French Citizens of Rwandan Origin Address President Macron in Open Letter: Seeking Justice and Reconciliation

On April 5, 2024, an open letter was directed to French President Emmanuel Macron, marking the 30th anniversary of the downing of President Juvénal Habyarimana’s aircraft and the subsequent genocide that unfolded within Rwanda. Authored by French citizens of Rwandan origin, including members from both civil society and opposition political parties, the letter serves as a poignant reminder of the complex and tragic history that has shaped Rwanda and its people.

The letter begins with a solemn tribute to all victims of the genocide against the Tutsis in 1994, as well as those affected by other overlooked atrocities, such as the genocide against the Hutus and various war crimes and crimes against humanity that have occurred since the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) launched its attack on Rwanda from Uganda on October 1, 1990. Special mention is made of the April 6, 1994, terrorist attack against President Habyarimana’s plane, which also claimed the lives of the Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, their entourages, and three French nationals who were part of the aircraft’s crew.

The signatories highlight their concerns regarding the long-lasting effects of Rwanda’s tumultuous history since 1990 on French citizens of Rwandan descent, who seek equitable treatment of this prolonged tragedy. They recall the initial attacks led by a detachment of the Ugandan army, composed mainly of Tutsi refugees, on Rwanda, leading to significant displacement and suffering, especially in the northern regions.

Accusations are leveled against the RPF for its alleged role in shooting down Habyarimana’s plane, an act widely believed within Rwanda to have triggered the genocide. Despite a lack of definitive judicial proceedings to conclusively identify the perpetrators, the signatories point to substantial evidence implicating the RPF.

The letter also condemns the RPF’s purported genocide against Hutus starting from October 1, 1990, and its continued acts of repression against Rwandans, including political opponents and dissidents, both within and outside Rwanda. It lists several instances of assassinations and enforced disappearances attributed to the RPF’s efforts to silence its critics.

Furthermore, the signatories criticize the current Rwandan government for its failure to foster reconciliation among Rwandans and for establishing a justice system that favors victors, thereby creating additional victims. They accuse the RPF of employing the genocide against the Tutsis to discredit and harass anyone challenging its narrative, further exacerbating divisions.

The letter appeals to President Macron to ensure that all victims are treated equitably and that the Rwandan people can truly reconcile through a commitment to truth. It calls for the use of diplomatic relations with Rwanda to encourage a highly inclusive inter-Rwandan dialogue aimed at establishing a state of law where social justice prevails.

The letter urges France to continue supporting the oppressed, in the spirit of the Enlightenment, to help free the Rwandan people from the chains of injustice and dictatorship. It highlights the need for international pressure on Rwanda to cease supporting rebellions that destabilize the region, specifically referencing the M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The signatories, representing various political formations and civil society organizations, express their readiness to contribute to a future where the historic friendship between the French and Rwandan peoples remains undistorted by political maneuvering at the expense of historical truth.