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“The bankruptcy of French policy contributed to the conditions for genocide”

“The bankruptcy of French policy in Rwanda has indeed contributed to the conditions for genocide”, estimated the president of the commission on the Rwandan genocide Vincent Duclert Friday March 26 on franceinfo. The group of researchers brought together by Emmanuel Macron to study the role of France in the Rwandan genocide delivered its report this Friday to the President of the Republic, he concludes with a “undeniable responsibility of France” in the massacre of Tutsis.

franceinfo. Your mission was to consult all the French archives relating to this Rwandan genocide, to contribute to a better understanding and knowledge of this genocide. Your conclusion is that the responsibility of French is undeniable?

Vincent Duclert. The responsibility of France is undeniable, first of all in the policy that it leads in Rwanda from 1990 to 1993. It should be noted that during the paroxysmal phase of the genocide, on April 7, France was not present militarily in the country. Rwanda. We first looked, it was the mandate of the President of the Republic, on the period 90-93. This is very important because at this time there is hope to bring democracy and peace to Rwanda. This is what François Mitterrand wants with the La Baule summit. But in fact, what we have seen thanks to the archives and by working as researchers is that basically it is a policy of alignment with the Habyarimana regime, surrounded by Hutu extremists, which will become radicalized. . France rejects any dialogue with the Tutsi exiled in Uganda as well as all the Hutu opposition and the Rwandan Patriotic Front and therefore its policy heightens inter-ethnic tensions and, in a certain way, reinforces the possibilities of genocide. But it has in no way the intentional complicity of the genocidal enterprise. None of the documents show it. From now on, we have to lay down international responsibilities: if we consider France an accomplice in the genocide, that also means that a large part of the international community, which had the means to see, who had the means to act, did not did not. I believe that we must really ask the question of this bankruptcy of French policy in Rwanda, which effectively contributed to the conditions of a genocide which, at any time, could be stopped.

You stress the central role in this blindness of François Mitterrand. Is it at the Elysee Palace, in the president’s office, that decisions were made on this subject?

We were able to restore the chain of command and yes, François Mitterrand decided on this policy. And those who applied it, sometimes blindly, did so with a certain violence on the ground. It is a very disturbing observation on the functioning of the republican state which is realized in the study. Yes, indeed, François Mitterrand wanted this policy. He absolutely wanted to ensure the safety of the Rwandan president to whom he was close. There have been relations from president to president, it is undeniable, rather than forcing Habyarimana to democratize, to stop exercising his racist policy. Basically, this policy pushed Habyarimana among the extremists and François Mitterrand took on this responsibility, it must be said.

It should be remembered that there is a space of time which is extremely tight when the genocide begins. All of this happening in a matter of weeks. You say that France is not an accomplice at that time, is not present militarily. How long does France remain blind to what is happening in Rwanda?

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We have tried to be very specific about the documentation and to identify elements. On May 16 and then a few days later, Alain Juppé and then Lucette Michaux-Chevry, who was then Minister Delegate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, recognized the genocide of the Tutsis. Its very important. We can therefore see that France, which effectively concedes nothing to the RPF, is at the same time fighting against the genocide and trying to prevent all Rwandan Tutsis from being exterminated. In view of certain reprisals committed by the RPF, we are back to the idea of ​​inter-ethnic massacre, that is to say that of course, the Hutus massacre Tutsis, but the Tutsis of the RPF massacre the Hutus. It is a terrible regression that must be underlined. The conclusion is nevertheless the speech of Biarritz François Mitterrand who says “we are not responsible when the tribal chiefs settle their scores with machetes”. In this Rwanda affair, there were a lot of missed opportunities. France could have fought against the preparations for a genocide, she saw nothing and remained in a focus that could be described as neo-colonial.

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