THOUGH France denies it, it equipped and trained the militias and the army who carried out the 1994 genocide.
There is massive evidence to show that French soldiers did not only refuse to intervene and stop the genocide, but also strongly aided the genocidaire when they were killing Rwandans.
The thought to charge the French has thus been long overdue. It is known by even a common man in Rwanda that; France supported the pre-genocide government, training soldiers and members of the Interahamwe, who then committed many atrocities during the genocide.
The French also helped genocidaires to escape during the “Operation Turquoise” so called safety-zone effort.
A couple of years ago, when I travelled to Bisesero, I was stunned by the evidences some survivors gave to affirm this assertion. They told me that they fought the militias until some strange people, they only call ‘Bazungu’ came in and overpowered them.
When you listen to what they (survivors) say carefully, you realize that the French were actively involved in aiding the genocidaire to kill Tutsis. My visit to Bisesero actually coincided with the Kenyan claim for British compensation.
Lawyers were campaigning to win more than £10m compensation from the UK Ministry of Defence for hundreds of Kenyan women who say they were raped by British soldiers.
The abuses were allegedly done when British army was training in areas around the foot of Mount Kenya.
Ultimately, a group of nomadic Kenyan herdsmen started receiving their share of a multi-million-pounds legal settlement from Britain’s Ministry of Defence. The Kenyans also won more than £4m ($7m) in compensation for injuries sustained on a firing range used by the British army.
My question again is this. If Kenyan lawyers negotiated compensation for rape and injuries they sustained from the British soldiers, why don’t we see Rwanda lawyers charge the French for their role in the genocide?
Rwandan lawyers owe us an explanation. Genocide is a great crime against humanity and nobody should escape justice.
The French soldiers cannot claim to have been ignorant about, what the people they trained were planning to do. For even Roméo Dallaire, the former Canadian general, who was in charge of the UN “peacekeeping” troops in Rwanda at the time of the 1994 genocide, had repeatedly warned his superiors that a massacre was coming and yet he was not as close as the French.
The former French president François Mitterrand supported the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide despite clear warnings that mass killings of the Tutsi population were being orchestrated. This is a great crime and someone in France must be held accountable.
Some sources (read Le Monde) have accepted that French president’s involvement was mainly due to the fact that he was obsessed with the danger of “Anglo-Saxon” influence in Rwanda.
I don’t know if an obsession with maintaining a French foothold in the region, justifies their involvement in the genocide. Our lawyers should ask!
Rwandan lawyers should closely follow the Mucyo commission so that they are equipped with enough evidence to pin the French who were involved in the Genocide.
The commission is also examining claims of serious human rights abuses, including rape and murder, by the French military.
The commission should further be strongly tasked to gather enough evidence from the notorious Operation Turquoise, the 1994 French military intervention that was ostensibly aimed at saving Rwandan lives.
The massive evidences on the ground are further supported by human rights groups in France, which have come out to accuse French soldiers who tricked thousands of Tutsi survivors out of hiding, and abandoned them to the Interahamwe militia.
Though for years, the French government denied any part in the genocide and more particularly when its own parliamentary enquiry in 1997, called the genocide one of the greatest tragedies of the century France underestimated, inquiry reveal that the former French president, François Mitterrand policy in Rwanda, was largely responsible for the 1994 Tutsi genocide.
Let the Mucyo commission be backed by the strong desire and courage from Rwandan lawyers to put on trial the French, suspected of having participated in one of the worst crimes against humanity, the 1994 Tutsi Genocide.