In Kigali, French President Emmanuel Macron asked Rwandans to “forgive” for France’s role in the 1994 killings.
What was France’s role in the killings?
France, which had close ties to the Rwandan government of President Juvénal Habyarimana, led by the Hutu, has long been criticized for its role in the killings of Tutsi minorities during the months of April to June 1994. In May 2019, President Macron, promising a new one starting with Rwanda, has set up a 15-member committee of experts to investigate his country’s role in the genocide. The committee, which had access to official files and secret documents, submitted its findings to the government in March, which said France, then ruled by President François Mitterrand, carried “heavy and crushing responsibilities” for being “blind. At the Events leading up to the murders. The report blames Mitterrand for a “failure” of his policy towards Rwanda in 1994. Rwanda commissioned a separate investigation, which concludes in a report submitted to Cabinet in April that France “allowed” genocide. A 600-page report declared that France had “done nothing to stop” the massacres, and had tried to conceal its role and even offered protection to some of the perpetrators. President Macron said on Thursday: “I have just recognized the extent of our responsibilities”. .
What is the history of Hutu-Tutsi relations?
The Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority have had a troubled relationship in Rwanda that dates back to the German and Belgian colonial period. The colonialists ruled Rwanda through the Tutsi monarchy. The Tutsis were appointed local administrative chiefs and the ethnic minority enjoyed relatively better educational and employment opportunities, which resulted in widespread resentment among the Hutu majority. In 1959, Rwanda experienced violent riots led by Hutus in which some 20,000 Tutsis were killed and many more were displaced. In a context of growing violence, the Belgian authorities ceded power to the Hutu elite. King Kigeli V fled the country. During the 1960 elections, organized by the Belgians, the Hutu parties took control of almost all the local municipalities. In 1961, Hutu leader Grégoire Kayibanda declared Rwanda an autonomous republic and the following year the country became independent. Kayibanda became Rwanda’s first elected president, while Tutsis who fled the country formed armed insurgencies. Since then, Rwanda has been controlled by the Hutus, until their genocidal regime was overthrown by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in 1994.
What led to the genocide?
The crisis worsened in the 1990s when the RPF, led by Paul Kagame, the current president, strengthened and posed a serious challenge to the regime of President Habyarimana, which was supported by France and had links defense with Israel. In 1993, Habyarimana, who came to power in 1973, was forced to sign a peace accord (Arusha Accords) with the RPF. This led to resentment among the government-backed Hutu militias towards the local Tutsi population, who were accused of RPF collaborators. On April 6, 1994, a Falcon 50 plane carrying Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down near Kigali international airport. The Hutu-led government blamed the RPF for the attack on the presidential jet. Military and Hutu militias, mainly the Interahamwe, unleashed violence against Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Mr. Kagame denied any involvement in the downing of the plane. The RPF claims that the Hutu extremists ordered the attack to use it as an excuse for the genocide (which they were preparing long before the plane crash) as well as to seize power.
The murders were a pre-planned extermination campaign. The militias, with government support, launched a premeditated violent campaign on April 7, aimed at eliminating all Tutsi communities. Interahamwe militants traveled to towns and villages across the country, chasing Tutsis and asking Hutus to join the campaign, killing at a rate of 8,000 people a day. Hutus who opposed the killings were also targeted. The militias used a radio station to coordinate the killings. Bodies were thrown into the Nyabarongo River. France, which had supported the Hutu government, did nothing to stop the massacre. Thousands have been slaughtered in the churches where they have sought refuge. The Catholic Church had deep ties to the ruling Hutu elites – Archbishop Vincent Nsengiyumva was a member of the ruling party’s central committee. Many priests were implicated in the murders. During a visit to Rwanda in 2017, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for the role of the Church in the murders. The violence continued for three months.
How did the killings end?
The killings ended after the RPF, under the command of Mr. Kagame, captured Kigali and overthrew the Hutu regime. While the RPF ended the Hutu campaign to exterminate the Tutsis, the rebels were also accused of carrying out revenge killings during the civil war. When it became clear that the RPF was winning, around 2 million Hutus fled Rwanda, mainly to neighboring Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo), from where Hutu militias still operate. The RPF began by establishing a multi-ethnic government with Pasteur Bizimungu, a Hutu, as president. Mr. Kagame, a Tutsi, was his deputy. In 2000, Mr. Kagame assumed the presidency and continues to be in power to this day.