The UK’s University of Cambridge has come under intense pressure to drop notorious genocide denier Judi Rever from panel set to discuss regional issues next week, with sections of people accusing the university of giving her a platform to advance her flawed narratives.
The umbrella organisation of genocide survivor’s associations- Ibuka has written to the globally renowned academic institution to suspend the invitation of the controversial Canadian journalist turned author, pointing out that giving her a platform will amount to affirming her denialist narratives.
In a letter dated April 15, Ibuka and its global affiliates wrote to the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Geopolitics urging it to drop Rever from the panel discussion dubbed “R2P and Crimes Against Humanity in the DRC”, scheduled for Wednesday, April 21.
The centre says the panel will discuss geopolitical dynamics driving conflict in the Great Lakes region, particularly the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and why peace is so elusive in the area, among other issues.
Other members of the panel include Richard Kapend, a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Quantitative Research Methods at the University of Portsmouth and Filip Reyntjens, a Professor Emeritus at University of Antwerp, who is also a known Genocide denier.
The panel which will be moderated by Thomas Peak, a Research Associate at the Centre for Geopolitics at the Cambridge University, will also have Jason Stearns, the Founder and Chair of the Advisory Board of Congo Research Group at New York University and an Assistant Professor at Simon Fraser University
In the letter addressed to the University of Cambridge Vice Chancellor, Prof. Stephen J. Toope, Vice Chancellor, Ibuka said that Rever has actively promoted the myth of ‘double genocide’ and other sensationalist and revisionist conspiracies over the years and should not be given a platform.
“We survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994 are appalled that by extending an invitation to Judi Rever, the University of Cambridge is deliberately turning its back on the pain and trauma we endured then and that such an event will again cause,” Ibuka wrote, challenging the university to live up to its renowned integrity by not associating with Rever.
“We are profoundly saddened by the timing of this event at the Centre for Geopolitics. April, the month in which we start the annual commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, is a time in which we pay tribute to our loved ones. reflect on ways to keep their memory alive and to ensure that genocide never happens again,”
“It is an affront that the University of Cambridge has chosen this time to invite a guest whose sensationalist and inflammatory work has caused much pain to us the survivors,” reads the letter signed by Egide Nkuranga, the president of Ibuka and the presidents of other associations.
They argued that Rever is a proponent of the double genocide theory and promulgates many falsehoods on what happened in Rwanda, hence giving her a platform is against the values Cambridge is known for.
“Far from being about ‘freedom of speech’, giving Rever a platform is simply enabling her to perpetuate opinions that are both factually errant and morally repugnant,”
“It is wrong to do so by a University which has built a reputation as a global beacon of rigorous intellectual discussion,” they said, urging the university not to give this platform “to the most abhorrent kind of revisionism and conspiracy theories that seek to overturn proven historical facts.”
Academics, Interest groups Protest
Rever’s invitation has also been protested by over 140 scholars, scientists, researchers, journalists, historians and representatives of various charitable organisations who also wrote an open-letter to the University of Cambridge.
They group wrote to express their grave concern at the platform the university is set to give Judi Rever, who they accused of relying on unsubstantiated and anonymous witness testimonies and quotes from unauthenticated documents to advance the double Genocide theory.
The Canadian journalist authored a controversial book titled “In Praise of Blood” which the scholars academics say promotes the ‘double genocide’ myth, an idea which they said was introduced and spread by the genocide perpetrators and their supporters during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“This double genocide myth has been shown by countless reports, scholars, journalists, court proceedings and visual evidence to have absolutely no basis in fact. It forms part of a mounting campaign to minimise and distort the historical truth,”
“While claiming to be serious journalistic investigative work, Rever relies on unsubstantiated and anonymous witness testimonies and quotes from unauthenticated documents apparently obtained from a ‘secret unit’ at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda,” the scholars and activists said.
They further said that her work is in no way peer reviewed and she provides not the slightest evidence for her sensationalist accusations whilst ignoring a wealth of testimony and accessible material – the concrete evidence built up over the past 27 years by scholars and journalists, NGOs and witnesses that has been tested in courtrooms and in solid academic debate and publications.
“We are shocked that the University of Cambridge has chosen to give a platform to the author of a book that peddles arguments used in a 27-year campaign of genocide denial and revision,” they wrote in a letter signed by renowned researchers and scholars from around the world.
Dr. Phil Clark, a Professor of International Politics at SOAS University of London, described the Cambridge invitation of Rever as ‘disgraceful’, give her record of publishing narratives on the genocide not backed by any research.
“Disgraceful @CamGeopolitics will give a platform to the peddler of the double genocide thesis Judi Rever. Board member @rolandparis should look into this,”
“Rever claims RPF infiltrated the interahamwe & massacred Tutsi civilians. Would you invite David Irving?” tweeted Clark, who is among the 143 signatories.
The UK university is yet to pronounce itself on the matter.