Friday, December 19, 2008

Rwandan Convicton - Too Little Too Late

A United Nations-backed court in Tanzania on Thursday convicted one of the masterminds of the Rwandan genocide, Theoneste Bagasora, a former Rwandan Army colonel.

That conviction seems pretty obvious (and one wonders why it took them 14 years to come to that conclusion!), but the reason I do not tag the title as "off topic" is because I wonder whether those who banned pro-Tutsis radio under the pretense of ""harmful radio propaganda", then set their own hate broadcast station (the unfamous "Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines" (RTLM), largely considered as instrumental in justifying and motivating the killing), should not be likewise tried.

Hate speech is best opposed by free speech and the solution is not to try and thwart hate speech but to allow on the contrary more free speech, and I think the present example is a dramatic and tragic example of what happens when you only allow one view to be expressed, and ban the few counter-views that could at least help to balance them somewhat.

Wikipedia writes that
RTLM quickly became a popular station since it offered frequent contemporary musical selections, unlike the staid state radio, and quickly developed a faithful audience among youth-aged Rwandans
It is remarkable to note, as mentioned on that Wikipedia entry too, that it was precisely these youth-aged Rwandans, motivated and entranced by the the RTLM hate propaganda, that made up the bulk of the Interahamwe militia.

In such a context, the conviction of Bagasora, though of course fully justified, seems to me to only scratch the real cause of the genocide. I believe that the United Nations-backed court should take a much deeper look into what really made such a horrendous event possible.

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