Rwandan Government Plays the Genocide Card in Response to Forbidden Stories Investigation

Vincent Biruta

On May 29, 2024, Rwandan Foreign Minister, Dr. Vincent Biruta, addressed the recent investigative series, “Rwanda Classified” by the consortium of 17 investigative media outlets in collaboration with Forbidden Stories, an international network of journalists. This series involved 50 journalists, including exiled Rwandan journalist Samuel Baker Byansi, investigating President Paul Kagame’s authoritarian rule. The investigation aimed to continue the work of Rwandan journalist John Williams Ntwali, who died in 2023 under suspicious circumstances.

Rather than addressing each issue raised or commenting on Ntwali’s death, the Rwandan government chose to emphasize the genocide narrative, as has been its usual strategy. The government portrayed the series as a deliberate attempt to tarnish Rwandan image and disrupt its stability, motivated by the guilt of the international community for their role during the Rwandan genocide.

Dr. Biruta stated, “When you see over 30 journalists from more than 10 countries coming together to publish extraordinary stories about Rwanda, the agenda is to destabilize Rwanda. It’s about undermining our achievements.” He pointed out that this initiative reflects the guilt some countries feel for their involvement in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

He further explained, “This project is built on the shame some have due to their historical roles in the genocide, with some even being questioned about their involvement.” Dr. Biruta claimed that many of these journalists are backed by governments with vested interests.

The Foreign Minister also criticized the journalists, suggesting their countries’ governments use them to further their own agendas. “Many claim to be independent journalists, but they are often pushed by their governments. We know them well. These are the same people who failed to act when the genocide began,” he added.

Dr. Biruta addressed these comments during the 30th commemoration of the genocide, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government Spokesperson’s Office. He highlighted that the negative portrayal of Rwanda is partly driven by those who are uncomfortable with Rwanda’s independence and progress, fearing it might set a precedent for other African nations.

He remarked, “There are those who can’t accept that a small country like Rwanda, populated by black Africans, can achieve such progress and be a role model.”

Dr. Biruta suggested that the timing of this investigative series, coinciding with the genocide commemoration and the upcoming elections, was strategic. “These efforts are planned with specific goals. They write sensational stories, but there’s often nothing substantial. Yet, media around the world pick them up, creating a false impression of crisis in Rwanda,” he concluded.

Forbidden Stories is an international network of journalists whose mission is to continue the investigations of other reporters who have been silenced.