Broadcasting hate: Creating the common enemy

In Rwanda for centuries Hutu and Tutsi tribes lived together in relative peace and harmony. In Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, people could learn the news from the Radio.

Radio Free
In June 1993 a new radio station called Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLMC “Free Radio”) began broadcasting in Rwanda. The station was rowdy and used street language – there were disc jockeys, pop music and phone-ins.  It was designed to appeal to the unemployed, the delinquents and the gangs of thugs in the militia. In a largely illiterate population, the radio station soon had a very large audience who found it immensely entertaining.

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Its stated aim was “to create harmonious development in Rwandan society” but nothing could have been further from the truth. It was set up and financed by Hutu extremists to prepare the people of Rwanda for genocide by demonizing the Tutsi minority and encouraging hate and violence.

Tutsi civilians were also accused of supporting a Tutsi-dominated rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). Through the use of propaganda and constant political manoeuvring, Habyarimana, who was the president at the time, and his group increased divisions between Hutu and Tutsi by the end of 1992. The Hutu remembered past years of oppressive Tutsi rule, and many of them not only resented but also feared the minority.

In April 1994 Habyarimana and President Cyprien Ntaryamira, the Hutu leader of neighboring country Burundi, were returning from ongoing peace talks between the Hutu and the Tutsi when their plane was shot down. The death of the two Hutu presidents under suspicious circumstances served as the trigger for the Hutu extremist-orchestrated genocide in Rwanda that followed, in which more than 800,000 innocent Tutsi and “disloyal” Hutu were massacred by outraged Hutu militia in just 100 days. “Free Radio” did not only incite to this hate but also fuelled it by using expressions such as “Cockroaches” to describe the Tutsi people.

graves-not-fullFor that, the organizers of the massacre were held to justice at International Crime Court in the Hague. The Ruling? The inflation of ethnic hatred was the cause and not the consequence of bloodshed. The leader of Radio Free admitted its guilt and showed remorse. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Radio Kremlin
In the Donbass area and previously in Crimea (where everyone always has spoken Russian) people are now fighting for their right to speak in Russian. Why did people in Nikolaev, Odessa, Kharkiv and Zaporizhia first took a swing with bats at each other and have they now calmed down? Also one has to wonder why in other so-called “Bandera” ruled regions the Ukrainians still live peacefully side-by-side?

The answer in my opinion is quite obvious, as it is sad. All the uproar in the Ukraine is caused by the Russian flavour of “Free Radio”: the Kremlin controlled and orchestrated broadcasts. These Russian propagandists do not use words like “kill”, they speak words of “protect”. They do not say “Ukrainians”, they speak of “fascists” and “Bandera”. Sure, the wording may be different from that of the Rwandese radio station, the recipe surely has similar ingredients.

Creating the enemy
Surely one can argue these are two different conflicts, but as much as there are similarities, there are also quite a few differences. For instance, people in Ukraine know how to read and write, opposed to the majority of the Rwandese population which is illiterate. And yes, not all took up machetes, many have managed to keep common sense. But the general outlines are the same in Ukraine as they were in Rwanda. Propaganda created the united image of the enemy in the minds of the people, and the war in the minds quickly turned into an armed conflict. The conflict, which is constantly fueled by hatred, weapons and volunteers.

The image created by the Kremlin is by no means a coincidence. In Russia one does need to understand that Fascism and Nazism carry an even greater common revulsion with the people, then they would in any other country. To get more understanding of this, one needs to go back in time, when Russians had fought their battle against Nazi Germany. The Russians in general feel highly uncredited for their part in the ending of the war. They had to take huge losses and sacrifices (According to Wikipedia an estimated 11-14% of the total Soviet population died as cause of the War. To put this in perspective this number is 0.32% for the Americans). Yet, in the West, this is often not well known, as they were mostly liberated by the Americans, British, Canadians, etc. But, knowing this, one can now understand a universal enemy (“Nazis”) is easily created, as everyone will know someone who lost someone or is some way effected by the war – created by this Nazis.

Choice of words
Advocates should be aware that their choice of words can hold consequences. One should remember the fate of the leader of the “Free Radio”. War is not eternal and everyone should understand they carry responsibilities, when speak their mind or publish an article. References to the “junta” and “Bandera” will not pass.