Rwanda: Story of a Genocide Foretold
Directed by Michael Sztanke (2019)
This documentary is about recent declassified evidence that reveals French complicity in the 1994 Rwanda genocide.
Although Rwanda is a former Belgian colony, France provided military “support” from the early nineties an an effort to “de-anglicize” central Africa. Viewing military presence in Rwanda as an entry point to Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) with its wealth of diamonds, gold, and rare earth minerals, they offered weapons and “military advisors.” Many of the latter assumed operational command over Rwandan troops.
Meanwhile, owing to systematic persecution by the Hutu-led government, many minority Tutsis fled to Uganda where they formed the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) led by current president Paul Kagame. The role of French forces was to assist the Hutu government in repelling the RPF.
In 1991, French general Jean Varret warned his superiors that machine guns and artillery they were supplying Rwanda police were being used in ruthless pogroms against Tutsi civilians. The French government responded by forcing him to resign.
The genocidal attacks against the Tutsis escalated in February 1994, following the assassination of Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana (which was blamed on the Tutsis). The next two months saw the daily slaughter of roughly 10,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. In response in April 1994, a UN mandate authorized the deployment of 2,500 French troops to Rwanda as peacekeepers.
Known as Operation Turquoise, the French peacekeeping mission turned a blind eye to the continuing genocide (which they referred to “reciprocal massacres”) until July 1994, when the RPF began their final military advance to topple the Hutu government. At that point the French set up a series of refugee camps in southern Rwanda. Their alleged purpose was to protect Tutsi victims, but they were also used to facilitate the escape (to Zaire, Togo, Gabon and France) of Hutu government officials and militia from the advancing RPF.
In this way, seven out of 21 ministers managed to escape although four were later convicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court. Three are still living quiet undisturbed lives in France.**
*The Belgians created significant ethnic strife in Rwanda by limiting appointments in the colonial government to minority Tutsis. This would engender significant backlash from Hutus when they assumed majority control following independence in 1962.
**Following a 2017 Rwandan government indictment against French generals implicated in the genocide, French president Macron agreed to open the archives to public inspection: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/04/05/france-throw-open-archives-rwanda-genocide-clarify-role-25-years/