Rwanda: Kagame Welcomes 'Change' From French Leadership

President Paul Kagame (file photo).

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has blamed some developed nations' inaction against suspects on the run, and their adamancy in refusing to recognise the genocide official appellation -- Genocide Against the Tutsi -- for the country battles against increasing cases of denial, revisionism and negation, 27 years since it happened.

Speaking on April 7, at the start of the annual 100-day commemoration of the Genocide Against the Tutsi in 1994, President Kagame said reluctance to call it a genocide started as early as during the killings, and some nations remain reluctant to call it its official appellation despite a unanimous resolution by the United Nations General Assembly to use the phrase "the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi".

"But somebody says, you know, we don't want to accept 'Genocide Against the Tutsi' because peacekeepers died, foreigners died, Hutus died, everybody was killed. Look, even if you thought those were the facts, how does this stop you from isolating this case and treating it the way it should be treated? And then you can come up with your own list of other cases to deal with," President Kagame said without naming the countries, but in an apparent reference to the UK and the US.

On April 20, 2020, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 74/273, titled International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

While the resolution was adopted by consensus by the General Assembly, the US and the UK contested the wording, which made the International Day of Reflection of the Genocide more specific - a day to commemorate the genocide "against the Tutsi" in Rwanda (UN resolution - 74/273).

Specifically, the US argued that the phrase "genocide against the Tutsi" did not reflect "other groups" saying, "Many Hutu and others were also killed during the genocide, including those murdered for their opposition to the atrocities that were being committed."

The UK argued that it should be referred to as "the 1994 genocide" references which Rwanda maintains distort historical facts because the Tutsi were targeted.

In addition, the 1946 Convention says that victims of genocide must be those targeted for elimination "in whole or in part".

For Rwanda, those who promote the theory of double genocide want to evade their own responsibility.

Despite repetitive calls for extradition by the Rwandan government, currently five genocide suspects, Vincent Bajinya, Célestin Ugirashebuja, Charles Munyaneza, Emmanuel Nteziryayo and Célestin Mutabaruka, live in the UK.

"It's the same people who question the use of Genocide against the Tutsi," President Kagame said.

Olive branch to France

In his first public reaction to the recent report by French historians, commissioned by President Emmanuel Macron, which acknowledged "overwhelming responsibility" by France in the Genocide Against the Tutsi, President Kagame said it "marks an important step toward a common understanding of what took place.

"It also marks the change, it shows the desire, even for leaders in France, to move forward with a good understanding of what happened," President Kagame said.

Now, 27 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, authorities are urging caution over proliferation of hate crimes enabled by internet-based media outlets and digital platforms in the country and abroad.

The warning comes in the wake of a massive emergence of YouTube-based media channels, online radio stations, blogs and other digital platforms, which authorities fault for providing space to deniers and revisionists.

For instance, the commission for the fight against genocide says its analysis of content aired on different YouTube channels and other online platforms found a number of posts to promote rhetoric amounting to propagating the genocide ideology, denial and trivialisation.

Denialism

The commission did not name names in a statement released ahead of this year's commemoration. However, its officials allude to local upcoming platforms accused of equally promoting division, undermining public order and inciting the masses to civil unrest.

The concerns are shared by the national unity and reconciliation commission, which lists hate and division propagated through digital platforms by revisionists as a key impediment to unity.

"There some content that needs to be monitored closely or be warned, beside there is a long list of platforms operated by Diaspora groups whose agenda is to propagate lies and negate the genocide. In the latter case, we need to enhance provision of the true versions of our country's history, that enable the general public to have some level of critical thinking and judgement," Fidele Ndayisaba, the NURC executive secretary told The EastAfrican.

The national public prosecution authority says the country handled over 940 genocide ideology cases, involving 1,172 individuals, over the past three years.

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