67-year-old, retired high school principal, Alain Gauthier and his Rwandan wife, Dafroza Gauthier started the organisation, ‘Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda’ (CPCR), in 2001 to ensure that Genocide suspects living in France and across Europe are brought to book.
A new sister non-governmental organisation, “Les Amis du CPCR,” (ACPCR), was recently set up to give support to enable them track genocide fugitives. He talked to Sunday Magazine’s Sharon Kantengwa about the long difficult journey of pursuing genocide fugitives.
Why and when did you decide to form CPCR?
CPCR was created in 2010; I and my wife Dafroza have been personally committed to this fight since 1997.
There has been only one trial in France that of Pascal Simbikangwa, convicted of genocide and sentenced 25 years in prison in March 2014. He appealed and the trial will take place from 25 October to 9 December.
We were of course delighted with this conviction and came to devote a lot of work on this. But we cannot say we’re satisfied. A second trial of Octavian Ngenzi and Tito Barahira and two former mayors of Kabarondo will be held in Paris in May. What we denounce is of course the slowness of French justice.But that will not discourage us.
What are some of the challenges that you are facing as an organisation?
Now that we are moving towards two new trials in 2016, we face a huge challenge, finding the money to pay our lawyers; we have been relying on volunteers for the last 15 years. The other difficulty is that we work in a context that is not really favourable.
The 1994 genocide against the Tutsi does not interest many people in France, and the political class continues to not want to recognize the role of French officials in the genocide. And also the collection of evidence is becoming increasingly difficult. Sometimes the witnesses disappear or they do not want to speak making it more difficult.
What are some of the best moments that you have had in this struggle?
Undoubtedly the Simbikangwa trial: this is the first time that someone is condemned in France for genocide. We also had a few years ago, the satisfaction of seeing the former ‘sous-prefect’ of Gisagara, Dominique Ntawukuriryayo sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
What are you currently working on to give hope to Rwandans and genocide survivors?
All the work we are doing to the SCRC should give hope to survivors of the genocide, but also to all Rwandans. Rwanda must rebuild with all Rwandans because genocide concerns them all. The upcoming trial will restore dignity to victims, to comfort their families because justice is an essential way. Impunity is the bed of Holocaust denial, and that no one should tolerate.
Why form the ACPR?
We created the ACPCR to enable all Rwandans to contribute financially to have all genocide fugitives brought to justice. There is such urgency to the extent that the trial of Ngenzi and Barahira will take place from May 10 to July 1.
ACPCR has however set other goals like supporting people lodge civil suits against genocide suspects and informing Rwandans about pursuit of genocide fugitives in France and possibly gather testimonies and other activities. We have great confidence in this that is under the leadership of Dr. Hezekiah Rwabuhihi.Follow https://twitter.com/SharonKMugabo