The latest antics by France are part of a strategy to avoid responsibility for its role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the Executive Secretary for the National Commission for the fight against the Genocide (CNLG) has said.
Dr Jean-Damascene Bizimana, who was reacting to recent media reports that French authorities intended to re-open a case on the death of former President Juvenal Habyarimana in 1994, said the European nation was trying hard to avoid responsibility of its role before, during and after the Genocide.
“There are so many ways in which they have done that. For instance, they continue to refuse to extradite Genocide suspects to Rwanda under the pretext that, in 1994, genocide was not punishable by Rwandan laws. That, of course, is a way of protecting genocidaires because even ICTR [International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda] was established by the UN after the Genocide. Also, Rwanda was already a signatory to international conventions that punish the genocide crime,” he said.
ICTR was a UN court instituted to try masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The mandate of the tribunal expired last year.
CNLG, yesterday, released a document highlighting the role of different French envoys accredited to Rwanda between 1990 and 1994, in the Genocide 22 years ago.
Bizimana said his office would continue to release more evidence-based information detailing the role of France’s different levels of administration in the Genocide against the Tutsi.
“Today, we have released one showing the role of the French ambassadors from October 1990 to April 1994 but we are going to release more. We have evidence, especially in writing, indicating that, for instance, two envoys knew what was going on and even put it in writing in letters to their foreign affairs ministry and presidency,” he said.
Bizimana, a researcher who has extensively written about the Genocide, is the former vice-president of a committee that was instituted to investigate the role of France in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The probe team, that in 2008 conducted a series of public screening of different witnesses – including French nationals, researchers, and seasoned journalists _, discovered overwhelming evidence pointing to France’s role in the Genocide.
Tom Ndahiro, a genocide researcher, said more than 20 years since the beginning of the preparations of the Genocide, those involved are still at work.
“The French are haunted by their role in the Genocide, having helped the Genocide perpetrators before, during and even after. The world knows; if it was something that was not known, they wouldn’t be behaving like this,” Ndahiro said.
“The facts are too clear to be disputed. The persecution continues. It is over 23 years now but the very government that was the ally of the genocidaires is still there and it still identifies itself with them.”
In 2006, the French authorities, without interviewing a single Rwandan officer, issued an indictment against some nine officers formerly with the Rwanda Patriotic Front on allegations of having a role in shooting down Habyarimana’s plane.
A subsequent probe by another French judge, Marc Trevidic, found no evidence to this effect.