Rwanda genocide report to focus on French links

3 weeks ago
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Hutu militia/French military jeep in Rwanda, June 1994

AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron is set to receive a report from historians who were tasked with studying France’s links to the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which at least 800,000 people died.

Publication of the report could help to ease French-Rwandan tensions, as Rwanda has long accused France of complicity.

From April to June 1994 ethnic Hutu extremists massacred Rwanda’s minority Tutsi community and moderate Hutus. A Hutu elite ruled Rwanda at the time.

France has kept official files secret.

President Macron appointed the 15-member commission two years ago, giving them access to presidential, diplomatic, military and intelligence archives.

The presidency says the report will be handed to Mr Macron at 16:30 (15:30 GMT) and will then be made public, AFP news agency reports.

Among the archives are those of then-President François Mitterrand, who had close ties to former Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, a Hutu.

The genocide was sparked by the downing on 6 April 1994 of a plane carrying Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira, a fellow Hutu.

The commission members are not Rwanda specialists – that was a deliberate choice to ensure their neutrality, AFP reports. They include experts on the Holocaust, on the massacres of Armenians in World War I and on international criminal law. They are led by historian Vincent Duclert.

Presentational grey line

More on the Rwandan genocide:

Presentational grey line

On 22 June 1994 the United Nations authorised the deployment of French forces in southwest Rwanda, in what was called Operation Turquoise.

That mission was controversial: the French humanitarian zone saved some potential victims from the genocidal killers, but later there were accusations that the French help came too late and that some killers were able to hide in the zone.

In 2015, then-President François Hollande announced that the Rwanda archives would be declassified, but two years later, after a researcher sought permission to study them, France’s Constitutional Council ruled that they should remain secret.

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