Rwanda report: what are the lessons for France?

Historians have handed Emmanuel Macron their report on France's role in the Rwandan genocide two years after he commissioned it. They conclude that France bears "heavy and overwhelming responsibilities" for the killings and speak of "blindness" and "failure", but say they found no evidence of French complicity. For commentators, this report can only be a start.

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Le Monde (FR) /

An important step toward the truth

Clear words are now needed from the French president, Le Monde urges:

“It is now Emmanuel Macron's task to translate the terrible findings of the report into political words. And it may be the task of judges to draw conclusions in the ongoing proceedings. Whenever it clears up dark moments in its history France boasts about it. With the 27th anniversary of the genocide approaching, the eagerly awaited French speech on the truth about Rwanda and Macron's planned trip to the country are expected to reboot relations between Kigali and Paris and send a signal to the whole of Africa. The survivors of the genocide and the families of the victims have a right to this. So do the French, because neither peace nor a country's reputation thrive on lies.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Murderers still protected in France

France's murderous involvement in the genocide has never been so clearly documented, the taz writes:

“France not only provided weapons and advisors, it had eyes and ears everywhere. France's diplomats and officers knew what was going on, in particular during the years that led up to the events. They could have reacted in time. ... Of course it was only to be expected that President Emmanuel Macron would cast himself as the intrepid champion of the truth, just as it was clear that critics of France's Africa policy would describe the report as inadequate. However, these reactions aren't enough. France continues to harbour perpetrators of the genocide. France and Rwanda still have separate historical memories and are not engaged in dialogue. As for the question: 'How was this possible?' - the survivors will probably take it with them to their graves.”

La Libre Belgique (BE) /

Accomplices are not named

La Libre Belgique is outraged that President François Mitterrand and his government got off so lightly:

“The 1998 parliamentary commission revealed that France continued to give weapons to the Rwandan soldiers involved in the genocide - which was carried out with grenades and machetes - after it started. But: 'there was no complicity in the genocide'. Thanks to the work of Jacques Morel and François Graner we know that the Elysée Palace was warned several times about the risks of genocide, and that President Mitterrand ignored the warnings each time. But: 'there was no complicity in the genocide'. Rather than evacuating the threatened Tutsi from the country, François Mitterrand chose to save the widow of his Rwandan counterpart, who was involved in the genocide. But: 'there was no complicity in the genocide'. Really?”