The new commission of eight researchers and historians named by French President Emmanuel Macron to investigate the role of the French military in Rwanda must operate “independently”, the umbrella association of genocide survivors IBUKA says.
IBUKA said hopes the team comprises “people of integrity”, in a speech made yesterday by its leader Dr Jean-Pierre Dusingizemungu at the night vigil in commemoration of victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
The French presidency said in a statement on Friday last week that the experts “will be tasked with consulting all France’s archives relating to the genocide… in order to analyse the role and engagement of France during that period”.
The commission will also look at the period from 1990 to 1994 to “contribute to a better understanding and knowledge of the genocide of Tutsis”, the statement added.
The findings, to be released in two years, will apparently be used in material used to teach people in France about the genocide.
Speaking yesterday in the stadium before President Paul Kagame, Belgian PM Charles Michel, the French delegation and thousands of peoples, IBUKA’s leader said; “…we hope the commission will work independently free of any obstacles.”
At the commemoration activities in Rwanda, Macron sent a Rwanda-born MP Hervé Berville to lead the French delegation.
In the speech, Dr Dusingizemungu said IBUKA was asking the delegation to deliver a message back to France and to the French people that they need to “make a step towards putting the truth to light”.
“It will be a historic step that will allow France to get peace because suppressing the truth does not give any peace at all,” he added, amid loud cries as some of the victims experienced traumatic seizures.
By the end of the 100-day massacre some 25 years ago, some 1,074,056 Tutsis had been killed and their names are written on memorial sites across Rwanda. The genocide left 309,368 survivors.
The speech by IBUKA was during the night vigil, which followed a “Walk to Remember” earlier in the day, also led by President Kagame and his guests during which they walked from the Parliamentary buildings to the stadium for the vigil.
The walk is an annual event to honor the victims that walked for weeks, hiding from roadblocks of rampaging genocide interahamwe militias, who also searched homes and bushes for Tutsi to kill.