10:01PM BST 01 Oct 2014
The horrifying results of mob violence at its most extreme were revisited by reporter Jane Corbin in This World: Rwanda’s Untold Story (BBC Two). This intense documentary set out to entirely up-end what the world understands happened during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, when a million people were slaughtered in a bloodbath lasting 100 days.
Corbin began by looking at how, 20 years on, Rwanda’s is one of Africa’s fastest growing economies and the country’s president, Paul Kagame, enjoys the support of the international community. There followed an account of the tensions between the minority Tutsi and majority Hutu populations that led to the genocide, and how Kagame – through the intervention of his rebel force, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, came to be seen as the hero who stopped the killing.
That was the last time in the film that anything generally accepted wasn’t called into question. Interviewing academics, survivors and former henchmen of Kagame, Corbin embarked on a forensic deconstruction of the official history of the genocide (which puts the blame entirely on the Hutus). Studies by two American researchers suggested that hundreds of thousands of Hutus could have been killed too, possibly by RPF forces. A UN report expressing similar concerns had allegedly been suppressed. Belgian historian Prof Filip Reyntjens suggested that Kagame could be one of the “most important war criminals still in office today”.
The allegations kept coming: of rigged elections and political oppression, of pressure put on official investigations into the genocide, assassination attempts on Kagame’s exiled ex-colleagues, and Rwanda’s role in the deaths of five million people in the wider conflict in the Congo region. The numbers were mind boggling, the answers few, the claim that the UK is the largest contributor to the near £500 million annual foreign aid that helps keep Kagame in power, deeply concerning.