1 JULY 2014
|RWANDA U.N. EXHIBIT: COMMEMORATION OR COVER UP?
While Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made a special effort to confirm U.N. involvement in Kwibuka20 commemorating the tragic massacres in
Rwanda (see unforum article from last issue), the U.N. Secretariat received stinging criticism
for facilitating -- or even sponsoring -- an exhibit which seemed more like a Public Relations job to COVER UP a number of culprits while dispersing the
blame elsewhere. A petition circulated by angry groups pointed out that countries which had been clearly blamed for allowing the massacres and for
training and sheltering Hutu thugs who committed them, were not at all mentioned. Needless to say, there was great neglect of these U.N. officials who
could have done something in May but refrained -- in fact instructed others to refrain -- from preventive action. One of them, by the way, is still an
"adviser" to the Secretary General.
The "Outreach" (!) Division in the Department of Public Information generally manages all exhibits. It has a professional and capable section
that has been doing it for decades. Why allow a politically sensitive display prepared by an outside firm? If someone within that Division or
Department or the Secretariat sought to avert pointing to France, for example, which is a Permanent Member of the Security Council (or Belgium,
headquarters of the European Commission), why try to lay the blame elsewhere? Why blame certain priests when the Catholic Church in Rwanda hid
hundreds of thousands, smuggling them out of harm's way?
The most important aspect of the U.N. Secretariat is credibility. Some of those newly-appointed officials seem intent on eroding it -- either by
design or through ignorance. One of those new characters is a presumptuous incompetent "Director" (!) of that Outreach Division in the Department
of Public Information. Maher Nasser had no Communications or Media experience when he was first brought into DPI by Shashi Tharoor, who sent him to
Cairo, presuming he would help promote his own planned candidature in the Arab world. The fellow was such a failure that the Egyptian government
suggested throwing him out; particularly following his repeated offensive remarks about "You Egyptians." With external help, he was sent to Vienna,
where he met his key to New York, mainly because "Herr Maher" -- as he became known, may terrorize those under him but he does whatever would
please those above.
It is not verified whether he actually knows the implications of the exhibit about Rwanda, posted in his area of accountability. One result was a
petition addressed to his boss, Under-Secretary General Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal.
Following are some of the emailed comments we received and the text of the petition:
"The current exhibit on Rwanda at U.N. Headquarters is dominated by ludicrously unreasonable insinuations that all but blame the Catholic Church
for the genocide. This, in spite of the fact, that the President of Rwanda denounced "the direct role of Belgium and France in the political
preparation of the genocide and the participation of the latter in its very execution," as it has done so, continuously, for the last 20 years.
The exhibit does not name the governments of Belgium and France as those responsible for paving the way to the killings and heinous abuse that
occurred by way of the former’s neocolonialist policies and the latter's direct participation in training and arming those who carried out the
The exhibit does not clarify who was behind the unleashing of an unspeakably racist and misogynist violence against a population that is
predominately Catholic, violence which lead to the gruesome deaths of 1 million innocent men, women, children, and babies, and the systematic
rape of more than 500,000 women of color, 70% of them contracting HIV (part of the plan)...
Instead, the text of the U.N. display accuses Belgium, but principally, the Holy See.
-There are also a vast number of discrepancies concerning the text, content, and attribution of the current exhibit on display on the
premises of the U.N. Headquarters.
To begin with, the organizers of the current exhibit at the U.N. are listed on the webpage unexhibitsny.org/visit-listen-witness-become-witness
as follows: Kwibuka, The government of Rwanda, the Kigali Memorial Center, and the Aegis Trust. There is however, no mention of the current exhibit
on: Kwibuka20 (www.kwibuka.rw); Rwanda Government (www.gov.rw); Kigali Memorial (www.kigaligenocidememorial.org/old/centre/); Aegis
In the description of the U.N. New York Exhibits link the following assertion is also made: "Endorsed by the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the
United Nations." But there is no mention of the exhibit on the New York page of the Permanent Mission of Rwanda (www.rwandaun.org/site/ ) at the U.N.
Nor does the website of the Outreach Programme on the Rwanda Genocide at the United Nations list the current exhibit. Instead, it lists another
2007 event -- by the Aegis Trust of UK -- of a very different nature and purpose, namely: to educate the public, examine what went wrong concerning
U.N. inaction in Rwanda, to promote reconciliation, and understand what should be done to avoid such horrendous tragedies in the future.
-With the closure of the General Assembly Building of the United Nations for renovations in May of last year, exhibits moved to a temporary
visitor center located in the Dag Hammarsköld library building.
At an undisclosed date between late March and May of this year, it was rendered impossible to see the exhibit by walking directly from one side of
the U.N. premises to the other, except through emergency exits and back U.N. building corridors open to authorized personnel only.
The Tribunal in Paris, France has repeatedly called for the declassification of French secret intelligence reports dating from its military
presence in Rwanda in the 1990s and its requests have been repeatedly denied.
Florence Michon was the investigating judge at the military tribunal in Paris in charge of the judicial inquiry opened in 2010 "against X for
complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity, complicity and conspiracy to commit genocide pointing mainly to the involvement of the French
army during the events in Rwanda in 1994." Several human rights organizations within France, namely Association Survie, Fédération internationale
des droits de l’homme, and La ligue des droits de l’homme, have worked tirelessly to bring justice to the victims of the French orchestrated
massacre in Rwanda -- as have many writers, activists, and investigative reporters inside and outside of the country.
After all is said and done, the current Rwanda exhibit at the UN does not reflect a genuine interest in understanding and preventing Rwanda-esque
tragedies -- like it does not respect the human dignity of any of those who have lost their family members, lost their parents, lost their limbs,
lost their innocence, have been infected with a deadly virus, have been emotionally or physically scarred, or those who have died."
The petition referenced in our opening statements follows and can be found in its entirety
Petition to: Honorable Dr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information
Honorable Dr. Peter LAUNSKY-TIEFFENTHAL,
The exhibit "Kwibuka20: Memory, Unity, & Renewal in Rwanda After the Genocide" presently on display within your department at the United Nations
Headquarters represents a shameful manipulation of suffering for socioeconomic and political ends.
We ask you to please investigate fully who is behind the planning, preparation, and execution of this hateful, racist campaign of disinformation
concerning the 1994 Rwandan genocide and its perpetrators. NONE of the information that has been made public about the organizers of the actual
exhibit is consistent and, on the contrary, these inconsistencies reek of a carefully pre-meditated plot to mislead both the public and the
It is difficult to believe that your department could be completely unaware of the direct role of the French military in training and arming the
authors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The government of Rwanda has been adamant about this fact for the last 20 years and the judiciary processes
in the French courts are no international secret.
There is no mention of the incriminating role of the government of France in the text of the current exhibit in your department and instead the
blame for the deaths of so many innocents has been heaped -- with the help of an astonishingly twisted "logic" -- on the shoulders of the Catholic
Church. This is absurd.
We feel that it is not acceptable for the organizers and producers of the exhibit to make personal use of the crimes against, and extermination
of, innocent civilians in Rwanda -- a predominately Catholic nation -- as an instrument for political, social, professional, or economic gain. This
is an abuse of the authority and good name of the United Nations as a respected institution. Furthermore, not telling the truth when the victims of
heinous crimes are African people points to a very vile form of racism.
The exhibit currently on display at the visitor center is a grievous insult to not only to Africans, Catholics and Christians, but also to the
innocent minds of children and to the survivors of history’s holocausts and genocides -- and to everyone, of any religion, who has worked earnestly
towards reconciliation and peace among peoples.
The Holy See, the survivors of the mass-killings and their communities, the nation of Rwanda, and the school-age children who have been lead
astray by the exhibits’ cynical attempts to brainwash diplomats, students, and tourists alike, deserve and request an apology and an explanation.
A veritable river of blood is rising towards the doorsteps of those who hold power but continue to misuse it for their own apparent advantages;
sooner or later they miscalculate. Please investigate this matter with the fullest extent of your authority and please, Honorable
LAUNSKY-TIEFFENTHAL, make your conclusions public.
"The Charter calls on staff to uphold the highest levels of efficiency, competence and integrity." -Ethical Standards (UN Secretary-General's