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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/16/13

Arms and the Man: "The French Army Watches Over Your Safety"

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(Article changed on September 16, 2013 at 12:21)

The "International Panel of Eminent Personalities to Investigate the 1994 Genocide in  Rwanda and the Surrounding Events" was created by the Organization of African Unity and met in 1998. In its report one can find 157 references to France and its cozy relationship with the Hutu regime. As noted here in the report

"Like the rapid deployment of national evacuation forces, the sudden availability of thousands of troops for Operation Turquoise, after DPKO [UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations] had been attempting for over a month to find troops to expand UNAMIR II, exposed the varying levels of political will to commit personnel in Rwanda. The Inquiry finds it unfortunate that the resources committed by France and other countries to Operation Turquoise could not instead have been put at the disposal of UNAMIR II.

General Dallaire was furious and frustrated about Operation Turquoise. In June 1994 he wrote a very long cable (23 pages) to the UN in New York detailing the conflicts that would arise between UNAMIR and Operation Turquoise. As usual, Dallaire was ignored.  

It is our assessment that the French led initiative both by the way it has been launched politically and in its naive future operations on the ground, has already over the last few days, significantly undermined the months of determined and courageous work accomplished by this mission (UNAMIR).

Samantha Power, now the US Ambassador to the UN, wrote about Operation Turquoise in her 2002 book, "A Problem From Hell." Power terms France "perhaps the least appropriate country to intervene because of its warm relationship with the genocidal Hutu regime." She goes on to say that killings of Tutsis continued in the French protected zone (Operation Turquoise); and, "when the Hutus moved their Radio Mille Collines transmitter into the area, French forces seized neither the hate-propagating equipment nor the individuals responsible for orchestrating the genocide."  

Amidst all of this inaction by France to stop the killing, Ladsous was France's number two at the UN. Yet, in the volumes that have been written about France and its culpability, his name is conspicuously absent from just about every report, analysis, and investigation into the genocide. Still, he was in position at the UN to know about all of these events. Is this a result of document shredding cited by Melvern? Did France try to keep Ladsous's hands clean?  

Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press  has uncovered a document  written by Ladsous in 1994. Ladsous is found "bragging how he refuted -- falsely -- that the Zone was being used as base for military and political (Radio RTML) attacks," writes Lee.  

In fact, Ladsous was more concerned about a safe zone for members of the ruling party that unleashed the genocide.  

(translation) According to the department's instructions, I asked an immediate meeting of Security Council on Rwanda in which I presented the project of Presidential Declaration of cease fire without conditions as it was issued with the department. I therefore talked about the eventual problem of secured refuge for the old Rwandan Government's members in the Humanitarian's Zone and asked the Security Counsel to pay high attention to the risk of the change of the nature of that zone. Finally I used that opportunity to refute allegations that our zone was used as a point of military and Political (Radio) against the RPF.

Recall Samantha Power and others who maintained that the "safe zone" of Operation Turquoise continued to be a killing field against Tutsis and that the hate broadcast tower of Radio Mille Collines was relocated there.  

The previously classified cable uncovered by Inner City Press catches Ladsous in a lie.  

In a another letter to the Security Council,   Ladsous includes the text (translated from French here) of a leaflet dropped from airplanes, assuring them "to fear not; the French army watches over your safety."

Leaflets dropped in Rwanda urging citizens to come to safe zone.
Leaflets dropped in Rwanda urging citizens to come to safe zone.
(Image by UN Document)
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Leaflets dropped in Rwanda urging citizens to come to safe zone. by UN Document


You are now in the safe humanitarian zone, protected by French I'armee.

Don't move. Stay there, humanitarian aid will reach you. Fear not, the French army watches over your safety.

Yet, as documented above, the killing continued in the "safe zone" of Operation Turquoise, and the hate broadcasts went on and on and on.   

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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill Magazine, the Huffington (more...)

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