Rwanda accuses France of genocide

Paris insists findings of report were neither independent nor legitimate.

Paris and Kigali continuously blame each other for the atrocities committed in 1994 [File: AFP]
Paris and Kigali continuously blame each other for the atrocities committed in 1994 [File: AFP]

“Considering the gravity of the alleged facts, the Rwandan government asks competent authorities to undertake all necessary actions to bring the accused French political and military leaders to answer for their acts before justice.”

Andrew Tusabe, the acting charge d’affaires for the Rwandan embassy in Washington, told Al Jazeera the report exposed French complicity at the highest levels.

“If you go to the report you will see for yourself how communication was done from the top leadership in Paris to the embassy in Kigali and how different people who had a role in the genocide were housed at the embassy residence,” he said.

‘Protected genocidal forces’

Tharcisse Karugarama, Rwanda’s justice minister, said the report also highlighted “the role played by France in the aftermath to protect the genocidal forces and make it very difficult for them to be apprehended and brought to justice”.

The report accused the French of helping to train the Hutus, the ethnic group blamed for the slaughter of 800,000 people, and for forcing hundreds of thousands more to flee their homes.

“This should be clear that this report will not go lie down, put in store somewhere. This report will be used. It will help in bringing to justice, making very serious attempts to bring to justice people who were involved in committing genocide in this country,” Tharcisse said.

Along with Mitterrand and de Villepin, others listed include Alain Juppe, a former foreign minister who is also a senior figure in the party of Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, and Edouard Balladur, a former prime minister. Another suspect is Hubert Vedrine who, like Balladur, is a senior politician.

‘Not impartial’

The French government said on Tuesday that the findings of the report were neither independent nor legitimate.

The report accused 33 senior French military officials and politicians of complicity [AFP]

Questioned on the report’s conclusions, the French defence ministry reiterated its official position as set out in a statement made in 2007, which claimed the inquiry had “no guarantee of independence or impartiality”.
The original statement had declared that “France assumes full  responsibility for its actions in Rwanda in 1994, especially those of its armed forces”.
It also stressed its support for the International Criminal Court, but said the Rwandan inquiry had no “independence or impartiality” because its stated remit was to “gather evidence of the involvement of the French state” in the genocide.
The inquiry also had “no legitimacy nor competence” to conduct interviews on French soil because it had broken off diplomatic relations with France in November 2006.
Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president, cut ties with France in November 2006 in protest at a French judge’s call for him to stand trial over the death of his predecessor, Juvenal Habyarimana, in April 1994 – an event widely seen as unleashing the genocide.

That call prompted street protests in Kigali.

Relations soured further after the Rwandan commission later heard accounts from victims who said they were raped by French soldiers after seeking refuge with them during the genocide.

‘Not payback’

Tusabe, the acting charge d’affaires in Washington, rejected accusations that the Rwanda report was simply payback for the French judge’s ruling.

Rwanda set up the commission in April 2006 to investigate France’s role in the genocide before the judge issued indictments in November, he told Al Jazeera.

“This report, now that it’s out, it shows all of the individuals in the France government that were involved in the genocide.”

Ties between the two nations have improved in recent months after Kagame met Sarkozy at a European Union-Africa summit in Lisbon in December 2007 but the latest report is bound to strain relations once again.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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