Genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda: access to France's "defense secret" archives is debated

A patrol of French soldiers overtakes Rwandan Hutu troops on June 27, 1994, near Gisenyi, in western Rwanda.


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5 mins

Several associations have taken a stand to warn about a series of restrictions concerning the so-called sensitive archives on the role of the French army in Rwanda at the beginning of the 1990s. For some historians, the access reserved to these archives to the Duclert Commission alone poses problem, especially since they deal with a painful subject. 


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The Duclert commission, set up by President Emmanuel Macron in 2019, brings together around fifteen historians responsible for examining the archives on France's involvement

in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994


This one received the promise of a derogatory access to all the archives stamped "defense secret" on the subject.

It is this choice of declassification for the sole use of this commission that challenges the French Association for the History of the Worlds of Work (AFHMT).

She considers that this restricted access to sensitive information is problematic, in particular for the “ 

reconstruction of an already controversial memory


The commission asks to be tried on the publication of its report

This criticism is not new.

But it was recently reactivated by the controversy surrounding the presence in the Duclert commission of

historian Julie d'Andurain

, author of a notice on Operation Turquoise in 1994. An article considered complacent with regard to the French army and several researchers have denounced the errors, biases, even denial.

Julie d'Andurain has since withdrawn.

On the side of the commission, we ask to be judged on document, in other words in April 2021, when the report is released which, according to an intermediate document, will have to integrate " 

all the elements of sources allowing to verify the validity of the presentation


Not enough, however, in the eyes of many historians, for whom only free access to sensitive archives to all those who request it could allow a real scientific debate on the content of this report and its conclusions.

There is a general takeover of accessible archival documents which is extremely worrying

Raphaëlle Branche, historian and professor of contemporary history

Florence morice


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  • Rwanda

  • France

  • History