The New Times (Kigali)

10 April 2014

Rwanda: Media Should Respect Genocide Commemoration

There have been concerted efforts to awkwardly demean and even desecrate commemorations of the 20th anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

This has been the practice for the last 19 years where revisionists - and they are not few - take advantage of the heightened media coverage to sell their agenda. The script has not changed all these years; they shamelessly portray the victims as the villains.

But what distresses survivors most is that international media outlets become insensitive when they give a platform to genocide deniers and political dissidents who hijack the whole grieving process. All this is done in the name of free speech.

Free speech should not lose its humane side and trample on the remains of over a million souls who perished in the 1994 Genocide. Their freedom of speech could be put to better use if they demanded their governments to mete out justice to Genocide suspects living peacefully on their territories.

But the derogatory and snide remarks embedded in media reports are not in the free speech realm, but are tantamount to hate speech. And as Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said on the occasion to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Genocide; "Hate speech is not free speech".

This is not a time to play petty politics when a country in honouring its dead. The revisionists and dissidents can have their own day, but they should not trespass on delicate territory. That is desecration that a responsible media should not be party to.

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