PARIS - In an interview given this Thursday, Aug, 7th 2008, to journalist Olivier Rogez for “Radio France International” (RFI), French Admiral Jacques Lanxade, Army Chief of Staff in 1994 at the time of the genocide against the Tutsi of Rwanda, answered the accusations formulated against him within the report emanating from the, “Rwanda Independent National Commission” concerning the involvement of France in the said genocide, a document made public on Aug, 5th 2008.
Referring to an article published in the Feb 2nd, 1998 issue of the French daily “Liberation”, the report mentions “according to private statements made to journalists by a French officer who wished to remain unnamed, the orders not to stop the massacres were given by Admiral Lanxade and/or by General Christian Quesnot.”
The document states an extract of the said private statements: “Before leaving for Rwanda, I used to come up to Lanxade to collect my notes, and then take my orders from the Private Staff of the President of the Republic”.
Speaking on RFI, the French Admiral, today retired, denied giving such an order as not to stop the first massacres that occurred at the time when, starting on April 9th 1994, operation Amaryllis was deployed to evacuate foreign residents.
“This is totally untrue”, he declared on RFI, before proceeding: “The purpose of Amaryllis was to evacuate the French, and more generally, the foreign residents of Kigali in a period of extreme tension, but, according to the Admiral, there was at that time “no hint (of massacres), there were combats in Kigali between the Rwanda Army and the RPF” (Rwandan Patriotic Front).
The presumably involved officer added that “as in all these combats, in these regions, there were on both sides exactions and the mission of the French army was most clearly: you must evacuate foreign residents and then draw back. That is what we did.”
But, on Jan 25th 2008, the “Rwanda News Agency” (RNA) had revealed, through its correspondent in France, who is no other but the author of the present article, a confidential note that the French parliamentary mission of information on Rwanda, had not, as far as it was concerned, deemed worth while making public in 1998, and which in a perspective with the latest declarations of Admiral Lanxade, shows the purpose of the latter to mislead public opinion.
This note (N° 018/3°RPIMa/EM/CD), that Officer Henri Poncet, then commanding operation Amaryllis, had sent him on April 27th 2008, expresses the “permanent preoccupation of not showing the media French soldiers limiting access to mustering points only to foreigners on Rwanda territory.” The document indicates these are the provisions consigned in Directive n°008/DEF/EMA of April 10th.
In the same note, Poncet states the other “permanent care of not showing the media French soldiers not intervening to have the massacres they were close witnesses of be stopped.”
And it is clearly to his superior, Admiral Lanxade, that this note, in which he expressed his respect of the orders consisting in not intervening to have the massacres stopped, was sent.
And Admiral Lanxade could not ignore that it was then genocide against the Tutsi. Indeed, the very order of launching Amaryllis Operation, dated April 8th 1994, states that “to avenge the death of president Habyarimana (...) the members of the (Rwanda) presidential Guard carried out as soon as the 7th in the morning reprisal actions in the town of Kigali” The document also states clearly that these reprisals involved the “elimination of the Tutsi”.
Thus, the order of Operation Amaryllis states that the French Staff, from where it originates, at least knew as soon as April 8th, that the genocide against the Tutsi had just started and that it was organised by the temporary Rwanda government, formed within the very French embassy in Kigali.
The recent declaration of Lanxade according to which there would have been then “exactions on both sides” is hence, with regards to the content of the order of Amaryllis Operation, equally emanating from the French Defence Ministry, a sheer lie.
Rwanda News Agency/Agence Rwandaise d’Information (ARI/RNA).
Contact: Serge Farnel” <email@example.com