When the Trévidic Report came out, I was one of many Rwandans who rejoiced in the truth finally coming out and vindicating the Rwandan government about the shooting down of the plane carrying former Rwandan leader Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart, Cyprien Ntaryamira.
The latest report, by experts commissioned by French Judges Marc Trévidic and Nathalie Poux, brings to a close the mystery surrounding this plane crash, and importantly, refutes a 2006 report by another French judge – Jean-Louis Bruguiere – accusing the Rwandan government of assassinating these two former presidents.
Seventeen years down the road, it is heartening to know that the world now knows what we, Rwandans, have known all along – that the RPF (formerly a rebel movement) was not behind these false allegations.
This report disproves claims of genocide revisionists and dissidents who have been harping on over the years about how it was senior members of the Rwandan Patriotic Front/Army who shot down the plane and, therefore, triggered the Genocide.
It has always maddened me how this narrative has been used as a reason as to how the Genocide begun, conveniently ignoring the mountains of machetes that were stockpiled long before the crash; the list of Tutsis to be exterminated that were already compiled and the training of the Interahamwe militia that took place way before the crash.
In any case, the Trévidic Report is the first professionally compiled report regarding the plane crash, outside Rwanda. Compared to Bruguire’s investigations whereby the investigative team never set foot in the country, the Trévidic commissioned experts who actually came down to Rwanda, undertook comprehensive investigations and met with a wide array of witnesses before they concluded their findings.
I was still basking in this aura of national triumph (for a triumph it is overcoming baseless accusations of Rwandan leadership), until I listened to President Kagame’s words last weekend, at the Annual Thanksgiving Prayer Breakfast. His question on this matter was, “have we been waiting to be cleared by a French judge?
Were we, all along, waiting to be absolved by a foreign judge?” Indeed, why is it that it is foreign judges who not only lay claim on the Rwandan government being guilty of the assassination of former president Habyarimana, but, five years later, are responsible for contesting those allegations? Where is the Rwandan voice in all of this?
We compiled the Mutsinzi Report which findings of the Trévidic Report confirmed, but why is it that the Trévidic Report is the one that has been accepted by countries and international bodies, but not one by Rwanda? This was a sobering moment, and reflective of Africa’s reality that is mostly shaped by others than ourselves.
On one hand we have international courts engaged in issuing arrest warrants against our leaders, and on the other, we have African countries’ socio-economic landscape drawn by foreign powers doling out aid. This, and a host of other undignified scenarios, is what cut short this moment of celebration regarding the Trévidic Report.
It is undoubtedly a fine thing that international investigations conclude what we, in Rwanda, have been telling the world for the last seventeen years. What is food for thought – and action – is why it took us seventeen years to be heard, and just a couple of months by France on an issue that is concerned with Rwandans.
As Africans and, as Rwandans, we must start taking charge shaping our realities, and not relying on others to do so for us. How to do this is where this journey begins.