When I wrote about the BBC Imvo n’Imvano’s suspension over controversial remarks made by former Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu, I thought I was simply commenting on what many people had already heard or said.
I did not anticipate the kind of responses I received from readers. While I didn’t intend to attack anybody except pointing out flaws in the Kinya-rwanda programme, some of my readers took issue with me.
While nobody complained when I said that there was every reason to suspend Imvo n’Imvano, unless the BBC moderators screened their programmes, the article seemed to touch a wrong wire when I criticised Twagiramungu for denying the Genocide.
This article has come rather late but I have spent the last two weeks pondering who of my readers I should respond to.
Mr Jean Michel Habineza took issue with me for criticising Twagiramungu for denying the Genocide against the Tutsi, despite knowing just how much emotional pain it causes survivors.
Mr Habineza suggests that Twagiramungu has never denied the Genocide and makes a number of other charges against me.
He claimed that I had not listened to the interview with the 2003 presidential candidate that triggered the government action, and that my article was false based on hear say.
Mr Habineza asserts that anybody who does not agree with the Kigali government is labelled a genocidaire, insisting that anyone is free to live in exile as long as he did not feel comfortable to live in Rwanda.
First of all let me assure Mr Habineza that I listened to the interview and my article was based on truth. The words, “I will never kneel before a Tutsi asking for forgiveness” are words Twagiramungu said in a minute-long advertised segment of Imvo n’Imvano programme. Those were not my creation as you accused me. If that is not urging against remorse then what is it?
Secondly, Mr Habineza should know that Twagiramungu’s negative Genocide remarks are not new.
The Association of Rwandan Genocide survivors in the UK in 2005 petitioned Kigali Prosecutor General then, Rafael Ngarambe to indict Twagiramungu on three counts: denying that the 1994 Genocide did not target the Tutsi, that the Genocide was not a systematic plan by the Habyarimana regime as well as establishing an Internet website through which he fomented ethnic propaganda.
The survivors based their petition on evidence of regular hate speeches that featured on Twagiramungu’s website www.twagiramungu.net/audio.htm, which he allegedly uttered in April 2004 while giving a public lecture in Brussels on the 10th Genocide commemoration.
The former Prime Minister was quoted as saying “we do not know of any systematic master plan by the regime in power to exterminate the Tutsi. Therefore, insisting that Twags, as my friends like to call him, never denied the Genocide is baseless.
On refugees, Mr Habineza should know that there is nothing good in living in self imposed exile. Rwanda is currently urging all its citizens in self imposed exile to return and contribute to the country’s development.
Refugees are treated as such, whose lives are wasted in exile and currently, there is no justification for Rwandans to live in exile.
Ordinary Rwandans continue languishing in refugee camps after being misled not to return by people like Mr Habimana who are ensconced in their places for their own benefit.
In refugee camps poverty and related problems are part of life. It is not decent staying in makeshift shelter, eating fewer meals and drinking dirty water for the rest of ones’ life when such a person is entitled to full rights at home.
And suggesting that all people who oppose Kigali government are labelled genocidaire’s is totally wrong because there are opposition politicians living safely in the country.