Sunday, October 26, 2014

Rwandan Government Condemns BBC’s Controversial Documentary

Rwanda MPs Want BBC Transmission Suspended
The Rwandan parliament has called for the British Broadcasting Corporation to be banned from the country’s airwaves in retaliation for a controversial documentary that questioned official accounts of the 1994 genocide, The UK Guardian reports.

Rwanda’s Untold Story, broadcast earlier this month, highlighted growing criticism of President Paul Kagame and claims that his Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was responsible for war crimes and more deaths than previously acknowledged.

Kagame responded by telling parliament that the BBC had chosen to “tarnish Rwandans, dehumanise them” and accused it of “genocide denial”. The corporation has emphatically rejected the claims.

On Wednesday angry Members of Parliament (MPs) approved a resolution calling on the government to charge the documentary-makers with genocide denial and revoke the BBC’s licence to broadcast in the country.

Senate president Bernard Makuza was quoted by the New Times newspaper as saying: “We must stand and fight against these deniers. Among the decisions we should consider is taking a legal action against the deniers, be it internally or externally.

“We should as well consider revising the agreements Rwanda has with BBC. This is an open struggle that cannot be taken lightly and should be taken on by everyone collectively.”

Julienne Uwacu, another MP, was quoted as saying that Rwandans should “switch it off completely”.

Students marched through the capital, Kigali, on an anti-BBC demonstration, and about 150 protesters delivered a letter to the BBC office for the attention of director-general Tony Hall.

The letter, signed by group of 38 academics, authors and diplomats‚ including senator Roméo Dallaire, who led the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda‚ argues that the BBC has been “recklessly irresponsible” in broadcasting the film which has “fuelled genocide denial” and “further emboldened the genocidaires”.

An estimated 800,000 people, mostly minority Tutsis, were killed in just 100 days in 1994.

The programme included interviews with American-based researchers who say most of those killed may have been Hutus killed by members of the RPF. It also contained interviews with former aides of Kagame, accusing him of being behind the April 1994 shooting down of a presidential plane that sparked the genocide.

The president was asked about the programme during an appearance at the thinktank Chatham House in London this week. “For me as a Rwandan and the leader of Rwanda, I just wish we could concentrate on development of our country and being the best for our people,” he said. “The BBC can say whatever they want to say. They don’t have to say or do, whatever they do or say, because that is right. They say or do whatever they say and do because they can.”

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