IBUKA complaint to BBC is another appalling diversion from its Genocide survivors’ advocacy role

The Global Campaign for Rwandan Human Right is appalled by the undated letter written by IBUKA (The umbrella association of Genocide Survivors Organisation in Rwanda) addressed to the director of BBC Director General in relation to the ‘’Rwanda’s Untold Story”, a BBC documentary that has been aired twice on BBC television.

In the letter, IBUKA accused BBC to have given a platform to the genocide denial narratives and claimed to have reopened wounds of survivors.
Furthermore IBUKA questioned BBC journalistic standards used in making the documentary and accused the programme of ignoring evidence.

We have watched the documentary with great interest and attention. There is not at any part of the documentary any mention or suggestion relating to denying genocide.

Many opinions and views were expressed by various individuals from diverse backgrounds, expertise and knowledge. By doing that, the BBC expressed their highest journalistic standards by giving voice to opposing views.

As the title of the documentary suggested, it was about the ‘’untold story’’, the story that have never been heard before on mainstream media. In addition, at various moments in the film the BBC informs the viewers that the Rwandan government was given a chance to participate, but the government refused to take part.

They should have participated in order to challenge views they disagreed with instead of refusing to comment.
The IBUKA as a representative organisation of survivors of Genocide should encourage and support sharing of views and experience from anyone that has an opinion that can contribute to the debate about what happened. This would enable survivors and all Rwandans to gain the fullest picture about what happened before, during and after the Genocide. In the process Rwandans will gain important learning that will enable them not to reopen their wounds but to shape a future Rwanda that will be free from a cycle of violence and prevent another terrible genocide.

The promotion of a one sided view that IBUKA proposes will not achieve that, on the contrary it has a high risk of leading to the repeat of the terrible events that happened in the history of Rwanda due to oppressing different views and silencing the sharing of all sort of existing witness experiences.

The BBC documentary enabled the starting of a debate that will enrich Rwandan knowledge and learning that are needed to develop a peaceful and democratic environment.

The action of IBUKA protesting against the sharing of different views of Rwandan history is not an act of representing survivors, it is rather a political act of advocating the government policy of a one-sided story. IBUKA should represent the interest of Rwandans survivors not the interest of the government.

The best way to protect the interests of survivors is to promote all sorts of open and frank debate that can be achieved within a framework of reconciliation supported by free and fair justice and under the rule of law. Rwandans owe it to victims of genocide and survivors to engage in open and free debate, which include all opinions.

Rene C Mugenzi
Global Campaign for Rwandans Human Rights