France to Erect Memorial to Rwanda Genocide Victims

 

Almost two years after the French president made a highly symbolic trip to Rwanda, the presidency announced Friday that a memorial to the victims of the 1994 genocide would be built.

Survivors have welcomed the move. Analyst Seidik Abba highlights a significant advancement.

“The mere fact of erecting in the heart of the French capital a monument that is dedicated to victims of the 1994 genocide is a major step forward in the recognition by France of its responsibility in the reconciliation process between Paris and Kigali,” he said.

Two reports completed in March and in April 2021 examined France’s role in the genocide that left an estimated 800 000 people dead. The Duclert report found that France’s government bore “significant” responsibility for “enabling a foreseeable genocide.”

“It is not easy for France to go beyond that because there are hurdles,” Seidik Abba explained.

“The military lobby for example and some groups from the left-wing during president Mitterrand years who think that France did nothing wrong. They are in a posture of denial. Yet, given the fact that France’s political authority had taken the step of acknowledging its responsibility with the Duclert report; in addition to erecting a monument: all of this is important. It will not wash away the pain of the survivors nor bring back to life those who died; but it is symbolic.

Rwanda’s government and genocide survivor organizations frequently accused France of training and arming militias and former government troops who were at the forefront of the genocide.

The announcement of the monument’s erection coincides with the start of the genocide’s 29th anniversary.

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