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 Arusha, march 21, 2007 (FH) - During several trials of incitators, the Judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) stated that the anti-Tutsi propaganda was an integral part of the planning of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 leading to almost 800, 000 victims. This perspective goes further than the choices made in 1948 during the adoption of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, created after the Nuremberg Trials. Currently, the Judges interpret the texts concerning propaganda wider in a field where the International Community so far refrained from issuing legislation. Simon Bikindi, the popular Rwandan singer currently in trial before the ICTR, is suspected of having taken part in this propaganda. He is notably prosecuted for direct and public incitement to commit a genocide and persecutions as a crime against humanity (in total, he is charged with 6 counts). He has pleaded not guilty. His trial started on 18 September 2006, the Prosecution rested its case and the defence’s witnesses must be heard in June. Before him, other Accused were convicted of having transmitted an ideology of hatred against the Tutsis and Hutu opponents: Georges Ruggiu, Joseph Serugendo, Ferdinand Nahimana, Hassan Ngeze and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza. The trial of the three last, the ‘Media’ case, is pending on appeal. The judgement, awaited in May, could be rendered later. They were close to the Rwandan interim government. All of them participated in the installation of a propaganda system set to show the Tutsis as enemies or allies of foreign invaders. Pursuant to the indictment against Bikindi, the program which had been planned since 1990 was to defeat the enemy through military means, the media and politics. The events which followed largely showed its efficiency. The realization of the plan that foresaw the complete extermination of the Rwandan Tutsis as well as of the moderate Hutus could not have been possible without the support and the participation of the population. Through out History, periods of extreme violence like in 1994 in Rwanda have occurred. Almost all of them showed the same process of mass-mobilization. Propaganda is defined as an act exercised on the public opinion in order to bring them in line with an idea that would legitimate a certain action. In modifying opinion, attitudes, emotions or behaviours of a group, the propaganda makes it act in a desired way. Propaganda is described as the ‘corruption of human reason’, as ‘undermining intellect’. Propaganda uses sometimes true, sometimes invented facts, hiding those that could oppose its aims, to distort the perception of reality. Although there are several types of propaganda, all of them are characterized by the same mechanism of mind conditioning, even if they are not limited to that. Media instrumentalized for the cause by political parties’ extremists (notably of the MRND and CDR) were the crucial factor in spreading the propaganda of hatred and incitement to commit massacres. Since the official Rwandan radio was more independent from the government in 1992, the Radio-Television Des Milles Collines (RTLM) became the main medium of this propaganda, like the newspaper Kangura which was also published in Kinyarwanda. The RTLM, also known as ‘Radio of Hatred’, mixed news and popular music with messages spreading anti-Tutsi propaganda. This was done contrary to Rwandan law which precisely prohibits diffamation, insults, and all speeches held in meeting or public places which are aimed at raising the citizens to fight against each other. Particuarly three songs by Simon Bikindi, regularly broadcast in the years 1993 and 1994 by the RTLM, are the base of the prosecution’s arguments to charge the singer with having spread hatred against Tutsi and having supported the propaganda. Although the Rwandan law concerning author’s rights enabled him to oppose the broadcasting of his songs under these circumstances, Bikindi explicitely authorized the use of his musical work in a propaganda campaign. In 1994 Simon Bikindi was the director of the folklore ballet Irindiro. He was also a public servant of the Rwandan ministry for the youths and sports, and a member of the political party MRND. He took part in the creation of the RTLM. The indictment alleges that ‘the RTLM programs and Simon Bikindi’s songs share the same goals which were inextricably linked’. It concludes that ‘the songs were an essential part of the genocide plan because they incitated ethnic hatred and encouraged people to attack and kill Tutsis on the ground of their ethnic origin. He is accused of having played the part of an ‘inspirating guide’. Media are just as well a mean of cultural enrichment as they are a potential tool of manipulating the public opinion. Like the Nuremberg Tribunal, which had convicted Julius Streicher (publisher of the antisemitic newspaper ‘Der Stürmer’) for incitement to kill Jews, the ICTR prosecutes and sentences those who made the Rwandan genocide plan possible. Nevertheless, the director of the propaganda of the nazi party and the only acquitted person in the Nuremberg trials, Hans Fritzsche, was not convicted; the court held that he had not called for crimes. AV/PB/CV © Hirondelle News Agency