Bernard Kouchner reveals François Mitterrand’s inaction on warnings of Genocide against the Tutsi

By Esther Muhozi
On 20 March 2024 at 11:52

Bernard Kouchner, who served as the Foreign Minister of France under Nicolas Sarkozy, revealed that he had warned President François Mitterrand about the killings that preceded the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, but Mitterrand ignored his warnings. During Mitterrand’s administration, France provided military support to Rwanda from 1990 to 1994, which was used in the preparation and execution of the genocide.

Reports show that even though Mitterrand’s government continued to send military aid, it was informed that the then Rwandan government was planning the genocide.

In an interview with L’Express, Kouchner, a co-founder of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), stated that as Tutsis were being killed from 1990, French authorities claimed that it was a fighting between the Rwandan Armed Forces and RPA-Inkotanyi.

Kouchner said, "When I returned to Paris, I spoke on television but no one understood the extent of the killings. There was a simplified perception of the situation in Rwanda, portraying the RPF led by Paul Kagame as the villains and the recognized government in Kigali as fighting against them. France, especially the close circle around President François Mitterrand at the Élysée, had endorsed this stance."

This politician and experienced doctor explained that he was one of those who warned Mitterrand, informing him about the killings of Tutsis, but the President ignored him. Kouchner attempted to alert Mitterrand by saying, "There are bodies everywhere here," to which Mitterrand replied dismissively, acknowledging Kouchner’s tendency to exaggerate.

Kouchner clarified that while France did not directly kill Tutsis, it played a significant role in the genocide by training the Rwandan soldiers and Interahamwe who carried out the genocide.

"France was not on the frontline firing, but it was at the forefront because it trained the genocidal military. But it wasn’t just the military; it was anyone who participated in the genocide, killing their neighbor and children."

During ’Operation Turquoise,’ which was under the guise of a UN peacekeeping mission, Kouchner explained that the operation’s goal was not to save Tutsis being killed in the Cyangugu, Kibuye, and Gikongoro zones.

"Operation Turquoise followed orders. It was not intended to rescue Tutsis. It aimed to restore peace, but it seemed to favor the Hutus. It was a French operation under a UN peacekeeping mission. The soldiers allowed the genocidaires to pass, especially those in the government."

In May 2021, during a visit to Kigali, French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged that his country’s government had supported the genocidal regime and had ignored international community’s warnings.

François Mitterrand allegedly ignored the warnings of Genocide against the Tutsi.