France declassifies Genocide documents, Rwandans remember and honour victims


President Paul Kagame giving his keynote address during 21st commemoration of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda

The French government has decided to make public, formerly classified documents between French and Rwandan governments in the lead up to and during the 1994 genocide, French president’s office has said.

The archives will be able to be accessed by researchers, academia, and Genocide victims groups, and they will include advice to then French President François Mitterrand (by aides), and communications he might have had with the then Juvenal Habyarimana government in Rwanda.

These documents in the past have been a source of controversy between the two countries; Rwandan authorities have always maintained the French authorities aided and abetted the Genocide against the Tutsi, and Kigali at one point severed ties with Paris over the latter’s role in the 1994 mayhem.        Relations between the two nations have since been normalized, and this gesture will further strengthen the ties.

Meanwhile yesterday Rwandans kicked off the 21st commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi. And in his speech in Kigali, President Paul Kagame, as usual lashed at the west for harbouring killers or Genocidaires and treat them like VIPs.

The president also castigated the international community for not doing enough to deal with the Rwandan rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a group the Kigali government accuses of participating in the Genocide and is still hell-bent to attack Rwanda.

President Kagame went on to particularly single out the BBC for its “Rwanda’s Untold Story” documentary that”blamed the victims of the Genocide for their own killing.”

The 2014 documentary challenges the official Rwandan government narrative of the 1994 Genocide, and alleges President Kagame and Rwandan Patrotic Front (RPF) played a role in the Genocide.

BBC’s license to broadcast its vernacular programmes in Rwanda has been suspended and there has been reports the Rwandan government might sue the London-based broadcasting corporation.

Reflecting on the Genocide Kagame said “people were being hunted like animals to be killed, people are supposed to have same human rights, humans are supposed to be brothers and sisters but they were hunted and killed.”
He added that the “it continues until today, only that it is not easy to be hunted and killed today, but they are hunted in a different way”

The Rwandan leader was referring to the international community’s accusation that Rwanda, the Rwandan government in particular was responsible for destabilising the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by fully supporting the M23 rebels in 2012.

For the next seven days, events to commemorate the 1994 massacres will be held all over Rwanda, and in the diaspora. It is usually a traumatic period for survivors as they relieve the tragedy.