Denying denialism

23 Jul 2011

The comment of Edward Herman and David Peterson (Rwanda and Srebrenica, 19 July) in the Guardian that “the standard account of the “Rwandan genocide” is monumentally flawed” ranks alongside the parallel claim of that other discredited revisionist historian, David Irving and his belief in the “gas chambers fairy tale.” One can only hope that the demise of Herman and Peterson will parallel that of Irving.

Providing a platform for such denialists is productive only in so much that their deeply offensive and perverse claims can be so publicly shot down.

Over the past 14 years, Survivors Fund (SURF) alone has buried more Tutsi victims of the genocide in Rwanda, then the total that Herman and Peterson claim to have been killed. And this is but a fraction of the number of victims whose remains lay in more than 100 mass graves across Rwanda.

And still the remains of the Tutsi victims of the genocide continue to be dug up. Only this week 15 bodies were exhumed at a hotel in Kigali. There are without doubt thousands more still be discovered.

We will never know the true number of Tutsi victims of the genocide, and the Hutus that were killed for protecting and symapthising with them, over the course of the 100 days of the genocide committed by the interahamwe and the Hutu Power regime from April to July 1994. The figure may in fact be nearer to 2 million, as reported by AERG, the national student survivors association in Rwanda. Many of the remains will never be laid to rest in dignity, as bodies were washed away in rivers and dumped in lakes.

As the respected, credible and expert academic on the genocide Dr Gerald Caplan writes in “The Politics of denialism” which should be the last comment on the matter:

“Why the deniers are so determined, so passionate, so intransigent, so absolutely certain, so satisfied to remain part of a tiny minority of cranks, is completely unknown to me. Why they want to create such gratuitous, almost sadistic hurt for the survivors of the genocide in Rwanda is impossible to fathom. But in the end, it’s irrelevant what furies drive their obsessions. It’s their egregious views – not their motives – that matter. And their views relegate them squarely to the lunatic fringe.”