Global Politics

Author Philip Gourevitch discusses Rwandan genocide report

(Now Rwanda and France have been trading accusations since the slaughter in 2004, but are there any new allegations in this report?) In the synopsis I've seen, it's not entirely new, just far more detailed and explicit allegations on the part of Rwanda against the French government's complicity in the patronage, support, training and diplomatic coverup of the Rwandan genocide. Frankly there's a lot of substance to that. Whether any of the specific allegations constitute war crimes is another question. (Some of the specifics include that French managed training of Hutu soldiers, shipped them large quantities of weapons, and were even in the front lines of combat during the slaughter. What's the truth in those allegations?) There's some truth in all of that, depending on the scale. The government of Rwanda in the years before the was a client of the French government, it was very closely entwined with France's military. Mitterrand's son was accused of being an arms and drug dealer. And there is some substance to some of these accusations. The military establishment in Rwanda which was fighting the civil war which proceeded the genocide was trained by the French Army and there was some frontlines fighting done by the French in that civil war under the auspices of a humanitarian intervention but it was clear who they were there to defend. (If it was a humanitarian intervention, how did France get sucked in?) The French foreign policy in Africa at that time was driven by the idea of French client states, and the Tutsi rebel movement in Rwanda was coming out of East Africa from English speaking countries, and French foreign policy was if they speak English, they're our enemies. (Now you say this report names names, but is it saying that the rubber stamp went all the way up to Mitterrand?) There's no question that French troops were involved in this period of the Rwanda conflict. Mitterrand was quoted in a French paper saying a genocide in a small African country is not a big issue. Is he saying he was approving the genocide as such? Not explicitly, but there's no question the French ran a kind of support system for that regime.

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++ a very detailed interview which gives a lot of context and solid explanation to this situation.