Montreal, 1 April 2008 (FH) - A protest demonstration and booing marked a one-day conference of intellectuals who assembled in Montreal, Canada, on Saturday disputing the history of the Rwandan genocide as it is generally recognized.

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A dozen police cars confronted demonstrators who gathered in front of the room where the conference was being held. The conference was titled-- "The Media and Rwanda: The Difficult Search for The Truth ". The demonstrators denounced the gathering as "a shameful conference".

In spite of tight security deployed in the conference room, the debates were regularly interrupted by members of public, who booed the lecturers as "negationnists" and "racists".

The speakers involved were Frenchman Pierre Pean, Canadian Robin Philpot, both writers and journalists; and Spaniard Jordi Palou-Loverdos, lawyer who filed a complaint which recently led to the issuance of arrest warrants against 40 members of the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front), the pro-Tutsi party of President Paul Kagame.

The Belgian journalist, Peter Verlinden, expressed himself via video, disclosing of the problems he was encountering in travelling to Rwanda since he made reports denouncing the regime of President Kagame.

"I do not deny the genocide of ethnic Tutsis, but I refuse the version of Kigali. I affirm that there was also since 1990 large scale massacres of ethnic Hutus (...) history will probably one day qualify it as genocide", declared Pean.

According to the Frenchman, truth was "hidden in tons of administrative and military documents in some countries which were direct or indirect actors (...) in legal documents in Arusha, Paris and Barcelona in books, in many reports". He continued: "These small or big bits of the truth do not yet compete against the official truth imposed by Kigali."

According to the journalist, author of many popular works, history of genocide as defended by Kigali constitutes "the base of the legitimacy of the RPF regime of President Paul Kagame. If this official version falls, it is Kagame who falls", he said in a discord of applause and boos.

"I realize that in a meeting such as this one, finding the truth is still way far", he told Hirondelle Agency.

Mr Pean is scheduled tot appear from 23 to 25 September before the 17th Chamber of the Court of First Instance of Paris over charges of complicity to racial slander and complicity to provocation in racial hatred, after the French association S.O.S-Racisme filed a complaint, alleging that in his book "Noires Fureurs, Blancs Menteurs" (Black Furies, White Liars) the journalist included "elements of genocide ideology". A score of passages of his book are targeted.

Twenty five witnesses will be called by the parties.


© Hirondelle News Agency