Survivors outraged by BBC Genocide denial film

Rwanda’s Genocide survivor organisations have expressed outrage at a BBC This World documentary that aired on BBC Two this week. 

In a letter sent to the Director General of the BBC, Ibuka (Rwanda’s umbrella association for survivor groups) responded to the film, calling it a blatant denial of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and asking the BBC to stop all screenings of the documentary.

Below is the letter:

BBC Broadcasting House
Portland Place

To Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC,

To Emma Swain, Controller, Factual Commissioning for the BBC,

We, survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, are outraged by the blatant denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi that is portrayed in your documentary ‘Rwanda: The Untold Story’, broadcast by BBC Two.

This year we mark 20 years since the Genocide that killed over a million of our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters.

The BBC prides itself on upholding the journalistic standards of truth and objective reporting.

The programme is factually incorrect and seems intent on reopening our wounds. In one of the very few truthful scenes from the film, survivors were shown at the commemoration event this year leaving the stadium in uncontrollable distress, screaming and shouting for loved ones they witnessed being killed before their eyes.

It was with disbelief and disappointment that a few people who have their differences with the current government or the country were given a platform to politicise the Genocide and deny the planned and systematic killing of over one million people.

The programme ignored the vast evidence from people who were here in 1994, from local, national and UN court records and from scholars and academics. This makes a mockery of the BBC’s reputation for integrity and fairness.

It is our understanding that the production crew was in Rwanda during the commemoration period in April but made no effort to seek out the voices of those who witnessed and suffered through the Genocide in 1994.

By giving voice to those who deny the Genocide without reaching out to a single survivor or survivor organisation, the BBC has demonstrated an incredible lack of respect for the more than a million victims and their surviving loved ones.

Genocide denial is known as the final stage of genocide and occurs when genocide is met with attempts to deny the occurrence and minimise the scale or death toll. Through your documentary, you have silenced the voices of survivors and amplified those that seek to minimise and legitimise one of the fastest and most systematic genocides of the 20th century.

It pains us to imagine the viewers whose first exposure to the history of the Genocide against the Tutsi was through a filter of denial and revision.

We call on the BBC to uphold journalistic standards and stop broadcasting this documentary and parts of it on multiple BBC platforms.
On behalf of Ibuka,
* Dr Jean-Pierre Dusingizemungu, President of Ibuka (The umbrella association for Genocide survivor organisations in Rwanda)
* Yvonne Kabanyana, President of the Association of Genocide Widows of Rwanda (AVEGA)
* Jean de Dieu Mirindi, National Coordinator of the Association of Student Survivors of the Genocide (AERG)
* Charles Haboninama, President of the Association of Former Student Survivors of the Genocide (GAERG)