Genocide denial and the case of Rwanda

By Andrew Mathis, Progressive Geopolitics Examiner–April 15th, 2011

Today’s San Francisco Bay View featured an interview with Peter Erlinder, who is the defense attorney for Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, who is herself chair of the Unified Democratic Forces, a coalition of Rwandan citizens working since 2006 to challenge the régime of Paul Kagame.

Kagame has led Rwanda since leading the Rwandan Patriot Front militia of mostly Tutsi rebels in its summer 1994 invasion of Rwanda, which effectively ended that country’s 100-day genocide, during which some 800,000 Rwandan citizens, mostly Tutsi, will killed by overwhelmingly Hutu militias.

Despite the positive result of ending the genocide, however, Kagame’s rule over Rwanda has been tragic itself, resulting in widespread human rights abuses, including murder, and the forcible exile of millions of Hutu Rwandans, the vast majority of whom are innocent of any crime.

The question is whether Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza is someone who should win the support of progressives. The answer to that question is no. Here’s why: She is part of a movement designed to deny that genocide took place in Rwanda in 1994.

Because of my longstanding relationship with the Holocaust History Project and my experience Holocaust Studies, most recently this semester at the University of the Sciences, I’m no stranger to denial of genocides. In fact, I’ve written about it here on occasion.

I don’t know why it should surprise me that other genocides are denied but they are. What I discovered over the past week, however, is that the way deniers of genocides argue their points are similar, and much can also be said about their motivations.

Want similarities? Look at Ann Garrison’s introduction to her interview with Erlinder.

Here’s Garrison:

The history of the 1994 genocide and the ensuing war in Rwanda’s resource rich neighbor, the Democratic Republic of Congo, are fiercely disputed by a growing number of scholars, journalists and human rights investigators and by Rwandan and Congolese opposition leaders, genocide survivors, exiles and refugees.

I would ask that readers compare those words with these:

In spite of restrictive “Holocaust denial” laws, public censure, intimidation, relentless ‘Holocaust remembrance’ campaigns, and even physical attacks, an informed skepticism about the standard Holocaust story has been growing steadily around the world.

Again, from the Bay View interview:

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Rwanda’s 43-year-old opposition leader and mother of three, remains in Rwanda’s 1930 maximum security prison, charged with terrorism and disputing the official Rwanda Genocide history.


Compare with:

In a few countries, including France and Germany, ‘Holocaust denial’ is a crime. Many individuals have been imprisoned, heavily fined or forced into exile for expressing doubt about aspects of the official Holocaust story.

Here is Erlinder from the Garrison interview:

And those documents [U.N. files Erlinder alleges he has seen] tell a completely different story than the story the world has heard about what happened in Rwanda during that time.


At the same time, revisionist scholars cite impressive but often ignored evidence to support their view that there was no German program to exterminate Europe’s Jews, that numerous claims of mass killings in ‘gas chambers’ are false, and that the figure of six million Jewish wartime dead is an exaggeration.


I used those documents [U.N. documents Erlinder claims he’s seen] to defend my client and he and other military officers were acquitted of the charge of conspiracy to commit genocide, which means there was no plan on the part of the previous government and military.


There is no documentary evidence that Adolf Hitler ever gave an order to exterminate the Jews. Instead, the record shows that the German leader wanted the Jews to leave Europe, by emigration if possible and by deportation if necessary.

And on it goes.

By the way, all the quotes above not from the Garrison interview of Erlinder are from Mark Weber’s essay “The Holocaust: Let’s Hear Both Sides,” which can be found at the Web site of the Institute for Historical Review, the flagship Holocaust denial outfit. Mark Weber is a former neo-Nazi.

Notably, Erlinder’s last quote above goes toward denying a central plan in the Rwandan Genocide. This has a nice analogue in the denial of a central plan by the Nazis to kill the Jews. If you look at the other chief aspects of Holocaust denial, by the way, there are even more similarities in Rwandan Genocide denial.

For instance, Holocaust deniers routinely make attempts at moral relativism, for instance, comparing the Holocaust to the Allied firebombing of Dresden or making claims of German “revenge” for atrocities committed by “Judeo-Bolsheviks.”

So when Garrison asks Erlinder, “And do the documents that you’ve assembled demonstrate that President Kagame and the Rwandan Patriotic Front regime are most responsible for the mass slaughter of 1994, which came to be the principle justification of the Kagame regime?” — well, I think you’re beginning to get the point.

I’ll be continuing to develop this theme over the coming days and weeks.

Coming next: Guess what? The Jews are really to blame!

Source: rwanda?fb_comment_id=fbc_10150156067015064_15567216_10150156096145064#f1c603cf8c

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