France is currently in the rotational European Union (EU) Presidency. Rwanda this week released the much anticipated Mucyo Commission report (Jean de Mucyo is a former French justice minister who chaired the Commission); that details France’s collusion in the 1994 genocide of Tutsi in which within a100 days over one million people were massacred.
The world hung its head in shame vowing; ‘Never Again.’
But ‘Never Again’; is an empty statement in the absence of justice for the Rwandan’s who suffered the genocide’s inhumanity.
In this regard France’s response to the Mucyo Commission is under world wide scrutiny. More-so the EU currently under her leadership; given the gravity of the irrefutable evidence Rwanda has produced, this development serves as a test on the EU’s collective leadership’s integrity and its standing on the world stage.
The evidence at hand should be taken seriously; necessitating urgent EU action against its Presidency. Take the intercepted letter written in June, 1998, by Colonel Gilles Bonsang Commander, of the 7th Marine Infantry Regiment, written to General Yves Germanos
Chief of Staff, Special Forces: “I would like to inform you that the total expenses registered since 14 October, 1997 amounts to 23 million French francs, and this is uniquely for the groups we support.
These are Liberation Army of Rwanda (ALIR): 2,300 men, EX FAR: 1,565 men and lastly Interahamwe: 1,250 men.”
What more can Rwanda say?
In this regard any action by the EU will be a confirmation of its foreign policy stand and commitment to core democratic values/principles; to do with transparency, accountability and justice. Principles it is quick to admonish its partners in the developing countries for not adhering to.
The African Union stands accused of shielding despots in its leadership ranks, greatly denting the image of the African body.
In this vein let us see if EU institutions, from her Parliament, Commission, Member States and Civil Society; are more attuned to democratic accountability especially where those who are leading them are concerned.
In short will Europe materialise the ‘Never Again’ vow by ensuring Rwanda gets justice?
Failure to act further threatens the moral authority and standing of the international body; carrying the long term consequence of its inability to be heard when it comes to censuring any other country accused of human rights abuse.
Europe would have lost her already tainted moral cane to whip that erring country.
Rwanda is challenging the pervasive culture of impunity running through the veins of most western countries; by presenting the world’s justice systems with overwhelming, undeniable evidence of the great wrong committed against her people, by France and her local allies.
Disbanding France’s self serving notion of moral purity.
Historian Andrew Wallis, who also submitted evidence to the Mucyo Commission narrates; “Witnesses, some only 12 at the time, testified to being raped by French troops from Operation Turquoise in the refugee camp set up for Tutsi survivors at Cyangugu. Belgian and German witnesses spoke of the training given to the Interahamwe and the financing of the interim government by Paris.”
What is put to the test here is as much about France’s willingness to bare all and apologise to those who suffered the inhumanity of genocide; as it is about the ability of the EU’s collective leadership to deal with one of its own.
France’s condescending attitude so far is an insult, to Rwandan’s, to African’s, and sane people of the world; the best she can do is shut up, if she lacks the back bone to show emotion or remorse towards the worlds most blood soaked nation.
Rwanda’s challenge is also a test of the international justice system. Can it work or will it work for a poor developing country? For the poor in the developing world?
In fact Peter Weiss, Vice President of the American based, Center for Constitutional Rights asserts that the international community’s collective failure to stop the genocide, compromises its response to the report, as there are more culprits; “So accusing France today of its complicity in those horrible events would logically lead to accusations, or self-accusations, against every other government, even though France’s role was more direct than the purely passive one of other countries.”
He further states; “However, there are other “key international players”, notably the media and the human rights and justice community. These are potentially powerful voices, which, if they take up the facts in the commission’s report could eventually lead to some form of accountability by France, and by the French officials named in the report who are still alive.”
Rwanda is waiting for world leaders to show commitment to the ‘Never Again’ vow by ensuring that France is brought to book, not tomorrow but today. That way the horrible chapter of genocide will be closed.