France, BNP Paribas Bank Accused of Having Hand in 1994 Rwandan Genocide

Three civil society organizations have filed two lawsuits against the French government and France’s largest bank BNP Paribas accusing them of complicity in the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi minority in Rwanda, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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© AFP 2017/ Simon Maina

The French political and military leadership is accused of supplying arms to Hutu extremists who slaughtered an estimated 1 million members of Rwanda’s minority Tutsis during the three-month killing spree.

BNP Paribas is accused of “financing the purchase of 80 tons of arms that served to perpetuate the genocide.”

After French journalist Patrick de Saint-Exupery pointed a finger at Paris in an article that details France’s role in the 1994 genocide, Survie (Survival), a French association that “denounces all forms of French neo-colonial intervention in Africa,” filed a second lawsuit against the French government aimed at shedding light on the relationship between the then Rwandan authorities and the French political and military leadership,”

The first one, filed in 2015, was dismissed last fall.

The three nongovernmental organizations — Sherpa, CPCR (Collective of Civil Parties for Rwanda) and Ibuka France — said on Thursday that their suit accused BNP Paribas of complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

They said a UN arms embargo on Rwanda had been in effect at the time of the transfer.

In an interview with Sputnik France, CPCR chairman Alain Gauthier said that he hoped that the lawsuits would shed light on BNP Paribas’ July 1994 decision to finance the purchase of weapons, which was subsequently supplied to Rwanda in violation of the embargo earlier imposed by the UN Security Council.

“We are talking about the caddishness jointly committed by the French state and the government of [Rwandan] president [Juvenal] Habiariman, which is responsible for that genocide. […] This is the problem of Rwanda and the rest of French Africa. France acted in an ugly way. Some state interests are not always known, but more than a million Rwandans were slaughtered,” Alain Gauthier said.

He hopes that the documents pertaining to the tragic events in Rwanda will finally be unclassified.

“I hope that President Macron will be more attentive to our request. I send him a personal message right after he was elected […] but I haven’t got an answer yet,” Gauthier added.

Rwanda opened an inquiry in November into the possible role of at least 20 French military and other officials in the 1994 genocide. Paris has remained reluctant to declassify key files related to the genocide and has maintained that France played no part in the massacres.

The Rwandan genocide was a mass slaughter of Tutsi by members of the Hutu majority government. An estimated 1 million Rwandans were killed during the 100-day period from April 7 to mid-July 1994, constituting as many as 70 percents of the Tutsi population.

The genocide and widespread slaughter of Rwandans ended when the Tutsi-backed Rwandan Patriotic Front led Paul Kagame took control of the country. An estimated 2 million Rwandans, mostly Hutus, were displaced and became refugees.