President François Hollande has announced that a trove of Elysée palace documents about the 1994 Rwandan genocide will be declassified.
For David Servenay, an expert on France’s role in the event, it’s a small step that could lead to big revelations.
France was an ally of the ethnic Hutu government that ruled Rwanda before the genocide, but it has repeatedly denied accusations by President Paul Kagame and his supporters of complicity in the slaughter of more than 800,000 Tutsis.
In an effort to ease tensions between Paris and Kigali, France’s Hollande said last year he was committing to a new spirit of transparency in relation to the 1994 tragedy.
French journalist David Servenay has written two books on the Rwandan genocide.
Last year, he published “In the name of France” (Au nom de la France, La Découverte), a work focused on former French president François Mitterrand’s administration and its share of the blame in the mass killings two decades ago.
France 24 asked him how the declassified documents will change the world’s knowledge about the genocide and how it will shape future relations between France and Rwanda.
This is what David Servenay told France 24
The question of arms deliveries is another major and unresolved issue. Starting in mid-April 1994 the UN implemented an embargo on the sale or supply of arms to Rwanda, but we know that there were a number of arms shipments made by France, or orchestrated by France, around that time.
What will perhaps be most interesting is that the summaries of discussions at the Elysée include references to documents authored by other agencies, specifically by French intelligence services.
So we will not have the original intelligence reports, but they are widely cited by president [Mitterrand’s] advisors and staff, and could contain very interesting insights.
For example, on the subject of arms shipments, there are allegations that depend on very precise details, such as an eye-witness account, or a certain date. I think some questions will be answered, but I honestly don’t think the declassified documents will revolutionise our understanding of what happened in Rwanda at the time.
Rwanda talks on Genocide ideology
Every year, Rwandans and friends of Rwanda come together to pay tribute to over one million innocent Rwandans killed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, known in Kinyarwanda as Kwibuka.
The one hundred days of remembrance that signifies the 100 days of systematic Tutsi extermination, starts every April 7.
It’s an opportunity to enhance historical clarity, get closer to survivors as well as empathise and educate the public of their role in ensuring that this inhuman act never happens again.
This year’s Kwibuka21, held at Umudugudu (Village) level, is running under the theme “Fighting Against Genocide Denial and Revision,” and dedicated, partly, fighting Genocide denial and revisionism.
Throughout the commemoration week, citizens gather in all villages nationwide to reflect on the country’s history, and discuss different genocide-related topics focusing on fighting genocide denial.
The general public are reminded to stand together and fight against any form of action aimed at negating the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
It is understood that crimes related to genocide denial tend to increase in the month of April.
Statistics from the Rwanda National Police (RNP) department of criminal investigation indicate that 36 percent of the 138 cases registered last year, were committed in the month of April.
Article 2 of the law N°18/2008 of July 23, 2008, relating to the punishment of the crime of genocide ideology, defines genocide ideology as; an aggregate of thoughts characterized by conduct, speeches, documents and other acts aiming at exterminating or inciting others to exterminate people basing on ethnic group, origin, nationality, region, color, physical appearance, sex, language, religion or political opinion, committed in normal periods or during war.
The crime of genocide ideology, in article 3 of the same law, is characterized in any behaviour manifested by facts aimed at deshumanizing a person or a group of persons with the same characteristics like threatening, intimidating, degrading through defamatory speeches, documents or actions which aim at propounding wickedness or inciting hatred.
It can also be committed through marginalising, laughing at one’s misfortune, defaming, mocking, boasting, despising, degrading creating confusion aiming at negating the genocide which occurred, stiring up ill feelings, taking revenge, altering testimony or evidence for the genocide which occurred, killing, planning to kill or attempting to kill someone for purposes of furthering genocide ideology.
It’s together, “Never Again” and saying no to criminality while working together for the good and development of our communities and the country in general.