Genocide: Open letter to Amsterdam University press

Visitors look at some of the pictures of victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi inside Kigali Genocide Memorial. Photo by Sam Ngendahimana.

Recently, a Dutch organisation, the Amsterdam University Press (AUP), announced it would translate into Dutch a book on Rwanda written by a known Genocide negationist, Canadian national Judi Rever.

The book called, ‘In Praise of Blood: The Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front’,  tries to push the narrative that in Rwanda, there was double Genocide and other historical inaccuracies.

 

Below is the letter by Ibuka, the umbrella body of Genocide survivors by its chapter in The Netherlands.

 

IBUKA - Netherlands learnt with surprise that the Amsterdam University Press is readying a Dutch translation of Judi Rever’s book, titled, In Praise of Blood: The Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front.

 

We were very surprised by the initiative to publish a book which unequivocally tarnishes the memory of our parents, brothers, sisters and neighbours who were systematically targeted, hunted down and ultimately killed in what the global community recognises to be one of the most atrocious genocides of the twentieth century that targeted the Tutsi population of Rwanda between April and July 1994.

We decided to issue this statement out of a felt duty owed to our slain relatives to denounce any propagation of ideas such as those conveyed in Rever’s Book.

The book’s stated ambition is to revisit the history of the civil war and genocide in Rwanda and to cast the Rwandan Patriotic Front, particularly current Rwandan President, as criminals bearing the primary responsibility for the genocide.

For instance, the author claims that Kagame’s RPF infiltrated the Interahamwe in Kigali, Ruhengeri and Butare, and manipulated them into killing opponents and Tutsi.

The author further claims that the RPF infiltrated political parties and their militias - besides MRND’s lnterahamwe, the Les lnkuba (MDR), the Abakombozi (PSD), and the Impuzambugambi (CDR) -and encouraged them to kill Tutsi at roadblocks.

The author further does something familiar in analyses of victimhood by blaming the victims for their own fate. The author claims that not only Hutu killed Tutsi but also Tutsi civilians killed Hutu.

In essence, without using the exact words, Rever’s revisionist explanation about what happened in Rwanda in 1994 stereotypically re-appropriates the narratives characterising it as inter-tribal killings and a double genocide.

In that way, the books fits in a pattern of publications on Rwanda particularly in the western world since the mid-2000s explicitly ambitioning to reframe narratives and rewrite the history of the civil war and genocide committed against Rwanda’s Tutsis.

Robin Philpot’s A ne s’est pas  passe   comme a Kigali (2004), Pierre Pean’s, Noires fureurs, blancs menteurs (2005), Ferdinand Nahimana’s, Rwanda: Les virages rates (2007), are some of such publications attempting to revise accepted knowledge about the dynamics of the genocide that targeted the Tutsis of Rwanda by either blaming the RPF or/or the “not so innocent” Tutsi victims thereby minimizing the role of the actual killers.

Keeping this background in mind, it is not surprising to note that Judi Rever’s book represents the new found gospel of the composite coalition made of revisionists and negationists of the Tutsi genocide and by anti-Kagame activists.

Judi Rever is known to be a close ally of opponents of Government of Rwanda.

She recently received an award by an organisation close to the FDU-Inkingi, an outfit composed by people close to genocide fugitives on the run across the world and close to members of the terrorists group FDLR, which group is on sanctions list of the UN Security Council.

Its (FDLR) leader General Sylvestre Mudacumura is under international arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The FDU leader has been in close connection with the terrorists group FDLR, as shown by documents seized by Dutch police in the home of Victoire Ingabire in The Hague and shared with Rwanda Justice institutions.

Judi Rever’s close partner in the revisionist campaign to re-write a new narrative on the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda is one Peter Verlinden, a known close ally of groups and organisations whose members are either former genocide perpetrators, or genocide fugitives, or members of FDLR, a terrorist organization under UN Security Council sanction.

Peter Verlinden was also awarded by the same organisation affiliated to the FDU, close to FDLR (on UN sanction list).

For more information on Peter Verlinden’s genocide denial records check the link: https:/www.newtimes.co.rw/section/read/3149.

We are aware of the fact that the most common argument used for publishing or disseminating ideas such as those contained in Rever’s book relate to imperatives of promoting and supporting freedom of expression, particularly free press.

However, we also very well know that even in a western liberal democracy like The Netherlands, freedom of expression is not absolute. It may be and has always been checked by imperatives of protecting those likely to be hurt by negative or hateful use of such freedoms.

Controversies surrounding a planned and eventually cancelled visit and speech in The Hague of notorious holocaust denier David Irving in 2016 testify to the fact that his ideas are not generally considered welcome in Dutch society.

The Rwandans society is still attempting to recover from a past in which its social components were pitted against one another, generating ideologies of hate that culminated in the genocide against the Tutsi.

As we attempt to heal from the wounds of a destructive genocide, revisionist publications such as Judi Rever’s book can only have the opposite effect of trying to keep us within the politically engineered conflicts of our dark past.

In attempting to challenge the global recognition of the genocide committed against the Tutsis of Rwanda as documented in authoritative history books, adjudicated by the ICTR and acknowledged through UN Security Council Resolution 2150 (2014) of April 16, 2014, Judi Rever’s book propagates ideas, myths and allegations that should be denounced and condemned rather than amplified.

As a reminder, the ICTR’s Appeals Chamber issued a judicial notice on June 16, 2006 stating that it was a “fact of common knowledge” that “between April 6, and July 17, 1994, there was a genocide in Rwanda against the Tutsi ethnic group”.

The UN Security Council Resolution 2150 (2014) on the other hand condemned “without reservation any denial of [the genocide committed against the Tutsi”] and urged Member States to “develop educational programmes that will inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Genocide in order to help prevent future genocides”.

Within the spirit of this recommendation from Res. 2150 (2014), Amsterdam University Press, as an institution connected to higher education in The Netherlands, is well placed to fulfil the mission of educating readers of its publications about lessons learnt from the genocide  committed against Rwanda’s Tutsi.

Instead, the decision to publish Rever’s book operates in the opposite direction of contributing to further misinformation.

Has AUP done extensive research on the author and her motive? Is, in the end, it really what AUP is meant for? Is really what AUP wants as a legacy for the future generation? Does AUP believes in this revisionist and invented story?

Does AUP want to join the list of those media houses that gave the platform to revisionist and genocide perpetrators?

This statement is therefore intended as a strongly condemnation of Amsterdam University Press decision to partake in the propagation of Rever’s ideas to the Dutch audience.

We appeal to decision -makers of Amsterdam University Press to revisit its decision and very much hope that our outlined reasons will convince them not to publish the book. We remain available to give any needed feedback on this statement.

Yours sincerely,

The Hague, August 29th, 2018
For IBUKA Netherlands.

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