Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Rwandan Singer Convicted and Sentenced for Inciting Genocide Through His Songs

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has sentenced Simon Bikindi, a famous Rwandan singer and composer, to 15 years in prison for inciting the murder of Tutsis through his songs and speeches during the 1994 mass killings in Rwanda.  He was convicted of direct and public incitement to commit genocide.  Here's some more information from a UN press release:

Prosecutors said that through his songs and speeches, the singer incited hatred and violence against Tutsi and that he was also responsible for specific attacks and killings in Gisenyi prefecture carried out by the Hutu-dominated rebel group known as the Interahamwe, who included some members of Mr. Bikindi’s Irindiro ballet troupe.

The [ICTR] found that three of his songs – Twasezereye, Nanga Abahutu and Bene Sebahinzi – manipulated Rwanda’s history to exalt Hutus, with the latter two having been composed specifically to promote pro-Hutu and anti-Tutsi sentiment.

It noted that the three songs were used as part of a 1994 propaganda campaign to incite people to attack and kill Tutsi, but said that it had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he had taken part in the broadcast or dissemination of these songs.

Mr. Bikindi, also an official in his country’s Ministry of Youth and Sports, was acquitted on charges of conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, complicity in genocide, and murder and persecution as crimes against humanity.

More than 800,000 people were massacred, mostly by machete, for being ethnic Tutsis or Hutu moderates during a period of less than 100 days starting in April 1994.



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