GASABO - The government yesterday released the long-awaited report on the alleged role played by France in the 1994 Genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda.
The three-volume scathing report was unveiled by the Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, who was flanked by Louise Mushikiwabo, Information Minister. Hundreds of people thronged the Ministry of Justice conference room to hear the findings.
The so-called ‘Mucyo Commission’ report names former French President Francois Mitterand, his son Jean Christophe Mitterand and several members of his cabinet as well as senior military officials as among those who should be held responsible for the slaughter of over a million people in 1994.
The 500-page report which took over a year-and-a-half to compile, singles out 20 French military and 13 political figures it says have a solid criminal case to answer. It sums up the role played by France prior, during and after the Genocide.
Among the accusations against the French was that they not only gave material and diplomatic support to the genocidal forces, they also took part in the killings and mass rape of Tutsi refugees.
“It also shows the role played by France to protect the genocidal forces and to make it very difficult to apprehend them and bring them to justice,” pointed out Karugarama.
“French soldiers were involved in assassination of Tutsis and Hutus accused of hiding Tutsis. French soldiers committed many rapes against Tutsi women survivors.
These sexual abuses particularly targeting Tutsi women survivors were systematic; in other words, frequent, tolerated and a product of the standards and practices of the institution to which the men who committed them belonged,” says the hard-hitting report.
The government commissioned the report in early 2006 when it set up an independent commission of inquiry led by former Minister of Justice, Jean de Dieu Mucyo.
Karugarama was hedgy on whether they would institute criminal proceedings against those named in the report, but observers think that will be the next course of action.
“This is a report of inquiry; it is not a criminal file. It is not a statement of guilt but on the basis of this report, other things can follow,” said the minister.
“We do not want to use this report as a comprehensive statement of guilt. You will see in this report a list of high ranking personalities who are implicated in this report, both in the political establishment and the military,” he revealed.
Karugarama denied claims that the Mucyo commission was in retaliation to recent indictments against important Rwanda officials by Spanish and French judges explaining that the Mucyo Commission was set up before the two European indictments.
“The indictments were very unprofessional and political rather than judicial,” he said, adding that the Mucyo report was a “good basis for potential charges against individuals and states but not good enough in itself”.
Information minister Mushikiwabo on her part said that France should be able to use the report to get to the bottom of the truth.
“Rwanda is committed to this report setting the historical record straight,” she said.
Not only did the French actively support the genocidal government, the report revealed, they also set in motion the mass movement of people towards the former Zaire.
“French troops adopted a scorched earth policy. They ordered local authorities in the three prefectures of Cyangugu, Kibuye and Gikongoro to encourage the Hutu population to flee simultaneously to Zaire en masse.
“They also clearly requested to have Tutsi who had infiltrated in displaced population camps brought to them and have Interahamwe kill at least some of them. At different places in the three prefectures, they let Interahamwe kill Tutsi under their eyes.”