Franco - Rwandan relations have been stuck in a time warp, especially after the 1994 genocide. France has chosen to bury her head in the sand, hoping that her activities in that dark spring would never come fully to light.
Rwanda, on the other hand, presumably for geo - strategic reasons, has for a long time, chosen to look beyond that role and move on, trying to re establish better relations with an important member of the Security Council.
This state of mutual illusion has been shattered by the publication of the Mucyo Commission Report on France’s role during the Rwandan genocide, and that can only be good for Franco- Rwandan relations in the long run.
The charges laid at the feet of France are heavy and cannot be ignored, least of all by France herself. Blanket denials will not do.
The Rwandan Commissioners have detailed evidence, including eye witness accounts, not only on the French involvement but total complicity, in the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
Rwandans, the French, Belgians, the British, journalists, priests, soldiers, and others, have provided chilling testimonies of this involvement.
Unlike the Quilès Commission in France, the Rwandan Commissioners have come to the conclusion, based in part, on material Quilès et al unearthed, that France was complicit in the genocide.
The report documents French knowledge of preparations for the genocide. French leaders cannot therefore say, as former President Clinton did, that they did not know. Not only did French political leaders know, they also participated in the preparation of the apocalypse.
Generals and Admirals Huchon, Questnot, Germanos and Lanxade, Colonels Didier Tauzin ( alias Thibault), and René Galinie, Ambassadors Georges Martres, and Jean Michel Marlaud; political figures like the Mitterrand, Alain Juppé, Marcel Debarge, Paul Dijoud and Dominique De Villepin not only knew what was happening, they provided part of the ideological superstructure for the genocide.
In the name of Raison d’Etat, that dispassionate practice of foreign policy devoid of any moral imperatives, they sanctioned the elimination of a section of the Rwandan population at the altar of perceived French interests, and Anglo-Saxon angst.
These figures and the others most involved in the genocide, also allegedly supported the Rwandan armed forces and genocidal militia (the Interahamwe), in the execution of genocide. The report details dates, places of training of the militia.
From Gabiro, Nyakinama to Bigogwe, French officials trained this militia in the doctrine and practice of ‘total war’ a euphemism in the Rwandan context, for genocide. The training was carried out by elite elements of the French military and security establishment.
Lists of the Tutsi to be exterminated during the genocide were updated using advanced electronic information systems installed at the Criminal Investigations Department of the Habyarimana government by French officers.
Other French officers participated in the triage of the Tutsi designated for murder, at various roadblocks they manned.
Arms and other war materiel were delivered to the Rwandan government during the genocide and after.
The Commission provides documentary and other evidence for these practices. This evidence cannot be ignored. Perhaps the most disturbing account of the Commission report is their documented evidence of atrocities committed by officers of the French led Operation Turquoise.
It has been common knowledge that France duped the Security Council into authorizing Turquoise; ostensibly to stop the slaughter of the Tutsi, but in reality to stop the RPF advance and provide a safe haven for the defeated genocidal government to re arm and regroup.
This is serious enough. What has not been widely documented is the gratuitous violence French soldiers and officers committed against the helpless Tutsi.
The Mucyo Commission heard horrifying stories of killings, rape and the willful refusal to come to the help of the targeted group in danger.
Foot soldiers of the Operation had been erroneously informed that they had come to the aid of the Hutu who were being slaughtered by the Tutsi. They soon found out the opposite was true.
Indeed, former militia men involved in the genocide testify of their cooperation with these officers in the killings of suspected Tutsi…and in the provision of Tutsi women to be used as sex slaves by French officers.
Some of these poor women are still alive and live with the horrible trauma of the dehumanising experience. Consequently, France cannot, and should not ignore their testimony, or their suffering.
But perhaps, that is asking for too much. The French establishment has come out with blanket denials of the Commission’s findings, even before they have read the report.
Some have labeled the accusations “unacceptable!” Unacceptable to whom, you may legitimately ask? To the millions of Rwandans who perished? To the thousands of survivors who live with the memory of the crimes committed against them?
To French citizens who have been kept in the dark on the activities of their government during those dark years? To those who agitate that justice be carried out?
The Mucyo Commission has shattered the illusion of moral righteousness French political and military figures have clothed their activities in 1994 Rwanda with.
After reading the report, when I think of the French officials and officers involved in the Rwandan apocalypse, I can only paraphrase Pope Urban VIII’s ambivalent epitaph to Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal de Richelieu, the God father of Raison d’Etat: “If there is a God, these figures will have much to answer for. If not….Well, they have led a successful life so far.”
I trust Rwanda and the International Community will have the courage to lend God a hand, and bring them to justice.
Contact: Job_Jabiro@ yahoo.co.uk