October 7, 2012 by soniauwimana
I try to take the racist, misleading, context-free reporting about Rwanda in the Western media, especially the United Kingdom, with a large pinch of salt. After all, this is the crowd that secretly hacked into the mobile telephone of a murdered teenage girl in order to secure a headline. There is almost nowhere lower to sink.
In my blog, I also try and keep a light-hearted tone so that this doesn’t become just a repository of humorless whining — god knows, there are enough of those to keep us going for a million years.
But sometimes, like this morning, a piece of junk masquerading as news, comes to my notice so egregious that my capacity for good humor comes under serious threat.
The UK Telegraph has been waging war against Rwanda in its pages for many months. It is difficult to understand why, although I have a strong suspicion that Ian Birrell is involved somehow. A former Tory speechwriter, former editor, former this or that, Birrell is one of that small group of obsessive Kagame haters that populates a very dingy, very very small corner of cyberspace He is a strange bird, a bitter little man, deeply unattractive to boot, and I am usually happy to ignore him. Actually, I blocked Birrell on Twitter some time back when it became clear that he, like Ken Roth and a handful of others, has developed a pathological hatred of Rwanda that has reached the point of literal insanity. Like birthers or truthers or anti-fluoride campaigners, or people who think vaccinations cause autism or HIV was invented to depopulate Africa or whatever, these are people whose opinions are well past the point of serving any useful purpose. Best to shut them off or they will drive you as mad as them.
So the weird negativity of the Telegraph regarding Rwanda only makes sense to me if Birrell — who is essentially unemployed from what I can tell — is somehow using his networks and residual influence to push its editorial line in that direction. He would undoubtedly have extensive contacts there, given his background as a journo and Tory flack (it’s a right-wing rag). Anyway, that’s my little conspiracy theory for what it’s worth.
Back to today’s article. The opening para is all you need to read to grasp what we’re dealing with here
The United Nations and the European Union wants the UK to withhold millions of pounds it is due to hand to President Paul Kagame’s government as part of an international campaign to choke his regime of funds.
It is really quite an achievement to cram that much dishonesty into a single sentence.
The United Nations lobbying the UK government to withhold aid from Rwanda?
Really? I mean, really? As you can see, I tweeted Helen Clark, the UNDP Administrator, this morning just to double check but let me make something clear:
If the United Nations were engaged, formally or informally, in pressuring the British Government to freeze aid funding to Rwanda, this would be a stupendous scandal on a scale it is impossible to exaggerate. It would, at the very least, lead to a massive backlash from every developing nation and the entire continent of Africa. And, to put it mildly, the leadership of the United Nations does not want the simmering tensions between the old and new powers to come any closer to the surface than they are now.
Has one individual UN staffer bitched about Rwanda to a Telegraph reporter? Maybe. Very possibly, in fact. There are armies of overpaid, underworked UN staffers mouthing off to reporters on a whole range of subjects at any given moment on any given day.
But Is the UN itself involved in an international campaign against Rwanda, as asserted in this article? Absolutely no way — at least not unless the United Nations is on the precipice of brutal and destabilizing institutional mayhem of a kind the world has yet to witness.
So. The United Nations piece is obvious nonsense.
But what of the European Union, which the Telegraph also claims is lobbying against Rwanda to the UK government?
This one is easy.
The EU itself has not suspended aid to Rwanda. In fact, they dispersed $67 million worth to Rwanda last week. It’s true that they deferred a discussion about future aid projects pending further clarification regarding the DRC situation, but this is about as far a cry from “cutting/freezing/suspending aid” as making a YouTube video is from winning an Oscar.
So is the EU, which itself dispersed aid to Rwanda last week, pressuring Downing Street to do the exact opposite? Highly doubtful. And, if they are, they would be bringing about as much credibility to the task as a Charlie Sheen would to a yoga DVD.
This Telegraph story is pure malice, spiced with lies and sprinkled with hyperbole.
When people sneer at the British press and what is has become, this is why.