France’s role in Rwandan genocide a ‘monumental failure’: Author of report
France’s role before and during the 1994 Rwandan genocide was a “monumental failure” that the country must acknowledge, the lead author of a report commissioned by President Emmanuel Macron said, as the country opens its archives from this period to the public on Wednesday.
The report, published in March, concluded that French authorities remained blind to the preparations for genocide as they supported the “racist” and “violent” government of then-Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana and then reacted too slowly in appreciating the extent of the killings. But it cleared them of complicity in the slaughter that left over 800,000 people dead, mainly ethnic Tutsis and the Hutus who tried to protect them, AFP reported.
Macron’s decision to commission the report — and open the archives to the public — are part of his efforts to more fully confront the French role in the genocide and to improve relations with Rwanda, including making April 7, the day the massacre began, a day of commemoration. While long overdue, the moves may finally help the two countries reconcile.
Historian Vincent Duclert, who led the commission that studied France’s actions in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994, told The Associated Press that “for 30 years, the debate on Rwanda was full of lies, violence, manipulations, threats of trials. That was a suffocating atmosphere.”
Duclert said it was important to acknowledge France’s role for what it was: A “monumental failure.”
“Now we must speak the truth,” he added. “And that truth will allow, we hope, (France) to get a dialogue and a reconciliation with Rwanda and Africa.”
Macron said in a statement that the report marks “a major step forward” toward understanding France’s actions in Rwanda.
About 8,000 archive documents that the commission examined for two years, including some that were previously classified, will be made accessible to the general public starting Wednesday, the 27th anniversary of the start of the killings.
Duclert said documents — mostly from the French presidency and the prime minister’s office — show how then-president François Mitterrand and the small group of diplomats and military officials surrounding him shared views inherited from colonial times, including the desire to maintain influence on a French-speaking country, that led them to keep supporting Habyarimana despite warning signs, including through delivery of weapons and military training in the years prior to the genocide.
“Instead of ultimately supporting the democratization and peace in Rwanda, the French authorities in Rwanda supported the ethnicization, the radicalization of (Habyarimana’s) government,” Duclert stressed.
France was “not complicit in the criminal act of genocide,” he said, but “its action contributed to strengthening (the genocide’s) mechanisms.”
“And that’s an enormous intellectual responsibility,” he said.
The report also criticized France’s “passive policy” in April and May 1994, at the height of the genocide.
That was a “terrible lost opportunity,” Duclert noted. “In 1994, there was a possibility to stop the genocide ... and it did not happen. France and the world bear a considerable guilt.”
Eventually they did step in. Operation Turquoise, a French-led military intervention backed by the UN, started on June 22.
Duclert said that France’s “blindness must be questioned and, maybe, brought to trial,” though he insisted it was not the commission’s role to suggest charges.
The report was welcomed as an important step by activists who had long hoped France would officially acknowledge its responsibilities in the genocide. On a visit to Rwanda in 2010, then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy admitted that his country had made “errors of judgment” and “political errors” regarding the genocide — but the report may allow Macron to go further.
Amnesty International condemns rich countries for hoarding COVID-19 vaccines
Richer countries are failing a “rudimentary” test of global solidarity by hoarding COVID vaccines, Amnesty International said Wednesday as it accused some countries of exploiting the pandemic to undermine human rights.
In its annual report, the campaigning rights organization said the health crisis had exposed “broken” policies and that cooperation was the only way forward, according to AFP.
“The pandemic has cast a harsh light on the world’s inability to cooperate effectively and equitably,” said Agnes Callamard, who was appointed Amnesty’s secretary-general last month.
“The richest countries have affected a near-monopoly of the world’s supply of vaccines, leaving countries with the fewest resources to face the worst health and human rights outcomes.”
Amnesty strongly criticized the decision by former US president Donald Trump to withdraw Washington from the World Health Organization (WHO) in the midst of the pandemic – a step now reversed by Trump’s successor Joe Biden.
Callamard called for an immediate acceleration of the global vaccine rollout, calling the inoculation campaign “a most fundamental, even rudimentary, test of the world’s capacity for cooperation”.
Since the coronavirus emerged in China in late 2019, the pandemic has claimed more than 2.8 million lives globally and infected at least 130 million people.
Despite regular calls for global solidarity from international organizations, figures show widening inequality in access to vaccines.
According to an AFP count, more than half the 680 million-plus doses administered worldwide have been in high-income countries, such as the United States, Britain and Israel, while the poorest have received only 0.1 percent of the doses.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that if the dangerous trend of vaccine nationalism and hoarding in wealthier countries continues, it could delay a global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
“We must ensure that vaccines are available & affordable to all as soon as possible,” Guterres said in a message posted on his Twitter account.
“No element of the global #COVID19 response is going as it should - from the vaccine production & distribution, to support for developing economies,” he said in another Twitter message.
In February, Guterres said that just 10 countries have administered 75% of the world’s available COVID-19 vaccine supply, while more than 130 countries haven’t even received their first doses, according to CNN.
Despite the production of different kinds of vaccines for the disease in several countries, the virus, which has spread to all countries, is still taking the lives of many people in the world.
On Tuesday, Brazil registered more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths in 24 hours for the first time, the Health Ministry said, as the country reeled from a surge of infections that has made it the current epicenter of the pandemic.
The coronavirus claimed 4,195 lives in the deadliest day of the pandemic yet for the hard-hit country, whose total reported death toll is now nearly 337,000, second only to the United States, according to AFP.
Brazil’s health system is buckling under the strain of the latest virus wave, which has forced doctors into agonizing decisions over which patients to give life-saving care and led cemeteries to hold nighttime burials to deal with the crush of coffins.
The country of 212 million people has registered an average of 2,757 COVID-19 deaths per day over the past week, the highest by far worldwide.
Why is the Biden administration pushing Ukraine to attack Russia?
By Ron Paul*
On March 24th, Ukraine’s President Vladimir Zelensky signed what was essentially a declaration of war on Russia. In the document, titled Presidential Decree No. 117/2021, the US-backed Ukrainian leader declared that it is the official policy of Ukraine to take back Crimea from Russia.
The declaration that Ukraine would take back Crimea from Russia also followed, and was perhaps instigated by President Biden’s inflammatory and foolish statement that “Crimea is Ukraine.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was a chief architect of the US-backed coup against Ukraine in 2014, continued egging on the Ukrainians, promising full US support for the “territorial integrity” of Ukraine. Many Americans wonder why they are not even half as concerned about the territorial integrity of the United States!
Not to be outdone, at the beginning of this month US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin – who previously served on the board of missile-maker Raytheon – called his counterpart in Ukraine and promised “unwavering US support for Ukraine’s sovereignty”. As the US considers Crimea to be Ukrainian territory, this is a clear green light for Kiev to take military
Washington is also sending in weapons. Some 300 tons of new weapons have arrived in the past weeks and more is on the way.
As could be expected, Moscow has responded to Zelensky’s decree and to the increasingly bellicose rhetoric in Kiev and Washington by repositioning troops and other military assets closer to its border with Ukraine. Does anyone doubt that if the US were in the same situation – for example, if China installed a hostile and aggressive government in Mexico – the Pentagon might move troops in a similar manner?
But according to the media branch of the US military-industrial-congressional-media complex, Russian troop movements are not a response to clear threats from a neighbor, but instead are just more “Russian aggression.”
The unhinged US “experts” behind the 2014 coup against the elected Ukrainian president are back in power and they are determined to finish the job – even if it means World War III! The explicit US backing of Ukraine’s military ambitions in the region are a blank check to Kiev.
But it is a check that Kiev would be wise to avoid cashing. Back in 1956 the US government pumped endless propaganda into Hungary promising military backing for an uprising against its Soviet occupiers. When the Hungarians, believing Washington’s lies, did rise up they found themselves all alone and facing Soviet retaliation.
Despite the cruel US propaganda, at least Eisenhower was wise enough to realize that no one would benefit from a nuclear war over Budapest.
Why is it any of our business whether Crimea is part of Ukraine or part of Russia? Why is it any of our business if the Russian-speaking people of eastern Ukraine prefer being aligned with Russia?
Why, for that matter, are unproven allegations of Russian meddling in our elections a violation of the “rules-based international order” but an actual US-backed coup against an elected Ukrainian government is not?
We are seeing foreign policy made by Raytheon and the other US military contractors, through cutouts in government like Austin and others. Feckless US foreign policy “experts” believe their own propaganda about Russia and are on the verge of taking us to war over it.
It seems as if Americans are sleepwalking through this dangerous minefield. Let us hope they soon wake up before we’re all blown up.
*Ron Paul is a former Republican congressman from Texas. He was the 1988 Libertarian Party candidate for president.
China-EU relations facing ‘various challenges’, Xi tells Merkel
China’s President Xi Jinping on Wednesday told German Chancellor Angela Merkel Sino-EU relations were facing “various challenges” and he hoped the 27-nation bloc could “independently” make correct judgments, Chinese state media reported.
In a phone call with Merkel, who has led Germany, the EU’s biggest economy, since 2005, Xi said the EU and China should “respect each other” and “eliminate interference,” according to a readout from the Xinhua News Agency.
The EU last month imposed its first significant sanctions against Chinese officials since 1989 over alleged human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region. Beijing, which denies the allegations, quickly hit back by blacklisting some EU lawmakers and entities, Reuters reported.
EU allies, the United States, Britain and Canada also sanctioned Chinese officials over Xinjiang, and the row is threatening to derail an EU-China investment pact agreed in late 2020 after years of negotiations.
Xi also urged Germany and the EU to make joint efforts with China to maintain healthy and stable development of bilateral cooperation, according to the readout.
China is willing to work with the international community to promote “fair and reasonable distribution” of coronavirus vaccines and opposes vaccine nationalism, he added.
Myanmar security forces kill seven more people during anti-coup demos
Myanmar troops fired at anti-coup protesters on Wednesday, killing at least seven people and wounding several, media said.
The country’s military ruler said the civil disobedience movement was “destroying” Myanmar, according to Reuters.
More than 580 people have been killed, according to an activist group, in the turmoil in Myanmar since a Feb. 1 coup that ended a brief period of civilian-led democracy. Nationwide protests and strikes have persisted since then despite the military’s use of lethal force to quell the opposition.
Security forces opened fire on Wednesday on protesters in the northwestern town of Kale as they demanded the restoration of Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government, a resident told Reuters.
News outlets cited witnesses saying there were casualties and repeated gunfire. The Mizzima and Irrawaddy news outlets said five people were killed and several wounded.
The Kale resident said the information was provided to him by witnesses, who took pictures of five bodies.
Reuters could not independently verify the toll.
Two protesters were also killed in the town of Bago near Yangon, the Myanmar Now news outlet said.
A fire broke out in the Chinese-owned JOC Garment Factory in Yangon on Wednesday, news reports and the Fire Department said. There were no reports of casualties and no details on the extent of damage.
Arrest warrants have been issued for hundreds of people, with the junta this week going after scores of influencers, entertainers, artists and musicians.
The country’s most famous comedian, Zarganar, was arrested on Tuesday, media reported.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement has launched a supermarket chain, named Al-Sajjad, with subsidized food staples to help people overcome the severe economic crisis, according to local media reports.