Kagame speaks out on BBC Genocide denial

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President Kagame with newly-sworn in Senate president Bernard Makuza and vice-presidents Jeanne d'Arc Gakuba and Fatou Harerimana (right) at Parliament Buildings in Kimihurura, yesterday. (Village Urugwiro)

President Paul Kagame yesterday criticised BBC for producing and broadcasting a documentary that denies the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and portrays perpetrators as victims and victims as perpetrators.

Addressing parliamentarians and other dignitaries after he presided over the swearing in of Bernard Makuza as the new Senate president, yesterday, Kagame said the film, dubbed ‘Rwanda’s Untold Story’, constituted “cynicism of the highest order.”

“The opposite of what they tell us they stand for is what they have done against us. They chose to tarnish Rwandans, to dehumanise them, and deny the very genocide they reported on. This is coming from a part of the world that has a lot of instructions to give us about freedoms. This is not the first time, we see it every day, every week, every month in all forms.”

On October 01, BBC 2 presented the hour-long documentary featuring a group of well known Genocide revisionists and fugitives from justice.

The film has since provoked strong criticisms from within and outside Rwanda, with the umbrella organisation of Genocide survivor associations, Ibuka, urging BBC to apologise, while a coalition of 38 renowned international researchers, former diplomats and investigative journalists has also called on the British broadcaster to retract the documentary and institute an open investigation in the motives.

President Kagame pointed to the hypocrisy of an outlet that prides itself on freedom of speech yet offers a platforms that allows for genocide denial.

He said the documentary invoked memories of the role of hate media such Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), the extremist broadcaster that incited the masses to commit the Genocide against the Tutsi two decades ago.

“The freedom they teach us is different when it comes to Rwanda. They selected all those who have been discredited for very obvious reasons to be the ones to tell the story that should be believed about all of us,” said the President.

Giving platform to terrorists

In an apparent reference to Kayumba Nyamwasa and Theogene Rudasingwa of RNC – the political party linked to a spate of grenade attacks in the country in recent years –who featured prominently in the BBC documentary, Kagame pointed to the double standards when it comes to defining and fighting extremism.

“There was terrorism done here. When grenades were thrown, killing our children, it was the first time that I saw terrorism being internationally supported,” he said.

“The world has given a platform to those who actually were behind it. These people in the documentary are the one who were behind the grenades.”

“Would they give the same platform to ISIS?” President Kagame challenged.

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Rwandans and other well-wishers protest outside Broadcast House in London last week. (File)

He also spoke of the double standards that continue to characterise the international community, including on matters of regional security matters, suggesting that the genocidal FDLR militia could not have maintained bases in eastern DR Congo for 20 years if there had been genuine commitment to disarm them.

“FDLR has lived for 20 years; you think it is by accident? The FDLR are associated with people who killed our one million people but when it’s something threatening their interests, everybody must cooperate?” President Kagame said.

President Kagame urged leaders to view these challenges as an opportunity to learn a lesson.

“I am saying this to remind you that no one owes you a thing, you are on your own and you should own it. You should own your story, own everything about it, shape it the way you want and the way you deserve.”

He added that challenges facing Rwanda will never end and should serve as a source of determination.

“With every challenge put on our way, we get stronger, not weaker. Our body may get weak but our spirit never will. Let our challenges be the motivation to do more, to get more progress and move faster to develop our nation.”

“We cannot be people who run away from problems. We need to push and fight back.You can choose to spend your time talking but Rwanda is not about words. Rwanda is about action,” Kagame added.

The President urged leaders to fulfill their responsibility towards citizens of Rwanda.

“Let’s be serious about development. Let’s make sure every Rwandan has security and freedom. We cannot outsource it.”

(President Kagame at the Swearing in of the President of Senate - Kigali, 14 October 2014. Source: Paul Kagame/YouTube)

He also spoke of Rwanda’s responsibility to bring its modest national capabilities to bear and work with other countries to contain global challenges such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has so far claimed more than 4000 lives.

He described Ebola as an urgent security threat to nations and urged the Ministry of Health, Local Government authorities, among others, to put in place strategies that would help adequately respond to any outbreak and stand ready to provide support to the affected countries.

“These things remind us of how interdependent and interconnected the world is and also of our responsibilities to ourselves and to others, in our small way,” Kagame said.