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France ‘enabled’ the 1994 genocide, new Rwandan report says, after French report clears France of complicity

France ‘enabled’ the 1994 genocide, new Rwandan report says, after French report clears France of complicity

A Rwandan government-commissioned report on the 1994 genocide has accused France of “enabling” the slaughter, going further than a recent French report that held the country responsible but stopped short of judging it complicit.

France holds “significant” responsibility for “enabling a foreseeable genocide,” states the 600-page Rwandan report, which was published on Monday. It documents the role of French authorities prior to, during, and after the massacre, which saw an estimated 800,000 people killed between April and July 1994.

It contends that France “did nothing to stop” the killings, mainly of the ethnic Tutsi minority, and, in the years since, has attempted to distort truths and cover up its role, and even extended protection to perpetrators, drawn from extremists in the majority Hutu population.

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It also accuses former French president François Mitterrand and his administration of supporting, funding, and training the government of then-Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, despite “warning signs,” and being aware of the preparations being made for the slaughter.

“The French government was neither blind nor unconscious about the foreseeable genocide,” opines the new report, which comes less than a month after a French report concluded that France had “heavy and overwhelming responsibilities” but cleared it of complicity in the killings.

“Is France an accomplice to the genocide of the Tutsi? If by this we mean a willingness to join a genocidal operation, nothing in the archives that was examined demonstrates this,” it stated.

Commissioned in 2017, the French report accused the authorities of pursuing their “own interests, in particular, the reinforcement and expansion of France’s power and influence in Africa.” Even at the height of the killings, they “did nothing to stop” the massacres, it said.

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However, the authors found “no evidence that French officials or personnel participated directly in the killing of Tutsi during that period.” Nonetheless, they strongly criticized the French government for not having declassified documents about the genocide. The Rwandan government had submitted three documentation requests between 2019 and 2021 that were “ignored”, according to the report.

“Maybe the most important thing in this process is that those two commissions have analyzed the historical facts, have analyzed the archives which were made available to them, and have come to a common understanding of that past,” Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vincent Biruta told the Associated Press news agency. “From there, we can build this strong relationship,” he added.

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