On the Merger of the Bay Citizen and the Center for Investigative Reporting
On September 30th, 2010, the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) co-sponsored a San Francisco showing of the film, "Earth Made of Glass" by Deborah Scranton, which presents Rwandan President Paul Kagame as the saviour who stopped the Rwanda Genocide. The film also helps Kagame blame France. CIR held a panel discussion afterwards about "documentary filmmaking as investigative reporting."
CIR thus collaborated in a massive cover-up of General Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Army invasion of Rwanda from Uganda, with weapons and training from the U.S., that became the four year Rwandan Civil War. By the time it was over death of nearly a million people, both Hutu and Tutsi, in Rwanda. Before it was over, hundreds of thousands of Hutu and hundreds of thousands of Tutsi had died in ethnic massacres.
The Rwanda Genocide story has been told, instead, as the story of how Hutu extremists planned and executed a genocide of the Tutsi minority. In U.S. foreign policy statements, it has been likened to the Holocaust. As such, the story became an excuse for Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to invade the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to "hunt down Hutu militias" said to be still threatening Rwanda, in the First Congo War of 1996-1997, the Second Congo War of 1998-2003, and the violent conflict that continues in eastern Congo today, despite the peace treaty signed in 2003. In January 2008, the International Rescue Committee reported 5.4 million war dead in Congo between 1998 and 2008 alone.
In 2001, the UN Panel of Experts on Illegal Minerals Trade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the first of five reports, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, and 2011, reported that militias fighting in Congo were closely allied with Rwanda and Uganda, and that they were smuggling Congolese minerals across the eastern Congolese border into both countries. The experts also reported that Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni were then "on the verge of becoming the godfathers of illegal resource exploitation and ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "They have," the UN experts wrote, "indirectly given criminal cartels a unique opportunity to organize and operate in this fragile and sensitive region." In Paragraphs 181 - 190 of the 2001 report, the experts described the complicity and/or collaboration of donor nations, foreign corporations, cargo companies, private banks, and the World Bank. The World Bank, they said, gave the impression of rewarding both Rwanda and Uganda for plundering the Congo, by proposing them for a new debt relief program.
The 2010 UN Mapping Report on Congo atrocities, documented Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Army's genocidal massacres of Rwandan Hutu refugees in eastern Congo, many of whom were women and children, and sick and elderly people. It was leaked on August 26th, 2010, before being officially released on October 1, 2010.
It would seem that no one at CIR read any of these UN reports, or no one heeded them, before presenting "Earth Made of Glass" as an example of documentary filmmaking as investigative reporting.
CIR's institutional collaboration in such a massive cover-up of such epic violence and criminality makes me less than optimistic about the merger of the Bay Citizen and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which today's Bay Citizen reported to be in the works, awaiting final approval by both Boards, with a Memorandum of Understanding already in place. However, I always try to consider the work of any individual reporter or team on its own, apart from the organization sponsoring it. I wouldn't, myself, want to be held responsible for the rest of the work, or the institutional endorsements, of every publication I ever wrote for or every broadcast outlet I appeared on or produced for.
I wrote to Phil Bronstein about this film screening and "Filmmaking as Investigative Reporting" panel before it happened. He didn't respond.
For more thorough accounts, with evidence citations, see:
"The U.N. Security Council Ad Hoc Rwanda Tribunal: International Justice, or JuridicallyConstructed 'Victor’s Impunity?" by Law Professor, former ICTR Defense Counsel, and National Lawyer's Guild President Peter Erlinder.