April 12, 2019

Swedish Envoy Mobilises Counter Action Against “Genocide Revisionists” On Social Media

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Sweden’s envoy in Rwanda Jenny Ohlsson attending the night vigil in Kigali’s main stadium on April 7 when the week-long 25th commemoration anniversary activities started

Sweden’s envoy in Rwanda says not happy with barrage of social media posts that are negating the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi as the country commemorates the 25 anniversary.

In posts on Twitter, Jenny Ohlsson is of the view that not responding to the “racist” posts and cartoons leaves their information to spread unchallenged.

“It’s a dilemma. Revisionism or racism should not be met with silence,” she writes. “At the same time any retweet & comment helps spread their message (ie a success). What to do? Reminds me of discussions in SWE about how to oppose racists troll armies online.”

The diplomat says such content “upsets me deeply”, and wonders how it feels for genocide survivors.

“I can’t imagine how upsetting it must be for survivors or Rwandans in general,” she says.

Her comments come in the wake of a flood of content especially from outside Rwanda – much of which questions the internationally agreed narrative about the genocide in Rwanda.

There is other media content like a trivializing cartoon published in the French daily Le Monde, which shows two characters with machetes, that have decapitated each other and one of them seeks reconciliation. The cartoon is being widely shared.

In February, Ambassador Ohlsson posted a series Tweets she described as “A muzungu perspective” on the 1994 genocide.

“As we approach #Kwibuka25 I look forward to a lot of international attention on Rwanda. To honor the victims & heroes. For international community to revisit the mistakes of the past, to relearn what should be done in case of a new genocide somewhere,” she wrote.

She added: “This thread relates to no specific tweet but to an issue I for long wanted to comment on since I expect a lot of heated tweets as we approach Kwibuka25. This thread aims to prevent misunderstandings the months ahead, when different definitions on the genocide against the Tutsi will be used by outsiders that are unaware but not necessarily revisionist.”

Sweden is a major development partner for Kigali, funding university education and research through the University of Rwanda.

Though, Sweden’s annual allocation to Rwanda is small, at about $25m annually, much of its support comes in the form of international backing.

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