BBC film direct attack on govt, says minister

Saturday October 18 2014

Rwanda's Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo. PHOTO | FILE

Rwanda has described a recently released British Broadcasting Corporation documentary on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi as a direct attack on the country and its leadership.

Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo for the first time spoke out on the documentary, Rwanda’s Untold Story, released on October 1 by BBC Two as part of its series This World.

In the documentary, BBC investigative journalist Jane Corbin claims to have unearthed the role of Rwanda Patriotic Front in triggering the genocide, advancing theories that Kigali says are tantamount to denying or trivialising the genocide.

“That documentary is an insult to reasonable people’s intelligence, it is a direct attack on this country, its entire leadership and its history, as well as a shameless revision of the 1994 genocide,” Ms Mushikiwabo told The EastAfrican.

“It should be clear to those confused people at the BBC and elsewhere that President Paul Kagame is the chosen leader of Rwandans, not needing the approval of unaccountable, disoriented and unprofessional actors.”

Shortly after the documentary was released on October 1, coinciding with the day RPF launched the liberation struggle in 1990, genocide survivors under their umbrella association Ibuka wrote to Tony Hall, the director general of the BBC, expressing their outrage.


“We, survivors of the genocide in Rwanda, are outraged by the blatant denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi that is portrayed in your documentary,” the petition signed by the president Dr Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu reads. “The programme is factually incorrect and seems intent on reopening our wounds.”

Unconfirmed reports indicate that Kigali will most likely shut down the services of the broadcaster in Rwanda, which will not be the first time, over issues relating to the 1994 genocide.

In 2009, Rwanda banned BBC’s Kinyarwanda service for what it called biased reports concerning the genocide. The ban was, however, lifted after two months following negotiations between the government and the broadcaster, with Ms Mushikiwabo, who was then minister of information, warning that BBC broadcasts would likely be “definitively and unconditionally” banned if it did not reconsider its editorial approach to genocide.

Ms Mushikiwabo, who is also the government spokesperson, did not specify what action Kigali will take this time round but said that Kigali will respond in its own time.

“My government reserves the right to respond in a manner commensurate with the weight of the offence,” she said.

However, a BBC spokesperson has said the broadcaster had no intention to deny the 1994 genocide.

“The BBC strongly refutes the suggestion that any part of the programme constitutes a ‘denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi.’ There are repeated references to the mass killings of Tutsis by Hutus in 1994 and that this constituted genocide,” a statement from the BBC released Friday reads.

“The programme also includes an interview with the director of the Genocide Museum at Murambi, a Tutsi and genocide survivor, and a convicted Hutu genocidaire who spoke of his part in the killing of thousands of Tutsis,” it adds.