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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Rwanda. Une Mémoire Élyséenne À Éclipses

by Jean Chatain

Rwanda : An occasional French memory

Translated Friday 25 October 2019, by Eoin Downey

A longtime ‘top-secret’ document is disputing the theory of large sections of French political and judicial authorities regarding the attack on then Rwandan President, Juvénal Habyarimana on 6th April 1994.

On April 7th 1994, the Rwandan capital began to lose control of the genocide. One million martyrs in one hundred days and some twenty-five years later, many questions remain unanswered. These questions are centered around the role played by France both before and during the genocide, as well as during the civil war (October 1990 to August 1994). On the morning of 7th April, the targeted murders continue. The presidential guard assassinated two opposition candidates for the presidency of the transition assembly. The President of the constitutional court, the first Hutu minister of the transition government (Agathe Uwilingiyimana) and ten Belgian peacekeepers assigned to his protection are all lynched. The political crimes are immediately drowned in a madness of ‘ethnic’ bloodshed, which in three months will result in the deaths of one million Tutsi. The evening before, the plane of the Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana was struck by two missiles when arriving in Kigali, a precursor to the massacres.

Both racist militias and the presidential guard stood visibly ready for weeks. Talks for the creation of a temporary government began simultaneously and took place in the French embassy in Rwanda, a memory which Paris would rather forget. How can they be opposed to questions regarding Operation Turquoise for example, which theoretically consisted of a humanitarian operation beginning in June 1994? It is what it is and there is no point in arguing! The response is the same for the other documents, such as those relating to the attack against the presidential plane. As the code of silence comes with a risk that the tables could be turned on those who abide by it at a later time, it is necessary to occasionally provide a gesture of good faith, such as the opening of a sprinkling of carefully selected top secret documents. The declassification remains sketchy but gives the effect of making a stance without really shining a light on the heart of the problems. Limited as it is, it can however have cruel effects. An example includes letters addressed on June 15th 1998 by General Jean Rannou, the Air Force Chief of Staff to head of the ‘Rwanda’ committee to the cabinet of the Ministry of Defence General Mourgeon, which were declassified by decision number 009560 on October 9th from the Minister of Defence. A form dated 22nd September 1994, barely two months after the end of the genocide, appears in this document under the title, ‘Theory of the department on the responsabilities of the attack against the plane of President Habyarimana’

‘Réseau Zéro, Hutus rebels, and northern natives’

The first paragraph integrally cites, ‘12th of July 1994, the department had already put forward a theory that, two months later, still seemed the most plausible. This theory, which is based off the testimonies of a moderate Hutu figure, could stretch to identify Colonel Bagosora, the former cabinet director of the Ministry of Defence and Colonel Serubuga, the former Chief of Staff for the Rwandan armed forces as the principal backers of the attack on April 6th 1994.’ The document goes on to indicate that ‘both Karago natives, like the late president Habyarimana, considered themselves as the legitimate heirs of the regime. ’The document also states that they considered the retirement of Habyariamana in 1992 ‘had been due to heavy resentment and a significant coming together with Mrs. Agathe Habyarimana, the president’s widow and often considered as one of the chief brains of radical tendencies in the old regime’. Further below, the definition of  ’Réseau Zéro’, a regrouping of members of the latter’s tribe, which was ‘comprised of radical Hutus, northern natives, both military and civilians, (it) is suspected of being at the centre of the plot which lead to the assassination on April 6th 1994 and being responsible for the systematic planning of the acts of violence.’ The existence of such guarded documents up their sleeves did not stop magistrates such as Judge Bruguière or politicians like the former minister, Bernard Debré* from presenting as evidence, the culpability of the then leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, and current Rwandan President, Paul Kagamé : Which others continue to repeat as gospel truth…

*Le Retour du Mwami was written by Bernard Debré and published by Ramsay in 1998. We will seriously consider the former Minister of the International Cooperation adding that in another book, la Véritable Histoire des génocides rwandais, on page 187, (edited by Jean-Claude Gawsevitch in 2006), the same reveals that Joseph Kabila is the brother of his predecessor, Laurent-Désiré Kabila.


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