Medier i Rwanda 1990-2003
By Kamilla Ekholdt Christensen
It is an established fact that the media played a critical role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. This thesis deals with the question of what led the media to play this key role in the genocide and the subsequent national debate in regard to establishing a healthy media environment in the aftermath of the genocide.
|It also sets out to critically examine the media development in relation to Rwanda’s political developments before, during and after the 1994 genocide as well as the role the media played in these political processes, e.g. the democratization process.
The findings of the analysis show that the media development in Rwanda shares many similarities with the general African media development, ranging from the effects of the colonial legacy on contemporary politics to the international call for democratization in the early 1990s.
The analysis also shows that the 1990-1994 period was characterized by the interplay between the implementation of liberalized media, which resulted in the proliferation of hate media, and the domestic political scene, which was dominated by inter-political struggles, civil war and complex peace negotiations.
The ensuing political chaos allowed for the initiation of the 1994 genocide by a group of powerful politicians who used the media as instruments to incite and instigate participation in the genocide. Therefore, it is suggested, the burgeoning democratization process in Rwanda made room for the proliferation of media, which, in turn, further complicated and added to the vortex of power politics and ethnic discontent.
The traumatizing experiences of the genocide have been carried into the new millennium and thus influenced the political process of writing up and implementing the new media law of 2002. This law envisions the media taking on the role of a so-called “fourth state” however, the practical implementation leaves much to be desired. The call for an un-divisionist society – in ethnical and regional terms - while benevolent as a point of reference, allows for the continued indictment of journalists whenever and wherever criticism of the new government has been raised.