24.10.07 - ICTR/BIKINDI - BIKINDI DID NOT INCITE KILLINGS ACCORDING TO A LINGUIST

  Arusha, 24 October 2007 (FH) - The musician Simon Bikindi did not incite the killings of Tutsis in 1994 through his songs, affirmed an expert in linguistics called by the defence, Wednesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).   
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The Rwandan linguist, who resides in France, Eugene Shimamungu analyzed three songs from Bikindi that the prosecutor alleges convey a message of hatred against Tutsis and concluded that it was not the case. The accused songs are "Twasezereye" (We Said Good-Bye to the Monarchy), composed in 1987 for the 25th anniversary of independence, "Akabyutso" (The Awakening) and "Intabaza" (The Warning).
 
According to Shimamungu, the artist opposed in Twasezereye the gains from independence and democracy to the misdeeds of feudality, monarchy and colonialism.
 
A former Belgian colony, Rwanda gained its independence in 1962 as the Belgians had supported the Tutsi minority to govern.
 
As for the two other songs, the expert explained that they had been composed between 1992 and 1993, a time when the country lived in insecurity following the war in the north, and which the author invites the population to unite to face this situation.
 
In connection with the song Akabyutso in which, according to the prosecutor, the author declares that he "hates Hutus who do not hate Tutsis", the expert answered that the artist had never had such an intention. He was questioned by Andreas O' Shea, of the bar of England and Wales, main counsel for Bikindi.
 
According to Shimamungu, Bikindi fustigates reprehensible behaviours; notably, those of Hutus "who incite hatred and follow those who incite them and are dragged in this hatred".
 
The expert also stated that, in Intabaza, Bikindi had also not encouraged Hutus to unite to fight against Tutsis. "There is nothing to support this assertion because the author, him, says: nobody chose to be born Hutu, Tutsi or Twa. We are equal. It is necessary to request elections for an integral democracy. That is the message which is conveyed by this song ", affirmed the expert-witness.
 
The prosecutor, who started Wednesday afternoon the cross-examination of the expert, alleges that this testimony "is biased". He, for his part, has already called two experts in this case: the Rwandan linguist living in France, Jean de Dieu Karangwa, and the historian Gamaliel Mbonimana, who explained that Bikindi had sung of hatred against Tutsis.
 
AT/PB/MM

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