Online petition against controversial BBC documentary gains momentum

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has been asked to apologise for airing a revisionist documentary that appears to be echoing genocide denial narratives.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has been asked to apologise for airing a revisionist documentary that appears to be echoing genocide denial narratives.

A petition to this effect was uploaded, yesterday on www.moveon.org, an American public advocacy group, and had by press time garnered 217 signatures out of 300 required before it can be delivered to the BBC’s Editorial Standards Committee.

The BBC documentary titled; “Rwanda: The Untold Story” was aired on October 1, and has since attracted criticism from Genocide survivors, politicians and scholars alike, both in Rwanda and abroad.

“The  documentary attempts to  distort, downplay, and misrepresent almost every historical fact that has been published about the Genocide against the Tutsi,” the petition states.

“We petition BBC for the lies, generalisations, false accusations, innuendoes and wild allegations made against the Rwandan people, Genocide survivors, Rwandan government, and Rwandan President Paul Kagame in the BBC documentary titled; “Rwanda: the Untold Story.”

In its most controversial debacle, the documentary claims that only 200,000 Tutsi were killed by the Interahamwe while the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), which is universally credited with  liberating Rwanda from the killers, killed 800,000 Hutu.

On the contrary, in 100 days, between April 1994 and mid-July, about 1 million people, mainly  Tutsi, were slaughtered by the state-run Interahamwe.

“The BBC claims go against research into the Genocide that has been carried out  by renowned  academics, journalists, the UN and other international organisations,” the petition cites.

“Instead, the BBC chose to rely entirely on people who are known enemies of Rwanda’s government, the RPF and President Kagame, for commentary in the documentary, including Prof. Filip Reyntjens, who was a senior advisor to the late President Juvenal Habyarimana and has not been in the country for over 20 years.”

The BBC, in choosing to air this programme, failed to uphold basic journalistic values of truth and accuracy, fairness and balance, according to the petition.

In the documentary, BBC also interviews two American academics, Allan Stam and Christian Davenport, who are on record stating that there was no genocide in Rwanda but rather a “civil war”.

In response to the film, Genocide survivors living in Europe took to the streets of London to demonstrate and hand over a petition at the BBC headquarters, urging for its immediate removal from all platforms.

Rwanda’s umbrella association for Genocide survivors organisations, Ibuka, also called on the BBC to uphold journalistic standards and stop broadcasting the documentary.

The material was later removed from Youtube, with BBC citing “copyright infringement” but it is still accessible on BBC’s media platforms.

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