Four men accused of downplaying and denying the 1994 Genocide are at it again. They are now heartily looking forward to advancing their own created version of the Genocide at a platform they have helped organize.
One of the official organizers of the event is Les Editions les Intouchables, a Montreal-based publisher of one Canadian author Robin Philpot, a member of the foursome. Philpot together with his fellow Genocide deniers; French author-journalist Pierre Pean, Spanish lawyer Jordi Palou-Loverdos and Belgian journalist Peter Verlinden – all due to speak at a conference due tomorrow in Montréal, Canada – belong to a small club of foreigners sympathizing with the Genocide perpetrators, and whose political and economic influence in Kigali was confined to history following the fall of the Genocide regime.
The news of the planned conference, which comes just a week ahead of the 14th anniversary of the Genocide, has been greeted with dismay, bitterness and protests from not only Genocide survivors but also Holocaust survivors, Canadians, and many other people.
Following the announcement of plans to hold the negationists’ conference, a Canadian-based Rwandan community, launched petition which had by last evening at exactly 6 pm had collected 721 signatures, with most comments decrying a world with injustices and the silence that continue to characterize many countries including Canada.
The press, especially locally and in Canada, have lately turned their focus to that conference, featuring comments from people enraged by the fact that any country on this planet could accept to host a meeting of elements negating the Genocide, which was officially recognized by the United Nations.
“I believe in open debate and historical inquiry but there are facts that are so obvious that when people start denying them, it’s very similar to Holocaust denial,” the Canadian Press yesterday quoted William Schabas, a Canadian human rights expert working with the Irish Centre for Human Rights, as saying.
That was just a day after a Canadian couple walked up to the head offices of The New Times Publications to register their objection to the planned conference, citing that it was high time, people stopped to ignore the revisionists rather take them to courts of law for “committing genocide.”
Chapter 24 (Bill C-19) of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act (Provisions of the Rome Statute), partly defines genocide as acts committed with intent to cause “serious bodily and mental harm to members of the group”, which is the apparent reason why revisionists arrange such conferences around the period to mourn the victims of the April-July, 1994 Genocide.
There are reasons why each of the four negationists has been branded a revisionist. The quartet has used and abused their profession by publishing or airing views that propagate the same ideologies as the Genocide regime, and its remnants who continue to roam the world, running away from the long hand of the law for their crimes.
For instance, a Canadian professor at the Université du Quebec in Montréal (UQAM), Luc-Normand Tellier, in an article reviewing a book called “Ca ne s’est pas passe comme ça a Kigali” (It Did Not Happen Like That in Kigali) by Philpot about the Genocide, openly accused his fellow countryman of negating the Genocide.
Tellier, who once lived in Rwanda as a teacher at Kigali’s College Saint-Andre, in his article published on April 24, 2003 under the title “Le Rwanda de Robin Philpot” (Rwanda according to Robin Philpot), offered to give an account of what happened in Rwanda from a foreigner’s perspective, relating it to the politics that prevailed in the country in 1960s.
“Nowhere in the book did Mr Philpot show any compassion towards the 500,000 to one million victims of the Genocide. Nowhere does he look to understand why Tutsi refugees in Uganda had several times tried to come back to their country.
What scandalized me the most in Mr Philpot’s book is that each time he speaks about these Rwandan refugees, the author calls them rebels, invaders, aggressors or foreign army,” Tellier said of the book.
In an apparent confession that he himself, like many others, had for long refused to denounce the discrimination against Tutsis under the pre-Genocide governments, the Canadian professor asked Philpot in his article: “What wrong had a human group been doing to the point that one tries to liquidate it?
What wrongs? What wrongs? What wrongs? Mr Philpot, answer!” He concluded his article, telling Philpot: “In the name of these hundreds of thousands of victims, who truly died in atrocious conditions in the context of a genocide that you are trying to negate; in the name of all my former students who were killed, I summon you to answer.”
Tellier said several of his former Rwandan students at College Saint-Andre were killed during the Genocide, citing Landoald Ndasingwa, who was killed together with his wife and children, in the early days of the Genocide.
Pean and his publisher are already facing charges of racial slander and provocation in his native France for a book on Genocide called “Noires Fureurs, Blancs Menteurs” (Black Furies, White Liars). In June, 2007, Pean failed to block a criminal lawsuit by Rwanda Genocide survivors’ organization, IBUKA, through an international anti-racism organisation SOS-Racism, in which he is accused of negating Genocide.
In his book, Pean advances the notion that Tutsis organized a counter-genocide of Hutus, the same falsehood that is on the lips of Palou-Loverdos, Verlinden and all other Genocide deniers.
“The book was full of phrases that were directly negating the Genocide against Tutsis. Actually he was insinuating that the killers did a good thing to exterminate Tutsis,” Former IBUKA president, Francois Ngarambe, said of the Frenchman last year.
Many have continued to wonder why Canada, which has outlawed public speeches disputing the Holocaust and is trying one of the Genocide suspects, Désiré Munyaneza, could allow hosting such a gathering whose aim is nothing more than reducing the Genocide to ethnic clashes.