“Some continue to try to rewrite the reality of France's involvement in Rwanda” – Liberation

So much anxiety, rage, even anger! 30 years after the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, it is enough to mention France's role in Rwanda to draw the knife for some. Ahead of the commemorations, it spoke of the absence of “elements of language” filtered down by the Elysée on April 4.desire» of France «Stop» Genocide while she was having “Possible“. Three days later, although this sentence was not present in the speech of Emmanuel Macron on April 7th, certainly following the intense pressure, the controversy will continue. Especially with the reaction of the François-Mittaron Institute, its current president, Jean Clavany, will demand explanations. But in turn his press release will be modified. Because, Like a fatal slip of the tongue, a sentence actually seemed to go in the direction of the comments he was condemning.Return to a series of unsettling revelations with historian Vincent Ducleert, whose commission was ordered by Macron, ended in 2021. “Heavy and Great Responsibilities” to France in Rwanda. This, since the rise of risks (1990 to 1994).

Thirty years after the Tutsi genocide, France's role in Rwanda still evokes controversy and emotional reactions. How do you explain that?

As for the most recent controversies, on April 4, there were statements due to the Élysée, and then the President's video speech three days later on April 7, when the commemoration of the genocide began. Some saw a backsliding on Emmanuel Macron's side between these two media moments. I didn't take a step back. Because if we stick to the April 7 speech delivered by the President on May 27, 2021, “”Great responsibility» France, highlighted in 2021, the report of the Commission of Historians, which I chaired. The April 7 presidential speech actually consolidates all the analysis of France's involvement. But thanks to this controversy, above all we saw a resurgence of the Denial Company, although it seemed to decline from 2021.

There was a particularly angry letter from Jean Clavany, the current president of the Francois-Mittrand Institute.

Jean Clavany, who replaced Hubert Védrine as head of the organization, issued a press release on April 7 protesting the president's remarks about France's unwillingness to stop the genocide. We can already be surprised by the style. This former socialist minister addresses the highest representative of the state and calls him directly to clarify his position. In the process, he describes “will be said» Great responsibility of France with the regime that planned the genocide. How can one not see stubbornness in denial? Refuses to take into account the results of historical research? There is one final point that is even more confusing, a sentence that seems to have escaped its editor in an early version of the press release…

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What does this sentence mean?

In the first edition of the journal publication, Klavani writes strikingly in 1990 “Only France knew that a genocide was possible in Rwanda“. It's an incredible combination. The first massacres occurred in 1959, when France officially intervened to protect the children of Tutsi refugees who fled Rwanda in 1990, following unrest in the north of the country by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), formed by opponents of the regime. If we are to believe Glavani, a genocide was possible in France in 1990. Did it already know that the Tutsis who were left in the country at that time were being deliberately massacred? Did it warn the UN and its partners that it would be wise to change it a few days later? will be replaced by the ambiguous sentence “”.Massacres after independenceThe concept of “. “Genocide“Disappears. How to rewrite press releases about key moments in our common history? This correction after publication reveals the methods of the François-Mittrand Institute: In Rwanda, we accept “alternative facts” that rewrite reality.

Does the change reflect some sort of panic among those trying to eliminate any French role in the genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda?

This fear has certainly always been there, seeing the practice of power identified and condemned under the Fifth Republic and more precisely under the regime of François Mitterrand. Based on specific examples, the fear is that an entire system will emerge, which has compromised institutions and undermined the moral identity of the republic. An opaque power practice that led France to be partially responsible for the last genocide of the 20th century. However, the crime of genocide cannot be proven.

Since the publication of your commission's report in 2021, it has always been “Accomplice» France's coming back to haunt some of the leaders of that era…

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Who knows that one day prosecutions or civil parties will not initiate direct action for complicity in genocide against some French officials of the time based on the information gathered? It is not for historians like me to decide, only justice can decide. But it is interesting that those who are constantly offended, perhaps fearing this complicity, are the first to wave it like a red rag, thus contributing to the radicalization of the debate. However, the observation remains: for years, the French government denied the genocide and extended its own complicity in the tragedy.

Why did the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), created on November 8, 1994, not ask this question about France's intervention?

From a criminal perspective, the ICTR was unable to investigate the pre-genocide period. This was France's preference at the time in the Security Council. Under French pressure, the ICTR's mandate would only cover 1994. Also, contrary to the idea of ​​genocide, it was necessarily planned and prepared. The commission's report also shows how France blocked the ICTR's trial period, which included the preparatory period for the genocide. An international tribunal was indeed dealing. We proved it and no denial followed.

What else can be found in the history of dangerous relations between France and Rwanda?

Three main periods deserve historical investigation. First, the period before 1990. How was this private, privileged relationship established between Mithrone and Habyarimana? Also, after Habyarimana's coup in 1973, France of Valéry Guiscard d'Estaing. Were French networks involved? Then comes the period 1990-1993. France's unconditional commitment to a genocidal regime was now well established. But we still need to put all the warnings together to better understand the knowledge that Paris had in its preparation. Finally, during the 1994 period, the question of the perpetrators of the attack against President Habyarimana's plane on April 6, 1994, the day before the beginning of the genocide, the genocide and its aftermath, must be explored more deeply. Historical and jurisprudential studies have progressed. A trail of Hutu extremists is now emerging who want to eliminate a leader they suspect has abandoned them. But who exactly are they? Genocide was already underway by April. 1994 with a whole series of murders and massacres that escalated from January. The April 6, 1994 attack was only the final trigger point in a process already underway. There are all the questions about Paris's choices during the genocide. Especially the reception by the representatives of the genocidal government: we are the only country in the world that accepted it. Why did we contribute to the re-arming of the soldiers of the defeated genocidal army, which the RPF retreated forward, crossing the border into Zaire, which is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo? And to what extent?

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Was there not an element of irrationality in the handling of this issue by the French authorities, and especially by Mitterrand's entourage?

When we see the François-Mitterand Institute altering its own press releases, it is tempting to suggest an element of irrationality. When you read François Mitterrand's interview with General Christian Quesnot, former Chief of Staff, which he reported to the Weekly in July 2021 oops, Elysee received”Cautious, reliable, accurate“At Risk of Genocide, But It's Not”President Mitterrand's line“, yes, we can wonder about the irrational part, but above all the historical delusion. The weight of colonial representations of a France that, as a great power, drew its legitimacy for a long time from the influence and dominance it exerted in Africa. The delusion of the Algerian war, the constant feeling of revenge. In Rwanda, the French leaders saw the RPF as their enemies, and by extension the Tutsis from within. As in Algeria, we saw the same forms of insurgency as in my book, this “Algerian temptation”. Behind the emotional excesses, there is another rationale, that of a policy of power, the desire to respond to the Anglo-American threat to “our” Africa, the weight of the “reserved” areas in our republican system: military, diplomatic and especially Africa. A total takeover by the President's personal staff who proposed a new way of holding countries by sending in special forces, reporting to no one, and turning a blind eye to the regime's transgressions. At the time it may all seem an unfortunate mixture of rationality, unconscious imagination and unbridled energy.

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