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(en) Rwanda: 10 years after the genocide, French complicity remains

From worker-a-infos-en@ainfos.ca (Flow System)
Date Mon, 12 Jul 2004 14:02:35 +0200 (CEST)

hidden in spite of the evidence (fr)
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Ten years ago in Rwanda, Franco-African policy reached an all-time low,
namely its complicity with the last genocide of the 20th century. Since
then, in spite of efforts from survivors and from certain associations that
support them, this complicity with genocide has always been denied in France,
with the full complicity on the part of the French State and the big media.
As we reach the tenth anniversary of the genocide carried out by a
Rwandan government supported by Hutu Power against the Tutsis and the
"opposition Hutus" of that time, the newspaper "le Monde" gave an
account on 9th March of the report by the judge Bruguière, which
concluded that the present Rwandan head of State and leader of the
Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was involved in the attack which took
place on 6th April 1994. This event saw the death of president Juvénal
Habyarimana and was considered to be the trigger for the wave of
genocide. Although it is difficult to know with precision who were the
real authors of this murder (some accusing the Belgians and the RPF,
whereas others suspect members of Hutu Power with French complicity),
it is now clearer that, since Operation Turquoise in June 1994, the
side of the French government has never ceased to cover up these events
for "reasons of State" and the media manipulation that goes alongside.

Throughout these ten years, all kind of arguments and evasion of
delicate questions have been used in France in an attempt to cover up
French responsibility in the mass murder.

Beyond all arguing, there is first and foremost the silence which
arises from contempt for the victims. While many western leaders (such
as Clinton, Kofi Annan and Belgian prime minister, Verhofstadt) have
made their "mea culpa" concerning the passivity of the organisations
they represent, French officials who were the most seriously
implicated, both in diplomatic and military support for the provisional
Rwandan government, have never bothered to excuse themselves. It may be
that such an act may seem useless and hypocritical. And without doubt
it is, but it also allows us to evaluate the level of French
imperialist contempt towards Africa.

Another symptomatic aspect is the lack of action by the French courts
when it was attempted to bring the authors of genocide to justice: the
few judicial investigations that were initiated in France were
subjected to the usual strategy of obstruction, in contrast with
similar cases in other Western countries, namely Belgium. Sure, in 1999
an ex-minister of the provisional government was actually extradited
from France to the Arusha court. But on the other hand, President
Habyarimana, who played a key role in "Akazu", the secret group that
organised (amongst other things) the death-squads, with orders to kill
opponents, seems to remain under the protection of France, who
organised his evacuation in the days following the attack of 6th April.

Another classic argument is to deny the organised character of the
mass-murders. This argument is sustained by the idea that the word
genocide does not apply in Africa because there cannot be any other
genocide except that carried out by the Nazis, and more generally
because Africans don’t belong to humanity on the same level as other
peoples. This is what is expressed in the following words uttered by
Mitterrand and reported in the French newspaper "le Figaro" in 1996:
"In those countries, a genocide is not something very important". This
implied a certain fatality concerning savagery in this continent. There
is so much impunity in France concerning words that it is possible,
while speaking about Rwanda, to make the most shameless denials without
any risk of being prosecuted. This is how it is possible to say on TV
that the Tutsis were responsible for the genocide of the Hutus.

In the same vein, one can describe the Hutus and the Tutsis as two
different "races" with evident "genetic differences", something which
takes us back to 19th-century theories of "racialism". The regression
and ideological confusion of the present era unfortunately allows that
old colonialist racism to enjoy a revival, though in reality it had
never in fact disappeared...

On a different level, when it comes to assessing the actual course of
events, we can see the apportioning of indirect responsibility for the
massacres to the RPF attacks that would have encouraged bloody
reprisals against civilian Tutsis. Once in power, the PRF would have
used th argument of genocide to legitimize their seizing power. Again,
one does not need to be a supporter of the RPF to demonstrate the
absurdity of such reasoning: the same argument, if applied to the Third
Reich, would mean that it was the Allied attacks which were responsible
for forcing the Third Reich into fully applying the "final solution".

Another form of rampant negationism is to discredit any kind of idea of
justice, pointing the finger at the arbitrary internments, supposedly
the outcome of vendettas following the return of exiled Tutsis. In
fact, Rwandan prisons were filled with up to 150,000 suspected
perpetrators of genocide or their accomplices. It is true that a law
concerning those who acknowledged their guilt made it possible for
quick sentences to be given out in "village courts of justice" (the
"gacaca"), which were established to try lesser criminals, handing out
less severe sentences when the criminals "pleaded guilty". Much could
be said with regard to the rights to a defence in such circumstances.
But we have no business criticizing the Rwandans when our own State is
goes unpunished for having collaborated to such a degree with genocide.
And what would have happened were the returned exiles left to
themselves, afraid of being eliminated because they were witnesses on
the one hand, while on the other hand desperate for justice at their
own hands? Finally, these touchy defenders of the "lawful State" in
Rwanda for some reason seem much less concerned where other African
States allied to France are involved.

Pascal, Bordeaux

PS. For furthr information concerning French complicity and the various
events to commemorate the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, please visit:

Text from "Courant alternatif" No.138, April 2004
Journal of the Organisation Communiste Libertaire (OCL)
Translation by Manuel Baptista/Nestor McNab

OCL c/o clé des champs,
BP 20912, 44009 Nantes cedex 1

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