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Officials Equip the Youth with Tools to Fight Genocide Denial

by Daniel Sabiiti
9:18 pm

Conference panel discussion on the theme: “30 years of Remembrance- Fighting Denialism”

An international conference on genocide has showed that academicians are responsible for perpetuating new forms and tools of denialism, which rest on old denial tropes and conspiracy theories.

The conference, organized by the Aegis Trust was held at Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre on April 9, 2024 as part of the activities to mark commemoration of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi under the theme: “30 years of Remembrance- Fighting Denialism”

The conference, officially opened by the Minister of National Unity & Civic Engagement, Dr. Jean-Damascène Bizimana was aimed engaging international dialogue on the current trends of genocide denialism and provoke youth engagement in knowing the truth and history of genocide and take action.

Dr. Jean-Damascène Bizimana opened the conference held at Kigali Memorial site in Gisozi

Bizimana, who is also a researcher on genocide showed the connection and roots of genocide and denialism as embedded in the previous government agenda to commit genocide, use media propaganda to promote it and legal structures to defend it.

Bizimana stated that to fight the legacy of genocide, its denial that has been passed on through generations, the youth today have to break these chains by fighting back using evidence on the 1994 genocide committed against Tutsi.

“In spreading this genocide ideology, they include young people, therefore you (youth) need to stand up and counter them. You cannot let them win that fight. Why would you be defeated in this fight? When they tweet something, why are we absent in that battle. Fight this by sharing these documents,” Bizimana said.

He challenged the young generation to never accept to carry the wrong doings of their parents and asked them to take equal action to respond to genocide denialism.

“Why would denialists like Jambo ASBL (news network) and others speak louder than you? Respond to them by telling them that this is what your fathers did, tell them you are spreading your father’s ideology and we don’t accept that,” Bizimana said.

“For you to defeat this battle, you need to show them how this (denialism) is evil,” Bizimana added.

Minister Jean-Damascène Bizimana

The conference included a panel discussion with Dr. Diogène Bideri, a National Prosecutor; Jessica Mwiza, a Scholar and Activist; Dr. Hélène Dumas, a historian and researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research; Dr. Bojana Coulibaly, an African Language Program Manager at Harvard University (Africa Program); and Richard Gisagara Esq, A Lawyer in Rwanda and France.

The panelists showed that genocide denialism has been greatly propelled by academicians who continue to make connection between science and history thus distorting the actual genocide facts which are known to the world.

Panelist (Seated from left to right): Dr. Diogène Bideri, Jessica Mwiza, Dr. Hélène Dumas, Dr. Bojana Coulibaly, and Richard Gisagara Esq,

Dr. Hélène Dumas backed Bizimana’s argument by sharing her research on the archaeology of denial-ism. She stated that denialism is not only an act but is also a political objective by deniers who moved to DR Congo and released a statement to back their crimes committed in Rwanda.

“The people who created denialism have not changed since 1990 and 1994, that is why denialism is an ideological support for deniers,” Dumas said.

Dr. Diogène Bideri, stated that denialism has become an excuse for genocidaires who started operating in Mugunga refugee camp in the DRC, top army officials forming a denial strategy (the RDR propagandist strategy) which has since moved to Europe where they recruited sympathizers Victoire Ingabire and Ignatius Munyeshyaka, to Mozambique, US and France.

Using the example of Jambo ASBL, an organization composed of children born to genocidaires with a double genocide argument, Bideri said that the link of genocide denial has not broken among since the 1950 and most of the deniers are welcomed in Belgium and their children have moved on the denialism.

Dr. Bojana Coulibaly showed that denialism is practice which is broader and creates collective doubt especially by the so- called experts who use the digital age.

Students from Rwanda Coding Academy were among the youth who participated in the conference.

Dr. Bideri stated that one of the solutions to respond to genocide denialism is that scholars must write the correct historical facts, publish more to educate the youth. Students from Rwanda Coding Academy, were among the many young Rwandans who attended the conferenceGianna Blessing Ishema and Joella Iriza, among young Rwandans, who participated at the conference in big numbers said the discourse was an opener to learn ways to deal with denialism which is mainly spread on the internet and influences many.

“We were not yet born during the genocide, and so that is why we need knowledge on how genocide was committed and being denied today, to enable us to fight back,” Ishema said.

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