“Genocide Denial” in Rwanda: Questioning the Official View of History

BBC joins Rwanda’s List of “Genocide Deniers”…..Is the UN Rwanda Tribunal Next?

Late last week the Rwandan government banned BBC broadcasts in the central African country; a day earlier the Rwandan Parliament demanded the London-based BBC production team be criminally prosecuted for “genocide denial;” and, a week earlier 38 notables, including former UN Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire (now a Canadian Senator), signed an open letter accusing the BBC of “irresponsible journalism.”

A casual observer would be justified in concluding that staid and steady BBC must have gone “off the rails.” How could the BBC possibly deny that the mass violence and human tragedy that the world witnessed in Rwanda in 1994 did not happen.  The short answer is…it didn’t.

The Victors Tell the Story of the War: Always

The supposed “crime” that triggered such intense reaction was the October 1 UK broadcast of a one-hour BBC documentary Rwanda, The Untold Story that describes the last 100-days of the four-year civil war in Rwanda won by the RPF army of President Paul Kagame in July 1994.  For the past 20 years, the history of the Rwanda genocide has largely been told by the “RPF victors.”

This should not be a surprise to anyone who knows their history, the victors have always told the story of wars. This is the lesson Robert McNamara famously taught Americans about the Vietnam War in another famous documentary, The Fog of War.

Rwanda’s demand to criminalize investigative journalism and free speech demonstrates that, like the Fog of Warand the Pentagon Papers exposed U.S. government mythology about the Vietnam War, the BBC documentary hit a raw nerve with the Kagame/RPF one-party state by presenting interviews and solidly researched evidence that questions the “Kagame/RPF victors’ version of history.”