In 2004, during the 10th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, France’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Renaud Muselier, staged a walk out when President Paul Kagame mentioned France’s role in arming and training government soldiers and militias who carried out the Genocide.
Ten years later, in 2014, during the 20th anniversary of the Genocide, when the entire world joined Rwandans to remember the victims, only one country was missing: France.
The then France Justice Minister, Christiane Taubira, who had been designated by her Government to represent her country, cancelled the attendance due to a comment President Kagame had made in Jeune Afrique a few days before.
It should be noted that President Kagame said at the time that France and Belgium had a direct role during the Genocide against the Tutsi but the comments didn’t prevent Belgium Foreign Affairs Minister, Didier Reynders, from attending the ceremony.
On top of that, during the 10th Commemoration, Belgium Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt officially apologised for his country’s role in Rwanda’s turbulent history.
France used both military and political intervention to support the genocidal government before, during and after the Genocide. Now it has changed tact and is using justice to turn victims into perpetrators.
Up to now, France has not digested RPF’s victory over the genocidal forces. Since 1990, French troops under “Operation Noroît” were in charge of artillery alongside President Juvenal Habayrimana’s troops in fighting the RPA.
And, during the campaign to stop the Genocide, French troops shot at RPA soldiers while protecting genocidaires in the “Operation Turquoise” zone.
In June 1994, the then President of France, Francois Mitterand, briefed the media and claimed that, since 1990, French troops never fired a single bullet in Rwanda.
He was with the late Nelson Mandela discussing various problems in Africa, especially Rwanda.
French judicial onslaught to deny it’s role during the Genocide and shifting blame on the RPF began on March 27, 1998 when Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere opened investigations into President Habyarimana’s plane crash.
It followed a complaint filed on August 31, 1997 by the daughter of the co-pilot of Habyarimana’s plane, Jean-Pierre Minaberry, who died in the crash. The choice of the date was not entirely coincidental.
In March 1998, following a series of very compromising articles published by Le Figaro journalist Patrick de Saint-Exupéry, many people, including French nationals, for the very first time learnt about France’s role during the Genocide against Tutsi. Saint-Exupéry was in Rwanda during Operation Turquoise period in June 1994.
Bruguiere’s investigation was also meant to cover up France’s role during the Genocide, following an appeal by a group of French intellectuals published on March 3, 1998 in a French newspaper Libération to set up a commission of inquiry to look in the role of France during the Genocide. In March 2004, during preparations for the 10th Genocide commemoration, Bruguiere, with his government’s approval, leaked his report to Le Monde newspaper which reported that President Kagame had a direct role in the shooting down of Habyarimana’s plane but the article didn’t give any details or evidence.
Le Monde had said that the findings would be published “soon”, but it took two years to make them public.
Analysts agree that the aim of the article by Le Monde was in reality to sabotage the tenth commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi which the international community was about to mark in a special manner.
Is French judiciary independent?
On October 9, 2010, Le Monde published a story based on documents leaked by WikiLeaks that the investigation was coordinated by l'Elysée (French President’s Office) and the green light to publish it was given by Quai d'Orsay, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The publication of the report was accelerated by Rwanda’s intention to set up a commission of inquiry to look into the role of France during the Genocide. During Bruguiere’s investigation, France was the investigator, the prosecutor and the judge.
Bruguiere’s report was published on November 23, 2006, when the ICTR trial of ex-FAR senior officers, Theoneste Bagosora and Anatole Nsengiyumva, was reaching a delicate phase when high-ranking French officers who had worked hand in hand with the exFAR had been invited to give evidence in the duo’s defence.
Bagosora’s lawyers had written to the ICTR seeking that Bruguiere report be used as a piece of evidence in his defence.
2019 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi. It will be a special year in preserving the memory of the Genocide, and going by what happened during the 10th and 20th commemorations, the event will be owned by the entire world.
As France always comes up with its version of the Genocide to the run up of each meaningful commemoration, no doubt another one is being cooked to sabotage the 25th Commemoration.
This is an open secret: it is the motive to reopen investigations into Habyarimana’s plane, they think it will help.
France may be militarily and economically powerful, but it doesn’t have the power to destroy the memory of the Genocide.Follow https://twitter.com/NoelKambanda