In one of the most highly anticipated investigations into the 1993-1994 Rwandan genocide, researchers now say that France enabled the massacres with diplomatic, financial and logistical support, according to a 600-page report released on Wednesday.
The authors of the “Making of the Rwandan genocide” paper, which is based on testimonies and documents by more than 100 witnesses, say that President Francois Mitterrand and his French diplomatic team lost interest in the genocide that was tearing apart the country and instead prioritized support for a Tutsi-led insurgency against the Hutu-led government. It was, they say, a decision that worsened atrocities and left much of the country with nothing but rubble and mass graves.
The paper adds that Mitterrand and then-Foreign Minister Roland Dumas, who also served as an adviser on Africa, permitted foreign mercenaries to run a campaign of torture, pillage and killing.
In their report, the authors say that Mitterrand sought help to topple the Hutu-led government of President Juvenal Habyarimana as the military and paramilitary groups responsible for massacres — the Rwandan Patriotic Front, or RPF, as well as local militias — moved into the capital, Kigali. It was French military assistance that provided the key logistical links to the different groups, the authors say.
France committed “errors and commissions” during the genocide, the report says, but notes that the responsibility lies mostly with the regional states, including Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi, as well as outside militaries such as the U.S. and Soviet Union, which provided arms and logistical support to the RPF during its campaign.