KIGALI, 30 March 2021 – There are mixed reactions among Rwandans following the release late last week of a report on France’s role in the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.
The report concluded that there was a “failure” on the part of the then French president, Francois Mitterrand, adding that France was “blind” to preparations for the genocide.
France bears overwhelming responsibilities for the genocide, the report said.
It, however, said it found no evidence that France was complicit in the mass slaughter over a 100-day-period from April through July 1994 of an estimated 8000,000 to one million mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
The failure by the report to blame France more for the genocide is the single biggest disappointment Rwandans expressed about the report.
A “man in the street” survey conducted Monday among visitors to the Genocide Memorial in the capital, Kigali, revealed supporters and opponents of the conclusion.
John Ruku-Rwabyoma, a member of parliament for the Rwandan Patriotic Front told reporters that just putting out a report that admits some level of responsibility or failure is a good move forward.
“The report is still lacking, because we have the whole story, we know the whole story. It would have been even much better if France had come out openly and given the whole story as it was,” Ruku-Rwabyoma told reporters.
“There is nothing that the French can do to pay back for what they did (in the genocide) but what I would say is that maybe they could do something for the victims and the survivors who are still suffering from the effects of the genocide to help them improve their lives,” said Jean Dushimana while visiting the Memorial on Monday.
The French Presidency (Elysee Palace) said it hoped the report would mark an “irreversible” reconciliation process between France and Rwanda, which Macron has said he wants to visit this year.
Rwanda’s foreign ministry has said that Rwanda’s own report commissioned in 2017 and due to be released in the coming weeks will complement and enrich the French report.
Ruku-Rwabyoma says he expects the Rwandan report to have “more facts not explored in the French report.”
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has been vocal with accusations that France did not do enough to halt the massacres and was even complicit in the crimes.
Rwanda officially hailed the report as “an important step toward a common understanding of France’s role in the genocide against the Tutsi”.