by Ann Garrison
KPFA Weekend News broadcast Dec. 21, 2014
International argument over “Rwanda’s Untold Story,” the BBC documentary that upends widely held belief about the Rwandan massacres of the 1990s and discredits the authoritarian regime of President Paul Kagame, continues in the European, African and U.S. press. Earlier this week, Belgium canceled 40 million Euro in development aid to Rwanda.
KPFA Evening News Anchor David Landau: In news from Africa earlier this week Belgium canceled 40 million Euro in development aid because “Rwanda continues to fail to make any progress in the areas of press freedom and good governance.” KPFA’s Ann Garrison has more.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: MoveOn.org, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, is hosting a petition titled “BBC Trust should apologize to the Rwandan people” despite the fact that very few Rwandans in Rwanda have been allowed to see the BBC documentary titled “Rwanda’s Untold Story.” The documentary upends the widely held belief about the Rwandan massacres of the 1990s and discredits the brutally repressive, authoritarian regime of President Paul Kagame.
The Rwandan government has even banned the BBC radio broadcast in Rwanda’s native language and created a commission of inquiry to investigate and possibly indict the BBC for “genocide denial” in Rwanda. In a recent speech, Kagame curiously described what the BBC does as “politics.”
Kagame: Well, BBC is supposed to be the standard of freedom of speech, but all they do is politics. They belittle people. They are no better than anybody. For these other gods who want us to bow to them in Rwanda, they are in the wrong place. (Applause.)
KPFA: In the same speech, Kagame warned that anyone who tries to overthrow his regime, which he referred to as “our right,” will pay a very high price.
Kagame: No one has the right to take away our right. For those who will attempt, it will be very expensive for them. Very expensive. Baba abari hano, baba abari hanze.
KPFA: The Kinyarwanda phrase at the end added that this warning applies to anyone who tries to overthrow his regime from either inside or outside Rwanda.
Belgian scholar Filip Reyntjens, however, told KPFA that the loss of foreign aid, not military overthrow, is the greatest danger that Kagame faces from criticism in the West. Rwanda and its so-called “development miracle,” he said, are heavily dependent on foreign aid.
In the BBC documentary, Reyntjens called Kagame “the greatest war criminal in office today” and, earlier this week, the Belgian government canceled 40 million Euro in foreign development aid because, it said, of the country’s poor human rights record.
In the aforementioned speech, Kagame said that he will refuse foreign aid before letting foreigners tell him what to do, but he has not refused to sign any foreign aid checks yet.
Note: MoveOn.org, in response to complaints, posted a disclaimer on the petition “BBC Trust Should Apologize to the Rwandan People.” The disclaimer says that the petition “may not reflect the values of MoveOn.org members.”
Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch, Colored Opinions and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.