The French defence ministry has questioned the legitimacy of a Rwandan commission accusing French officials, including late President François Mitterrand, of involvement in the 1994 genocide. CAUTION: Images may be disturbing to some viewers.
Rwanda has officially accused France of playing an active role in the African country’s 1994 genocide.
A 500-page report released on Tuesday by the Rwandan Justice Ministry slams 13 French politicians and 20 French military officers for their alleged role in the events. It demands that legal action be taken against them.
France's foreign ministry on Wednesday accused Rwanda of making "unacceptable accusations" in a report alleging French politicians and military played an active role in the 1994 genocide.
Questioned on the report's conclusions on Tuesday, the French defence ministry referred reporters to its official position as set out in a February 9, 2007 statement, which claimed the inquiry had "no guarantee of independence or impartiality." France's foreign ministry refused to comment, according to the AFP.
The original statement had declared that "France assumes full responsibility for its actions in Rwanda in 1994, especially those of its armed forces."
The late President Francois Mitterrand and the former French prime ministers Edouard Balladur and Dominique de Villepin are some of the French politicians accused by the report.
The Rwanda report – two years in the making - was compiled by a special commission probing France's role in the genocide. Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwandan minister of information, told FRANCE 24 that it “was the product of a commission based on auditions in different places, including France.”
The UN estimates that some 800,000 Rwandans died in the 1994 genocide, in which extremist members of the Hutu majority massacred minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The report alleged that France was aware of preparations for the genocide, contributed to planning the massacres, and actively took part in the killing.
"French forces directly assassinated Tutsis and Hutus accused of hiding Tutsis... French forces committed several rapes on Tutsi survivors," said a justice ministry statement released after the report was presented in Kigali, the Rwandan capital.
The statement said that France’s military and humanitarian Operation Turquoise, conducted between June and August 1994, abetted the killings perpetrated by extremist Hutu groups, a claim denied by Paris. France maintains its forces helped protect people during a UN-sanctioned mission in Rwanda at the time.
Still, “we expect and hope for a good level of cooperation both from the French state and the individuals implicated in this report,” Minister Mushikiwabo said.
Date created : 2008-08-07