Prof. Duclert explains how France was blind to 1994 Genocide against Tutsi

On 6 April 2021 at 11:17

The expert committee comprised of 14 French historians recently presented a report to French President detailing findings on the country’s role in the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.

The report analyzed archives on France, Rwanda relations between 1990 and 1994.

The report of 1222 pages was presented on 26th March 2021 two years, after the delegation of 14 historians started reviewing archives on France, Rwanda relations between 1990 and 1994.

The report by French historians has revealed that France bears "heavy and overwhelming responsibilities" over tragic history that led to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi which took lives of over 1 million victims.

The report said France had been "blind" to genocide preparations.

Dubbed ‘Duclert’, the report blames the then French President, François Mitterrand, for a "failure" of policy towards Rwanda in 1994. The findings were made public after years of French official secrecy over links to the Government led by Juvenal Habyarimana.

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

Among the archives are those of Mitterrand, who had close ties to former Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana.

The commission members include experts on the Holocaust, on the massacres of Armenians in World War I and on international criminal law, all led by historian Vincent Duclert.

The report was released at a time when President Macron is planning a maiden visit to Rwanda, 11 years after Nicolas Sarkozy came to Rwanda in 2010.

Since the report was released, politicians including Hubert Védrine, the former Secretary-General of l’Elysée (French Presidency) under François Mitterrand leadership; Alain Juppé who once served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defense, Florence Parly explained that they were satisfied with findings of the report with findings that the country was blind to genocide preparations but emphasized that it dodged to shed light on France’s open involvement.

During an interview with Jeune Afrique, Prof. Vincent Duclert was asked whether the report’s findings don’t reflect France’s institutions connection to genocide.

He explained that revelations by these politicians are among key concerns of the report that need response.

“For instance, Hubert Védrine insisted on our findings that ‘France didn’t have an open involvement’, a word we used based on reviewed archives on what happened during Genocide,” he said.

Duclert observed that Hubert Védrine wanted to serve with the released report to dismiss facts denying France’s role during Genocide.

“France’s policy towards Rwanda played a role during the Genocide even though French leaders were not aware or willing. This should also be accepted,” he said.
The report by historians shows that France was blind to the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.

Duclert explains that the statement is based on the fact that the country disregarded warnings of genocide preparations that were taking place.

Historians that teamed with Duclert indicated that France’s role heavily relies on the country’s poor policy of keeping a blind eye and supporting racial discrimination driven and corrupt Government that fuels violence.

“Leaders thought that President Habyarimana could lead the country to democracy and peace,” he said.

Duclert committee also reviewed documents written by Pierre Joxe who was the Minister of Defense between January 1991 and 1993 who wrote to President François Mitterrand requesting for military action against escalating genocide preparations.

“It is apparent that they are related to Rwanda. He advised that instructions by President of the Republic should be released in a written form. However, Hubert Védrine denied delivering the message to President Mitterrand,”Duclert.

The historian also revealed that they reviewed documents exchanged between the Ministry of Defense and Colonel René Galinié, Defense Attaché to the Embassy of France in Rwanda and head of military cooperation mission. These letters carried disclaimers that they should be burnt after reading which Duclert highlights affects diplomatic relations.

The expert committee explained that all archives on France, Rwanda relations between 1990 and 1994 were not reviewed because some of them were not available or denied access to some archives.

Duclert said that many institutions facilitated the expert commission to access information but some remained reluctant.

“It is true that two institutions declined to assist us. I submitted two letters to both chambers of parliament at different times and personally met with the parliament’s chairperson at Hôtel de Lassay to request access exchanged documents,” he noted.

After meeting on 3rd July 2020, the parliament restricted the committee from accessing its archives.

‘Duclert’ report also ruled out accusations of wrongdoing by Operation Turquoise, a French-led military intervention in Rwanda.

Prof. Duclert said that on 16th May, the then French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alain Juppé learnt that Genocide was taking place.

“Along with Prime Minister, Édourd Balladur and Minister of Defense, François Léotard; they put pressure on President Mitterrand to set up rescue mechanism and stop France’s silence over the killings,” he said.

On 22nd June 1994, the United Nations (UN) on request of France decided to send troops to Rwanda under “Opération Turquoise” to rescue targeted victims.

A total of 2500 French troops were sent under the mission some of whom had served under ‘Opération Noroît’ in 1990 when Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) launched liberation struggle. At the time France was supporting Habyarimana.

As Opération Turquoise ended in August 1994, French troops helped officials in the Genocidaire Government to flee to Zaïre led by Mobutu at the time. Duclert’s report does not however shed light on that support.

Duclert explained that both country’s relations seemed to reach the end when RPF liberated the country on 4th July 1994.

Historian and Commission chief on the France's role in 1994's Rwandan genocide, Vincent Duclert, right, gives a report to French President Emmanuel Macron, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, March 26, 2021.