When I opened up my social media feed yesterday, the news about Bernard Kouchner, the French ex- Foreign Minister was a headline. In an interview with a French daily newspaper, La Croix, Kouchner said on Sunday 7/1/2018 that in 1994 France had “committed a very heavy political mistake” in Rwanda. The “French decision makers did not want to see” at the time that they “were friends with the ‘genocidaires’ in this country” he said. While many people seem to have praised this statement as a step forward in uncovering the role of France in the extermination of Rwanda’s Tutsis by French-backed Hutus, I have to confess that I received this statement with mixed feelings.
First, the statement seems to be a sharp U-Turn from his own statement on Al Jazeera back in 2014 in which he called France to apologize for its role in the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. It is unclear whether yesterday’s statement is actually a self-contradiction or whether it reflects Kouchner’s current version of the events of 1994.
Second, Reducing French’s involvement to just ‘’ a political mistake’’ is an understatement and a deliberate aberration to common knowledge. This was a genocide Co-authored by France as a political tool to maintain French influence in Rwanda at the cost of over one million Tutsis men, women and children. We, the survivors, saw this with our own eyes: we saw French soldiers hand in hand with Hutu Killers, training them, manning check points with them to prevent us from escaping. As we were being hunted down like wild animals in 1994, France is perhaps the only country in the world that rolled red caped for the genocidal government right in the midst of genocide. If France did not shy away from shaking hands with those devils then, why is it dragging its feet when it comes to do the right thing now?
Today, thanks to ordinary French people themselves, writers, journalists and students, the role of France during the Genocide of Tutsi in Rwanda is crystal clear than ever: France had not made just ‘’ a political mistake’’. France made a criminal and well calculated political choice to be accomplice at the highest level in the last genocide of the 20th century. Any statement different from this fact is simply a nonsense that should not be insinuated by a respectable statesman and activist like Bernard Kouchner whose organization—Doctors Without Borders won a Nobel peace prize.
Finally, having been trained in French-based law myself, I remember a provision in French text laws that reads’’ le complice est puni comme auteur de l’infraction’’ which translates, the accomplice shall be punished as the perpetrator of the crime. This is exactly what should be done sooner or later. As we approach the 25th anniversary of genocide against the Tutsi, It is high time for current and former French officials like Bernard Kouchner to own their shameful responsibility by arresting genocide suspects still roaming free in France then apologize and ultimately pay reparations to the survivors. That’s the right thing France should be doing instead of playing with politically correct but empty words.