Rwanda MPs condemn BBC Untold Story programme on genocide

Photographs of victims in the Kigali genocide memorial Image copyright AFP
Image caption There are numerous memorials around Rwanda to those killed in the genocide

Rwanda's parliament has condemned the BBC for broadcasting a documentary which questioned official accounts of the 1994 genocide in the country.

It approved a resolution calling on the government to ban the BBC in Rwanda and to charge the documentary-makers with genocide denial.

At least 800,000 people died in the genocide.

The BBC has denied that any part of the programme constitutes a "denial of the genocide against the Tutsi".

Those killed in the genocide are generally believed to be mostly members of the minority ethnic Tutsi group, and Hutus opposed to the mass slaughter.

The BBC programme Rwanda, The Untold Story, includes interviews with US-based researchers who say most of those killed may have been Hutus, killed by members of the then-rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which has been in power since 1994.

The programme also included interviews with former aides of RPF leader President Paul Kagame, accusing him of plotting to shoot down the presidential plane - the act seen as triggering the slaughter.

He has consistently denied previous such accusations.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Paul Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has been in power since the genocide ended

Punishable crime

The resolution was approved at a rare joint sitting of Rwanda's two houses of parliament.

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Media captionBBC news reports recall how the genocide unfolded

About 150 protesters had earlier delivered a letter at the BBC office in the capital Kigali for its Director General, Tony Hall. They said the documentary was an attempt to revise the history and facts of the genocide, and disrespected the memory of those who had died.

Rwandan genocide:

  • 6 April 1994: President Juvenal Habyarimana is killed when his plane was shot down on returning from peace talks with Tutsi RPF rebels
  • 7 April: It is not clear who is behind the shooting but it sparks the systematic mass killing of mainly Tutsis by extremist Hutu militia and military elements
  • April-July: An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus are slaughtered
  • RPF denies accusations they killed thousands of Hutus as they marched through the country
  • July: RPF captures the capital, Kigali
  • July: Two million Hutus flee to Zaire, now DR Congo

The resolution said the programme's producer and presenter, as well as those interviewed for the documentary, should be charged with genocide denial - a punishable crime in Rwanda.

In a recent statement, the BBC said it had a duty to investigate difficult and challenging subjects and believed the programme was a valuable contribution to the understanding of the tragic history of the country and the region.

The BBC also said several attempts to get the Rwandan government to respond to the allegations for the programme had not been taken up.

Mr Kagame comes from the minority Tutsi group.

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