LAST PART III: Open Letter to Tim Cooke of the BBC World Service

This is the last part of a three-series letter the author wrote to Tim Cooke of the BBC showing how journalists of the Kinyarwanda/Kirundi service, Gahuzamiryango, continue giving airtime to revisionists of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis.

This is the last part of a three-series letter the author wrote to Tim Cooke of the BBC showing how journalists of the Kinyarwanda/Kirundi service, Gahuzamiryango, continue giving airtime to revisionists of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis.

Mr Cooke, since you have agreed to take the responsibility for some of the dreadful mistakes committed by the BBC’s Gahuzamiryango, you have to be aware of the serious problems that they have created.

In your letter, you told me that there was no law which prohibited you from giving a voice to convicted criminals. I accept that. But if that is the case, why then did you initiate an inquiry?

What was the purpose of this inquiry? And what were its conclusions? According to your inquiry, with which mandate did the journalist, Nshimiyimana, interview these genocidaires?

According to the information in my possession, Nshimiyimana himself took the initiative for these interviews and, according to the same sources, he kept these interviews in a drawer for more than a year. The timing of their broadcast was not insignificant.

Why did you await the 10th commemoration of the genocide to air these genocidal remarks? And if you want to know more, check the date when Nshimiyimana went to Mali, and what he went there to do.

Who, according to your inquiry, were the other people implicated in this affair?

And what was the motive, or interest, given by those who admitted that they collaborated in the matter, for example by the person who recorded or the one who kept the broadcast to transmit it on 20 March 2004?

What pushed the BBC to offer an apology? And what lessons did the BBC draw from this event which forced it to express an apology?

The BBC has to give the reasons why they had to apologise, especially to those who were offended by the remarks of these arrogant genocidaires.

Those who were offended include the survivors of the genocide and other people who struggle to ensure that genocide never happens again anywhere in the world.

To offend the public on the radio and then to offer an apology from an armchair, which consists of a simple letter, is an unhealthy habit which encourages your journalists to commit the same errors without any worries.   

You say that the BBC does not provide a forum for people with extremist ideas. By saying this, are you implying that the genocidaires do not have extremist ideas?

Or else, you should admit that you are not, in fact, familiar with the ideas of the genocideres and their way of disseminating their ideology, or you should simply admit that you support them. Which side are you on, Mr Cooke?

And I would like you to understand that when I speak about genocidaires, I am not only speaking of those who are well-known, or those like Kambanda and his criminal colleagues who have been convicted.

I include, in my list, also those who deny the genocide. I have sent many examples to the BBC through Mugenzi. If he has not given them to you, I will send them to you myself, along with supporting explanations.

Let Me Know If We Should Continue to Debate
On 18 April 2008, I wrote to the director of the Rwandese Office of Information (ORINFOR) and of Radio 10 Kigali about the BBC Gahuzamiryango who spread the ideology of genocide.

In writing to ORINFOR and Radio 10, my intention was simply for them to pass my message on to those in charge of the BBC since I knew that they enjoyed good relations with you. After that, I learned that you came to Kigali and that you talked together.

I called my communication “Another Alarm Bell” because it was not the first time that I had written in order to draw attention to the broadcasts of the BBC Gahuzamiryango which had become a channel for the genocidaires and their ideology, especially through the programmes in Kirundi and Kinyarwanda. 

I sent a copy, for information, to the Parliament, the Senate, the Minister of Information, to the National Media Council, and to the President of the association, Ibuka. There is a special reason why I sent a copy to each of these people or institutions.

As far as the Senate is concerned, one of its responsibilities is to monitor the application of the principles of Article 9 of the Constitution of Rwanda, making special reference to Article 9 (1) and 9 (2) which condemn the ideology of genocide in all its manifestations and which promote the elimination of ethnic divisions.

As for the Minister of Information and the National Media Council, I sent it to them because they are charged with the responsibility of elaborating and applying the policy about news and information in the country. In addition, it is the Minister of Information who has the authority to give permission to foreign radios to work in the country.

I informed IBUKA as an association of genocide survivors which is always persecuted by the communiques which are broadcast by the BBC-Gahuzamiryango.

Coming back to the Senate, in 2006 it made public a report entitled: “The Ideology of Genocide in Rwanda and the Strategy for its Eradication: An Inquiry by the Senate into the Opinion of the Rwandese People.”

This report was made public two years after the Senate decided to carry out a serious inquiry into the ideology of the genocide as it existed in the country and to examine how best to eliminate it once and for all.

Mr Cooke, this report showed that 75% of Rwandans think that the press, the reports of experts and the reports of NGOs reflect the ideas of those who deny the genocide and those who support the ideology of genocide.

This shows that the controversy which lies at the heart of our correspondence could have been debated by the serious mass media, such as the BBC radio.

In the press, special mention was made of foreign radios who think along these lines, in particular those who broadcast in Kinyarwanda and who are listened to by many Rwandans --the Voice of America and the BBC-Gahuzamiryango.

The associations which were mentioned include FDLR and RDR. In this report, the investigators showed the different levels of language used by the deniers and the propagandists of genocide.

The inquiry also showed that 58% of the participants affirm that these criminal acts help revive the ideology of genocide among ordinary Rwandese. (pp. 42-43). 

From the time it was published, until today, the BBC-Gahuzamiryango has never commented on the facts it is accused of in this report.

Or is it the case that you accepted these accusations as true and you decided to continue with your programmes as if there was nothing?

In this letter I am sending you, I am asking you to please reply to the following questions which Ally Yusuf Mugenzi should have responded to following the letter I sent him last March, and to which he has yet to reply.

I put questions to him, and he should have responded to them, not only as a responsible journalist, but also as an official ready to take responsibility for his actions.

Mr Cooke, given the fact that I did not get a reply from him, and that, surprisingly it was you who wrote to me singing his praises, it is now for you to respond to the same questions that I had asked him, and which are the following:

• Should an individual or an association which denies that there was the genocide of the Tutsis have the right to speak on the airwaves of the BBC-Gahuzamiryango which you are the head of?

• Should someone or an association which states publicly that the authors of the genocide should not be publicly brought to justice be given a forum for discussion on the radio, for example the one you work for?

• According to you, an individual or an association who argues that the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda was a necessary political undertaking in defending ideas which are politically acceptable.

Tell me honestly, what kind of support are you giving them when you provide them with airtime, as you do so often on your radio?

• Do you believe that ideas which are intended to divide people, which are racist and genocide denials deserve to be aired publicly and to be given free air-time on any radio, and especially yours, which is listened to by such a large number of people?

When you give them a platform, don’t you think that such an act could have harmful consequences on a national scale in a country like Rwanda?

• When you invite people or associations who dare to argue that the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda had neither perpetrators nor victims, and that no one put a stop to it, what do you think you are going to learn from them?

• Are you aware of the fact that the perpetratos of the genocide in Rwanda are always looking for ways of using the press, especially international radios, to propagate the genocide?  Did you know that your radio is among those they have identified to manipulate for this purpose?

• Do you not think that the denial of genocide constitutes a reprehensible criminal act, and liable to be condemned by anyone of decency?

• Are you knowledgeable about the different strategies (especially when it comes to language) used by those who spread the ideology of genocide and by those who deny the genocide?

• Do you not believe that information, either written or broadcast, can put the security of a person, or a group of people at risk, and even endanger their lives? 

• In its history, did the BBC radio dare to give as much room for expression to known Nazis and to those who deny the Shoah?

If not, then why do you think that the denial of the genocide of the Tutsis should be freely granted so much space on your airwaves? Is there, in your eyes, a genocide whose denial can be professed so publicly without a reaction? 

I hope you will also explain why Mugenzi does not want to respond to the questions which concern him and why you preferred to write to me in his place.

Was he acting under your instructions? And were the mistakes his own, or were they inspired by you? Or is it us who consider them mistakes when, in reality, it is the policy of the BBC?  

Mr. Cooke, the response I get from you will give me the opportunity to know the points where it is necessary to give additional clarifications, and the manner in which we can continue with our debate, if you would like to, that is.

Best regards.

Tom NDAHIRO

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