Recently, the Government of France announced it had launched an investigation into the possible complicity of the biggest French bank, BNP Paribas, in the Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994.
The role of different French institutions in the Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda is no longer an allegation that deserves investigation, but a fact that only needs action, a long awaited legal action.
Yet France will not take action or prosecute those who committed genocide against the Tutsi.
Because the French government did actively and directly participate in the Genocide against Tutsi, it trained and armed the killers, and went ahead to deny the Genocide and shield the perpetrators. You cannot expect justice from perpetrators, would you?
Mr Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France in 2011, admitted the “role” of French government in the Genocide in Rwanda, terming it as “blindness before a genocidal regime”.
The French judiciary recently ruled to keep secret the country’s archives about Rwanda and Paris’s role in Rwanda, particularly from 1990-1994, during which the Genocide took place.
It is better to talk here of “judiciary” of France because they did not administer “justice”.
Had they been “just”, they would have ordered for full disclosure of Mitterrand’s archives of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
The so-called “secret defense” is nothing more or less than the “Tutsi genocide secret”, which is an open secret.
There are questions to be asked; if France is clean and innocent with regard to the Genocide against the Tutsi, why would they resist declassification of the related archives? Why do they accept to be taken to court over some boxes of papers, which are not essentially about their country? These questions may look absurd, but they are critical and substantial.
When the BNP Paribas was, in June 2017, publicly accused of complicity in the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, maybe some of us were surprised. We should not. We should rather be surprised if the bank was not involved.
The initials BNP stand for Banque Nationale de Paris (National Bank of Paris), which was created by the Government of France in 1966. From 1993 to 2000, Mr Jean-Laurent Bonnafé was its Chief Executive Officer and Director.
And, in the year 2000, BNP merged with “Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas s.a”, Paribas, to become BNP Paribas.
The Government of France had been significantly supporting the genocidal government of Habyarimana – politically and economically. They also provided military training and equipment to the then army (Ex-FAR) before and during the Genocide.
In April 1994, the United Nations declared an arms embargo against the Government of Rwanda, because it had been established that it was committing a genocide against the Tutsi. France, as a member of the UN Security Council, was among the countries that adopted the resolution.
Yet France was at the same time supporting the forces that were then committing the Genocide!
In June 1994, in the midst of that arms embargo against the Government of Rwanda, the French Bank BNP (now BNP Paribas) accepted a request made by Rwanda’s ex-FAR Colonel Bagosora Theoneste, through the National Bank of Rwanda, worth 1.3 million Euros, for the purchase of 80 tonnes of weapons. Officially, the weapons were for Zaire (current Democratic Republic of Congo), but they were transferred to Rwanda.
Now, you may wonder if the government of Zaire did not have its own national bank or if Bagosora was their authorised signatory. Did Zaire (DR Congo) open accounts at BNR for this transaction? And what was France’s role in all this?
The sale contract was negotiated and signed in Seychelles by, among others, Col. Bagosora, who was coordinating genocide operations countrywide, and was later convicted and sentenced to 35 years in jail by the UN-backed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for genocide.
The arms were delivered from South Africa to Goma towards the end of June 1994 and then sent to Rwanda to be used by the genocidaires.
The underlying concerns are about the dirty deals between the then French and Rwandan governments related to the execution of the Genocide against the Tutsi. There are important questions surrounding the relationship between the Col Bagosora and the French National Bank of Paris (BNP) in the supply of arms to the genocidaires in violation of the arms embargo by a French State owned and run bank – which arms were distributed by the French military from Goma to Zone Turquoise (a French military mission in Rwanda deployed at the height of the Genocide, which would later help the genocidal machinery to safely flee to the Congo as Kigali fell to the RPF forces).
Without the crucial funds transfer that BNP authorised in favour of Col Bagosora, the tonnes of weapons would never have been delivered to Rwanda through Goma, and they would not have been used to perpetrate the Genocide against the Tutsi.
The Government of France can’t investigate the role of the French National Bank (BNP) in the Genocide against the Tutsi, because the hunter would be ‘hunting himself’. Nonetheless, the truth shall always be there to be told and France can’t cover up indefinitely.
The writer is a Kigali-based political analyst and a Pan-Africanist.
The views expressed in this article are of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Times.