France President, Macron seeks forgiveness from Genocide survivors in Rwanda
London, May 27, 2021 (AltAfrica)-Visiting French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, sought the forgiveness of the survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, for what he admitted was his country’s historical and political responsibility in Rwanda.
On his second day visit to Rwanda, Macron spoke at the Kigali Genocide Memorial – the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
He also laid a wreath and honoured Genocide victims.
According to Macron, France has a duty to face history and to recognize the suffering it has inflicted on the Rwandan people by, for too long, being silent in as far as facing and examining the truth is concerned.
Macron said: “As I stand with humility and respect at your side on this day, I come to recognize the magnitude of our responsibilities.”
He noted that recognising the past is also and above all about continuing the work of justice, by committing that no genocide suspect can escape justice.
France is home to at least 47 indicted Genocide suspects and hundreds of genocide deniers and revisionists. During and after the Genocide against the Tutsi, 27 years ago, instead of arresting ring leaders of the mass murders, French troops helped them flee, with many eventually being welcomed to stay in France where they remain up to now.
The gift of forgiving us
Macron added: “Recognizing this past, our responsibility, is an unrequited gesture. Demand for ourselves and for ourselves. Debt to the victims after so many past silences. A gift to the living whose pain we can, if they accept, still ease.
“This journey of recognition, through our debts, our donations, offers us hope to come out of this night and walk together again. On this path, only those who have been through the night can perhaps forgive, give us the gift of forgiving ourselves.”
Macron also made an appeal and assurance to Rwanda’s youth.
Even without “erasing anything from our past,” he noted, there is an opportunity for a respectful, lucid, supportive, and mutually demanding alliance between Rwandan and French youth.
“This is the call I am making here in Gisozi. This is the sense of tribute that I want to pay to those whose memory we will remember, who have been deprived of a future and to whom we owe it to invent one.”
Macron arrived in Kigali earlier in the morning for a two-day official visit, from May 27 to 28.
His speech is very positive
Before his speech, survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi were ‘eager’ to hear what Macron would say.
Later, there was a sense of relief, with some describing it as a speech that “lessens anger.”
Egide Mutabazi, 45, who lives in Ngoma District, said: “It’s a speech for lowering anger; acknowledging responsibility with a clear objective to start a new era of relations between the two countries. He admitted that he will push to have all genocide suspects brought to justice. This is something to thank him for if actually done.”
“For me, as a survivor, what is most needed now is not asking for or giving forgiveness but acknowledging the role (played by France) and fighting genocide deniers. Now that France admits its role, let’s wait to see its justice system help in fighting genocide deniers. We want to trust that the new (Rwanda-France) relationship will be hinged on real actions that provide justice.”
In Kigali, Yolande Mukagasana, an activist against Genocide denial and revisionism, was emotional when describing how she felt after listening to Macron.
“His speech is very positive.”
“If he didn’t mention anything to do with Operation Turquoise, but recall that the researchers were never allowed access to the archives. Every word he said in his speech was weighed and he said the most important things,” Mukagasana said.
“He will pursue justice as far as genocide suspects are concerned. It has taken 27 years for such a speech to come. Let’s be patient and see if he will act on what he has promised to do. He has not lied so far. And let’s not forget that he is also battling French politicians who were involved here and elsewhere in Africa.”