News / Africa

Did Media Underreport Rwandan Genocide?

Media and Genocide Prevention: What have we learned from Rwanda?i
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
April 04, 2014 7:33 PM
The Voice of America hosted a panel discussion April 2, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide.
Robert Daguillard
It’s been 20 years since genocide claimed the lives of at least 800,000 Rwandans. As part of the commemoration of the event, VOA this week hosted a panel discussion  - focusing on longstanding criticism that international news media underreported the 1994 massacres.

Rwanda was in the midst of a civil war in 1994 and extremist media were encouraging ethnic hatred against minority Tutsis in the run-up to the genocide. At the same time,  Allan Thompson of Carleton University in Canada said Rwanda was a low priority for international media even after the massacres began on April 7.

"I think international media, by its virtual absence did contribute to those events," said Thompson.

Thompson’s pointed "Not until several weeks into the genocide did international media really begin reporting on the killings carried out by extremist majority ethnic Hutus."

Thompson, a former foreign correspondent, was speaking at a panel on Media and Genocide Prevention this week at VOA headquarters in Washington. Also among the panelists was Michael Dobbs of the U.S. Holocaust Museum, who said the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina partly explains the media’s relative lack of interest in Rwanda at the time.

"The second big event at that time was the inauguration of  Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa so all the African reporters who probably would have gone immediately to Rwanda as soon as the killings began on April 6 and 7, they were all focused on this big event in South Africa," said Thompson.

Mark Nelson of the Center for International Media Assistance said reporting on the genocide was just very daunting even for seasoned and competent international reporters.

"It was really difficult for everybody to figure out what to do about it. The Wall Street Journal at the time didn’t have anybody in Africa except in South Africa. And it just did not seem like something we could to anything about," he said.

So, what have journalists and media learned from the Rwandan Genocide. Are media now better able to recognize possible warning signs of impending atrocities?
 
Idriss Fall of VOA’s French-to-Africa Service saw similarities between the work of extremist media in Rwanda in 1994 - and some newspapers in the Central African Republic today.   

"They don’t have a power radio like Mille Collines (former Rwandan radio station). But they have small newspapers, this size, and  most of them are doing a kind of insidious propaganda. Everything is there," he said.

The widespread persecution of the Central African Republic’s Muslim minority has created what the United Nations has called a pre-genocide situation . In 1994, The Rwandan genocide claimed the lives of at least 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in the space of just three months.

You May Like

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent, Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More