By Mehmet Kara, Mouhamed Gueye
Today marks the 24th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide against the ethnic Tutsis in which a million people had lost their lives in a period of only 100 days.
"There are four reasons that could be attributed to the cause of the genocide against the Tutsi. The first is a colonial influence, the second is bad politics by the Rwandan state, the third failed political leadership in the state, and the fourth is the indifference of the international community," said Williams Nkurunziza, Rwanda’s ambassador to Turkey, in an interview with Anadolu Agency.
The genocide, in which nearly one million people were killed, took place between hardliner Hutus and minority Tutsis after the death of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira in a plane crash on April 6, 1994.
The genocide killed a million people and displaced another million, forcing two million more people to flee the country.
Nkurunziza blamed the UN for failing to stop the genocide. "Instead of providing more people to help stop the genocide they [UN] take their people out."
In a report released on Dec. 13, 2017, the Rwandan government blamed the then French officials, besides the negligence of the international community.
“The French military forces trained their Rwandan counterparts, supplied them with weapons even after an arms embargo, and gave cover, under the auspices of a United Nations-sanctioned humanitarian mission, in the last moments of a genocidal campaign," it said.
Nkurunziza underlined the colonial factors to the genocide against the Tutsis and said: "Before colonialism, Rwanda was a unitary state. We are one people, we speak one language, and we share the same culture. But with colonialism, the issue of ethnicity became a tool to control the Rwandan state. They fabricated artificial ethnic differences."
He pointed out that the techniques used to discriminate the Tutsis in an “inhuman way” were not simple discriminatory policies rather more sophisticated scientific techniques.
The ambassador said allowing those techniques to operate in the country after independence was a wrong decision.
"We were independent, we had the choice to made an alternative political decision to see Rwandans as one and unify the country. They followed the same politics of division of ethnicities that were used during colonialism," he added.
Speaking of Operation Turquoise which France launched on June 23, 1994, the last days of the genocide, the ambassador said the French operation helped those who were responsible for genocide to be able to escape.
"The December report of the Rwandan government is not a new finding, it was a consolidation of a known evidence in the public arena. It is a consolidation that reflects the capacity of the involvement of the French officials[…]."
Nkurunziza hoped the report will not harm relations between the two countries as the Rwandan government is only interested in arriving on the truth, on justice and holding accountable those who committed and facilitated the genocide against the Tutsis.
He called on the French government to be willing to walk with the Rwandan nation and serve justice.
The ambassador said Rwanda as a nation took a lesson from the “horrible experience” and they are working on creating a “prosperous and developed” nation with the leadership of its President Paul Kagame.
"After the genocide, our president had been an advocator of peacekeeping both in Africa and around the world. Even Rwanda is small but we contribute one of the largest UN peacekeeping force in the world because we want to prevent what happened to us from happening to another people," he said.
Nkurunziza emphasized Africans should be able to solve their problems by themselves and praised the recently signed African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by 44 African countries at a summit of the African Union in Kigali, Rwanda.
"A stronger Africa is good for all. It is important that Africa begins to run its own Affairs," he concluded.
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