Tuesday, October 24, 2006

France and Rwanda

By Heraclitus

We've got quite the France-fixation here at The Reaction. Just recently,
Michael called attention to the continuing riots in France. Shortly thereafter, the BBC filed this report warning of a return to full-scale rioting in France. Then there was my brief profile of Segolene Royal, a front-runner for the Socialist nomination for the Presidential election. And, of course, there was my enthusiastic praise of France for curtailing freedom of speech, which is certainly one of the more overrated phenomena of the past two hundred years.

The latest round of Francomania is less encouraging. Testimony at a tribunal in Rwanda on the 1994 genocide has implicated France in the killings (the
Wiki article on the genocide is excellent; see also this BBC piece). From the BBC:

A former senior Rwandan diplomat has told a tribunal that France played an active role in Rwanda's 1994 genocide.

Former Rwandan ambassador to Paris Jacques Bihozagara said French involvement stemmed from concerns about its diminishing influence in Africa.

France has, of course, denied any involvement:

"France has not expressed regret," AFP quotes Mr Bihozagara as saying during his three-hour testimony.

He added that even after the genocide the French government had not apprehended genocide suspects living in France.

The BBC's Geoffrey Mutagoma in Kigali says that it is also alleged that French soldiers provided escape routes to militia escaping to the Democratic Republic of Congo after the massacres.

French soldiers were deployed in parts of Rwanda in the final weeks of the genocide under a United Nations mandate known as Operation Turquoise to set up a protected zone.

But Rwanda says the soldiers allowed Hutu extremists to enter Tutsi camps.

"Operation Turquoise was aimed only at protecting genocide perpetrators, because the genocide continued even within the Turquoise zone," Mr Bihozagara said.

The panel's findings are expected within six months.

A French military court is conducting a separate investigation into claims that French soldiers played a part in the genocide.

For more on the complicity of France, and of the Western powers generally, with the genocide in Rwanda, see the work of Linda Melvern. Like this article in The Guardian, or one of her books (click on her name to see them listed on Amazon).

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