Rwanda: Campaigner Accuses BBC of 'Deliberate' Genocide Negationism

Regulation & Policy

The BBC never gave a platform to German Nazis after the holocaust but is very comfortable hosting convicted Rwandan Genocide criminals on its airwaves, a prominent campaigner and journalist has claimed. Tom Ndahiro accuses the BBC of double standards as regards the Rwandan Tutsi Genocide by giving airtime to already convicted individuals for their role in the mayhem.

Ndahiro is a former member of the Rwanda Human Rights Commission but currently has a political talk-show in which he has regularly invited supposed political opponents of government and grilled them on their positions. In a lengthy note to the Rwanda Information Service - ORINFOR - that provides signal-relay to the BBC and Radio 10 - that airs the popular BBC Great lakes Service program, Ndahiro is specifically bitter with journalists Mugenzi Ally Yusuf and Venuste Nshimiyimana.

Mugenzi is the head of the same 30-minute program that airs at 16:30 GMT and 18:30 GMT in Kinyarwanda and Kirundi targeting Rwandan and Burundians. Nshimiyimana has been a long serving reporter for the program. Campaigner Ndahiro wants ORINFOR and privately-owned Radio 10 to review their relationship with the BBC that he claims has been acting in total disregard of the feelings of Rwandans.

"Sir, the head of ORINFOR and Radio 10, could you inquire from the BBC to avail you with recordings of Hitler's lieutenants after they had been sentenced", writes Ndahiro. "I they do not provide you with those recordings - ask them why that is exactly what they are doing to Rwandans - we need to know."

The British broadcaster regularly interviews political opponents of government and leaders of the Rwandan extremist rebels - FDLR - some of whom stand accused of Genocide. In particular, the group's Executive Secretary Mr. Calixte Mbarushimana - who is now under French government investigation for his role in the mass killings in Kigali.

Ndahiro also says Mugenzi Ally Yusuf deliberately interviews individuals who he is well aware are bent on minimising the Tutsi Genocide. Ndahiro is also angry that Mugenzi has refused to respond to a letter he wrote to him expressing his disappointments and demanding answers.

As for Venuste Nshimiyimana - the BBC journalist, Ndahiro alleges that he was an 'admirer' of convicted Genocide Prime Minister Jean Kambanda and deceased former President Juvenal Habyarimana. Mr. Kambanda is serving a life sentence in Mali for his role in the mass slaughter after he was convicted by the Tanzania-based Tribunal for Rwanda.

On March 20, just days to the 2004 Genocide Commemoration week between April 7 and 14, Nshimiyimana broadcast a 60-miniute program with the convicted premier from his cell along with a host of other top Genocide fugitives. Officials in Kigali and Genocide survivors were up in arms over the program.

Ndahiro does not stop at condemning the BBC alone, but also says the Voice of America as well - have become the two international platforms for critics of government that commonly deny or undermine the Tutsi Genocide. A 2006 Senate report, on prevalence of what has been called here 'Genocide Ideology' revealed that 75% of Rwandans believed the BBC and VOA are promoters of individuals that deny the genocide and propagate hate. Another group in this category was western experts and organizations.

"Rwandans employed by the BBC - just like others Rwandan - do have the responsibility to fight anybody that negates that Tutsi Genocide", says Ndahiro.

Radio 10 and BBC on Tuesday officials established the working relationship that will see the former airing live that Great Lakes program Gahuzamiryango. Under the same program, the BBC broadcasts a 60-minute program Imvo n'imvano on Saturdays at 8hrs GMT.

The VOA broadcast daily at 3:30 GMT to 4:30 GMT. The programs from the two major broadcasters have become very popular among a wide array of Rwandans who give their information more credence compared to any other media locally.

Kigali 23rd April 2008