France Enabled 1994 Rwanda Genocide, Report Says

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tags: colonialism, French history, genocide, Rwanda, African history

NAIROBI, Kenya — France played a “significant” role in “enabling a foreseeable genocide” in Rwanda, according to a report commissioned by the Rwandan government that was released on Monday and that echoed the findings of a recent appraisal by France.

The report offered a damning new perspective on the events that led to the killing of at least 800,000 people in 1994, arguing that France “did nothing to stop” the slaughter of ethnic Tutsi by a Rwandan government dominated by members of the Hutu ethnic group.

Twenty-seven years after the genocide, both France and Rwanda are making attempts to set the record straight on what happened during the bloodletting, government officials have said, both to respond to domestic demands and to improve bilateral relations.

The 600-page report, generated by a Washington law firm, concluded that the French government was “neither blind nor unconscious” in regard to the imminent genocide, yet continued in its “unwavering support” for the government of the Rwandan president then, Juvénal Habyarimana. It accused the government of the French president at the time, François Mitterrand, of doing so in order to advance and reinforce its own influence and interests in the country.

A landlocked nation of over 12 million people in central Africa, Rwanda was a Belgian colony until it gained independence in 1962. But during the genocide, France, which had close ties with the Habyarimana government, sent its troops to Rwanda as part of a United Nations-mandated military operation.

“French officials armed, advised, trained, equipped, and protected the Rwandan government, heedless of the Habyarimana regime’s commitment to the dehumanization and, ultimately, the destruction and death of Tutsi in Rwanda,” the report said.

The report also accused France of covering up its role in the genocide — which took place over roughly 100 days — protecting those who participated in the killings and withholding “critical documents and testimony” that would shed more light on its actions.

Read entire article at New York Times