and tell the truth” admitting that “France – that is, its president, its government, its state and its army, were accomplices of genocide.”
Belgium made the exercise of contrition in 2000, and repeated it in 2004. In 2010, Nicolas Sarkozy acknowledged the “blindness” of France, without going beyond.
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