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August 2, 2023 French

L'opération Turquoise est menée dans un premier temps par les troupes d'élite de l'armée française qui se déploient au Zaïre à chaque extrémité du lac Kivu

Card Number 3502

Poivre d'Arvor, Patrick
Jacquemin, Marine
Marescot, Frans-Yves
Tuban, Gilles
Géboès, Jean-Claude
Panzani, Alex
Cabannes, Thierry
Gahier, Christophe
Chauffier, Didier
23 juin 1994
Time zone
Journal de 20 heures [14:44]
L'opération Turquoise est menée dans un premier temps par les troupes d'élite de l'armée française qui se déploient au Zaïre à chaque extrémité du lac Kivu
À Goma, cette mission n'est pas du goût de tous. Ses détracteurs accusent la France de remettre en selle le Maréchal-Président, isolé depuis plusieurs années.
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Journal télévisé
- Operation Turquoise began this afternoon at two points in Rwanda. It is initially carried out by the elite troops of the French army deployed in Zaire along the Rwandan border, at each end of Lake Kivu.
- At Goma airport, large carriers provide the permanent air bridge between Zaire and the Central African Republic. This mission, from a material point of view, is far from simple: no infrastructure exists to accommodate more than 2,000 men. We must therefore bring everything, install everything and especially think about the duration. But who today has the slightest idea? Between orders and counter-orders, between the hesitation of politicians and the availability of the military, everyone is looking for their way.
- In Goma, this mission is not to everyone's taste. In this locality, as in all of eastern Zaire, opposition to the Mobutu regime prevails. Its detractors are already accusing France of putting the Marshal-President back in the saddle, isolated for several years. And in the streets, the French presence is violently rejected.
- French elements returned to Rwandan territory this night or probably early in the morning. They are a few dozen, no more. And they took up position 14 kilometers from Cyangugu where there is a Tutsi refugee camp with 6 to 7,000 people who were increasingly threatened, even murdered in recent days, according to several witnesses. The French soldiers were apparently very well received, very well informed by the local population.
- Operation Turquoise was designed in three phases. The first phase is therefore over: it was to take control of the airports of Goma, Bukavu and Gisenyi. The third phase will take place in a few days: it will be a question of creating some security zones. For the moment, we are in the middle of the second phase: we are witnessing an increase in force on the spot. Throughout the day there were about 16 rotations of Transall, Hercules which unloaded about 500 men, materials, etc.
- The forces in presence, it is 2,676 men very exactly at present, who are engaged in this operation. There are infantry troops from Réunion, Gabon, Djibouti. And then there are especially forces from RCA and France which belong to the land battle group. So 1,000 men are responsible for entering Rwandan territory in the coming days. And 500 more will be there in support. There are also fighter planes, helicopters.
- At the Istres base, Antonov planes leased to the Russians constitute the backbone of the air fund intended for Operation Turquoise. Combat planes are also part of the game. A thousand men and hundreds of tons of materials are in transit for Bangui.
- Since Friday [June 17], the day of the alert, 160 men from the RICM in Vannes have been preparing to leave their barracks, heading for Rwanda. A French soldier: "The mission promises to be difficult because a priori, it is anarchy. And as such, there are massacres. So we must intervene at all costs".
- These French soldiers will be joined by 300 Senegalese soldiers. Chad, Egypt and Israel support this initiative, which meets with more favorable echoes than in the first hours. France hopes for more active European support during the European summit in Corfu. Italy declares itself ready to participate in this operation under certain conditions. On the other hand Belgium reaffirms that it will not send soldiers to Rwanda.
- Belgium was the scene of a small anti-French demonstration where some Rwandans dumped rubbish in front of the French embassy in Brussels to protest against this intervention.
- History of the last two months. The attack last April that claimed the life of President Habyarimana triggered the first wave of massacres. The presidential guard and the militias immediately began retaliation by assassinating hundreds of Tutsi and Hutu opponents. French and Belgian paratroopers hastily evacuate foreign nationals and some orphan children. All this before fleeing in turn, giving way to the Rwandan Patriotic Front and the regular army, which clash through a gigantic slaughter throughout the territory, which mainly affects civilians. The UN Security Council reduced the number of peacekeepers from 2,700 to 270. Humanitarian organizations, few in number, are calling for help. Public opinion will take time to become aware. After weeks of horror, she begins to realize that this is genocide. The UN decides to send there 5,500 peacekeepers who have still not arrived. Very approximate figures are put forward: we are talking about 500,000 dead. The only precise figures relate to the immense population displaced by this conflict. 200,000 people find themselves at the country's borders in overcrowded camps, without drinking water, where all epidemics can develop. Thousands of Rwandans are thrown onto the roads. They wander to escape the massacres as the RPF advances. The French soldiers are therefore intervening in this context. A one-off humanitarian mission, which should if possible end at the end of July.
- In France, the political class supports this initiative, with the exception of the Communists and the former Minister of Defense Jean-Pierre Chevènement, who is worried about French isolation. The RPR Jacques Baumel speaking to him of sword stroke in the water. On the side of humanitarian organizations, the president of Pharmaciens sans frontières believes that this intervention is endangering certain populations. On the other hand that of Médecins sans frontières approves: "When there is genocide, he says, we cannot let it pass like that".
- Régis Faucon: "You have to know what you want: you can't do everything and its opposite. On the one hand, you can't cry scandal when you do nothing, when there is no intervention. And at the same time being choosy when an intervention is triggered. And then, what can we do about people who are capable of massacring babies with machetes, if not to go there with weapons? Of course there are questions, of course there are risks. But I believe that at some point you have to know how to overcome these moods in order to act, quite simply. And I believe that this operation, if it remains within the limits that have been set, honors France.