By Tom Ndahiro
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (SWC), and its Museum of Tolerance. SWC is a Jewish human rights organization with over 400,000 family members.
Seven years ago Cooper warned about dangers of genocide denial:
“…upon further reflection, the onslaught of attractive websites, books, and “journals” demonizing the victims and whitewashing the crimes of the perpetrators reflects a much broader worldwide campaign against Truth that must be confronted and defeated. …in the twenty-first century, we are confronted with a much bigger nightmare: Not forgetfulness but denial. And if lapses of memory lead to tragedy—deconstructing memory could lead to genocide or Armageddon.” [Preface to ‘Holocaust Denial’s Assault on Memory: Precursor to Twenty-First Century Genocide?’ By Dr. Harold Brackman and Aaron Breitbart (2007)]
The statement remains valid today when I think of preposterous campaign by BBC2 and the so-called Untold Story on Rwanda.
For over fifteen years, its radio, especially the Kinyarwanda/Kirundi section, is a conduit of hate and narrow-minded propaganda in the best interests of genocidaires and their proponents.
Following is how I end the introduction of my book “THE FRIENDS OF EVIL: When NGOs Support Genocidaires”.
“On December 9, 2008, I wrote an open letter (here) to Mr Tim Cooke, who used to head the Africa Service of the BBC. It was a reply to an open letter of his, which I timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. I concluded my letter with questions which he has not answered to date:
– Should an individual or an association which denies that there was the genocide of the Tutsis have the right to speak on the airwaves of the BBC-Gahuzamiryango, of which he is the head?
– Should a person or an association which states publicly that the authors of the genocide should not be publicly brought to justice be given a forum for discussion on the radio, for example the one he works for?
– Does Cooke believe that an individual or an association that argues that the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda was a necessary political undertaking is defending ideas which are politically acceptable?
– Tell me honestly, what kind of support is given them when they are provided with airtime, as BBC does so often on its radio?
– Does Cooke believe that ideas which are intended to divide people, which are racist and genocide denials deserve to be aired publicly and to be given free air-time on any radio, and especially the BBC, which is listened to by so many people? When BBC gives them a platform, doesn’t they think that such an act could have harmful consequences on a national scale in a country like Rwanda?
– When the BBC invites people or associations who dare to argue that the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda had neither perpetrators nor victims, and that no one put a stop to it, what does BBC think is going to learn from them?
– Is the BBC aware of the fact that the perpetrators of the genocide in Rwanda are always looking for ways of using the press, especially international radios, to propagate the genocide? Does the BBC know that it is among those radio stations the genocidaires identified to manipulate for this purpose?
– Does Cooke not think that the denial of genocide constitutes a reprehensible criminal act, and liable to be condemned by anyone of decency?
– Is Cooke knowledgeable about the different strategies (especially when it comes to language) used by those who spread the ideology of genocide and by those who deny the genocide?
– Does Cooke not believe that certain kind of information, either written or broadcast, can put the security of a person, or a group of people at risk, and even endanger their lives?
– In its history, did the BBC radio dare to give as much room for expression to known Nazis and to those who deny the Shoah? If not, then, why should Cooke and the BBC think that the denial of the genocide of the Tutsis should be freely granted so much space on BBC airwaves? Is there, in Cooke’s eyes, a genocide whose denial can be professed so publicly without a reaction?
I believe that upon reading this book the BBC, and those who read the letter, will understand why the questions were asked and what it means to be a friend of evil.”
The above quotation was just a summary, but when you read the letter, I was categorical that I said to him:
“I will never keep quiet as long as your radio serves as a vehicle for propagating the ideology of the genocide. I will continue to denounce this without let up, loud and clear, and in terms that are absolutely unambiguous. I do not mince my words when I confront a situation where human dignity is put in doubt and is threatened, as it is by the propagators of the ideology of genocide to whom the BBC’s Gahuzamiryango gives priority as guest speakers. I am writing in this public fashion because this kind of abuse does not concern me personally, but touches humanity as a whole. I will never hesitate, nor feel ashamed, in denouncing wrongs like genocide and the ideology of genocide.
Six years on, it is no longer the problem of BBC-Gahuzamiryango under neo-Interahamwe Ally Yusuf Mugenzi (on radio), only, but BBC2 with its Jane Corbin and posse (on Television).
I hereby declare my belief/own conviction. It is high time Rwanda decides what to do with BBC’s noxious broadcasts. We are facing a danger, not present but future danger. Fighting denial, must be a priority.
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