News / Africa

Frenchman Leads Drive to Prosecute Perpetrators of Rwandan Genocide

Alain Gauthier has founded an association with a long-standing goal of bringing to justice the perpetrators of Rwanda's 1994 genocide who may be living in France. VOA's Lisa Bryant in Paris looks at the man known in France as the Rwandan genocide hunter.

Earlier this month, French police briefly arrested Agathe Habyarimana, the widow of a former Rwandan president who is suspected of instigating Rwanda's 1994 genocide.  The arrest was made shortly after French President Nicolas Sarkozy paid a groundbreaking trip to Kigali that was widely seen as turning the chapter on bitter French-Rwandan relations.

Rwandan authorities have called on Paris to pursue genocide suspects living in France.  So has 61-year-old French school teacher Alain Gauthier, who founded the French association Le Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda nearly a decade ago with his Rwandan wife.

Gauthier has been compared to famed French Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld.

But Gauthier says he is just an ordinary citizen whose life was torn apart by the genocide.  Gauthier's wife lost about 100 members of her family in the massacre that killed about 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus. That included Gauthier's mother-in-law, who was gunned down in a  church where she had sought shelter.

A 1977 file photo shows the wife of Juvenal Habyarimana, Agathe, during an official meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris
A 1977 file photo shows the wife of Juvenal Habyarimana, Agathe, during an official meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris

Gauthier's association has filed several complaints in French courts against suspected genocide perpetrators, including one against Agathe Habyarimana.

But Gauthier says not a single genocide suspect has faced trial in France to date, although Paris has deported three Rwandans to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania.  By contrast, several trials linked to the Rwandan genocide have taken place in neighboring Belgium.

Leslie Haskell is Rwanda researcher for Human Rights Watch in Geneva:

"France is actually one of the leading countries where genocide suspects have sought refuge," said Haskell.  "We count about six cases where there have been requests to extradite Rwandans to Rwanda for trial on genocide charges.  And there are another eight cases that are under investigation that would be subject to an extradition request or tried by the French courts," she added.

Haskell notes investigating the cases has been very time consuming and complicated, especially during the period when France and Rwanda broke off diplomatic ties.  But she sees new movement, including France's recent decision to create a special investigative unit to examine genocide and crimes against humanity committed abroad.

These changes have helped energize the Gauthiers' work, and brought Rwanda back into the French media spotlight.  Some French schools have asked Gauthier to give presentations on the Rwandan genocide.

Gauthier says it is critical to keep teaching about the Rwandan genocide, just as it is important never to forget the Nazi-perpetrated Jewish Holocaust.  He says education helps keep the memory of what happened alive, and teaches a new generation to say no to genocide in the future.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More