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Kigali, 10 April 2007 (FH) – For the thirteenth consecutive time, all flags flew at half-mast in the small country of Rwanda which, from April to July 1994, saw almost one million persons die, essentially Tutsis, killed by their Hutu neighbours in the first genocide of the African continent. Today, the Media and politicians do not only call for assistance of survivors: Above all, it is a question of denouncing, in the most drastic words, the “role of the French State”, with which the government of the President Paul Kagame broke up diplomatic relationships at the end of last year. Since the end of last month, local radio stations have organised several debates in which French politicians and in particular the late President François Mitterrand were criticized by Rwandan editorialists, politicians and academics. The punchiest denunciation, that which everybody had been waiting for, came last Saturday from the Rwandan number one, against who the French anti-terrorist Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière asked for prosecutions last November. Judge Bruguière had also issued nine warrants of arrest against relatives of kagame, accusing them of being, together with the former rebel leader, the main persons responsible of the assassination of Presdident Juvénal Habyarimana on 6 April 1994, which is considered to have triggered the genocide. After having presided at the inhumation of almost 300 victims’ remains at the Murambi memorial in South Rwanda, Kagame declared in front of members of his government, the highest religious dignitaries of his country, and the diplomatic corps that it was rather France which should be tried. During the genocide, France, with the agreement of the United Nations, had launched the highly controversial Operation Turquoise. “The French didn’t come to save Rwandans, they came to kill them”, Kagame accused, speaking in the Rwandan tong. “It’s not a rumour, it’s the truth, but to name it is considered a crime”, the Rwandan politician added. He defended the actions of his former rebellion movement, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF, currently in power), expressing that “it’s rather the RPF which should try them”. The Rwandan Head of State refuted the thesis that the attack against the plane of President Habyarimana was the immediate cause of the genocide. “There is no link”, Kagame declared, explaining that the Tutsi genocide started with the pogroms in 1959, “well before the fabrication of the plane”. President Kagame held his speech after two survivors of Murambi who had accused militaries of the Operation Turquoise of having killed Tutsis and raped their daughters and wives. According to these testimonies, French soldiers had also installed a volleyball field on a mass grave into which a lot of Tutsis had been thrown. According to Kagame, “in playing volleyball on top of persons they just killed or had killed, they wanted to prove that they had not the least respect for Rwandans”. During the same ceremony, Théodore Simburudali, President of Ibuka, the main association of the genocide’s survivors, raised attention to the desolate situation of most orphans and widows of the genocide as well as to threats made towards witnesses before the semi-traditional Gacaca courts which try the persons responsible for the genocide. The same message was launched by the weekly newspaper Rushyashya at the beginning of the week: “13 years later, survivors still die every day from the hands of their executioners of 1994”, the newspaper, published in Kinyarwanda, writes. “Due to a lack of money survivors are not indemnified, it is said, but resources for an investigative commission on the destruction of President Habyarimana’s plane are available”, Rushyashya bristles. At the end of last month, the Council of Ministers decided to set up “a committee of experts in charge of investigating” the attack. During this week of national mourning, all public entertainment, like weddings or sport competitions, are forbidden throughout the country. All Rwandans are called to take part in the inhumation of victims whose bodies have been discovered. But “a lot of Rwandans do not feel concerned by this week, mostly those whose relatives were killed by the RPF between 1990 and 1994, or even after”, a high religious dignitary notices. PIG/PB/CV © Hirondelle News Agency