Finger pointing and hand-wringing are accompanying the tenth anniversary of the Rwanda genocide. An investigation set up by the French government suggests that members of the entourage of the current president of Rwanda, Paul Kagamé, a Tutsi, were behind the shooting down in April 1994 of a plane carrying the then president Juvénal Habyarimana.
This report in the French newspaper Le Monde outlines some of the issues, with a bias towards the French state:
"Blamed by the Bruguière inquiry into the attack on president Habyarimana which, in 1994, plunged the 'country of a thousand hills' into genocide, the strong man of Kigali accuses France of having given 'arms' and 'orders' to the killers of around 800,000 Tutsis.
"Since he learned of the accusation Paul Kagamé has been accusing France.
"Following the revelations made in Le Monde (10 March), the ex-rebel chief and present Rwandan head of state has first accused Paris of wanting to hide from its 'responsibilities' in the extermination Then, after the discovery at UN HQ of a 'black box' from Rwanda, which judge Bruguière has established was transfered to New York in 1994, during the killings, Paul Kagamé accuses France of staging a 'diversion', so the genocide will be eclipsed by the attack on the presidential plane, the event which 'set off' massacres that had long been planned.
"Finally, Paul Kagamé outlined the 'responsibilities' which France was trying to hide, as the international community prepared to commemorate - for the first time on African soil - on 7 April in Kigali the 'crime of crimes' perpetrated ten years ago.
"In an interview the Rwandan head of state accused Paris of active participation in the mass murder of 1994, in its preparation as well as in its execution. French soldiers of Operation 'Turquoise' [ostensibly a humanitarian mission], which took place between 21 June and 21 August 1994, could even have participated in a 'plot' to get escaping Tutsis out of their 'hiding places' and deliver them to their killers."
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, who was at the time head of UN peacekeeping, has said he could have done more to stop the genocide and said: "The international community is guilty of sins of omission."
The head of UN peacekeepers in Rwanda during the genocide, Romeo Dallaire, told a recent memorial conference: "I still believe that if an organisation decided to wipe out the 320 mountain gorillas there would be still more of a reaction by the international community to curtail or stop that than there would be still today in attempting to protect thousands of human beings being slaughtered in the same country."
On the other hand, according to Kagamé and others, France's intervention, ostensibly humanitarian, actually helped the genocide.
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