Rwandan government accuses Edinburgh University rector of ‘intentional genocide denial’
The Rwandan government has called Debora Kayembe’s comments ‘hurtful’ and ‘wildly untrue’
The Rwandan government has accused University of Edinburgh rector Deborah Kayembe of sharing “hurtful and disrespectful” information about the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
In a now-deleted tweet, Kayembe claimed that the genocide of Rwanda was orchestrated by President Kagame.
The Rwandan government responded with statement in which they explained how President Kagame “led the Rwanda Patriotic Army which liberated the country from the regime that carried out the Genocide.”
They described Kayembe’s tweet as a “flagrant, intentional and cynical genocide denial.”
Widespread condemnation of Kayembe’s comments has appeared online, with a petition calling for her dismissal from the university being signed by thousands.
Kayembe has since tweeted that she “meant no offence” and that her opinions were her own “personal views”.
The university insists Kayembe was speaking in a “personal capacity” and that her views do not reflect those of the university itself.
The 1994 Rwandan genocide was sparked by the sudden death of then-President, Juvenal Habyarimana, who belonged to the majority Hutu ethnic group.
His assassination was believed to have been carried out by extremists from a minority ethnic group in the country who made up to around 15 per cent of the population.
The genocide that followed in the aftermath of President Habyarimana’s death is widely seen as one of the most vicious in modern history, with youth and religious organisations participating in the slaughter of thousands.
Paul Kagame, who Kayembe accused of “orchestrating” the genocide, played a key role in bringing it to an end.
Kayembe pointed to the existence of documents that prove her claim, however, no such documents are known to exist.
The Rwandan government has urged the university to ensure that Kayembe does not force her “repugnant ideas” upon students and staff, and claimed that casting doubt over the genocide in Rwanda is an abuse of her position at a powerful academic institution.
They go on to request that Edinburgh University will respond to her behaviour so that the “trust, confidence and esteem the university commands does not suffer”.
Kayembe has faced widespread condemnation online, with a petition calling for her dismissal from the university being signed by thousands.
However, a rival petition is gaining even greater traction, which suggests that the focus should remain on her opposition to the UK government’s new immigration plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, rather than her comments on the genocide.
Kayembe deleted her original apology on Twitter, but replied to tweets criticising her statement saying that she “meant no offence by making this statement; I only express my views and I hear yours it’s called tolerance.”
Deborah Kayembe told The Edinburgh Tab: “At this stage I have no further comments to make in this matter.”
A spokesperson for the university of Edinburgh said: “We do not share Debora Kayembe’s views, which were made in a personal capacity.
“The University of Edinburgh – in step with the UN, multi-national organisations, and nations all over the world – acknowledges the Genocide against the Tutsi as one of the most appalling crimes against humanity; and rejects outright the notion that the Rwandan government and its sitting President are responsible.
“We are also reaching out to our Rwandan students to ensure they are fully supported at this difficult time. At this moment of Kwibuka commemorations in Rwanda, the University stands with the Rwandan people in its remembrance of those who have been lost.”