France had major role in Rwanda’s genocide in 1994 that killed 800,000: Report
A new report by historians reveals that France bears “overwhelming responsibilities” over the 1994 genocide in Rwanda that killed about 800,000 people and was indirectly complicit in the massacres.
The so-called Duclert report was set up by French President Emmanuel Macron and based on two years of research. It is named after Vincent Duclert, who headed the fact-finding commission of 14 historians.
The report found Paris, under former President Francois Mitterrand — who was close to the Hutu-led government that carried out the genocide — bears serious responsibility in the slaughter of around 800,000 people in Rwanda between April and July of 1994.
Mitterrand had close ties with Rwanda’s Hutu president Juvénal Habyarimana. His death in a helicopter crash unleashed the genocide.
The report came after years of accusations France did not do enough to halt the massacres and was even complicit in the crimes.
France and Rwanda have long traded accusations over the killings. Rwanda described the Duclert report a step forward. Kigali is expected to shortly release its own report on the genocide.
Many observers said the report doesn’t go far enough and has left many questions unanswered. They say many documents on the genocide are missing or were destroyed.
Survie Association, a French group highly critical of France’s colonial rule, slams it as superficial. “First what’s needed is a recognition of complicity from France and apologies to the Rwandan people, the Rwandan government, the group’s spokesman David Martin said.
“Second there should be trial for people who have taken decisions (during 1994), have assisted in decisions. There are still people who are alive today ... It is very important that justice is done,” he added.
The report comes at a time of rising anti-French sentiment in several African countries, fueled by the France’s colonial image, and its policy of neo-colonialism.
Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, France has been conducting military operations in Africa’s Sahel region since 2013 with the support of other European countries.
France has always tried to persuade its European counterparts to further support its military presence in the Sahel by warning that the presence of extremists could pose a threat to the whole of Europe.