Referring back to the open letter of the 60 “scientists” who had protested against the conferences of Judi REVER in Belgium
On Tuesday October 8th, an open letter signed by sixty “academics, scientists, researchers, journalists and historians” was published in the two largest French-speaking Belgian dailies, with the aim of canceling Judi REVER’s lectures and conferences, which were scheduled from October 8th to 11th at several Flemish universities.
Judi REVER, a Canadian journalist, was scheduled to lecture on her book “In Praise of Blood: The Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front“, reissued in in Dutch in October 2018, under the title: “De Waarheid over Rwanda; het regime van Paul Kagame», by Amsterdam University Press.
The open letter, claiming to fight against a “known denier of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi of Rwanda,” demanded “the rectors of KULeuven, UAntwerpen, VUB and Director of Artevelde hogeschool Gent, respectively Luc Sels, Herman Vangoethem, Sicco Wittermans and Tomas Legrand“to simply shut their doors for Judi REVER.
However, this ambitious letter was not followed up, despite it being co-signed by many well-known personalities. In addition, of course, all the lectures and presentations of Judi REVER took place as planned in Antwerp, Brussels, Leuven and Ghent, sometimes reaching the attention of hundreds of students in the law and political science faculties of these universities.
We wish to reconsider the letter in question and especially try to understand how and why it did not obtain the desired result as pursued by its signatories, or rather by its sponsors.
A letter that misses its fight?
To start, the October 8 letter has obviously mistaken its fight.
Indeed, the letter said it wanted to fight against the denial of Tutsi genocide, while Judi REVER’s lectures were focusing on crimes committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front.
There is absolutely no act or word of denial in the approach of Judi REVER, or anyone else, who denounces the crimes of the RPF, even when calling them genocide against Hutu.
It is only in Rwanda, led by the same RPF, that the sole mention of the crimes committed against Hutu civilian by the RPF is considered as “denials”, contrary to any universal logic , as confirmed by the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights, in its judgment against the Rwandan State in November 2017.
It is therefore, following the logic of Kigali, that the signatories of the open letter wanted to use the horror inspired by the genocide against the Tutsi, to silence an independent journalist who spent more than 20 years of her life documenting and denouncing the crimes of the RPF, crimes that made hundreds of thousands of victims in Rwanda and the DRC in the 1990s, many of them among Hutu civilians.
Paradoxically, the greatest minimization of the genocide against the Tutsi lies precisely in the RPF’s logic, which reduces it to a vulgar psychological, political and media shield, held up each time when it is necessary to defend the sad record of the RPF in the 1990s, or even to justify the human rights violations still raging in Rwanda in 2019.
Next, the second weakness of the letter lies precisely in the long list of signatories, which makes one wonder if the authors had the opportunity to reread, while some of them are known for their political activism in favor of the RPF, thus removing any scientific character from their concerns. We will note, among others:
In 1stposition, Guillaume Ancel, highly controversial, not to say contradictory, former French soldier who has been courting the RPF for a few years, even going as far as to declaring that he has murdered Interahamwe militiamen in June 1994, pretending to be a hero.
In 3rd position, Dr. Philippe Basabose, a former RPA soldier who has become an Associate Professor in Canada at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and who therefore has a natural interest in defending the actions of an army which he fought for.
In 9th position, Patrick de Saint-Exupéry, a French journalist, sentenced in France twice for defamation, while he was trying to whitewash the image of the RPF.
In 10th position, Alain Destexhe, former Belgian senator who acquired the Rwandan nationality and was rewarded by General Paul Kagame himself for “services rendered” to the RPF and who is now the subject of a complaint for defamation and slander in Belgium.
In 18th position, Alain Gauthier, French activist, also of Rwandan nationality and decorated by General Paul Kagame for “services rendered”.
In 20th position, Richard Gisagara, a French lawyer of Rwandan origin and a prominent member of the RPF operating on the French territory.
In 49th position, Jean Philippe Schreiber, professor at the “Université Libre de Bruxelles” and whose independence on Rwandan issues is often questioned, especially after he wrote that Octavien Ngenzi, former Hutu Mayor of Kabarondo, killed his Tutsi wife and his children“to set an example” while both, wife and children, were alive and resided in France.
With only these few “politicized” signatories, the credibility and neutrality of the entire list is questioned, despite the presence of other renowned personalities, and this certainly did not go unnoticed by the rectors of the Flemish universities.
A defamatory step?
Finally, and this is the most important element, the rectors of the Flemish universities, who – keep in mind- supervise some of the largest law schools in the country, obviously could not follow up on a letter that publicly calls a journalist “denialist” just because the signatories have not had the opportunity to “challenge her point of view” (SIC)!
This is defamation in good and due form, indicted in Belgium under Articles 443 and 444 of the Criminal Code.
Moreover, since April 25, 2019, Belgium passed a law punishing denial of any genocide that has been established by an international court, including the genocide against Tutsi. It is inconceivable that universities could invite a person whose actions or words could fall under the scope of this new law.
If the approach of the 60 signatories was precisely aimed at fighting against genocide denial, why did they not lodge a legal complaint and ask for a  ban of the conferences?
The end of instrumentalization, the end of a code of silence?
In the end, Judi REVER’s lectures and conferences took place in Belgium from October 8th to October 11th, and exposed in length the crimes committed against the Hutu civilian populations. Undoubtedly, this opened a new era in the recognition of the second genocide that Rwandans experienced, this time, against Hutu.
Much to the discontent of the accomplices, supporters and unwavering affiliates of the RPF, these crimes against hundreds of thousands of innocent Hutu civilians, will not be ignored forever by history.
Even Dr. Denis MUKWEGE now, calls for the creation of an International Criminal Tribunal for the genocide committed on the territory of the DRC .
Is he a negationist for that?
Those who exploit the genocide against the Tutsi to hide the one against the Hutu are harming all Rwandans and end up minimizing all crimes that have victimized Rwandans.
The earlier all the suffering of Rwandans will be recognized, the sooner the Rwandan nation can heal and rebuild itself. It is in this perspective that the work of Judi REVER finds its value.
La Libre Afrique et le Soir du mercredi 9 octobre 2019, avec comme titre : « Génocide des Tutsis : lettre internationale à des recteurs d’universités flamandes »
MRAX, Ibuka, « N’épargnez pas les enfants », sous la direction de Radouane Bouhlal et Placide Kalisa, p. 52.