Rwanda: Government shuts off BBC-Kinyarwanda broadcasts

Regulation & Policy

Diplomatic corps and Representatives of International Organisations accredited to Rwanda, were last week briefed on the recent decision by Government to « scrap » the BBC Kinyarwanda programme from local airwaves. The diplomatic briefing was given by Information Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, at the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Government, on April 26 temporarily suspended BBC Kinyarwanda programmes, over what it described as "the divisive and disparaging nature" of its reporting. Addressing the foreign envoys, Mushikiwabo, who was flanked by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Rosemary Museminali, said that the decision was based on the April 25 broadcast in which the BBC gave audience to individuals who uttered messages that directly negate the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, during the Imvo ni Mvano programme.

"The Government of Rwanda believes that the programme at a time when Rwandans were commemorating the 1994 Genocide was a deliberate effort by the BBC to downplay or negate the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi," asserted Mushikiwabo who is also the Government spokesperson.

She added that the programme was undermining the unity and reconciliation process which the current leadership has embarked on for the last 15 years; by intentionally cultivating differences based on tribal lines, hence the need to ban it from the airwaves.

"Its not the first time the Government of Rwanda has complained to the BBC about this particular programme many times this programme has been used to spread the hate ideology by insinuating that the current Government has enslaved Hutus, it has downplayed the role of Gacaca Courts and other initiatives, but BBC has deliberately failed to take action," Mushikiwabo explained.

She said that several speakers were given airtime for instance comparing the Imidugudu communal settlements to concentration camps. "The Government of Rwanda supports media freedom and we recognise BBC as one of the leading Media houses but our concerns are on this particular programme."

"The Rwandan situation is a very complicated if you look back at the history and realise the impact of media in spreading the hate ideology which led into the 1994 Genocide. We can therefore not sit back and watch as the BBC spread the same seeds of hate," Mushikiwabo emphasised.

During the meeting with the envoys, Mushikiwabo revealed that BBC officials would be in the country during the week that begins on May 18 for negotiations. She however insisted that the Government would only negotiate terms regarding the BBC changing its editorial line of the programme but not issues of interpretation, which they claim are the root causes.

(source : The New Times)