Outrage as genocide denier is chosen expert on Belgian colonial role in Rwanda

Tom Ndahiro: She will be a disgrace to the commission and shame to a government institution which appointed her as an expert.
Laure Uwase. Courtesy

Laure Uwase, a member of the Jambo Asbl – a Belgium-based association which has been criticized for trivializing and denying the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, has been appointed a member of a commission to examine the role of Belgian colonial rule in Rwanda and the entire Great Lakes region.

She was appointed among a 10-team of scientific experts by a special committee at the Belgian Chamber of Representatives which is examining Belgium's colonial past.

 

The Rwandan umbrella organisation of the survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi – Ibuka and the Rwandan diaspora in Belgium have been outraged by her appointment.

 

The National Commission for the Fight against Genocide describes Jambo Asbl as a genocide-denying association which was founded by young people who do not recognise the role of their parents and grandparents in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

 

“Jambo and its activities or members don’t have the credibility to give any expert analysis,” the two organisations said in a statement they issued on Friday, August 7, 2020.

“... Laure Uwase has no legitimacy as an expert. Ibuka and DRB cannot accept such a usurpation of the expert title,” they observed.

Tom Ndahiro, a genocide scholar, told The New Times that Uwase does not have qualifications of being an expert in colonial history of Rwanda, rather an expert in supporting genocidaires based on interviews she has been carrying out with them.

“She is an expert in denying the genocide or promoting genocidaires,” he said.

“But, I don’t see anything that can make her an expert in a commission like that one to investigate the Belgian colonial past in the region,” he said.

He said that she supports her parents’ ideology, with a father convicted of the Genocide, and a mother who is known to be a supporter of the genocide ideology propagated through ‘Ikondera’ online radio.

Talking about the implications of her retention in the commission, Ndahiro said: “She will be a disgrace to the commission and shame to a government institution which appointed her as an expert.”

To the Genocide survivors, he said that even before she starts her work as a member of the Commission, it’s already a painful experience to survivors to appoint a known proponent of genocide ideology to a team that is supposed to investigate an administration that introduced some elements that led to that crime.

“It is sort of rubbing salt in a wound of a genocide survivor,” he said.

Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe, former Minister of State in charge of the East African Community at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, wrote on his Twitter handle that “Laure Uwase, who is not a historian, is not an expert on colonisation or on the Great Lakes region”.

She is among the founders of the [Genocide] denying association, Jambo Asbl. Her father was convicted of Genocide in Rwanda and her mother runs a denialist radio station.”

Earlier, Ibuka Memoire et Justice and the Rwandan diaspora in Belgium reminded that in March 2018, a conference of parliamentary presidents cancelled an academic meeting of Jambo Asbl at European Parliament when they had provided elements indicating that the association was linked to terrorist groups such as FDLR, and that it circulated ideology consisting of denying the Genocide.

They said that although the Commission Vérité et Réconciliation – a commission that seeks to tell the truth and reconciliation about the Belgian colonial past – is supposed to be objective, they deplore the manipulation in the establishment of that commission, concerning the choice of experts who will make it up.

entirenganya@newtimesrwanda.com

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