BBC documentary targeted person of President Kagame, says expert

A senior lecturer at a local higher learning institution has said that the controversial BBC documentary, 'Rwanda's Untold Story', was made with a single purpose of tarnishing the image of President Paul Kagame.
Protesters hold placards at Kicukiro, in a demo against BBC, earlier this month. (Timothy Kisambira)
Protesters hold placards at Kicukiro, in a demo against BBC, earlier this month. (Timothy Kisambira)

A senior lecturer at a local higher learning institution has said that the controversial BBC documentary, ‘Rwanda’s Untold Story’, was made with a single purpose of tarnishing the image of President Paul Kagame.

Benoit Karenzi, a senior lecturer at the Catholic Institute of Kabgayi (ICK), said this while appearing as an expert witness at the ongoing probe into the documentary.

Karenzi, who is also an expert in filmmaking, told the commission that the manner in which BBC 2 edited the images in the on-hour documentary shows the intention of the producers.

“I critically watched this documentary and was very saddened by the manner in which these people twisted facts of events that I personally covered as a journalist in 1994,” said Karenzi, who worked for Rwanda Television during the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

He said most of the clips used in the documentary were acquired from the national broadcaster’s archive and that he was part of the crew that filmed them but told the commission that they were twisted to give an interpretation that suited a particular                                   narrative.

“This documentary is aimed at one thing – character assassination. The producers focused on tarnishing the image of President Kagame. Most of the clips they used are those we filmed after the Genocide at Orinfor but the editing, interpretation they gave the images is what changes the whole meaning,” he said.

He singled out a clip where the renowned 600 RPA fighters entered Kigali as part of the Arusha Peace Agreement, saying that the general mood in the country at the time was that the war was coming to an end but Jane Corbin, the presenter and producer of the BBC film, insinuates that actually RPA smuggled in more weapons and fighters, which is totally false.

“The script she used on these images gives a completely different perspective. In her script she claims the ‘Tutsi cheered on as hundreds of RPF soldiers arrived in the capital Kigali under the ceasefire agreement but many more troops were smuggled in. Such contradictory statements are meant to divert the viewers from the truth,” Karenzi said.

 Kibeho killings

In the documentary, Corbin alleges that the RPF soldiers killed hundreds of Hutu refugees who were in Kibeho camp but, Karenzi who was a TV reporter then, said the footage they got from the national broadcaster about the Kibeho events was heavily doctored to pile blame on President Kagame.

“Some of the refugees in the camp were armed. They threatened anyone who attempted to go back to their villages and sometimes killed those who insisted. The UNHCR can bear witness to this. Many times UNHCR begged them to return to their villages but they refused,” Karenzi said.

“By the time Kagame went to the camp, he was a Vice President and he went with then President Pasteur Bizimungu, but nowhere in the documentary do they show Bizimungu, it’s only Kagame they show which reveals the intention of that film,” he said.

Karenzi added that the time chaos broke out at Kibeho, he went to the camp to cover the story and was himself shot at by refugees.

“One refugee snatched a gun from an RPF soldier and ran away, if the RPF was killing these people they would have shot him but they ran after him, caught him and brought him back to the camp, I saw all this with my eyes,” he said.

Karenzi also said that the assembling of images and the script of the documentary are meant to instill hatred into the  people.

The commission, led by former Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga, is expected to continue hearing more witnesses on Monday.

The documentary, aired on BBC 2 on October 1, 2014, has prompted a series of protests by Rwandans both in the country and in the Diaspora, while a group of eminent researchers, scholars and journalists from across the world said it aimed at denying or minimising the Genocide against the Tutsi.

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