By: Gad Mwene Mzee

Rwanda last week suspended indefinitely a BBC program that was broadcasting in the local language, following recommendations of a commission of inquiry into a controversial BBC documentary, ?Rwanda?s untold story?, which was widely condemned as a setback to Rwanda?s unity and reconciliation efforts.

BBC World ServiceRwanda?s Regulatory Board (RURA) which announced the BBC suspension, ?concluded that in airing the documentary, the BBC abused press freedom and free speech, violated its own editorial guidelines, transgressed journalistic standards, and violated Rwandan law, with particular reference to genocide denial and revisionism, inciting hatred, and divisionism among Rwandans?; the statement reads in part.

Following the local language BBC program suspension, seven European Union ambassadors in Kigali signed a joint statement condemning the decision! A France based media watchdog, Reporters without Borders traditionally known criticize Rwanda media had also raised an alarm.

The much concern expressed by Europeans rather than Africans or Rwandans in particular over the issue raises more questions than answers. First of all it is very unfortunate that in as much as the BBC documentary aimed at inciting hatred and divisionism, the EU envoys simply mention in passing that, they recognize the hurt caused by some parts of the documentary, and go on to express their main grievance as being the closure of the local language BBC Program!!

This is not only cynical but highly irresponsible conduct by the EU envoys! When it comes to poor African countries, they treat us with arrogance. Let me ask these few questions; How much of the ISIS views or how many holocaust deniers are given space in European media? Why do the EU envoys feel this should be done to Rwanda, simply because it is an African poor country?.

It is also puzzling how Europeans become spokesperson of the Rwandan people as if Rwandans do not have mouths to speak for themselves, since the program was in a local language which EU ambassador do not understand. What is known is that for the past 20 years, Rwandan media sector has grown, and a number of private media sprang up which provide alternative views to Rwandans.

For those who followed the BBC documentary commission of inquiry proceedings, the BBC was summoned to give testimony as concerned parties, but they neither appeared before the commission nor appointed any representative. For the EU envoys to advocate for, ?frank and open dialogue?? when they did not convince the principle concerned party the BBC not to ignore the commission of inquiry sermon, is a case in absurdity.

Questions one can ask how many African envoys in Europe petition European governments over their decisions? In 1994 when hate media in Rwanda (Radio RTLM) was being used to incite people to commit genocide, there was no joint statement from EU ambassadors condemning the hate media; talk of double standards and hypocrisy? As long as European countries or the West still have the big brother syndrome of giving Africans lectures on how to govern ourselves and conduct our domestic issues, its high time we stood up and said NO thank you!

Gad Mwene Mzee
Nairobi- KENYA
Email: [email protected]

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