MSF calls for a Commission of Enquiry into the role of the French government in the Rwandan genocide
3 March 1998
Paris - Today the international medical relief organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), along with prominent French academics and NGO's and human rights activists (including Action Contre La Faim and Ligues des Droits de l'Homme), called for the creation of a French parliamentary commission of enquiry into the role of the French government in the organisation and implementation of the Rwandan genocide between 1990 and 1994. There is mounting evidence of the deep involvement of the French authorities in the arming and organising of the Rwandan army under President Habyarimana's government, responsible for the slaughter of up to one million members of the Tutsi minority and the political opposition. This comes at a time when the Belgian Senate has just published a full public report on the role of the Belgian government in Rwanda in April 1994. "France's African policy has been conducted without any form of democratic accountability for too long," Dr Philippe Biberson, MSF France's President, said today. "The French government supported the Habyarimana regime to the bitter end, and failed to exert the necessary pressure when the genocide was launched, and has even continued to provide support after that point. It is high time the French government broke its traditional silence on its shameful role in the genocide". MSF ran a public campaign in France in May and June 1994, denouncing the French government's involvement with the Rwandan regime and calling for President Mitterand to take personal responsibility and intercede with the Rwandan regime to stop the killings. The campaign calls for complete parliamentary access to archives and official records of the period, as well as for public hearings with key officials, which would set a precedent in France's African policy.