Bizimana requests revision of book analysing church’s role in Genocide

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Bizimana requests revision of book analysing church’s role in Genocide
Bizimana requests revision of book analysing church’s role in Genocide

Africa-Press – Rwanda. Jean-Damascène Bizimana, the Minister for National Unity and Civic Engagement, said that the book that reviews the involvement of the Church in the Genocide against the Tutsi should be corrected to tell the factual truth as it is.

He said this on May 6, during the launch of the book titled: “The Genocide against the Tutsi, and the Rwandan Churches: Between Grief and Denial,” by Philippe Denis.

In the book, the Belgian priest and historian, examines issues that might have prevented Rwandan churches’ acceptance that they may have had some responsibility, and how people should account for the efforts made by other sectors of the churches to remember and commemorate the Genocide.

It focuses on the period between 1994 and 2000, with the author examining in detail the responses of two churches, in particular, the Rwandan Catholic Church, “the biggest and the most complex”, and the Presbyterian Church, “which made an unconditional confession of guilt in December 1996.”

Bizimana commended the author for the thorough research done to find out facts and truths that were not shared before. However, he told him that there are things that needed correction.

“He has to listen to our inputs because he is writing our history, and it has to come out with the whole truth,” the minister said.

For instance, the book says that during the Genocide, only 800,000 people were killed according to the United Nations, while research conducted in 2002 and published in 2004, established that it was 1,074,017 people killed with names, age and residential places, emphasised Bizimana.

“Not using the right figure is not a simple issue.”

He further said the Catholic Church in 1994 failed its function to protect humanity, and the book has to be truthful about that, and not in any way excuse their role in atrocities that happened, regardless of the few religious individuals that went against the ideology or protected some who were being hunted.

He pointed out the fact that Denis got access to interview the Genocidaire priest Gabriel Mendraud and Serge Desouter who is a negationist of the Genocide, but when it comes to analysis, “we get the impression that you are protecting them. You don’t mention their acts in Genocide as they truly are.”

Another point is the fact that the book fails to touch the level of analysis, which according to him, is the protection that the church has provided to clergy perpetrators. He mentioned that Father Athanase Seromba ordered the massacre of over 2000 Tutsi who were in Nyange parish.

“He fled to Italy where he was reinstated in Florence parish and worked under a false name. He changed his name and the church knew. It’s a scandalous thing that we cannot be silent about.”

Bizimana pointed out another issue of Genocide denial where we see different priests and other clerics openly deny the Genocide, including; Father Thomas Nahimana, Fortunatus Rudakemwa, Théophile Murengerantwari.

Raising the issue of Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, who was protected by the Catholic Church until the time they found out that he had a child, Bizimana questioned whether a priest having a child was a crime heavier than being involved in the extermination of innocent Christians just because they were Tutsi.

Bizimana also noted that in the book, the author seemed to somewhat imply that the RPF Inkotanyi also committed crimes, “to mean that yes, there was a Genocide but that side is not as innocent as it seems.”

“The RPF/A fought to end the Genocide, that’s all.”

Upon receiving feedback from Bizimana and other attendees who all echoed the same points, Denis said that he is going to consider them and correct the content in other copies that are going to be produced.

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