Since January 1, 2020, the National Commission for fight against Genocide intends to highlight some of the activities that were carried out as part of the planning of the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi in 1994. This excerpt gives a glimpse of the period from January 9 to 15 between 1991-1994.
The actions against journalists who denounced the participation of French military personnel to the fighting on the side of the Rwandan Armed Forces
On February 9, 1993; in its Forth Edition, the tabloid Le Flambeau, close to the opposition to the Rwandan government, explained, with supporting photos that the French soldiers were fighting alongside the Rwandan army against the RPF-Inkotanyi. During the day, a French gendarme, Major CORRIERE, seconded to the judicial police service of the Rwandan gendarmerie, went to the editorial office of this newspaper to harass journalists and order them to reveal who had informed them and provided photos of French soldiers alongside the Rwandan army.
France had sent French gendarmes commanded by Colonel Michel Robardey to Rwanda, charged in particular with using technology to draw up a list of alleged accomplices of the Inkotanyi while mentioning their ethnicity. These lists were used during the Genocide in 1994.
The editor of the aforementioned newspaper, Rangira Adrien, immediately called for help the Group of Neutral Military Observer s (GOMN) of the Organization of the African Union (OAU) and without any hindrance. But the French soldier did not stop there; he went to the PHOTOLAB photo laboratory and accused two of his Tutsi employees, Rudasingwa Joseph and Byukusenge Anne Marie, of having provided the photos in question. These employees were taken to the office known as “Criminology” to be beaten and tortured, and were only released thanks to the International Red Cross (ICRC), which their families had alerted.
France increased the support it gave to the Rwandan army in its war
Since 1990, French troops have fought openly alongside the Rwandan army which murdered civilians who had nothing to do with the war, for the sole reason that they were Tutsi.
On February 9, 1993, France sent soldiers from the Fourth Company of the RIMA battalion (21st Marine Infantry Regiment) to Rwanda in support of the Rwandan army at war with the RPF Inkotanyi. The next day, February 10, 1993, French troops in support of the Government of Rwanda conducted Operation Volcan in Ruhengeri. This operation, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Bare, had the mission of evacuating 67 expatriates, American and European, from the town of Ruhengeri.
During this period, the RPF had asked for a ceasefire, but Defense Minister James Gasana, with the support of French troops, had refused. The Tutsi continued to be massacred in the north of Rwanda, in Gisenyi, Ruhengeri and in a part of Byumba.
Since February 10, 1993; 60 Tutsi have been murdered in the Ngarama Commune in Byumba, and their bodies remained unburied for a long time. On March 26, 1993, journalists and other persons from human rights associations visited this locality and saw these bodies, and also noted that there were people from the local population who, armed, held roadblocks. They concluded that these assassinations had been committed by the Rwandan government, thus contradicting Radio Rwanda which had spread the news that this massacre was perpetrated by the RPF.
Special envoys of President Mitterrand came to Rwanda to support the genocidal policy of President Habyarimana.
On February 12, 1993; French President Francois Mitterrand sent two special envoys to Rwanda, Bruno Delaye and Jean-Marie Rochereau de la Sabliere. Bruno Delaye was President Mitterrand’s adviser for Africa. Their mission was to mediate between President Habyarimana and Prime Minister Dismas Nsengiyaremye who disagreed regarding the stopping of the war and the killings by Rwandan soldiers and members of the MRND. Mitterrand and his advisers assured Habyarimana of the unwavering support of France, to perpetuate their influence in the region.
It is in this context that Bruno Delaye wrote to President Mitterrand, expressing his concern that the RPF, thank s to the support of certain English-speaking countries, “could take Kigali”. Delaye therefore argued that support for Habyarimana should take on another dimension, that France should openly participate in the war and provide weapons and other war materials. These baseless allegations were intended to explain the reasons why France should participate openly in the war and continue to supply arms and other equipment to Habyarimana ‘s army.
It is in this context of explaining the reasons for France’s support for Habyarimana that General Christian Quesnot wrote to President Mitterrand to tell him that according to him it was not the RPF that was fighting against the Rwandan army, but that it was rather Uganda that attacked Rwanda. This meant that one country had attacked another, so we had to come to support Rwanda. On February 15, 1993, the Group of Neutral Military Observers (GOMN) of the Organization of the African Union informed the Organization that the French soldiers were fighting alongside the Rwandan army and in particular fired shells at positions RPF troops.
Belgium has informed the United Nations that the Rwandan authorities are planning large-scale massacres and has asked UNAMIR to strengthen security.
On February 11, 1994, the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Willy Claes, informed the Secretary General of the United Nations, Boutros-Boutros Ghali, that the high Rwandan authorities had confided to him that the political problems in Rwanda were the cause of the non-installation of the transitional institutions provided for in the Arusha peace agreements and that this situation will cause in the country massacres of great magnitude. Minister Willy Claes asked Boutros Boutros Ghali to give instructions to his special envoy to Rwanda, Jacques Roger Booh-Booh, so that he can ensure that UNAMIR strengthens the security of the population.
On February 14, 1994; the Belgian Ambassador to the United Nations revealed that the General Secretariat of the United Nations had not welcomed Belgium’s proposal, on the pretext that General Dallaire had not reiterated his request, that he previously made, to strengthen the mandate of UNAMIR. The United Nations added that the Rwandan authorities were showing good will for having accepted that General Dallaire collaborate with them to search and seize the weapons held by the Interahamwe. However, these promises were not translated into action because there were never any searches and seizures of Interahamwe weapons by the Rwandan authorities or UNAMIR.
The newspaper Kangura announced certain methods which will be used during the genocide
The Kangura newspaper for the month of February 1994 published a caricature in which the Prime Minister, the late Agathe Uwilingiyimana, and the Minister of Finance, Marc Rugenera, appeared in the guise of rats. They were both persecuted because they were members of the MDR and the PSD respectively, parties not aligned with the Hutu Power of Hutu extremists who planned the genocide.
In the same picture also appeared a man armed with a cudgel, commonly called “Nta mpongano y’umwanzi”, literally “No mercy on the enemy”, and ready to use it to beat these two people. This kind of cudgel was one of the weapons with which the killers cruelly killed their victims during the genocide.
To conclude, it is evident that the planning for the genocide gained momentum in early 1993, during which massacres of Tutsi were committed countrywide. This planning had the full support of the French troops who were fighting alongside the Habyarimana government, and that is why the Rwandan army killed the population with impunity, and that no value was given to peace negotiations and ceasefire. The African Union Organization’s Neutral Military Observer Group has never ceased to provide evidence and denounce it, but in vain.
As Rwanda is striving for “Never Again” to mean “Never Again”; The Great Lakes Eye thanks the National Commission for the fight against Genocide (CNLG) in their effort to fight genocide denial.