Genocide denial; the remaining weapon for perpetrators

Rwandan youth gather outside the Parliamentary Building during a past Walk to Remember in honour of the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Courtesy.

It’s now 24 years. Year by year; we mourn our beloved ones killed during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.

As we remember, the perpetrators and their accomplices continue to deny the Genocide using all kinds of communications and while at it, evade justice. The denial aims to hide the atrocious crime and stifle the testimonies.

There is, and there will always be negation of the Genocide against Tutsi until denial is globally punished.

Genocide has a genealogy. Before the Genocide, there are words and actions. The project of Genocide begins with the denial of citizenship.

In Rwanda people were not only denied citizenship, they were denied the very basic right of being human beings.

A case in point, during the Genocide, killing Tutsi was nicknamed “working”.

When President Theodore Sindikubwabo launched the Genocide in south, he invited all Hutu population to “work” or be eliminated.

Asked during an interview with journalists in 1995 in Bukavu, he said that he was inviting population to work hard and fight hunger, an indication that by the time the Genocide was being prepared, the denial phase was being prepared as well.

On one hand, the Genocide against the Tutsi has been officially recognised by official global institutions including the UN. On the other hand, some acts and practices of language continue to deny it.

Before the Genocide against Tutsi, the regimes refused to hear testimony over what happened during post-independence period. And yet, in 1963-1964, 1967, 1973, the testimonies exist.

During this period, media attested that in Rwanda, acts of Genocide happened between 1959-1967. In the same period in Rwanda, this was a subject taboo to media and among survivors, hence the first acts of Genocide against the Tutsi were trivialised.

The denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi begins with presenting itself with “interrogations” on the qualification of “Genocide”. It then proposes a compensation statement: “There was no Genocide of Tutsis, there was an inter-ethnic war”, “a tragedy”. Those statements are crafted by academicians, journalists and human rights activists.

The denial of the Genocide against Tutsi is intertwined with different forms of denial. In some of these forms, Genocide is outrightly not denied. It is simply absent or justified. Absent speeches built on an analysis of major historical movements, with “interethnic war” and “conflicts of cultures” as explanatory determinants.

A former French Minister for Cooperation, Robert Galley, gave a statement on 13 May 1998 to a Parliamentary probe Mission on Rwanda, and said that Habyarimana’s regime was “extremely tolerant”.

The former minister, who does not pronounce the word Genocide, speaks of the “Machiavellianism” of the Tutsis who used their diaspora bases to foment a war of re-conquest in order to ensure domination over the Hutu. Relativising the Genocide by explaining it with an atavism of social violence and ethnic wars denies the Genocide in its radical singularity.

On 8 November 1994 during the Franco-African Summit, the same day the Security Council’s vote in New York to adopt the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, President François Mitterrand gave another version: he said that “the genocides” occurred in Rwanda.

He added “In truth, as you know, no international insurance policy can prevent a people from self-destruct, nor can the impossible be asked to the international community, let alone to France……” he was saying that Hutus and Tutsi in Rwanda killed each other.

Denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi is also manifested when the countries which harbor the perpetrators don’t bring them to Justice.

The modernity of the communication allows everyone to follow, and give information via social media and blogs where Internet is the only requirement. Some of the accounts which deny the Genocide on social media are anonymous. There is no doubt that those behind the Genocide against the Tutsi are the ones behind it’s denial.

The Genocide against Tutsi which was committed in the country where French politics and the French army were active, is a difficult reality to confront. It was stopped by Rwanda Patriotic Army made of young Rwandans, who were denied their right of being Rwandans before they were born and were simply claiming their rights.

The authors of the Genocide and French politicians have not swallowed the defeat and the response is denial. Denial, which originates from persisting refusal of “mea culpa” and a bad conscience and from there will spring denial acts to silence each testimony that hurts them so much.

Recently, one retired French soldier, Lt Col Guillaume Ancel, who broke the silence and published a book about the real acts and mission of French “Operation Turquoise” in Rwanda which was to stop the advance of RPA (which was stopping the Genocide).

Other former French soldiers like Col Jacques Hogards still defend the genocidaires. Hogards was commanding Cyangugu Sector during Operation Turquoise which was the main exit corridor of Genocidaire to DRC including President Théoneste Sindikubwaho and his cabinet.

The writer is a survivor of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi

The views expressed in this article are of the author.


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