A French court recently approved a request to open former President François Mitterrand’s archives regarding Rwanda that will no doubt shed light on France’s role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The decision could not have fallen at a better time because on June 22, 1994, French sent 2,500 troops into Rwanda under the guise of Operation Turquoise.
At that time the genocidal government and army were on the run and forces of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) were nearly in full control of the country.
The French had sided with the Rwandan government from the word go; they supplied its forces with military equipment as well as training. When the transitional government began committing Genocide openly and on a large scale, it prevented France from intervening directly into the conflict.
So they came up with Operation Turquoise a humanitarian operation that would create a protective zone, but there was little humanitarian about it.
Even long before the UN had authorized Operation Turquoise, the French had already amassed troops and equipment in several towns across the border in Zaire, and they did not come light; Four Jaguar and Eight Mirage fighter planes, 100 APC (Armoured Personnel Carriers) a battery of 120mm mortars, ten helicopters and reconnaissance planes. They had come ready for war.
But as they were later to learn, the force that had, against all odds, pushed the genocidal government and its forces to Gisenyi was no pushover. The rest, as they say, is history.
Turquoise is a major chapter in the Genocide that is still veiled in cloak-and-dagger mysteries that could, at last, be elucidated by the Mitterrand archives, and maybe find closure for the survivors of the Genocide.