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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs