A delegation of French youth yesterday returned home after a week-long visit, pledging to step up their campaign to expose and denounce their country’s role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
They also promised to mobilise other Europeans to join the fight against Genocide denial.
Benjamin Abtan, head of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (Egam), an umbrella of youth wings of political organizations and students’ unions, said they would make sure “France will not be absent from the commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi.”
“We shall ask for clear political discourse on French participation in the Genocide. Secondly, we’ll ask for all the archives to be opened so that historians can do their work easily and so that we can know all the facts,” Abtan said.
Abtan admitted that the challenge they face is enormous due to the fact that people with ties to the former genocidal regime in Rwanda are still living “and still influential.”
“It will be a fight, together with other organizations, against the influence of these people of course more in the main political parties which were in power at the time. Definitely, we have no doubt about the fact that there is already a movement which is growing and the main cause of the whole initiative is to have the issue become mainstream or an internal political issue.”
Sacha Ghozlan, president of the Union of Jewish Students in France, said they will carry on the fight they started in 2006, together with other groups, including journalists, to preserve the memory of the Genocide and fight extremism.
France is also home to many Rwandan Genocide fugitives.
“We shall continue to mobilise people such that Genocide is acknowledged and commemorated in France. We shall equally continue to sensitise the French and international public opinion on the question of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda,” Ghozlan said.
“We’ll not falter in this march for the search of truth and justice and in determining the responsibility of France with respect to those in power in 1994”.
Đorđe Bojović, of the youth initiative for human rights in Serbia, said he is taking a similar message home in the Balkans, a geographical region of Southeast Europe predominantly inhabited by Bulgarians, Croats, Bosniaks, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Serbs, Slovenes, Romanians, Albanians, Turks and other ethnic groups.
“We have to know what happened, who is responsible, and we can’t deal with all these topics without knowing about the Genocide in Srebrenica, ethnic cleansing in Croatia, and other things that happened in wars elsewhere,” Bojović said.
“I am going to speak about all that I have learned and found out from here in Rwanda. This is a great initiative for France on one side but also for the Balkans and other countries that have similar problems, to see their responsibilities and to see to it that the old criminals that committed Genocide and other crimes against humanity face justice.”