Rwandan genocide denial

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Rwandan genocide denial is the assertion that the Rwandan genocide did not occur in the manner or to the extent described by scholarship. The Rwandan genocide is widely acknowledged by genocide scholars to have been one of the biggest modern genocides, as many sources point to the sheer scale of the death toll as evidence for a systematic, organized plan to eliminate the victims.

Denial of the Rwandan genocide is a crime in Rwanda.[1]

Denial by officials[edit]

A high-ranking Tutsi and a UN official have claimed that no genocide of the Tutsi took place at all: Antoine Nyetera, who claims Tutsi royal origins, and the former UN Representative in Rwanda, Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, who declared that "to claim that a genocide occurred is closer to the politics of surrealism than to the truth".[2]

Herman and Peterson[edit]

In The Politics of Genocide (2010), writers Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, while not denying the scale of the killing during the period of extreme violence of April–July 1994, questioned the distribution of the victims for those months, arguing that Hutus comprised the majority of the dead, not Tutsis.[3] Their detractors have charged them with genocide denial,[4][5] accusations that have been rejected by Herman and Peterson.[6][7]

Their book goes much further than others who have questioned the consensus view of the genocide: it states that common knowledge is not simply partly incorrect, but is actually "a propaganda line ... that turned perpetrator and victim upside-down."[8] The pair are critical of fundamental aspects of the Human Rights Watch report by Alison Des Forges,[9] and maintain that she obfuscates the issue of who assassinated Habyarimana (they argue it was clearly the RPF) and that, contrary to the conclusions of Des Forges's report, the only well-planned regimen of massive violence perpetrated after the assassination was the RPF's invasion to drive the Hutu from power.[10] Herman and Peterson ultimately conclude that the RPF were "prime génocidaires", while the Interahamwe were "the RPF's actual victims."[11]

Their book argues that the accepted version of the events of 1994 implies Rwanda is "the first case in history in which a minority population, suffering destruction at the hands of its tormentors, drove its tormentors from power and assumed control of a country, all in the span of less than one hundred days", a narrative Herman and Peterson deem "incredible in the extreme."[12]

Africa specialist Gerald Caplan criticized Herman and Peterson's account, charging that "why the Hutu members of the government 'couldn't possibly have planned a genocide against the Tutsi' is never remotely explained".[13] Herman and Peterson's position on the genocide was found "deplorable" by James Wizeye, first secretary at the Rwandan High Commission in London.[14] Adam Jones has compared Herman and Peterson's approach to Holocaust denial.[15]

Rwanda, The Untold Story[edit]

In 2014, the BBC aired the documentary Rwanda's Untold Story, that questioned the accepted historical account and included interviews with American researchers Christian Davenport and Allan C. Stam who claim that most of the victims may have been Hutus.[16] Afterwards, Rwanda's parliament approved a resolution to ban the BBC in the country.[17]

Peter Erlinder[edit]

American lawyer Peter Erlinder, who was Lead Defence Counsel for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, questions the planning of the killing, and so concludes that the slaughter of the Tutsi should not be called genocide.[18]



  1. ^ Holland, Hereward (17 June 2010). "Rwanda frees U.S. lawyer due to health, charges remain". Reuters. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  2. ^ Lemarchand 2013, p. 10.
  3. ^ Herman & Peterson 2010, pp. 51–68.
  4. ^ Monbiot, George (13 June 2011). "Left and libertarian right cohabit in the weird world of the genocide belittlers". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  5. ^ Shaw, Martin (16 September 2010). "The politics of genocide: Rwanda & DR Congo". openDemocracy. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  6. ^ Edward Herman (19 July 2011). "Reply to George Monbiot on 'Genocide Belittling'". ZNet. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  7. ^ Edward S. Herman; David Peterson (9 February 2011). "George Monbiot and the Guardian on 'Genocide Denial' and 'Revisionism'". Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  8. ^ Herman & Peterson 2010, p. 51.
  9. ^ Des Forges, Alison (1999). Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda (Report). New York, NY: Human Rights Watch. ISBN 1-56432-171-1.
  10. ^ Herman & Peterson 2010, pp. 51–2.
  11. ^ Herman & Peterson 2010, p. 54.
  12. ^ Herman & Peterson 2010, pp. 56–7.
  13. ^ Caplan, Gerald, "The politics of denialism: The strange case of Rwanda - Review of The Politics of Genocide", Pambazuka News, #486, 16 June 2010.
  14. ^ Wizeye, James, "To claim Tutsis caused Rwanda's genocide is pure revisionism", The Guardian, 25 July 2011.
  15. ^ "See No Evil-Amazing People are Denying Every Genocide in Sight", Genocide Protection News, #11, Fall 2012.
  16. ^ Fagiolo, Nicoletta (April 7, 2015). "Rwanda's Untold Story. A commentary on the BBC Two documentary". La Tribune Franco-Rwandaise. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  17. ^ "Rwanda MPs condemn BBC Untold Story programme on genocide".
  18. ^ [1].


See also[edit]