What happened to Jane Corbin, the British journalist who up to now has had the reputation of an expert in investigative documentaries for the very famous Panorama programme, and who is pilloried by the Kigali regime and by a number of her friends, for having produced a one-hour long film, broadcast three times on BBC 2 during the month of October?
A priori, [there is] nothing that affects her professionalism, since her legitimate aim was to revisit the history of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. But this ended in a problematic deontological drift: confusing the responsibility of the judge with that of the prosecutor and having passed off an indictment for an objective piece of work.
The very title of the documentary, which is the source of controversy between Kigali and London, is in itself misleading: Rwanda’s Untold Story, or the History of Rwanda “which has never been told” as, in actual fact, without keeping any distance, it repeats ad nauseam the revisionist propositions and arguments put forward for the past twenty years, notably in France, where they are light-heartedly mixed up with the defence and the illustration of the “humanitarian” role of the army during the “Opération Turquoise”.
Briefly, Paul Kagame is alleged to have ordered the shooting down of former President Habyarimana’s plane, knowing full well that the assassination was going to trigger off the Genocide of the Tutsi, which in any case, should be put into a proper perspective, since the number of the Hutu who were killed was four times higher than that of the Tutsi. His aim: to grab power over the dead bodies of his compatriots.
In support of that fairly rehearsed “other History”, skilfully mixed with archival documents to give it a semblance of authenticity, Corbin deliberately ignored dozens of reports, testimonies, documents, research work and judicial inquiries which have been continuously carried out for 20 years, preferring a handful of academics whose views remain subject to controversy, and dissidents of the Kagame regime.
Among these we have researchers such as Allan Stam, Christian Davenport and Filip Reyntjens whose work is regularly used by the defence counsels of suspected Genocide perpetrators; the former prosecutor of the Arusha Criminal Tribunal, Carla del Ponte, whose departure in 2003 was requested by Rwanda, a source of grudge she has been bearing against the regime in Kigali; Luc Marchal, the Belgian colonel who has been continuously having an axe to grind with his former chief, General Romeo Dallaire; or the inevitable Judge Bruguière, whose charge is cited as evidence while that of his successor, Marc Trevidic, which deconstructs it, is overlooked.
On the Rwandan side, two former dignitaries, in defiance of the accepted code of conduct, are called to the box: Kagame’s former Chief of Staff, Théogène Rudasingwa, and his former Army Chief of Staff, Kayumba Nyamwasa. According to the latter, who is a refugee in South Africa, Rwanda’s President is a “serial killer” directly responsible for the April 6, 1994 incident: “I know it” he says in guise of evidence, “I was in a position to know it, and Kagame knows that I know it.” None of these two men tells us why they had been such loyal accomplices to a person they describe as a criminal and talk less why they have decided to fight him today.
Corbin does not ask them the question, just like she abstains from following-up to a suggestion made by an exiled Hutu refugee woman in tears, that only 10 per cent of the Interahamwe militia were killers – an astonishing affirmation, to say the least, to all those who read the works of Allison Des Forges or Jean Hatzfeld on the subject, and which ought to have been discussed at the very least.
In order to prepare this documentary, Corbin went to Rwanda last April, during the commemoration activities of the 20th anniversary of the Genocide. The images are evidently beautiful in that photogenic country – thundery skies, green hills, glass buildings of Kigali… – and the producer appears on the scene with complacency, with “live” commentaries which tend to show that she had already found the truth that she was seeking, before going there.
As if to show her impartiality, she stresses, twice, that she had sought an interview with Paul Kagame, but all in vain; she did not explain why she did not ask anyone in his entourage, among his partisans, nor anyone among the thousands of witnesses of Rwanda’s “told History”.
If this documentary which unleashes emotions on the Web and causes so much ink to flow, had the honesty of introducing itself as it is in reality – the equivalent of the history of the Shoah as seen by Robert Faurisson or that of the Vichy regime told by Eric Zemmour -, nobody would have complained about it since the negation of the Genocide in Rwanda, unfortunately so frequent, is not a statutory offence outside Rwanda.
The problem is that, [the documentary which was] produced and broadcast by the BBC, reputed the paragon of objectivity, and conducted by a multi-prized journalist, is shielded by a usurped label. That is what makes this “untold story” highly toxic.
By François Soudan, the Editor-in-Chief, Jeune Afrique, a pan-African magazine based in Paris.
This article was first published in its original French version in Jeune Afrique, issue no. 2807/2808.