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(en) France, UCL AL #317 - Politics, Genocide of the Tutsis: the Duclert report, more political than historical ? (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Thu, 15 Jul 2021 08:56:58 +0300

It is a step forward in the recognition, by the French State, of its role in the genocide committed in Rwanda in 1994. But by refraining from exploiting certain sources and by explaining everything by the "blindness" of the Elysee, the Duclert report rejects the accusation of complicity, yet solid. Explanations. ---- On March 26, 2021, the "Research Commission on French Archives Relating to Rwanda and the Genocide of the Tutsis 1990-1994", chaired by Vincent Duclert, submitted its report to Emmanuel Macron. Appointed in April 2019 by an assignment letter from the Élysée, this commission was to have unlimited access to the various French archival funds in order to "analyze the role and commitment of France in Rwanda" . The release of the report was accompanied by a well-organized communication around two key ideas: heavy and overwhelming responsibilities but an absence of complicity within the French state.

Mitterrand was informed of everything
Official recognition of the heavy civilian and military responsibilities French is a remarkable step forward in understanding by the public of the role of France in the last genocide of the XX th century, although this responsibility, denounced since 1994 by many researchers, journalists or associations, arrives late. It is an important hinge for the academic and political world. As proof, the recent positions taken by several personalities in this direction. We also find a fairly similar position in the conclusions of another report, commissioned by Rwanda from an American law firm on the same subject and made public three weeks after the Duclert report.

John yuck
Nothing, however, in the Duclert report, which is not already known to specialists on the subject: military support from Paris to the government in Kigali which is preparing the genocide; diplomacy favorable to this government in which there is an extremist movement; sidelining the whistleblowers who see the tragedy happening; racism and ethnicism, finally, as a reading grid. The report confirms that François Mitterrand, his advisers and the ministries concerned were fully informed of the events before and during the genocide. Despite cross-checked information of good quality, they continued, in the name of the policy pursued in Africa since independence, to support those who organized and then committed this genocide.

Genocidal intent
What is surprising is that in view of these overwhelming facts, the Duclert report pronounces on France's lack of complicity by adopting a simplistic view of this legal notion. Indeed, this could only be recognized if the French officials had shared the genocidal intention, which is, of course, not the case with regard to the archives consulted. However, French justice condemned Maurice Papon for complicity in crimes against humanity, while acknowledging that he had no intention of committing them. The fact that a commission appointed by the Élysée, made up of non-specialists in Africa and the Great Lakes, rules on an eminently legal concept,"Responsible[...]but not guilty".

To arrive at such a paradoxical position, the commission ignored the leads that could lead to legal proceedings against those responsible who are still alive. The report did not find any records of arms deliveries before, during and after the genocide, although these are documented by several sources.

Unused sources
Likewise, the ambiguity of Operation Turquoise (June-August 1994), presented as "humanitarian", is not sufficiently questioned. Turquoise included an offensive component aimed at supporting the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) - which participated in the massacres - against the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) - which put an end to it.

We also do not find information on the attack of April 6, 1994, which caused the death of the Rwandan and Burundian presidents and which was the trigger of the genocidal machine: however, from 1996 and even within the French secret services , the possibility of France's involvement in this assassination was mentioned. The role of the mercenaries Paul Barril and Bob Denard, whose presence in Rwanda in 1994 is attested, is not even discussed, although we know that they played an important role in what Mitterrand's advisers call the "Indirect strategy" to support the FAR.

By having circumscribed the period of study of the archives to 1990-1994, the Duclert commission also made it possible not to consider the consequences of the flight of genocidaires with weapons and luggage in Zaire. However, we know that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explicitly asked, in a telegram of July 15, 1994, the men on the ground to let those responsible for the genocide pass. However, this order would have deserved to be questioned about the perpetrator (s): France has allowed these genocidaires to flee when, since 1948, it has been a signatory to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; as such, she was under an obligation to arrest them.

Finally, we know today that Zaire served as a rear base for the genocidaires on the run to reorganize and attack Rwanda, which has, by rebound, deeply destabilized the entire sub-region until today. Finally, this politico-academic report tries to show that the persons in charge had the information but that they were "blind" and that they "didnot understand" what was happening, that the policy carried out was the fact of a few people revolving around Mitterrand who committed "errors of appreciation" and that there were malfunctions.

"Blindness" and "errors"
This interpretation is undermined by the many works carried out in particular by the association Survie [1], which shows that the presidentialism of the Fifth Republic makes it possible to conduct an African policy outside any democratic control. What France did in Rwanda in the 1990s is part of a policy organized for decades to ensure France a diplomatic, economic and military weight similar to that which France enjoyed with its colonial empire, and which Survie popularized under the name Françafrique.

Martin David, François Graner

Martin David is a member of Survival.
François Graner, member of Survie, is the author of two books on the genocide: Le Saber et la Machette (2014) and L'État français et le genocide des Tutsis au Rwanda (2020).


[1] "Call for support: Survie, a French anti-colonialist association" , Alternative libertaire , February 2021.

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