February 24, 2013 by soniauwimana
Email to: Bill Kole (BKole@ap.org)
I write in relation to Lynne Tuohy’s recent report on the Beatrice Munyenyezi verdict.
Having spent a few minutes researching Ms. Touhy’s recent work both at AP and at the Hartford Courant, it is clear that she is a specialist in crime and investigative reporting, particularly in and around the great state of New Hampshire. Her work to date has not required a nuanced grasp of the complicated political dynamics of Rwanda or the broader Great Lakes region. Nonetheless, as a reporter who works for as esteemed an organisation as Associated Press, my concern is that her ignorance of these matters has veered into the realm of irresponsible journalism.
In particular, please allow me to draw your attention the following sentence taken from Ms. Tuohy’s report:
Munyenyezi faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced in June and could face deportation back to Rwanda, an impoverished African country now run by the Tutsis she is convicted of persecuting, if her appeals fail.
To paraphrase the late, great Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Ms Tuohy is entitled to her own opinion, but not her own facts. Putting aside the objectionable and dismissive characterization of my country as “an impoverished African country”, my issue is with her assertion that Rwanda is “now run by the Tutsis”.
On what basis does Ms Tuohy make such a claim?
Is Ms Tuohy aware that none of the Prime Minister, the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies is of Tutsi ethnicity; in other words, that only one of the four highest positions designated by the Rwandan constitution is occupied by a Tutsi, i.e. the current President, Paul Kagame?
By using Ms Touhy’s standards, it could be said that the US government is “run” by African Americans.
I ask again: how did Ms Tuohy conclude that Rwanda’s government could be accurately characterized in such terms? What was her source?
After the genocide, Rwandans have pursued a path of reconciliation where we have chosen to focus on that which unifies us — our shared national identity — and not the ethnic divisions that led to the slaughter of more than one million innocents during the 1994 genocide.
While I have your attention, and on a related matter, Associated Press is the only news organization that continues to attribute 500,000 deaths to the genocide when twice that number perished between April and July 1994. Each and every time AP repeats that mortality figure, it is a fresh insult to the survivors and the the families of those whose death does not, for whatever reason, warrant inclusion in its tally.
Even an “impoverished African country” deserves more respect than that.