Thousands of students in Rwanda took to the streets Friday to protest against BBC's documentary about the 1994 genocide in the country, demanding tougher actions against the British broadcaster.
The demonstration, the third of its kind in Kigali, the national capital of Rwanda, targeted an hour-long BBC documentary, entitled "This World: Rwanda's Untold Story," which genocide survivors and activists said trivializes the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
The documentary, aired on BBC2 on Oct. 1, suggests that many of the more than 800,000 Rwandans who died in the 1994 genocide may have been ethnic Hutus, and puts the number of Tutsis victims at 200,000 only, much lower than the official account of the one million being killed.
The film sparked nationwide anger among the government officials, scholars as well as students. The Rwandan parliament last month adopted a resolution banning BBC broadcasts in Kinyarwanda, the official language of Rwanda.
Singing patriotic songs and carrying placards denouncing the BBC, some 4,000 students from various universities in the country on Friday marched from Integrated Polytechnic Regional Center in Kigali to Nyanza Genocide Memorial Centre.
Isaac Kimenyi, an economics and management freshman, said he would not rest if the BBC "continues with genocide denial," which is a crime in the country.
This kind of protest is also a way of showing their anger and frustrations as they believed denying the genocide is not a light thing, he said, adding that "we don't need the BBC to rewrite our history."
Many protesters also voiced their anger over the portrayal of the Rwandan leader as a villain in the documentary, which suggests the country's president might be involved in shooting down his predecessor's plane.
"No one can destroy the achievements by President Paul Kagame," another banner carried by a woman read.
"We very well know that very many people, people he helped rescue from the killers, would have been killed had it not been for him and the RPF/RPA soldiers. But now, BBC is shamelessly rewriting this, turning our country's heroes into villains and the real criminals washed clean," said Ronald Mitali, one of the student leaders.
He cited several instances when RPA soldiers showed "selfless bravery when rescuing the people who were trapped in churches such as St. Paul, in Kigali at night."
The BBC has denied that any part of the program constitutes a " denial of the genocide against the Tutsi," and said it "believes the program is a valuable contribution to the understanding of the tragic history of the country and the region, and of the governance of Rwanda over the last 20 years."