So it has been established once again. It was Camp Kanombe where the SAM 16 missiles that brought down president Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane on the evening of April 6, 1994 were launched from.
The findings presented to French judges Marc Trévidic and Nathalie Poux, on Tuesday, set the world abuzz with one clear thing – the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) had nothing to do with the attack.
The report received global coverage with some media houses clearly showing disappointment that Kigali had been cleared of any wrongdoing, though it vindicated Rwanda’s own Mutsinzi Report, released in January 2010.
Some expect the Trévidic Report to close a highly controversial chapter that has previously strained relations between Kigali and Paris, and marks the beginning of another major step – bringing the perpetrators to book.
To Genocide survivors, for example, the report should put an end to all the conspiracy theories and also form a platform for justice to take its course.
Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, the president of the association of genocide survivors Ibuka, said the report should bring to an end all the speculation about the circumstances under which the plane was shot down, an incident that was used as a pretext to commit the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, which killed more than one million people.
“This (the report) removes whatever theories that were being advanced in the past. Now that the truth is out, the details should be available for all to see,”
“This is a report, unlike the one by Judge Jean Louis Bruguière (a French judge, who, in 2006, blamed the attack on the RPF), that was done with extra care, the experts came on the ground, interviewed witnesses and, therefore, the report contains details that are worth believing,” Dusingizemungu observed.
He further noted that people had been brainwashed by Bruguière to believe that the shooting was carried out by RPF, thus calling for an awareness campaign to spread the truth.
“To me, this should be the final report to come out, the methodology was clear, the expertise was available and, most importantly, the experts were on the ground, unlike Bruguière. The investigation was detailed and lengthy.
“Most importantly, this is a report from the French themselves, who were in the past known to block whatever truth there was about the genocide. To see that the report comes from them is worth commending,” Dusingizemungu mentioned.
He added that many Genocide survivors, who were adults at the time, clearly remember the clandestine plans and motives of Habyarimana’s inner circle, better known as ‘Akazu’, and, therefore, the latest findings did not constitute a surprise.
Dusingizemungu believes that once the full report is out, it should make it possible to bring the perpetrators to book.
“The report will show one part, but for the truth to come out completely, the people involved should be brought before the courts for justice to prevail.
“Also important; the report confirms that the Genocide had been planned earlier. It was an inside job and this should send a message to the international community. It should also cement the cases of the top military officers in Arusha,” he added.
He added that the report should set a new precedent to re-assess the outstanding cases at the Internal Criminal Tribunal FOR Rwanda (ICTR) since it confirms that the Genocide had been planned, and should be a basis for all countries to recognise the Genocide against the Tutsi and punish those who deny it.
Not far from Dusingizemungu’s sentiment, Odette Kayirere, the Executive Secretary of the Genocide Widows Association, Avega, said the report brings truth to light.
She warned Genocide revisionists and deniers to shelve their theories and let Genocide survivors heal their wounds.
“It has been years of trauma; it is like they have been rubbing salt in the wounds of people already left devastated by the Genocide. So now that the truth is out, let there be a chance for people to heal.
“It also sends a strong warning to Genocide perpetrators from wherever they are hiding; They shouldn’t be comfortable. It is time for justice to fully take its course,” Kayirere said.
According to Egide Gatari, the national coordinator of Student Survivors of the Genocide (AERG), the shooting of the plane should not be perceived as the cause of the Genocide.
“It should be clear that the Genocide had been planned earlier. There were killings of the Tutsi, way before the shooting of the plane.