Varsity students in Kigali yesterday called for tougher action against the BBC over a documentary they say revises and denies the Genocide it broadcast last month.
Despite recent decision by the Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority (Rura) to suspend BBC Kinyarwanda service over the film, Rwanda’s Untold Story, the students say the action is not enough.
The BBC documentary, survivors and scholars say, is an insult to the memory of over a million victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
They sang patriotic songs and chanted anti-BBC slogans while holding placards on which they inscribed their grievances.
One poster screamed: “BBC a destructive media house.”
At mid-day, the students, from Kigali Independent University (ULK) and the University of Tourism, Technology and Management (UTB – formerly the Rwanda Tourism University College), among other institutions, staged a protest march from Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre (IPRC) Kigali to Nyanza Genocide Memorial Centre.
Isaac Sindayigaya, a first year Economics and Management student from ULK, who was waving the poster that described the British public broadcaster as a “destructive media house,” said he would not keep silent as the British broadcaster carries on with genocide denial.
“We will carry on, collectively, to protest against this dishonorable conduct of the BBC. This kind of protest is also a way of releasing our pent up anger and demonstrating our frustrations as we think denying the Genocide is not a light matter. We shouldn’t allow the BBC to rewrite history here,” he said.
Ronald Mitali, a student leader from UTB, said he was especially perturbed by the documentary’s depiction of Rwanda’s President as a man whose only objective was capturing power 20 years ago yet there is ample evidence to the contrary.
“We know that many people the RPA helped rescue from the killers would have died. But the BBC are shamelessly turning things around, turning our country’s heroes into villains and the real criminals washed clean of horrendous deeds,” Mitali, a fourth year student, said.
“Consider, for example, among the many situations, how the RPA showed selfless bravery when rescuing the people who were trapped in churches such as St. Paul Cathedral (in Kigali),” he added.
Innocent Munyaneza, another UTB student, appeared at a loss for words when approached for comment. But he managed to point out that he disagrees with the BBC and “Rwandans should not accept the kind of disrespect showed by the BBC.”