17 years ago today in Rwanda

Between July 1993 – July 1994, Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) broadcast from the second floor of this non-descript office building on the corner at 12 Avenue de la Paix in downtown Kigali. The second floor office is now occupied by Gapco Rwanda, a petroleum company. A mobile phone shop operates out of the ground floor and KCB bank have a branch on the first. Seventeen years ago today, on April 6, 1994, the hate speech radio station based out of this building went into overdrive,

After President Habyarimana’s plane was shot down, the radio called for a “final war” to “exterminate the cockroaches.”

During the genocide that followed it broadcast lists of people to be killed and instructed killers on where to find them. The BBC’s Ally Mugenzi worked as a journalist in Rwanda during the genocide and says there was no doubting the influence of the RTLM.

“RTLM acted as if it was giving instructions to the killers. It was giving directions on air as to where people were hiding,” he said. link

You only have to read through some of the transcripts from the broadcasts early in April, 1994 to get a idea of the diet of hate coming out of this building seventeen years ago, as the country descended into chaos,

Date of Transmission: 6-8 April 1994 - Speaker: NOEL HITIMANA, Journalist for RTLM

It is 7:35 AM here in Kigali. They will be struck by misfortune, they will be struck by misfortune, they wilI indeed be struck by misfortune. And you have clearly heard that those who desired it, those who desired and provoked it, are themselves being struck by misfortune, they themselves are being struck by misfortune, Kanyarengwe, the Hutu, has just died, Pasteur Bizimungu, the Hutu, has just died. Whatever made them go and sign a blood pact with those who will exterminate us? What prompted them to do so? Whatever prompted them to do that? Aren’t they the ones who have just killed them? Aren’t they responsible for killing them? However, they themselves are being struck by misfortune at this moment, at this very minute, at this hour, at this moment I am talking to you! You the people living in Rugunga, those living over there in Kanogo, those living in Kanogo, in fact, those living in Mburabuturo, look in the woods of Mburabuturo, look carefully, see whether there are no Inyenzi inside. Look carefully, check, see whether there are no Inyenzi inside… link

There will be a number of ceremonies in Rwanda this year to mark the 1994 Genocide.

I understand there is a candle light walk tonight, April 6, starting at 6pm from Amahoro Stadium in the Remera district of Kigali, heading to Kicukiro district.

On the morning of April 7, there will be an official mourning ceremony, also at Amahoro Stadium.

I am told another ceremony will follow a week later.

The above newspaper clip is from a wire report published in The Milwaukee Journal, April 7, 1994.

The only foreign correspondent in Kigali on the night of April 6, 1994 was Lindsay Hilsum, then a freelance journalist Here’s one of her early reports,

The Rwandan capital of Kigali descended into chaos yesterday as troops, presidential guards and gendarmes swept through the suburbs killing the prime minister, United Nations peacekeepers and scores of civilians.

Gangs of soldiers and youths kidnapped opposition politicians, and killed members of the minority Tutsi tribe, clubbing them to death with batons, hacking them with machetes and knives, or shooting them.

‘It is becoming messier and messier. There are a lot of people with a lot of guns taking different orders and shooting and detaining people,’ said a Western diplomat. ‘A casualty toll is impossible.’ link