Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Wednesday welcomed a report released last month which declared that France “bears overwhelming responsibilities” for its part in the 1994 genocide.
The report led by Historian Vincent Duclert was commissioned by France’s President Emmanuel Macron and released last month. The genocide took place between April and July of 1994 began after Rwanda’s Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down over Kigali on Apr. 6. More than 800,000 Tutsis were killed.
“We welcome this (report),” Kagame said per the AP News. “Mitterrand knew that a genocide against the Tutsis was being planned by their allies in Rwanda” but continued “supporting them because he believed this was necessary for France’s geopolitical position.”
Kagame made the remarks during a ceremony to commemorate the beginning of the genocide. The report said France under François Marie Adrien Maurice Mitterrand fostered a “binary view” that established Rwanda’s then-president Juvénal Habyarimana as a “Hutu ally” against an “enemy” of Tutsi troops backed by Uganda.
The report also stated that France had been “involved with a regime that encouraged racist massacres.” It stops short of accusing France of participating in the genocide.
France led Operation Turquoise, humanitarian purposes in June 1994. Many believed the operation was actually to assist the genocidal Hutu government.
“Rather than protecting Tutsis from the genocidal regime, Opération Turquoise was co-opted to allow the perpetrators to continue their campaign of violence and eventually escape the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) advance by fleeing into neighboring Zaire,” a 2018 report published by Divergent Options reads. “The results of this would prove disastrous.”
While he praised the integrity of the report, Kagame did condemn “the decades-long effort by certain French officials to cover up their responsibilities,” saying it had caused “significant damage.”
On Wednesday, France opened its archives on the Rwandan genocide to the public. Duclert told The Associated Press that “for 30 years, the debate on Rwanda was full of lies, violence, manipulations, threats of trials. That was a suffocating atmosphere”.
“Now we must speak the truth,” he added. “And that truth will allow, we hope, (France) to get a dialogue and a reconciliation with Rwanda and Africa.”