Rwanda: the dishonour of France

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The French government pulled out of the commemorations on Monday April 7th that marked the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. This abrupt decision was provoked by the recent comments of Rwandan president Paul Kagamé about “the direct role of Belgium and France in the political preparation of the genocide, and the participation of the latter in its actual execution”, remarks which have sparked outrage in France. But though France's reaction was in line with former foreign minister Alain Juppé's demand that the government should “defend France's honour”, Mediapart's Editor-in-Chief Edwy Plenel argues that the decision not to attend the commemorations is instead a sign of France's dishonour over the tragic affair.

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On Sunday April 6th, 2014 the president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and France's culture minister Aurélie Filippetti, both of them socialists, stood side by side in front of the Maison d'Izieu, a former orphanage in the Ain département of eastern France. It was here, exactly seventy years ago, that 44 Jewish children and seven supervisors were arrested by the Gestapo and deported to death camps.

This and many other official commemorations are a reminder to the France of today and to future generations that the genocide planned by Nazism, the extermination of one section of humanity because it was born Jewish, also took place on our territory. And that it was done with the complicity - active as well as passive - of the authorities of the period, namely the French state left in place after July 1940 following the self-destruction of the French Republic at Vichy and amid the descent into Collaboration.