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May 13, 2024 French

La France au Rwanda, l'opération Turquoise en question [Conférence avec Jacques Lanxade et Guillaume Ancel]

Card Number 24116

Larcher, Laurent
Semelin, Jacques
20 mars 2019
La France au Rwanda, l'opération Turquoise en question [Conférence avec Jacques Lanxade et Guillaume Ancel]
Une conférence organisée par l'Ecole des Affaires internationales et l'Ecole des Affaires publiques de Sciences Po, en présence de l'Amiral Jacques Lanxade et de Monsieur Guillaume Ancel. Un débat animé par Laurent Larcher et Jacques Semelin.
Jacques Lanxade at 33' and 1 h 04. Guillaume Ancel at 49' and 1 h 12. Questions from students at 1 h 20.

Note the following passages in Jacques Semelin's keynote presentation:

- "on April 7, 1994, the assassination of the President of Rwanda Juvénal Habyarimana […] is considered as the triggering event of the genocide in Rwanda" [comment: the attack against President Habyarimana's plane, which took place on the evening of April 6, 1994 and not the 7th, is not the cause of a genocide consisting of a spontaneous outburst of violence. This is the first act of a coup d'Etat which marked the beginning of the genocide against the Tutsi, which itself had been matured for many years by Hutu extremists (at least since 1992)];

- "This country has been at war since […] 1st October 1990 when the RPF army invaded Rwanda" [the reasons which led the RPF to launch its offensive from northeastern Rwanda are obscured. It is appalling that a "genocide specialist" ignores the massacres which, from 1959 to 1963 and then in 1972-1973, forced the Tutsi into exile or deportation to unsanitary regions];

- "The RPF commits many abuses against the civilian population, against the Hutu, in order to terrorize it and profit from it, therefore to submit it politically" [Jacques Semelin, who worked in the early 1980s for the Ministry of Defence, here repeats the propaganda of the French army (notably implemented in the field by Michel Robardey) consisting in accusing the RPF of being the author of terrorist attacks without serious proof];

- "French soldiers were sent by President Mitterrand under a military cooperation agreement between these two countries at the end of October 1990" [France joined forces with the FAR on October 4, 1990 (Operation Noroît) under agreements that had no legal basis at the time. By what right does France intervene militarily to prevent refugees from returning to their country?];

- "in March 1993, [France will also] block the advance of the RPF on Kigali" [the French soldiers intervened in Ruhengeri in February, and not March 1993, within the framework of the operation Noroît above. Reinforcements arrive on February 9. Other interventions by the French army alongside the FAR took place in previous years, notably in Ruhengeri in 1991 or in Byumba in 1992];

- "In this period after April 7 [1994] […], Alain Juppé […] requested an intervention but the UN was still not prepared to give him its agreement" [on May 11, 1994, Alain Juppé nevertheless declared at Johns Hopkins University in Washington: "I don't believe that the international community can go and police everywhere on the planet and send, wherever people are fighting, interposition forces"];

- "the RPF itself does not want an international intervention" [an international deployment of interposition on the ground would have inevitably led to the ceasefire demanded by the interim Government, for which only an stopping the fighting could put an end to the abuses];

- "In 1998, France undertook significant investigation work within the framework of the parliamentary commission chaired by Paul Quilès" [Paul Quilès set up a simple parliamentary fact-finding mission (MIP) and not a commission of inquiry, which would have had more extensive investigative powers. The MIP also stopped its investigations as soon as the subject became critical: on the attack and the missile used (it notably saw the DGSE note exonerating the RPF but did not publish it), on Bisesero, on the arms deliveries, etc.)].