French Complicity in the Rwandan Genocide: An Interview with Jean-Paul Gouteux

French Complicity in the Rwandan Genocide: An Interview with Jean-Paul Gouteux

This month marks the 14th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, which is commonly considered to have begun on April 6, 1994. One aspect of the genocide that has received little attention in English-language media is the close relations that existed between the French military and the armed forces of the "Hutu Power" Rwandan government. In collaboration with the pro-government Interahamwe militias, Rwandan army officials are held to have been largely responsible for organizing the massacres perpetrated against the Tutsi civilian population and moderate Hutu from April to July 1994. The massacres are estimated to have claimed some 800,000 lives. They took place against the background of a civil war between Rwandan government forces and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF): a rebel force led by Paul Kagame, the current Rwandan president. In light of France's support for the Rwandan government of the time and the ambiguities of the allegedly "humanitarian" mission -- dubbed "Operation Turquoise" -- dispatched by France to Rwanda in June 1994, victims groups and critics of French African policy have long accused the French government of complicity in the genocide. Their efforts led to the formation in 2004 of a "Citizens' Commission of Inquiry" on the French role in the Rwandan genocide.

One such critic was the late Jean-Paul Gouteux. In August 2005, he spoke with the alternative Canadian publication, The Dominion, about the origins of the Rwandan genocide, the French role in the Rwandan crisis, and what he describes as the "collusion" of the leading French media of the time in covering up the true nature and extent of the violence. World Politics Review here presents Vivien Jaboeuf's interview with Jean-Paul Gouteux for the first time in English.

John Rosenthal

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