France bears “clear responsibility” for the 1994 Rwanda genocide. “We were warned, but we did not listen. We supported the genocide regime. Then we abandoned the victims,” President Macron said during his one-day visit. To Rwanda.
He gave no excuses. “I realize our responsibility,” Macron said. “What happened was a tragedy in the name of: genocide. The aim was to exterminate all Tutsis. France played a role and bears responsibility. This creates duties.” He asked for pardon from the Rwandans.
Macron gave his speech at the Genocide Memorial in the capital, Kigali. There are remains of 250,000 victims. The 1994 massacre claimed the lives of at least 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus.
It is the first time that a French president has taken responsibility for what happened in such clear terms.
In March of this year, a committee of French historians made harsh conclusions about France’s involvement in the genocide. Paris cooperated with the “corrupt” Hutu regime for years. French soldiers trained the Rwandan army, and President Francois Mitterrand in particular ignored any signs that a massacre was imminent.
And wrote the Committee of Historians, which was formed at the request of President Macron, “France shares the responsibility.” The president himself is now using the words of Kigali historians. Commission President Vincent Duclert said in his personal capacity that he supports France, too, to make excuses. The president did not take this step.
Improve the relationship
Emmanuel Macron traveled to Rwanda to revive the bilateral relations. Relations have been disrupted since 1994, in part due to persistent accusations about France’s involvement in the genocide. Paris had never wanted to be open about this yet.
“The fact that Macron is visiting our country, and that the French historians have conducted research, are really big steps towards reconciliation,” said Freddy Mutangoha, director of the memorial in Kigali.