A report commissioned by the Rwandan government says France bears “significant” responsibility for “enabling a foreseeable genocide” in 1994.
The 600-page report focuses extensively on the role of the French government before and during the horror in which an estimated 800,000 people were slaughtered between April and July, exactly twenty-seven years ago.
The report also comes amid efforts by Rwanda to document the role of France before, during, and after the genocide, part of the steps taken by French President Emmanuel Macron to improve relations with the Great Lakes of Africa country.
France “did nothing to stop” the massacres in 1994, the report says. It claims that in the years after the genocide, Paris tried to cover up its role and even offered protection to some perpetrators.
The report, which is to be made public later on Monday, concludes that in years leading up to the genocide, former French President Francois Mitterrand and his administration had knowledge of preparations for the massacres. In spite of that, France kept supporting the government of then-Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana.
“The French government was neither blind nor unconscious about the foreseeable genocide,” the authors stress.
The Rwandan report comes less than a month after a French report, commissioned by President Macron, concluded that French authorities had been “blind” to the preparations for genocide and then reacted too slowly to appreciate the extent of the killings and to respond to them. It concluded that France had “heavy and overwhelming responsibilities” by not responding to the drift that led to the slaughter of mainly minority Tutsis and the moderate Hutus who tried to protect them. Extremist militias from the majority Hutu ethnic group carried out most of the killings.
Analysts believe the two reports could mark a turning point in relations between Paris and Kigali.
The Associated Press quoted Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vincent Biruta as saying on Monday that his country was “ready” for a “new relationship” with France.