A twenty-member delegation of young French leaders and their European colleagues yesterday arrived in Kigali as part of a campaign to denounce the role of France in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The youths also say they want to establish contacts with their Rwandan counterparts.
The delegation comprises leaders of youth wings of political organisations, student unions, anti-racist movements and NGOs, under their umbrella, the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (Egam).
Egam brings together at least 35 anti-racist organisations from 29 European countries dedicated to fight racism and related vices.
The group’s president, Benjamin Abtan, said; “We are here to say no to the silence about the complicity of different French individuals in the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.”
“In France, the youth and the old generation are divided on the issue concerning the role our country played during the tragedy,” he told The New Times shortly after their arrival in Kigali.
He said there had been indifference on the subject on the part of the older French generation.
“For us, we need truth and clarity (on the matter),” he insisted.
Laura Slmani, the head of the youth wing of the French Socialist Party, said that most of the French people had little or no idea on the relationship between the former Francois Mitterrand government and the genocidal regime in Rwanda two decades ago. “Our mission is for the French public to understand the whole truth.”
In a strong-worded statement released last week titled, Tutsi Genocide: Now is time for the truth!, EGAM cites facts that prove France’s involvement in the Genocide and call for an end to concealment of that responsibility.
“Let’s state it clearly: Paris did support the Rwandan regime before, during and after the Genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi population, which resulted in the death of over 800 000 people between April and July 1994,” the statement reads in part.
“For the past twenty years, these politicians, in an attempt to save their honour, have refused to answer for their actions and kept trying to obstruct the bursting of the truth by denying France’s involvement, which often tends to sound like denial speech,” it adds.
During their week-long visit, the youth intends to interact with different officials to understand how the Genocide against the Tutsi was prepared, its execution and the aftermath of the Genocide.
They will also plan to visit some sites with historical significance about the role of France in the events that took place in Rwanda, such as Genocide memorials in Bisesero and Murambi in the Western and Southern provinces, respectively.
The European youth will also visit Genocide widows and orphans in different parts of the country.
The visiting youths were in company of members of GAER, the association of youth Genocide survivors, who included the group coordinator, Alain Intwaza.
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