Panel 1: Hate Media in Rwanda
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Chrétien: CNRS, co-author of Les Medias du Genocide
Frank Chalk: Next I have
the honor of presenting the historian, Jean-Pierre Chrétien.
Jean Pierre Chrétien:
So good morning. So you can see therefore how difficult it
is in 10 minutes to present something that is very important,
which is the content of propaganda, which lead to genocide
based on texts, on specific realities. Recently the French
journalist, Jean Atsfelt(?) in Machete published the evidence
of a number of killers, if you will, in genocide, a number
of people responsible for genocide. He said killing is very
discouraging. If you have yourself to take the decision to
do so, but if you have to obey certain orders, the orders
of the authorities, if you were sufficiently sensitized, then
you feel nevertheless somewhat comforted. You don' t worry
about it quite so much. We, in fact, were sensitized to this
by radio, and by the advice that we received. So this psychology
of killers, who are taking part in massacres can be clearly
seen, not in an ethnological, ethno-cultural context, but
rather in the actual methodology of modern propaganda. And
this is very well seen through a manual from a French psychologist,
Roger Muchielli entitled " Psychology of the Publicity
and Propaganda" . It' s a handbook for psychologists
and for facilitators, etc. And this was published in the beginning
of the 70s, and with the all the other works of the specialists,
can be found at the University Library of Butare. Alison Des
Forges, who is here also with us this morning found a reference
established by an intellectual from Butare, which clearly
shows the way in which such propaganda can be used in order
to promote this ideology, which would lead to genocide. I'
ve referred myself to the Muchielli work. He explains, in
fact, that in this case you shouldn' t use a moral priority,
rather we' re taught to use modern technology to condition
the masses. You have to create the right awareness with the
people you want to mobilize, based on a feeling of indignation,
indignation towards an enemy, an enemy which is taken as a
scapegoat by using various techniques in order to create this
feeling of indignation, and also hatred against this enemy,
and also a fascination by the organizers of genocide; with
this kind of work. The author himself, of course, is not advocating
genocide, but they use his technology. So all the elements
were there in Rwanda: low level literacy, a unanimous approach
to things, and also a clear, and long existence of scapegoats,
potential scapegoats, which had existed for 30 years, namely
the Tutsi. So therefore there' s a reference here to the Tutsi,
the majority. So therefore there' s a socioeconomic populism,
therefore, basis of preeminence of Hutu people, whose absolute
rights are based on their majority nature, and also on the
fact that they can also state their supposed indigenous character,
in contrast to the " outside" Tutsi character.
This ideology impregnated all public life
in Rwanda since the beginning of the 1960s. And what seems
important therefore, to us, in this extremist propaganda,
which was developed in 1990s, and which prepared to genocide
was the fact that it was rooted, rooted here, well two things;
first there was an ideology already, which was they had seen
for a generation, and also, and this comes back to this technical
work of Muchielli, there was also a reference to the very
effectiveness of this kind of argument, because they could
disqualify all opponents in order to bring together the mass
around a Hutu power movement, the growth of which was therefore
promoted. Therefore you have a democratic language that became
a kind of technology to mobilize people in the totalitarian
way under the cover of freedom of expression.
Now if we take the subjects of the RTLM,
given all the programs that they broadcast, we can see that
they' re based on a double register, that of racist passion
against the Tutsi, and also the feeling of legitimacy on behalf
of the majority people. The first register, an ethno-racial
one, I won' t talk about that, because we don' t have a lot
of time, and everyone is familiar with it. What seems to be
important is the second register, which seems really to deserve
our attention. That way we can understand where the blindness
came from. We can also understand why the propaganda was so
effective. The essential reference from the months preceding
genocide and during the massacres was therefore that of the
majority people. The legitimacy of their self defense against
a clique, a feudal clique, so therefore the normalcy of the
massacre by the majority as an expression of anger, a democratic
anger if you will. If the Hutu which are in our country, 90
per cent, if we can be beaten just by a 10 per cent clique,
that means that we really haven' t shown our own true strength.
That was May 28, 1994, broadcast on RTLM. That' s exactly
what they said. May 14 now, the low size family in Rwanda
is that of the Tutsi, the small group that came from abroad.
There aren' t too many of them here, maybe just 10 per cent,
and this Rwanda belongs to me. I' m in the majority, so Rwanda
belongs to me. So therefore this reference of the majority
is essential therefore to legitimize massive mobilization,
violent mobilization by those people around extremist leaders,
and extremists policies, coalition for the defense, and also
the Hutu power movement. April 3rd now, a few days before
the beginning of the genocide. The real shield is the army.
The day when the people rise up. So you can see it' s not
very democratic, and they don' t want you any more. That is
you the Tutsi, and they hate you so much. They hate you from
the bottom of their hearts. You' ll make them feel sick, and
I wonder really how you can get out of this. How are you going
to escape? You can understand therefore, the systematic massacre
of these people became legitimate in their eyes as some of
the people therefore interviewed by Jean Hatzfeld stated.
Therefore you see all this propaganda based
on this, I' ve got a lot of other quotes also, but I' ve only
got 10 minutes so I can' t give them all. Therefore, what
we' re talking about here is a collective suicide of Tutsi.
They chose to kill themselves, because they' re the minority.
Nevertheless, they did try and conduct political action. There'
s also a demographic force here, the certainty of victory,
and I stress this, a clear, open conscience about this that
they were fighting for the people. As the Belgian journalist,
Georges Ruggiu, who worked for RTLM, pointed out, they killed
about 50 people, said Radio France Internationale. He said
this represents only about nine per cent, namely the Tutsi
part. That is the proportion of people who, therefore you'
d expect this. The historic reference therefore Marcel Kabanda
pointed out, what struck me is historic reference, not just
in the past of Rwanda, the social revolution in 1960s, but
also the reference to the French Revolution even. Robespierre
they quoted. Didn' t Robespierre in France do the same thing?
When he heard that on June 30 on RTLM. Or, you can compare
the players here with the landings in Normandy in 1944. There
were comparisons made with them in D-Day.
So what I want to point out here is this
works, this approach in Rwanda. For some time really, it'
s repeated abroad. It comforts people with their normal prejudices,
which exist, for example in France or even in Belgium, and
so in Christian democratic circles, where they can easily
have an ethnic interpretation of these things, and interpret
this in a democratic way as the majority are holding power.
In the 1990s, for example, this was presented clearly as being
a democratic power, since the press had represented the ethnic
They also could mention Georges Ruggiu
biography, which I mentioned earlier. Georges Ruggiu, he wasn'
t a perpetrator of genocide. He was a young third world leader.
He compared Rwanda with the favellas in Brazil, the slums
of Brazil. But he also met militant students, Rwandan students
in Belgium. He accepted their ideas of democracy, and rule
by the majority. The Arusha Agreements therefore betrayed
the people in his view. Therefore his populist convictions
were almost naturally linked with the racial ideology, which
was maintained by the extremists, and we also have to mention
the western press here. On a number of occasions they said,
I myself, for example, have seen in the French press in May
and June in Le Monde, Liberation, Le Nouvel Observateur, I
saw articles, where this ideology, this populist ideology,
was stated. I think the blindness in our own countries about
the nature of genocide, Dr. Beaverson (sic) of Medecins Sans
frontieres, said on July 15, 1994, " neither France nor
the international community, in fact, acquired the means to
characterize the genocide, to understand what it was, and
to understand the consequences of it." I myself often
quote a statement by Alfred Grosser, author of Le Crime et
la Memoire, " No it' s not true, that a massacre of Africans
is felt in the same way as a massacre of Europeans."
There are three reasons for this; first the difference mentioned
by General Dallaire, also, the kind of ethnographic screen
here, which we have that appears, and I' ve probably mention
all of this, and also the fact that genocide is seen as really
being as a large mobilization, a democratic mobilization.