For the majority of the world, the Rwandan Genocide and Civil War are things of the past, something to be remembered, commemorated, and hopefully not forgotten as the years continue. On the other hand, overall, it was seen as a failure of the West to back up their claims of wanting world security and on this smaller scale—by bringing security to the region.
Genocidiares have sought refuge in French society. But strangely, France as a whole seems to be asleep, concerning this issue. While combing through the accounts of what happened in Rwanda, this Permanent 5 Security Council member is one of the countries that has been slowest to face up to their inaction in 1994. Their inaction continues today against genocidaires. This inaction and alleged aid in helping the genocide that occurred in 1994 served to both morally embolden and physically strengthen the Hutu Power movement. During several of their operations, they went in contrast with the Tutsi RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) by establishing so-called safe zones which contained both Hutus and Tutsis. There, violence did continue to happen—some of it allegedly perpetrated by the French soldiers themselves according to current Rwandan president Paul Kagame.
Even today, the shared history between France and Rwanda does not continue to do any better. There are still gaps between Western actions and morality. Many former Hutu genocidaires from Rwanda, even high level ones, continue to find solace in the heartland of France. Despite public outcry and official overtures from Rwanda to extradite both genocidaires and those that motivated them, there has only been minimal, if any, action that has been taken against them by French government.
The organization Akazu in particular, has had it very easy. Akazu was one of the heads of the Hutu extremists, which promoted the ideals of Hutu power in the region. Based upon the family and close friends of ex president Juvenal Habyarimana, they had impunity to run. In doing so, they did directly lead people to action in violence against their neighbors. Agathe Habyarimana is just one of the five family members that is known to live in France, but has not had anything happen to her. The particular inability or unwillingness of French authorities to try those who were involved with the genocide shows there is not enough being done to make the genocidaires atone for their past.
The world as a whole has turned a blind eye to this kind of information too. In addition to political forces that have been overlooked, there are religious leaders from Rwanda that are able to preach and serve under the Catholic Church. Both in France and England, there are political leaders that are allowed to go free or have had their trials juggled between the Rwandan and local countries’ criminal courts. Wenceslas Munyeshyaka is a Roman Catholic priest from Rwanda who allowed dozens, if not hundreds, of Tutsis to be murdered on his behalf by being turned into the militias in Kigali. However, with the aid of the French and many nuns and other clergymen, all served to obscure his past so that he he was only indicted in 2008. Even before this time, France didn’t even want to get involved, citing, “France was not competent to judge crimes of genocide committed abroad, by a foreigner, against foreigners,” by the Trial Chamber of Nimes Court.
Others still were found guilty of crimes against humanity. In a case known as the Nyarubuye massacre, the leader of the group that killed 1,500 in the Nyarubuye Church was sentenced to only 25 years in prison. The rest received sentences sometimes as low as 7 years.
What this is a means to say is that the world needs to wake up. The millions still affected by Rwanda’s genocide and Civil War call for justice. And who are the political leaders and religious leaders of the world to deprive them of this right?
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