Understanding the BBC hostility against Rwanda

By Patrick Mugisha

I have been watching the way the international media covers Rwanda for many years now. What is undeniable is that BBC as a mainstream media organisation has taken a position contrary to professional code of ethics, which calls for impartiality and representing the truth. 

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) once a feted international broadcaster which I and many people once held as a paragon of professional journalism has progressively become a platform for spreading naked falsehoods to tarnish the image of Rwanda and its leadership.

The credibility of BBC has gone so low, to the extent that it gives space to individuals who belong to terrorist organizations and genocide deniers and revisionists with an agenda of destabilising the security of Rwanda. BBC does this deliberately under the guise of listening to Rwanda’s “opposition politicians and human rights activists’.

The recent article titled “The Loyalty oath keeping Rwandans abroad in Check” (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-54801979), by Andrew Harding, BBC Africa Correspondent, is a case in point. The article encapsulates everything the BBC should be ashamed of when it comes to reporting on Rwanda and its leadership.

Andrew Harding, as a BBC veteran journalist covering Africa, is in position to understand the facts about Rwanda, but because the company he works for has chosen to be a propaganda tool for Rwandan haters, he knows where his bread is buttered. He ditches professionalism and recycles the same old and spurious allegations of what he calls, “an aggressive global crackdown on dissent by the authoritarian government”. Mr.  Harding shamelessly, loses it, by comparing what he calls, “the small East African nation to North Korea”, which is outrageous and laughable.  As once President Kagame told detractors, ‘Rwanda may be small, but Rwandans are not small people’.

Andrew Harding  borrows the outlandish epithet of “North Korea” from a fugitive RNC Rwandan-British national known as Dick Nyarwaya alias Abdulkarim Ali, who lives in London, and  happens to be in a pool of Andrew Harding’s  so called ‘credible sources about Rwanda’.   Nyarwaya works closely with Kayumba Nyamwasa, the leader of terrorist Rwandan National Congress (RNC), a member of the P5 Group which has been wreaking havoc in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and inside Rwanda. Nyarwaya once served as RNC Commissioner in charge of mobilisation.

Note that the grouping P5, has been internationally recognised by the UN as a terrorist organisation. It stands accused of causing mayhem in Eastern DRC and Rwanda.

Going back to the article that shames a veteran journalist like Andrew Harding, he again prefers to quote a top RNC terror group member David Himbara, plus a genocide denier and convicted thief, Rene Mugenzi! Do we need any more evidence to scrutinize the professionalism and credibility of the BBC story by Andrew Harding? 

RPF is not in a crisis of lack of membership to force people to join. If that was the case, Rwanda would have no other political parties as all would be forcefully recruited into RPF. The forceful recruitment of the Rwandan diaspora is therefore, farfetched shameful lie. The oath taking ceremony claimed by Harding to be forced on Rwandans is instead, one of the prestigious induction ceremonies that genuine RPF cadres look forward to.  It is a commitment to the RPF values of patriotism and commitment to serve. It is not done in secrecy. The majority of Rwandans abroad are great patriots who love RPF and their country, which is manifested by the vibrancy of Rwanda Day events that regularly bring together the Rwandan diaspora.  

In 2015, RNC terror group member David Himbara, acting on behalf of his boss, Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, a   self-exiled business tycoon, and RNC financer paid $440,000 to an American lobbying company, the Podesta Group, to buy a hearing at the US Congress where he spread falsehoods about President Paul Kagame. He fled Rwanda not because his life was in danger, but because of a series of malfeasances for which he even asked forgiveness from the President himself. Harding seems to be on a similar pay role.

What left me and many readers perplexed is the lack of due diligence by Andrew Harding in choosing another shoddy British- Rwandan national named Rene Mugenzi convicted for theft. Mugenzi is self-styled ‘human rights activist’ and regular guest at the BBC Kinyarwanda-Kirundi Service where he masquerades as a genocide survivor.  His father Joseph Mugenzi, was recently arrested in the Netherlands for his alleged role in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, thereby exposing the lies by his son.

Rene Mugenzi was recently found guilty of stealing £220,000 from St John the Baptist Cathedral in Norwich in South East London, where he volunteered as a treasurer to fund his gambling habits. He was sentenced to two years in prison. People like David Himbara and Rene Mugenzi with questionable backgrounds are the sources Andrew Harding chooses to rely on. (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8873535

Andrew Harding also uses another wild allegation which has also been in the news before, propagated by another dissident Australian-Rwandan called Noel Zihabamwe, who falsely alleged that because he refused to work for the Rwandan government, his relatives in Rwanda disappeared.  Although there is no evidence that those people disappeared, the BBC veteran journalist hastily jumps to a conclusion blaming the Rwandan government.  Zihabamwe is a friend of the troubled- excommunicated priest Nahimana Thomas, another character chased from priesthood for fathering children with various women contrary to the celibacy doctrine for which he had taken an oath as a priest.

A recurrent pattern

For years now, the BBC has brazenly taken a stance to be a mouthpiece of Rwandan dissidents and genocide revisionists and deniers. It can be recalled that in 2004, a BBC journalist Venuste Nshimiyimana, who is of Rwandan origin went to Bamako- Mali, to interview convicted genocidaires serving their sentences in the UN prison, among them Jean Kambanda, former Prime Minister in the genocide government and Clement Kayishema. Giving a platform to high-ranking genocide convicts was bad enough to show BBC’s editorial line when it comes to reporting on Rwandan matters.

What people often forget is that the same Nshimiyimana was a member of the “Commission Technique et Programmes” (technical and programmes) of the infamous hate radio RTLM, Radio des Milles (RTLM) dubbed “Radio Machete).

I travelled back in time to check whether after the Second World War and the Holocaust, the BBC commissioned a journalist to go and interview any of the Nazi leaders and I could not find any single case. One wonders why the genocide against the Tutsi is often trivialised by some in the West who treat it as a tropical genocide. What a shame!

Remember also that in 2014, BBC was at it again by airing a documentary titled,  “Rwanda Untold Story“,  which stood out as the epitome of genocide denial. The BBC journalist behind the documentary – Jane Corbin, peddles the theory of double genocide and alleges that the RPF was responsible for the massacres of thousands of Hutus.

As one British researcher and writer Andrew Wallis put it, ‘the BBC ignored the bulk of evidence by thousands of witness interviews for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), archived documents and judgments were made equally redundant. So were many official reports by the United Nations Security Council in 1994 and 1999; the African Union; and human-rights groups…’.  This broadcast triggered a mass uproar and led Rwanda to freeze out the broadcast of the BBC Kinyarwanda-Kirundi Service BBC Gahuzamiryango from airing on Rwandan territory.

Andrew Harding and the BBC had hoped to mislead readers on how the current Rwanda government cracks down on its critics at home and abroad. But he ended up making a mountain out of a molehill. All along, his goal was not to seek the truth and to inform. He rather cashed in a pay cheque from Himbara and his sponsors and maintained the BBC flagrantly biased anti- Rwanda editorial line.

As the French saying goes, “les chiens aboient et la caravane passe” (dogs bark but the caravan moves”. Rwanda and its people know where they have come from. No one and nothing will distract them from striving to build a better country respectful of the rights of every individual. It is unfortunate, that a veteran journalist like Andrew Harding who would be eying to retire with dignity, accepts to sell his professional legacy for bread and baseless propaganda against Rwanda. 

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