Rwanda: Paul Kagame announces that he will be a candidate for a fourth term

Rwanda commemorates victims of 1994 genocide

Several heads of state and government participated in the ceremony of laying flowers in front of the genocide memorial where more than 250,000 victims are buried. The ceremony was led by Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

In one hundred days of the genocide which had been organized by the country's authorities, between 800,000 and 1.1 million Tutsis were exterminated. According to the 1991 census, Tutsis constituted 8.4% of the Rwandan population which at the time reached 7.5 million. Hutus who tried to help the Tutsis were also killed.

International day of reflection on the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994

In 2003, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution proclaiming April 7 as the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda. The UN established this date as the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda on December 23, 2003 (resolution 58/234). On January 26, 2018, General Assembly resolution A/72/L.31 renamed this observance the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994.


The conflict between Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda is generally referred to as an ethnic conflict, although Tutsis and Hutus are not different ethnic groups. Living in the same territory, sharing the same religion, the same language and the same culture, there was no territorial differentiation between these groups either, but just a certain economic specialization. The Tutsi minority, more often pastors, constituted the aristocracy, but also the backbone of the army, while the Hutus (more than 80% of the population) were mostly farmers.

From 1959, the Tutsi group regularly faced discrimination and repression from the Hutus who made up 84% of the population. In 1987, Tutsi immigrants to Uganda created the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). This organization aimed to fight for the return of all refugees to Rwanda and to dismantle the country's political system where power was monopolized by Hutu nationalists.

The invasion of Rwandan territory by the RPF in 1990 caused a civil war between the Hutu-dominated regular army and the rebels. The climax of the war was the genocide of Tutsis triggered by Hutu extremist forces after the death of President Juvénal Habyarimana, who was returning to Rwanda on April 6, 1994 from Tanzania. His plane was shot down near Kigali.

The perpetrators of the assassination were not identified, but Hutu extremists attributed responsibility to the RPF and all Tutsis in Rwanda and began their extermination. The “moderate Hutus” who were in opposition were also targeted. However, the international community has failed to take the necessary measures to protect the civilian population of Rwanda. The genocide lasted 100 days and ended on July 14, 1994 after the victory of the RPF forces. It left around a million dead, including 50,000 Hutus.

UN efforts

In November 1994, the UN Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) which had the mandate to prosecute until the end of 2015 those principally responsible for the genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. in Rwanda in 1994. During this period, 61 individuals were sentenced to prison terms of varying lengths up to life, 14 individuals were acquitted, the cases of 10 others were transferred to national courts. Currently, the International Mechanism to exercise the residual functions of the Criminal Tribunals created by the UN in 2010 is responsible for carrying out the unfinished business of the ICTR.

The commemoration of the victims of the genocide is held each year at the UN headquarters in New York and Geneva. Events on the occasion of the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994 are also organized by Rwanda's diplomatic missions and representatives of the diaspora, notably in Moscow since 2014. In Rwanda, commemorative ceremonies take place have been holding since 1995. Their main subject is the strengthening of national unity and the fight against the “genocide ideologue”.

This notion includes in particular speeches, behavior, publications and other actions which aim to exterminate or instigate the extermination of people based on their ethnicity, religion or political visions as well as the denial of genocide. Since 2008, adherence to “genocide ideology” has constituted a criminal offense punishable by 10 to 25 years in prison.

Work is underway in the country to study the history of the tragic events of 1994. The archives of the Kigali Genocide Memorial created in 2004 include more than 8,000 documents, including photos and videos. In April 2019, a conference dedicated to the problems of the generation that survived the genocide was held in Rwanda.

The role of France

The question of France's role in the genocide has been a source of controversy in subsequent relations between Kigali and Paris. During the 1990-1994 civil war, France directly supported the regime of President Juvénal Habyarimana, perceiving the RPF and English-speaking Uganda which supported it as agents of British influence in the region. In April 1994, European staff from international agencies present in Kigali were evacuated, while Rwandan Tutsi staff were refused evacuation despite fearing for their lives. The military-humanitarian operation Turquoise, intended to protect the victims of the genocide, only started in June 1994 (two and a half months after the start of the massacres).

The regime of Paul Kagame, now the new strongman of Rwanda, accused France of having “facilitated” the genocide. This accusation was confirmed in 2008, following the conclusions of an ad hoc commission set up in the country. According to this commission, the French were aware of the impending genocide and participated in the planning and execution of the killings, and the real objective of Operation Turquoise was to eliminate former radical Hutu leaders allied with Rwanda. .

In France, the Duclert Commission responsible for examining documents relating to the Rwandan genocide between 2019 and 2021 rejected outright any “complicity” on the part of France as a deliberate and conscious facilitator in the execution of the genocide. Nevertheless, the commission's conclusions point to the “political, institutional, intellectual, moral and cognitive” responsibility of France and mainly of the president at the time, François Mitterrand, in the genocide. In Rwanda, these assessments were, on the whole, well received.

In May 2021, Emmanuel Macron visited Kigali and gave a moving speech at the Genocide Memorial. Without officially apologizing, he nevertheless recognized France's “overwhelming responsibility” in this massacre.