Hurst and Company
Africa’s Long Road Since Independence
The Many Histories of a Continent
May 2015 • £25.00
9781849045155 • 500pp
Hurst and Company
Africa’s Long Road Since Independence
The Many Histories of a Continent
May 2015 • £25.00
9781849045155 • 500pp
Zambia’s Scott becomes Africa’s first white leader in 20 years
LUSAKA (Reuters) – Zambia’s Guy Scott became Africa’s first white head of state in 20 years on Wednesday after the president, “King Cobra” Michael Sata, died in a London hospital aged 77.
Scott, a Cambridge-educated economist born to Scottish parents, was Sata’s vice president. He takes over as interim leader until an election in three months, making him the first white African leader since South Africa’s F.W. de Klerk lost to Nelson Mandela in the 1994 election that ended apartheid.
“Elections for the office of president will take place within 90 days. In the interim I am acting president,” Scott said in a brief televised address.
“The period of national mourning will start today. We will miss our beloved president and comrade.”
Scott, 70, will not be eligible to run for the presidency because of citizenship restrictions, analysts say.
Sata, an abrasive figure nicknamed “King Cobra” because of his venomous tongue, died on Tuesday in London, where he was receiving medical treatment, the government said earlier. He had been president of Zambia, Africa’s second-largest copper producer since 2011.
The cause of death was not immediately disclosed, but Sata had been ill for some time. He was being treated at London’s King Edward VII hospital when he died, the website Zambian Watchdog reported.
“As you are aware, the president was receiving medical attention in London,” cabinet secretary Roland Msiska announced on state television. “The head of state passed away on October 28. President Sata’s demise is deeply regretted.”
Sata, whose populist platform included defending workers’ rights, was often fiercely critical of the foreign mining companies operating in Zambia’s copper belt. Analysts said his death could prompt a rise in investment in the country.
“President Sata has been a divisive figure for Zambia on the economic front, espousing increasingly authoritarian and ad hoc policy measures against the crucial mining sector in recent years, which has hampered investment,” South African consultancy ETM said.
“The president’s passing could make way for a more reformist administration and help to remove broader policy uncertainties.”
Sata, whose varied CV included stints as a policeman, car assembly worker, trade unionist and platform sweeper at London’s Victoria station, left Zambia on Oct. 19 for medical treatment, accompanied by his wife and family members.
Defence Minister Edgar Lungu, secretary general of Sata’s Patriotic Front party, had to lead celebrations last week of the 50th anniversary of Zambia’s independence from Britain.
Concern over Sata’s health had been mounting since June, when he disappeared from the public eye without explanation and was then reported to be receiving medical treatment in Israel.
He missed a scheduled speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September amid reports that he had fallen ill in his New York hotel. A few days before that, he had attended the opening of parliament in Lusaka, joking: “I am not dead.”
It was a typically no-nonsense denial from a politician not known for diplomatic niceties.
“I haven’t bloody lost so don’t waste my time,” he barked at a BBC reporter in 2008 after results showed he had indeed lost an election to his main rival, Rupiah Banda, albeit by the narrowest of margins.
Although he toned down the nationalist, anti-Chinese rhetoric that finally helped him oust Banda in a 2011 election, he would still deliver occasional rants at the foreign miners.
A year ago, he threatened to remove the mining licence of Konkola Copper mines, Zambia’s biggest private employer, because of plans to lay off 1,500 workers. During the row, the company’s foreign chief executive had his work permit revoked.
The Zambian kwacha fell 2 percent against the dollar after Sata’s death was announced. Traders said it was unlikely to suffer any prolonged weakness because of the underlying health of an economy expected to grow 7 percent this year.
“Obviously, there will be a sentimental temptation to go long on dollars, but I’m also quite confident the central bank will do everything it can to protect the currency,” one Lusaka-based trader said.
“In terms of the economy, everything should still be on track.” Reuters
I am the acting president at the moment. It has just been passed by cabinet,” Guy Scott has told the Telegraph of UK.
This made him Africa’s first white president of a democratic government ever “except maybe the Venetians in the days when they ran the world,” he added.
Mr Scott described this as a “bit of a shock to the system,” adding: “Everyone is getting used to calling me ‘Your Excellency’, and I’m getting used to it. There are truckloads of guys following me on motorbikes. It’s very strange.”
Asked why he thought he had been chosen by the cabinet to be Zambia’s interim leader, he pointed to his “seniority within the party, in government”, adding:
“The president kept me as his vice-president despite a lot of efforts by people to get me taken down. And I happened to be there when he died.”
He said that he last spoke to Mr Sata, who flew to London almost two weeks ago, several days ago. Asked if he had told him he wanted him to take over the presidency, he said: “He would never be so polite as to do that. But he said he was happy that I was there, to take over if needed.” Zambian Watchdog
Zambian Vice-President Guy Scott has been named acting leader following the death of President Michael Sata.
Presidential elections to choose a permanent successor will be held within 90 days, Defence Minister Edgar Lungu said.
Mr Scott becomes Africa’s first white head of state since FW de Klerk in apartheid South Africa.
Mr Sata died in the UK aged 77 after receiving treatment for an undisclosed
He was being treated at London’s King Edward VII hospital where he died on Tuesday night.
Mr Scott regularly stood in for the president at official events, but was never appointed acting president when Mr Sata was abroad – so this is his first time to officially lead the country.
In a brief televised address Mr Scott confirmed his appointment.
“The period of national mourning will start today. We will miss our beloved president and comrade,” Reuters news agency quotes him as saying.
The president’s death comes just days after Zambia celebrated the 50th anniversary of independence from the UK.
Cabinet secretary Roland Msiska said on national TV that President Sata’s wife and son were at his bedside.
He is the second Zambian leader to die in office after Levy Mwanawasa in 2008.
Earlier this month reports in Zambia said that President Sata had gone abroad for a medical check-up amid persistent speculation that he was seriously ill.
Obituary: Penny Dale, BBC’s former Zambia correspondent
Gravelly-voiced as a result of years of chain-smoking, Michael Sata rose to political prominence in the 1980s. He quickly earned a reputation as the hardest-working governor while in charge of Lusaka and as a populist man of action. But he was also known for his authoritarian tendencies, an abrasive manner and a sharp tongue – and his critics say his nickname of “King Cobra” was well-deserved.
A devout Catholic, Mr Sata had worked as a police officer, railway man and trade unionist during colonial rule. After independence, he also spent time in London, working as a railway porter, and, back in Zambia, with a taxidermist company.
At the fourth attempt, Mr Sata won presidential elections in 2011. At first he looked as if he would keep promises to tackle corruption and create jobs and prosperity. But his term in office was marred by a crackdown on political opposition and a decline in the economy.
He had rarely been seen in public since returning from the UN General Assembly last month, where he failed to make a scheduled speech.
After he left the country, Defence Minister Edgar Lungu was named as acting president.
Mr Scott is of Scottish descent and his parents were not born in Zambia, so he may not be able to run for president in January because a constitutional clause on parentage could nullify his candidacy. BBC
Mail and Guardian
The alleged misappropriation of funds raised by the sale of ivory could stymie plans to legally sell rhino horn, writes Sipho Kings.
Over 900 rhino have been killed this year in South Africa. The majority have been in the Mpumalanga section of the Kruger National Park, with nearly 600 poached. With few options left and a growing illegal trade, the environment department is planning to ask for permission to sell rhino horn.
The department has argued that this would stop demand for illegal horn by “flooding” the black market. When she announced that er department would start consultations on legalised trade, environment minister Edna Molewa said, “The reality is that we have done all in our power and doing the same thing every day isn’t working”.
The pragmatism behind this decision has been widely questioned by environmentalists. Opponents say putting more rhino horn on the market will grow demand instead, something which happened each time elephant ivory was sold in legal, once-off, sales.
If Molewa’s department chooses this route, it will approach the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in 2016 and ask for permission to sell its rhino horn stockpile. This is the body that lists whether species are endangered, and how much of each species can be traded. Trade in rhino is illegal, as most of the species are endangered. The Southern White Rhino – which constitutes the majority of South African rhino – is listed as near threatened as births still just exceed deaths.
But alleged corruption in Mpumalanga the last time South Africa was allowed to sell horn — this time from elephant tusks — could mean the idea is dead before it can even be proposed.
The trade in ivory was banned in 1989, when elephants were listed as an Appendix One species by the Cites. Seventy-five thousand elephant a year were being poached.
The ban meant countries with large herds of elephant were left with huge stockpiles of ivory from culling and natural deaths, which had to be safely stored. This cost money. In 2008 Cites gave permission for a once-off sale of ivory to South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
South Africa sold 47 000kg of ivory, at a value of $157 a kilogram, to the Chinese and Japanese governments.
The Cites permission came under the condition that the money be ring-fenced and ploughed back into conservation. It said the funds must be “used exclusively for elephant conservation and community conservation and development programmes within or adjacent to the elephant range”.
Cites said this week that to the best of its knowledge this condition had been adhered to. In Mpumalanga the money was place in the Problem Animal Fund.
This was started in the 1990s as an account to hold money raised from killing animals that had escaped from parks in the area. These, normally Big Five animals, were a danger to people and property. At first anyone was allowed to hunt them and this was abused. An internal memo from the province’s Wildlife Protection Services said one night “three hippo were shot and another wounded on a wild hunting spree”.
The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency then started giving permits to hunters, who would pay to hunt the escaped animals. The money raised went into the Problem Animal Fund.
Internal correspondence between the Agency and its Wildlife Protection Services Unit in 2009 — seen by the Mail & Guardian — said: “Funds generated would only be utilised for the management of problem animals and associated issues.”
The correspondence, in the form of a memo, casts the fund as a saviour, at a time when departmental budgets were shrinking. It allowed provincial wildlife workers, who did much of the work in their extra time, to fix fences and buy specialist conservation vehicles. For a decade all the rhino horn chipping in Mpumalanga was also financed by the fund, it said.
But the memo also warned that there was “no proper control over the income and expenditures generated from the fund”. This meant that “large amounts of money had not been accounted for”, it said.
In 2009 private investigator Paul O’Sullivan found that money in the Fund had been used for ad-hoc expenses. Motor vehicles, stationary and other consumables not linked with elephant conservation were purchased. A spotter plane was bought and used by provincial authorities for other work.
O’Sullivan found that on some occasions private individuals flew the plane. In his report, released earlier this year, he found that the “tens of millions” of rands that flowed through the fund had by-passed normal procurement processes.
People he interviewed in provincial conservation referred to the Fund as a “slush fund” that could be used for anything.
Juan Carlos Vasquez, a spokesperson for Cites, said the once-off sale of ivory had come under strict conditions. If there was non-compliance, Cites could “decide to cause the trade to cease partially or completely”. He said the South African branch of Cites would investigate the issue further.
Vasquez could not comment on how this breach would affect any future proposal for a once-off sale of rhino horn because no formal proposal had been received. But if South Africa did ask for permission in 2016, it would only be done under the strictest conditions and if the species was not harmed.
Albi Modise, spokesperson for the environment department, said it was not aware of any cases where ring-fenced funds were abused. It had received reports from all of the entities which benefited from the ivory sale. There was no timespan for the use of the funds, so the Mpumalanga Parks and Tourism Agency had to “still develop project proposals” for the expenditure of the funds, he said. The agency would then consult with the environment department before they were implemented.
He could not comment on the impact of the alleged discretions on any future sale of rhino horn, because “a final decision on a possible proposal relating to legal commercial trade in rhino horn has not been taken”.
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Rwanda: Why claim that 200,000 Tutsi died in the genocide is wrong – By Marijke Verpoorten
On October 1, 2014, BBC broadcasted its documentary Rwanda’s Untold Story. The documentary features two academics, Christian Davenport and Allan Stam, who put forward a controversial argument that 200,000 Tutsi were killed during the genocide (a figure that is much lower than conventional estimates). Several claims were made in the documentary, but the 200,000 estimate stood out, triggering outrage from diverse sources.
Rwandan genocide survivor groups, in an open letter to BBC, call the documentary a “blatant denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi”. In another open letter, 38 prominent international signatories, refer to the 200,000 estimate as “an absurd suggestion and contrary to all the widely available research reported”. Professor Filip Reyntjens, who also features in the documentary, writes in a recent African Arguments piece that “the figures provided by Professors Stam and Davenport on Tutsi and Hutu killed in 1994 do not appear to be based on solid research. At least the data they have published (not in a scientific journal or book, but merely on their website) are insufficient to support their claim, which flirts with genocide minimisation or denial.”
Let’s look at the factual data. To establish a reliable death toll among Tutsi, one needs to answer two questions. First, how many Tutsi lived in Rwanda at the eve of the genocide? Second, how many Tutsi survived? As revealed on their website, Davenport & Stam assume that there were 506,000 Tutsi in Rwanda in 1993, and 300,000 survivors after the genocide. Hence, the 200,000 death toll claim. How reliable are the two figures that make up this claim?
The 506,000 figure is unreliable. Davenport & Stam arrive at 506,000 based on an extrapolation of the 1952 population census data. The extrapolation from 1952 to 1993 assumes 2.5% population growth and subtracts UNHCR-numbers of Tutsi that fled Rwanda prior to 1994. Assuming 3.0% population growth instead of 2.5% would have yielded 620,000 Tutsi in 1993 instead of 506,000.
The UNHCR-numbers should also be taken with a pinch of salt. Clearly, extrapolating over such a large period does not yield reliable results, certainly when dealing with an exponential growth process in a turbulent period.
The last population census prior to the genocide was conducted in 1991. This census reported 596,000 Tutsi living in Rwanda, representing 8.4% of the population. Assuming an annual population growth of 2.5%, the number of Tutsi would have been 642,000 on the eve of the genocide, much higher than what is put forward by Davenport & Stam.
Why choose 1952 as a baseline over 1991, thereby seriously compromising the quality of the extrapolation? Concerning the 1991 census, the Human Rights Watch Report Leave none to tell the story says “Some critics assert that the number of Tutsi was underreported in that census and in the prior census of 1978 because the Habyarimana government wanted to minimize the importance of Tutsi in the population.”
This concern with Rwandan national census data may indeed motivate the use of the pre-independence 1952 census. But, here is the catch: because the concern with the 1991 census is one of underreporting of Tutsi, not overreporting, 642,000 Tutsi in 1993 (extrapolated from the 1991 census) should be seen as a lower bound. Davenport & Stam’s 506,000 estimate thus falls off the chart.
Regarding the underreporting of Tutsi in national census data, the 1999 HRW-report further says: “Although frequently said, no documentation has been presented to support this allegation.” In 2005, I published evidence in support of this allegation (French version here). I compared 1990 population data from the local Rwandan administration with data from the 1991 national Rwandan population census. Across these two data sources, I found an almost perfect match for the number of men and women, indicating the quality of the local population data.
In contrast, the share of Tutsi was much higher in the local population data than in the census data. This discrepancy is evidence for the underreporting of Tutsi in the 1991 census because the local administration had no reason to misreport the number of Tutsi (the ethnic quota policy depended on the national figures, not on the local ones), and Tutsi themselves could also not easily misreport their ethnicity towards local administrators (because family histories were known locally).
In 2005, I did this comparison only for one Rwandan province, so the finding could not be generalized to the whole of Rwanda. Recently, I obtained local population data for all Rwandan provinces, be it for the year 1987. These data indicate a share of 10.6% Tutsi in Rwanda, instead of 8.4% as reported in the 1991 census. I do not claim that 10.6% is perfectly reliable, but – given the allegations and evidence of underreporting in the 1991 census – I consider it more reliable than 8.4%.
Applying 10.6% to the total population reported in the 1991 population census (7,099,844), one reaches a number of 754,713 Tutsi in 1991. Assuming 2.5% population growth, one can calculate that on the eve of the genocide, there were 811,941 Tutsi living in Rwanda. Depending on what you consider as reliable for the number of survivors (300,000 or 150,000), you then reach a death toll of 512,000 or 662,000.
The range of 150,000-300,000 survivors is commonly used. At the end of July 1994, head counting in refugee camps resulted in an estimated 105,000 Tutsi survivors. According to Gérard Prunier 25,000 survivors who did not go to camps should also be added, and HRW adds another 20,000 surviving Tutsi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania. This gives a total of 150,000 Tutsi survivors. In later years, various surveys by the Rwandan government, the gacaca transitional justice system and genocide survivor organizations reached higher estimates of around 300,000.
In the 1999 HRW-report Alison Des Forges wrote “Establishing a reliable toll of those killed in the genocide and its aftermath is important to counter denials, exaggerations, and lies. The necessary data have not been gathered but speculation about death tolls continues anyway, usually informed more by emotion than by fact.” Even twenty years after the genocide, there still is a need for more independent factual research, as is also recognized by Davenport in a recent piece. Based on the research done so far, I would claim that 512,000-662,000 is a much more plausible range for the Tutsi death toll than a range that includes 200,000.
Marijke Verpoorten is Associate Professor, University of Antwerp.
October 26, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, has unconditionally accepted the adoption of a federal system of governance in the country, including all accompanying reforms, a high-level presidential source disclosed on Sunday.
According to the source, the president also agreed to share power with the armed opposition movement under the leadership of former vice-president Riek Machar, in line with the protocol of agreed principles as set down by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating peace talks between the two warring parties.
“The breakthrough which the IGAD chief mediator announced on Wednesday after the close of the mini summit is the acceptance of Riek Machar to recognise president Salva Kiir as the democratically elected and the constitutionally mandated president of the Republic of South Sudan and that he would not continue to advocate for his removal by force,” the source told Sudan Tribune.
“In this context, the president accepted without condition to share power with [the] rebels. He will accept whoever they will nominate to the post of prime ministers,” he added.
Significantly, this would waive Kiir’s right to veto nominees to the post of prime minister.
The issue of federalism has long caused unnecessary division within the country and among citizens, the presidential aide said.
Ongoing debate surrounding federalism was the trigger for repeated conflict with successive governments in Sudan, from which the South seceded in 2011 after the signing of the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) ended more than two decades of civil war and paved the way for a referendum on self determination.
“The president never opposed federalism. What he has been saying is that any system of governance should be decided by the people of South Sudan through an all-inclusive process, like the current constitutional-making process, because this is a very important matter to be decided by individuals or institutions,” the source said.
“But because it seems that he has been misunderstood, including our friends and political allies from the region, he accepted to remove any obstacle to the peace process, including the issue of federalism,” he added.
Leading opposition figures said they were informed of Kiir’s decision by Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and the Ethiopian and Uganda prime ministers, who attended the one-day mini summit in the capital, Juba, on 22 October.
“Our colleagues attending [a] leadership briefing in Nairobi, Kenya, have told us that Salva Kiir has accepted that he will not have any veto power on our nominee to the post of prime minister,” rebel spokesperson Abdullah Kuot said.
“From one side, and this is just my opinion, there is no other person than our chairman, comrade Dr Riek Machar,” he added.
Kuot, a former Northern Bahr el Ghazal MP who defected to the rebel faction, told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that the reforms would cover all sectors, including security, public service, finance, foreign relations and governance.
He said the opposition movement was also committed to combating corruption and nepotism and planned to focus efforts on restoring public confidence and trust in public institutions.
If confirmed, observers say the agreement would represent a major concession on the part of Kiir and would demonstrate his government’s commitment to resolving the conflict through peaceful dialogue.
An IGAD summit is expected to be convened next week in Ethiopia.
The Federal Government and the Boko Haram Islamic sect will on Monday meet in Chad to further discuss the release of the over 200 schoolgirls abducted in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014.
This came a week after a botched ceasefire agreement reached by the Federal government and the sect.
The peace talk between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram sect, which is being mediated by the Chadian government, had been called into question since it was announced by the military last week following the refusal of both parties to respect the ceasefire deal.
Boko Haram has yet to comment on the ceasefire and its fighters have continued to attack villages in the North-East.
The insurgency group is responsible for the killings, abductions and the displacement of many Nigerians in the North-East.
The Chadian government, however, confirmed that Nigeria’s deal with the sect to free the schoolgirls would still go ahead despite the breakdown of a truce.
A very senior official, Chad’s foreign ministry, Moussa Dago, who spoke with Reuters on Friday, said that the key to the agreement would be a prisoner swap.
He said it appeared some Boko Haram factions were refusing to abide by the deal.
Dago said, “Quite possibly, those who are fighting are dissidents that even Boko Haram isn’t able to control. So far, there is no reason for others to doubt this agreement.
“What I can say is that those that negotiated with the Nigerian government did so in good faith … We are waiting for the next phase which is the release of the girls.”
Dago said he was confident that the negotiators had the authority to speak on behalf of Boko Haram’s reclusive leader, Abubakar Shekau, who has allegedly been killed by the Nigerian military more than once.
“They are envoys who answer to their leader Shekau, who himself confirmed that these emissaries spoke on his behalf. That was confirmed in writing to the Chadian government,” he said, confirming local press reports that the negotiators were named Cheikh Goni Hassane and Cheikh Boukar Umarou.
Dago admitted that it would be embarrassing for the Chadian President Idriss Deby’s government, which has played a lead role in diplomacy in Africa’s turbulent Sahel region in recent years, if the girls were not freed.
“It would be very disappointing. We are engaged in this now. If this negotiation doesn’t succeed, that would be damaging to Chad’s facilitating role,” he said.
Dago told Reuters that the two sides agreed verbally to a series of points summarised in a document he had seen, including the release of the schoolgirls and of jailed Boko Haram fighters.
Dago said, “The starting condition of Boko Haram was the liberation of some of their members; that is the compensation.”
He added that the specifics on the names and number of Boko Haram fighters still to be released had not yet been agreed.
He said he still expected the girls to be freed but he stated that the Boko Haram negotiators were no longer in Chad even though they had agreed to return in October after freeing the girls to hold more talks.
“We remain optimistic. The two sides agreed to find a negotiated solution and to show their good faith they already freed some hostages and announced a ceasefire,” he said.
According to him, Chad does not know where the abducted Chibok girls are being held, but Dago said it was likely they were outside of Chad and spread out over a wide area.
“The Chinese hostages freed earlier under the agreement were found scattered across northern Cameroon,” he said.
“They (Boko Haram) gave us guarantees that the girls are well but we don’t know physically where they are,” he said.
“But they have certainly dispersed them like the Chinese hostages, who were spread out over a large area.”
He explained that the two parties planned to meet again for a third time in Chad after the release of the schoolgirls to draft a roadmap to tackle more fundamental issues.
He said, “For the next stage of negotiations, the girls need to be freed. We cannot go into details as long as this question remains and it is a requirement of Chad that the girls are released before we start the next stage of talks.”
Similarly, the self-acclaimed Secretary-General of the sect, Mallam Danladi Ahmadu, confirmed that the group’s ceasefire agreement with the Federal Government was still on course.
Ahmadu, who spoke to the Hausa service of the Voice of America on Friday, said that the Chibok girls would be released on Monday to the Chadian President, Idriss Derby, for onward transfer to the Nigerian government.
He added that an enlarged meeting of the group had been fixed for the weekend to prepare grounds for the Monday meeting with the Federal Government, affirming that the final ceasefire and the release of the girls would be done by the group.
However, the group said it was unaware of the latest kidnapping of over 40 women and girls in the border villages between Adamawa and Borno states.
He admitted that many anti-social groups had infiltrated the sect.
Ahmadu also stated that political thugs, armed robbers, kidnappers, hired assassins and other anti-social groups now parade themselves as members of the sect.
He, however, added that all things being equal, all the factions would fizzle out once the ceasefire agreement was sealed.
The Chief of Defense Staff, Alex Badeh had issued an order last Friday, telling all service chiefs “to comply with the ceasefire agreement between Nigeria and Boko Haram in all theatres of operations.”
The text went out after Ahmadu told VOA that a cease-fire agreement had been reached.
Ahmadu and a close advisor to President Goodluck Jonathan, Ambassador Hassan Tukur, had told VOA that the sides were holding talks facilitated by the Chadian President and high-level officials from Cameroon.
Ahmadu, who said he was at a location on the Nigerian-Chadian border, had said the girls are “in good condition and unharmed.”
Nigerian President Jonathan has been criticised at home and abroad for his slow response to the kidnapping and for the inability of Nigerian troops to quell the violence by the militants, seen as the biggest security threat to Africa’s top economy and leading energy producer.
Boko Haram has said it is fighting to establish an Islamic state in Muslim-majority northern Nigeria.
The group has launched scores of attacks in the past five years, targeting markets, bus stations, government facilities, churches and even mosques. Militants recently took over some towns in the North-East for what the group’s leader said would be an Islamic caliphate.
The Nigerian military said the man who appeared in Boko Haram videos as Abubakar Shekau was actually an impostor, and that the real Shekau was killed several years ago.
It said the impostor was killed last month during a battle in the town of Konduga. A new video of the man appeared a few days later but the military had stood by its assertion that the Boko Haram leader is dead.
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It might have been more honest of the BBC to say in this news story that the film has proved controversial among specialists on Rwanda and resulted in a formal written complaint to the BBC by a number of academics, journalists and people like Senator (for General) Romeo Dallaire. It is not just the Kagame government that has doubts about the accuracy and balance of the film, I signed the letter of complaint as the film contains serious inaccuracies, very questionable interpretations and is highly selective in its use of interviews and available evidence – anything that conflicts with its “untold story” is ignored or skated over. Poor journalism. The BBC was also very short-sighted, as I put in a submission to the parliamentary foreign affairs committee some years ago, when it cut short-wave transmission to Rwanda and relied on local rebroadcasts. The Kagame government has no great adherence to freedom of the press and was bound to stop the BBC broadcasts whenever they were not in the interests of the government KS
Rwanda suspends BBC broadcasts over genocide film
Rwanda has suspended BBC broadcasts in the Kinyarwanda language with immediate effect because of a film questioning official accounts of the 1994 genocide.
The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (Rura) said it had received complaints from the public of incitement, hatred, revisionism and genocide denial.
At least 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus died in the genocide.
The BBC has denied that any part of the programme constitutes a “denial of the genocide against the Tutsi”.
On Wednesday, Rwandan MPs approved a resolution calling on the government to ban the BBC and to charge the documentary-makers with genocide denial, which is a crime in the country.
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.
Rura said it had established a commission of inquiry to investigate the allegations it had received about the programme, after which further action may be taken.
The cabinet is meeting next week to discuss parliament’s recommendations.
The BBC broadcasts affected by the suspension are produced by the BBC Great Lakes service, which was initially set up in the aftermath of the genocide as a lifeline service.
Its first broadcast – BBC Gahuzamiryango, meaning “the unifier of families” – was a 15-minute transmission aimed at bringing together families who had been separated. BBC
To: “Mr. Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC”
Friends: In this copy of a formal letter of complaint to the BBC Two over their production and broadcasting of the October 1 documentary, “Rwanda’s Untold Story,” notice whom the signatories-doctrinal enforcers include: Linda Melvern, Romeo Dallaire, Gregory Stanton, Gerald Caplan, George Monbiot, Andrew Wallis.)
(For a copy of the documentary, see Jane Corbin and John Conroy, “Rwanda’s Untold Story,” BBC Two, October 1, 2014, as now posted to the Vimeo website. < http://vimeo.com/107867605 >)
Mr. Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC, Broadcasting House, Portland Place,
October 12, 2014.
We the undersigned, scholars, scientists, researchers, journalists and historians are writing to you today to express our grave concern at the content of the documentary Rwanda’s Untold Story (This World, BBC 2 Wednesday October 1), specifically its coverage of the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi.
We accept and support that it is legitimate to investigate, with due diligence and respect for factual evidence, any crimes committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and to reflect on the contemporary political situation in Rwanda. However, attempts to examine these issues should not distort the reality of the 1994 genocide. It is not legitimate to use current events to either negate or to diminish the genocide. Nor is it legitimate to promote genocide denial.
The parts of the film which concern the 1994 genocide, far from providing viewers with an ‘Untold Story’ as the title promises, are old claims. For years similar material using similar language has been distributed far and wide as part of an on-going ‘Hutu Power’ campaign of genocide denial. At the heart of this campaign are convicted génocidaires, some of their defence lawyers from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and their supporters and collaborators. These deniers continually question the status of the genocide and try to prove – like the programme – that what it calls the ‘official narrative’ of the 1994 genocide is wrong. The BBC programme Rwanda’s Untold Story recycles their arguments and provides them with another platform to create doubt and confusion about what really happened.
Three of the untenable claims made in the programme are of the utmost concern: the first is a lie about the true nature of the Hutu Power militia. The second is an attempt to minimize the number of Tutsi murdered in the genocide, and the third is an effort to place the blame for shooting down President Habyarimana’s plane on April 6, 1994 on the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).
First, the programme allows a witness to claim that ‘only ten percent of the Interahamwe (militia) were killers’. In fact, the majority of Hutu Power militia forces – estimated to have been 30,000 strong – were trained specifically to
kill Tutsi at speed, and indoctrinated in a racist ideology, part of genocide planning. There is eyewitness testimony by several militia leaders who cooperated with the ICTR.
Second, the programme attempts to minimise the number of Tutsi murdered, a typical tactic of genocide deniers. The false figures cited are provided by two US academics who worked for a team of lawyers defending the génocidaires at the ICTR. They even claim that in 1994 more Hutu than Tutsi were murdered – an absurd suggestion and contrary to all the widely available research reported by Amnesty International, UNICEF, the UN Human Rights Commission, Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, Africa Rights, a UN Security Council mandated Commission of Experts and evidence submitted to the ICTR and other European courts who have successfully put on trial several perpetrators.
Third, the film argues that the shooting down of the plane on April 6, 1994 was perpetrated by the RPF. This same story was promoted by Hutu Power extremists within a few hours of the president’s assassination and promoted ever since by génocidaires and a few ICTR defence lawyers.
The film pays no heed to a detailed expert report published in January 2012 by a French magistrate Judge Marc Trévidic. This contains evidence from French experts, including crash investigators, who proved scientifically that the missiles that shot down the plane came from the confines of the government-run barracks in Kanombe on the airport’s perimeter – one of the most fortified places in the country, and where it would have been impossible for the RPF, armed with a missile, to penetrate.
Within hours of the president’s assassination, in this carefully planned genocide, roadblocks went up all over Kigali and the Presidential Guard started to target every member of Rwanda’s political opposition. These momentous events are barely mentioned. The members of the Hutu and Tutsi pro-democracy movements were hunted down and killed, including Rwanda’s Prime Minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, and ten UN peacekeepers from Belgium who were protecting her. These opposition politicians separately threatened the Habyarimana regime for advocating power-sharing and paid for their courage with their lives. Ignored in this film are the Hutu Power attempts to divide the internal political opposition along ethnic lines. Political violence in the film is seen only in the context of a ‘civil war’ between the RPF and the Habyarimana government, a smoke screen, used then and now, to hide the systematic killing of Tutsi carried out by the Hutu Power Interim Government and its militia.
The film-maker, Jane Corbin, who presented the programme, even tries to raise doubts about whether or not the RPF stopped the genocide. The authority on this subject is Lt.-General Roméo Dallaire, the Force commander of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), and present in Rwanda throughout the genocide. Dallaire is categorical. ‘The genocide was stopped because the RPF won and stopped it’, he says. Corbin
ignores the testimonies of direct witnesses to what happened in 1994: Dallaire and his volunteer UN peacekeepers, Philippe Gaillard and the medics at the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Dr. James Orbinski of Médecins Sans Frontières. Years of research and writing by academics and other experts along with hours of films by journalists who work for the BBC – all of this eyewitness testimony is dismissed as if fraudulent.
In broadcasting this documentary the BBC has been recklessly irresponsible. The programme has fuelled genocide denial. It has further emboldened the génocidaires, all their supporters and those who collaborate with them. It has provided them the legitimacy of the BBC. Denial of genocide causes the gravest offence to survivors. For them, the genocide is not a distant event from 20 years ago but a reality with which they live every day.
The denial of genocide is now widely recognised as the final stage of the crime. One of the world’s preeminent genocide scholars, the US Professor Greg H. Stanton, describes ten stages in genocide: classification of the population; symbolization of those classifications; discrimination against a targeted group; dehumanisation of the pariah group; organisation of the killers; polarisation of the population; preparation by the killers; persecution of the victims; extermination of the victims; and denial that the killing was genocide.
Denial, the final stage, ensures the crime continues. It incites new killing. It denies the dignity of the deceased and mocks those who survived. Denial of genocide is taken so seriously that in some European countries it is criminalized. In 2008 the Council of the European Union called upon states to criminalize genocide denial.
The 1994 genocide of the Tutsi should be treated by all concerned with the utmost intellectual honesty and rigour. We would be willing – indeed see it as our duty – to meet with journalists and to debate in a follow up programme the serious inaccuracies in Rwanda’s Untold Story.
We hope that the BBC management will quickly realise the gravity of the genocide denial in Rwanda’s Untold Story. We call upon the BBC to explain how the programme came to be made and the editorial decision-making which allowed it to be broadcast. In the course of any internal BBC enquiry we hope all relevant documents from the This World archive and from senior editors involved in approving the programme will be released for study.
Rwanda’s Untold Story tarnishes the BBC’s well-deserved reputation for objective and balanced journalism. We urge the BBC to apologise for the offence this programme has caused for all victims and survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
Professor Linda Melvern
Senator Roméo Dallaire Force Commander, UNAMIR
Professor Gregory H. Stanton President, Genocide Watch
Bishop Ken Barham
Dr. Margaret Brearley Independent Scholar
Dr. Gerald Caplan
Professor Frank Chalk
Boubacar Boris Diop, Sénégal. Author, Murambi, the book of bones
Jean-Francois Dupaquier Author and Expert
Professor Margee Ensign
Dr. Helen Hintjens
Dr. Georgina Holmes
Eric Joyce MP
Ambassador Karel Kovanda (ret).
Ambassador Stephen Lewis.
W. Alan McClue
George Monbiot Author and Journalist
Dr. Jude Murison
Professor Josias Semujanga
Patrick de Saint-Exupéry Author and journalist
Dr James M. Smith CBE CEO, Aegis Trust
Rafiki Ubaldo Journalist
Lillian Wong, O.B.E.