Lawmakers have asked visiting French Senator Alain Fauconnier to beseech the French Senate to stop giving space to deniers of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
On a personal initiative, Fauconnier met legislators who are part of the standing committees on foreign affairs, cooperation and security in both the Rwandan Senate and Lower Chamber of Parliament.
He is part of a delegation of more than 20 French citizens grouped under RBF-France-Forum de la Mémoire (Remembrance Forum), in the country on a study visit in honour of victims of the 1994 Genocide.
His interaction with the legislators in the Senate Hall at Parliament Building centred around efforts needed to shade light on the role of France in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and how both Rwandan and French legislators can help in that regard.
It was clear from the presentations given to him by Rwandan senators Tito Rutaremara and Jean Damascène Bizimana that the issue of Genocide deniers remains a challenge for Rwandans, 20 years after the killings that claimed a million lives.
A case in point that the senators brought to Fauconnier’s attention is an annual forum organised by a French group called “DEMOCRATIES” at the premises of the French Senate in Paris.
This forum, the legislators said, gives the floor to elements who deny the 1994 Genocide every year in April when the rest of the world commemorates the Genocide.
Among other speakers who were scheduled to appear at the forum this month were Filip Reyntjens, a Belgian professor of law and politics, Carla del Ponte, the former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and Colonel Luc Marchal, a retired officer of the armed forces of Belgium who was a senior officer in the Belgian peacekeeping contingent during the Genocide.
Anti-genocide activists in France described what the panelists discussed at the “DEMOCRATIES” panel as denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
“It’s a serious problem. Don’t take it lightly because it has happened three times now,” Rutaremara told his French counterpart.
Fauconnier said that he was not aware of the forum because many things happen at the Senate building but promised to deliver the message to his colleagues.
“There is no doubt about the reality of this Genocide and I would like to assure you that France supports the people who suffered in this Genocide,” the senator said.
Rutaremara said Rwanda had no problem with ordinary French citizens and that it’s only a few people in the French government and military that Rwanda has issues with.
“It’s those few people in the government and in the army who cause us problems,” he said.
Senators Fauconnier and Rutaremara said that both Rwandan and French parliamentarians will invite each other to visit the two countries as part of understanding outstanding issues in the relations between the two countries.