On Saturday, 26th October, journalist Vincent Hervouët of the LCI channel under TF1, hosted Charles Onana in a TV show dubbed ‘Tout un Monde’ where they discussed details of a book,“Rwanda, la verité sur l’Operation Turquoise” that Onana wrote about the French-led military operation in Rwanda in 1994 ‘Operation Turquoise’.
During the said television show, Charles Onana who is a French of Cameroonian origin, said that the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi never happened and that there has never been any genocide between 1990 and 1994.
The Rwandan community in France was outraged by this statement and announced it could not tolerate anymore lies of Onana, who in the past even said the Genocide against Tutsi was the biggest scam in Africa.
Gisagara told IGIHE that much as they did not immediately press charges after the said television show, they condemned the statements, wrote to the French media commission and to the television channel on which the show was aired, asking for penalties to be imposed on those involved in the unfortunate incident.
“The Rwandan community in France first wrote to the French media commission requesting for punitive actions and also wrote to the LCI Channel administration asking for a justification about this issue and then base on the measures taken to decide on a final action.”
Gisagara says that two days after the show was aired, he sent the two letters but the French media commission never responded while the LCI Channel responded after a week with an unsatisfying answer.
He says they considered LCI Channel reply an ‘empty’ one mainly because they neither apologized nor explained circustances under which the show was telecast.
The letter CRF sent to the Paris Court of Appeal shows the charges were pressed on Wednesday, November 27th, 2019.
“Today, we have sent a letter to the Prosecutor General of the Paris Court of Appeal pressing charges against Charles Onana for the spiteful words he said on live television. Not only are those words he said deceitful, but the French law penalizes anyone who denies the Genocide against Tutsi. This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated at all and people should not take this matter lightly or allowed to deny the genocide in complete impunity.”
The French law on genocide denial has provisions for punishing both the denier and the media house that will have given him the platform especially if the latter did not publicly apologize or condemn that behavior.
Me Gisagara says that if the case is not mentioned in court three months after pressing charges, the Rwandan community in France will take it to the high court.
In 2017, France passed a law against denial of Genocide against the Tutsi on French territory.
This crime is punished by a 1-year imprisonment and a penalty of € 45,000, almost Rwf 36 million.