The French Republic
A CALL TO FRENCH PEOPLE TO RESIST RWANDA’S CRIMINALIZATION OF FRANCE
I am writing to Your Excellency, and through you to all French people in reaction to the repeated attempts by the Government of President Paul Kagame in Rwanda to demonize France and its citizens as much as it has dehumanized Rwandan citizens.
In writing this personal note to you and the French people you have been mandated to lead, I claim identities that even the Rwandan regime cannot dispute. Like Paul Kagame, I am a Tutsi who grew up in the refugee camps of Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda. I was orphaned when I was one year old, my father having been among the first victims during the aftermath of Rwanda’s 1959 Hutu Revolution. I was RPF’s Secretary General, Rwanda’s Ambassador to the United States, and later President Kagame’s Chef de Cabinet.
As his closest confidante at one point, I know much about President Kagame’ private and public life. I daily bear the risk of knowing that much and daring to speak truth to power, especially knowing the price of being President Kagame’s critic.
Above all, I am a witness to the immense loss of life of both Tutsi and Hutu.
Almost a quarter of a century ago, in June of 1994, at the height of one of the most tragic genocides of all time, I led a two-man delegation on behalf of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) to the Quai D’Orsay to dissuade France from undertaking Operation Turquoise. My other colleague in the delegation was late Dr.Jacques Bihozagara. At the time, I had the opportunity to meet Alain Juppe, then France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, to convey an important and urgent message from General Paul Kagame regarding the impending Peacekeeping Mission under a United Nations Chapter VII Mandate.
To Mr. Alain Juppe, and later to the French senior military officials of the time, including General Le Mercier, I reiterated RPF’s position that we considered France as pro-government in the Rwandan conflict, and that any military operation would be interpreted as an attempt to prop-up the beleaguered regime (Provisional Government established after the assassination of President Juvenal Habyarimana under the orders of General Paul Kagame) whose members were the masterminds of the genocide. I remember, now with shame, that I repeated General Paul Kagame’s specific words “ all Tutsi who had to die have been killed; who are you coming to save?” to Mr. Alain Juppe and General Le Mercier.
At this point in time, RPF not only opposed France’s intervention. It was strongly against any foreign intervention, including UN’s, that would snatch away outright military victory which was in sight.
Saving Tutsi lives was not on RPF’s immediate agenda. Capturing power was.
I wish I could state that what I have just said is a matter of history, being recounted just to refresh the memory of somebody like Your Excellency who was only then a young adolescent in 1994, but now presiding over a nation with a rich history and a vital role on the world stage like France’s.
Unfortunately, it should be an active matter of utmost importance to all citizens of Rwanda and France, simply because it speaks to crimes committed by Rwandans against their fellow Rwandans, crimes that have never been fully acknowledged and accounted for.
In retrospect, though controversial, Operation Turquoise did take place and saved some Rwandan lives.
You may ask as to why President Kagame and his regime have this endless misinterpretation of history, distortion of facts, and heaping insult after insult to France and its leaders.
Permit me, Your Excellency, to mention four reasons.
First, there is the unresolved question of who is responsible for the shooting down of the plane in which the Presidents of Rwanda (Juvenal Habyarimana) and Burundi (Cyprian Ntaryamira) and all their entourage, including French citizens, perished. Like the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in June 1914 and the trigger of World War I, this tragic event was the firing shot that triggered the subsequent genocide that has claimed both Tutsi and Hutu. From what I know, nothing un-nerves and scares President Kagame like the French investigation on this matter. The investigation is an existential threat to him.
Second, there is much work that has been done by the international community to bring to justice the perpetrators of the genocide against Tutsi. Sadly, against all evidence presented by various United Nations reports, including the DRC Mapping Report (1993-2003) that found Rwanda responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly acts of genocide against Hutu and Congolese people, President Kagame’s regime has not been challenged to account for these heinous crimes.
Western powers, notably the United States and the United Kingdom, out of guilt and geo-strategic interests, have cushioned President Kagame’s regime from accountability. The resulting culture of impunity that this has fueled extends far beyond the borders of Rwanda, with far reaching implication in decades ahead.
Third, the extended political crisis in Rwanda that began in 1959, punctuated by civil war, refugees, genocide, massive destruction of life and property, and regional destabilization has never ended. The actors have changed but the thrust of Rwanda’s internal lack of freedom, democracy and the rule of law is centuries-old.
President Kagame has just crowned himself Life-President in a sham referendum and rigged electoral process. He seeks to perpetuate his power using a clique of exclusively Tutsi military officers, absolute closure of political and civil space, assassination and imprisonment of political opponents, marginalization of Hutu who have been banished to the margins of society as second class citizens, a policy of attrition against dissenting Tutsi elements, massive socio-economic inequalities, and corruption that favors President Kagame, his family, and those in his immediate entourage.
Fourth, and finally, President Kagame’s regime has become the default destabilizing influence in the Great Lakes region of east and central Africa. Acting alone or on behalf of some Western powers, Rwanda has sponsored wars of aggression and proxy wars against the Democratic Republic of Congo, while continuing to destabilize Burundi and Uganda.
In a nutshell, Your Excellency, as long as President Kagame’s regime alienates its own citizens, antagonizes Rwanda’s neighbors, fails to account for its culpability for crimes it has committed in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and for the shooting down of the plane that triggered massive loss of life, it will always look for a scapegoat in France to deflect attention from the real causes of Rwanda’s protracted political crisis.
In my humble advice, I would like to urge Your Excellency, the Government of France, and the French people to reject President Kagame’s repeated false and contemptuous attempts to make France an accomplice in the Rwandan genocide. Genocide against Tutsi and Hutu was committed by Rwandans against Rwandans.
Foreign powers- Belgium, France, United States, United Kingdom and Uganda- have at different times during the last 100 years backed one or the other side in Rwanda’s contentious and violence-prone politics. To that extent one could argue that these foreign actors are indeed secondary factors in Rwanda’s cyclic tragedies.
However, it is absolutely wrong to accuse these foreign actors for evil committed by Rwandans against Rwandans. Only Rwandans can end the cyclical violence by acknowledging the mutually inflicted pain, and mutually absolve themselves in a generational healing process.
France must therefore unequivocally reject the vicious and relentless onslaught by President Kagame’s regime to criminalize French people.
France must speak out against deliberate distortions of history by a brutal minority regime whose intention is to deflect attention from a self-inflicted internal crisis and accountability for the crimes it has committed against Rwandan people and foreign citizens.
Silence in the face of these blatant attacks serves to embolden the intransigence of a dictator who thrives on the guilt of foreigners, and the acquiescence of some quarters in France and a global elite who either profit, or have become willing tools in the scandalous propagation of lies.
In the next few months, the Government of Rwanda intends to escalate the stakes.
Having published the so-called Mucyo Report (2008) by Rwanda, and the Muse Report (2017) by a US law firm Cunningham Levy Muse, both of which came out with Rwanda’s official lies that France was an accomplice in the Rwandan genocide, the regime will now proceed to issue “indictments” against French citizens, and then take the matter to the African Union and the United Nations to embarrass France.
I would like to urge Your Excellency, the Government of France, and the French people to remain vigilant against Rwanda’s manipulation of international public opinion.
I would like to further urge you to render France’s support in mobilizing regional and international to support all Rwandans in their struggle to achieve healing, reconciliation, respect for fundamental freedoms, democracy, the rule of law, shared and sustainable prosperity, and peace.
I wish Your Excellency, your family, the French Government, and French people a Happy New Year of 2018.
Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa
Former Ambassador of Rwanda to the United States of America
December 26, 2017