G P N S T O R Y
In a posting on the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) Listserv, Geoff Hill, a journalist in South Africa (who has previously published in GPN Issue 6 a review of genocide in Zimbabwe, and is otherwise the moderator of the IAGS Listserv) writes as follows, "As a journalist, I personally oppose laws on genocide denial or the subject of regulation of free speech."
Geoff Hill attached this statement to a press release by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) who issued a public statement opposing prosecution in Rwanda of the editor and deputy editor of the independent weekly, Umurumurabyo. The state prosecutor requested no less than a 33 year sentence for the editor and a substantially shorter sentence for the deputy editor - though no less than an onerous 12 years. The two editors were arrested in July 2010 on charges of "Incitement to violence, genocide denial and insulting the head of state." According to CPJ, the editors had published "several opinion pieces" reporting growing divisions within the Rwandan Army, and that the Hutu victims in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide "deserve justice." One of the columns presented a photo of President Paul Kagame with a Nazi swastika superimposed.
According to CPJ, "While sometimes sensational, Umurumurabyo provided in-depth coverage on topics such as the June 2010 murder of [a deputy editor of a publication] and allegations of exorbitant government spending on luxury jets." The editor, Agnes Uwimana, had been imprisoned in 2007 on charges of "ethnic divisionism and libel" after publishing on ethnic violence in Rwanda.
CBS News and the New York Times had reported in late August 2010 that Rwanda threatened to withdraw peacekeepers from the UN force in Sudan in response to a UN report implicating Rwanda for genocide in Congo.
According to the New York Times, Rwanda had 330 troops in the peacemaking force in Darfur, and also that a Rwandan general was the officer in charge of the overall UN-African Union peacekeeping mission there numbering almost 22,000. The UN reported that Rwanda was trying to block charges that in the mid-1990's invading troops from Rwanda and their rebel allies killed tens of thousands of the ethnic Hutu group including many civilians.
Jeffrey Gettleman wrote in the Times:
"The United Nations report that Rwanda is trying to block, which was leaked last week to several news organizations in draft form, charges that in the mid-1990's invading troops from Rwanda and their rebel allies killed tens of thousands of members of the Hutu ethnic group, including many civilians. The report presents repeated examples in which squads of Rwandan soldiers, led by Tutsi commanders, and their Congolese rebel allies lured Hutu refugees with promises they would be repatriated to Rwanda, only to massacre them.
"Until recently, Rwanda had been celebrated as one of the most promising success stories in Africa, a nation that had rebuilt itself after genocide in 1994, boasting impressive economic growth rates, low crime and innovative ways of fighting poverty.
"But donor nations have steadily increased their criticism of Rwanda's brand of democracy, especially after the country's president, Paul Kagame, won re-election in August with 93 percent of the vote."
CBS reported that Rwanda's foreign minister described the report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights about Rwanda committing possible genocide in the Congo in the 1990's "fatally flawed" and "incredibly irresponsible."
Committee to Protect Journalists (February 4, 2011). In Rwanda, journalists given 17 and 7 years in prison. http://cpj.org/2011/02/in-rwanda-journalists-given-17-and-12-years-in-pri.php
Committee to Protect Journalists (July 9, 2010).
Rwandan editor arrested after criticizing Kagame
CBS News ( December 6, 2011). Fears for Rwanda reporters in Uganda after death. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501710_162-57337508/fears-for-rwandan-reporters-in-uganda-after-death/
Hill, Geoff firstname.lastname@example.org Message to IAGS Listserv December 22, 2011
Gettleman, Jeffrey (August 31, 2010). Rwanda threatens to pull peacekeepers from Darfur. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/01/world/africa/01rwanda.html?pagewanted=print
Rhodes, Tom (August 9, 2010). In Rwanda election, no critical domestic press. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). http://cpj.org/blog/2010/08/in-rwanda-election-no-critical-domestic-press.php