Iii. Project Definition



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Tuning in to RTLM: The Effect of Media on Radical Behavior

III. Project Definition

Radio is defined as the transmission and reception of electric impulses and signals by means of electromagnetic waves. For most developed nations, it is a form of entertainment enjoyed on morning commutes and afternoon drives. It is a supplementary source of music, news, and opinions in a modem age where we are constantly bombarded by various forms of media. In other parts of the world, however, it remains a vital tool of communication in areas other technologies cannot cross. For Rwanda, a nation the size of Maryland, but untouched by many of the West's modem conveniences, the radio provides a variable lifeline of information outside developed urban areas. “In Rwanda ... the quasi-official radio network of the Hutu ruling party was the only source of insight into the larger world of public affairs for most Hutus. What the radio said is what the Hutus heard. And what the radio said was coarse, violent, and full of anti-Tutsi demonology ... In this unrelenting message of hate propaganda, no Tutsi were to be trusted” (Waller, 2002, pg. 184).

The primary purpose of this study is to quantify the effect of politically based media propaganda on eliciting extremism through local and international research. Academics have spent over a decade arguing whether the Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) had responsibility in inciting Rwandan Hutu people’s participation in the mass slaughter of the Tutsi minority. However, many scholars continue to protest the concept of a single radio station causing the deaths of 800,000 individuals within a three-month period. There has no been decisive scholarship on the topic, leaving a range of questions open for further discussion. Media propaganda in Rwanda and its impact on listeners remains relatively unexplored in favor of traditional theories that reference historical tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi races. “The conflict in Rwanda might be conceived of as a ‘tribal conflict,’ an ‘ethnic conflict,’ or even a ‘class conflict.’ The violence in Rwanda might be understood as part of a ‘civil war,’ ‘age-old ethnic hatreds,’ or even a ‘messy political transition’ (Barnett, 2002, pg. 59).”

The problem that will guide the writing of this thesis is: Does politically charged media have an effect on eliciting radicalism, and how was this effect used as a political tool for Hutu extremists on RTLM radio to incite the Rwandan genocide. In his study of the Rwandan crisis, Li found that “Radio served as a medium through which Rwandans experienced and enacted the genocide, its broadcasts reverberating in the thoughts and actions of millions of people” (Li, 2004, pg. 16). It is my goal to differentiate between whether listeners were established subjects rather than sovereign actors, for whom radio is simply a communication of news that may or may not be true, a stimulus prompting a definite reaction. Scholarship is tom within this subject, as it ponders the very basest arguments of free will versus external persuasion. Although some may hold contempt towards the theory that political propaganda can elicit extremism, there is historical precedence holding those disseminating propaganda accountable for egregious acts.

During the Nurembug trials following World War II, a journalist was sentenced to death for publishing an anti-Semitic newsletter. Nicknamed “Jew-Baiter Number One,” prosecutors claimed his publications “infected the German people with the virus of anti-Semitism and incited the German people to active persecution” (Prosecutor v. Hanimana, Barayagwize, and Ngeze (Media Case), 2003). In the Rwandan case, RTLM broadcasters have been prosecuted on counts of genocidal intent. However, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) ruled that finding causation between direct and public incitement to genocide is not required, but still “considered the factual occurrence of genocide ‘significant’ evidence of genocidal intent (prosecutor v. Hanimana, Barayagwize, and Ngeze (Media Case), 2003).”

It is clear that prosecutors of the ICTR consider the radio broadcasts of the RTLM incendiary, but they refrained from concrete opinions on whether the broadcasts were a major cause of the occurrence of genocide. They also acknowledge that despite their findings and prosecution of RTLM broadcasters, that freedom of speech should be marginally protected. In this project, I intent to build upon this work and determine whether the incendiary political media broadcasted in Rwanda before and during the genocide was powerful enough to elicit violent responses from listeners. Critics refer to the highly planned and coordinated manner that the majority of attacks were carried out. Often attacks and information regarding Tutsi people in hiding would be broadcasted over the RTLM station, and information was used freely by farmers, Rwandan soldiers, and the interhamwe, the Hutu paramilitary organization primarily responsible for much of the violence. Meghna Rajadhyaksha published in article in the Journal of Hate studies, and in it conveyed that the RLTM was most effective because it controlled the majority of listening population. For example, he argues “in Rwanda, the RTLM had a very strong backing from the state. This meant that it had a wider reach and audience, making an effective and equal counter speech hard to find.” An option would have been to promote pluralism in media that could marginalize the extremist propaganda. Ultimately he concludes, “The idea is that more speech can counter hate speech” (Rajadhyaksha, 2007, pg. 108).

The concept that having unchallenged disinformation resulted in genocide is a powerful one, but the format of the RTLM does not give that respect. Its format was that of a Western- style talk show, including audience participation, off-color jokes, and popular music. It was the most popular source of entertainment, but that did not make it the most credible source of information. Yet perpetrators have been interviewed claiming “The radio encouraged people to participate because it said ‘the enemy is the Tutsi’. If the radio had not declared things, people would not have gone into the attacks” (Yanagizawa, 2009, pg. 2). This leads one to question whether the RTLM was ever considered a legitimate broadcast for factual information and how great an effect it had over people's actions. Can an individual be manipulated into extremism from consistent external propaganda, or are violent actions premeditated regardless of media influence? Examining whether causality exists will be the main focus of my research.

IV. Methodology

IV.I Textual/Content Analysis

There exists a very small amount of theoretical research available here in the United States that has provided very important leads as to the various opinions scholars have on the role of radio in the Rwandan genocide. The literature that does exist is often highly politicize and torn by disagreement. Many sources argue that the radio station was benign before the genocide and had little to no affect on inciting people, rather once the violence began they responded by politically charging broadcasts to retain listeners. “RTLM broadcasters spent airtime joking around, rather than presenting serious programmes and, as a result, they quickly became familiar and sometimes comic figures, household names to many of their listeners” (Article 19, 1996, pg. 50). Yet other sources claim that the RTLM had been working systematically to penetrate a level of fear in the listeners that then allowed the RTLM to lead Rwandans into the massacres. Li strongly argues this point, contending that listeners were manipulated into hysteria, “not only did RTLM evoke negative historical memories of colonial rule but it also contributed to a deep sense of crisis ... RTLM brought the past into the present, producing a more profound horror intended to prompt action” (Li, 13,2004).

As valuable as the existing research on the topic is, I have concluded that I cannot come to an objective conclusion relying solely on the work of others. It is the nature of humans to present information that supports an individual’s perspective, thus the work done by other scholars is insufficient for my needs. Therefore I require access to archived recordings, transcripts, and interviews to complete research and actively compare results with the first-hand study. During D- Term, I plan to travel to Kigali, Rwanda to access archives available for scholars to use at the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

The texts I have selected for analysis include those that relate directly to the analysis of the propaganda techniques used in the RTLM broadcasts and the potential effect on listener’s actions. In order to ensure an objective analysis, I have reviewed previous scholarship that has employed a similar methodology to measuring the impact of media on violence. A review of this work has provided me with successful model for coding, analyzing, and interpreting my data. I intend to adopt many of the techniques that proved successful for previous scholars studying this topic before me. In particular, I intend to However, as previously mentioned, the scholarship on the particular case of the Rwandan genocide is not abundant and in order to adequately answer my research question, it is vital that I examine the archives of the radio transcripts.

The analysis of archived materials will be the most time consuming part of the study, and will be completed during D-term and the first part of winter term next year. My goal will be to concentrate on the recordings of the R TLM and to analyze the structure of each broadcast during a four-month period. That will give me approximately 120 days of broadcasts, and within those days I will need to discern which time of day was ‘primetime’ content. Within each ‘primetime’ broadcast, I will code two different recording units. One will be specific words and phrases. I have read that the RTLM frequently used specific terminology referring to Tutsi and genocide acts, such as inyenzi (literally cockroach, meaning Tutsi people) and clearing the fields (slaughtering Tutsi people). For each broadcast I will count the number of times these specific terms are used in reference to violence and genocidal actions. After coding all of the specific terminologies, I will be able to graph the increased or decreased usage of these words to determine if a pattern can be matched to increases or decreases in violence against the Tutsi people. My second recording unit will be over each broadcast in its entirety. Having collected all of the broadcasts I will review each one and score the strength of language and content on a scale. After all of the broadcasts have been scored, I will again graph the increase or decrease of intensity against the use of terminology and the violence within the country.

IV.II Access to Materials

I have spoken extensively to Dr. Jean-Pierre Karegeye, a professor at Macalester College, who has done extensive work on the Rwandan genocide. Much of his scholarship focuses on the Rwandan genocide in literature with reflection to ethics, politics, and philosophy. Additionally he is the co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center in Rwanda, and has worked a great deal with the Kigali Memorial Documentation Center.

The documentation center, which opened just last December, has already made the Rwandan genocide one of the most systematically documented and researchable genocides of all time. They have worked with the Aegis trust, an organization that works to prevent crimes against humanity, and research crimes already committed. According to the Aegis faction working in Rwanda, “The Genocide Archive of Rwanda ... its physical archive will preserve original audiovisual, documentary and photographic materials in a secure, controlled environment managed to international standards. Its research programmes will continue to trace materials from the genocide period, to map and gather information at sites of the genocide, and to record fresh survivor testimony” (Aegis Rwanda, 2010). Over a series of e-mail and phone calls Dr. Karegeye has communicated to me that there are transcripts of the radio programs in Kigali available for study, most of which have been translated from the original Kinyarwandan and French into English to serve as evidence in hearings at the ICTR A few of these files have been uploaded by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies and eventually they will all be available online through a database with the documentation center. However, this effort has been in the works since early 2004 and less than 30 transcripts have been uploaded. Additionally, these transcripts were uploaded specifically because they provided proof of racially charged rhetoric within the broadcast. This would clearly sway my potential research into supporting the criminality of the broadcasters without examining all the potential evidence.

It is clear to me that there is very little chance that the remaining transcripts will be uploaded before I graduate next summer, but they are available in whole at the documentation center in Kigali. In addition to the transcripts of broadcasts, the Kigali Genocide Memorial’s Documentation Center has also worked to collect first-hand interviews from both victims and perpetrators of genocide. Upon its opening in December 10, 2010, it had already amassed 1,500 audiovisual recordings and over 20,000 documents and photographs. Its organization and storage was designed by a US-based archival authority, and includes material from Rwandan radio, TV and print media, recordings from court proceedings, material from the National University of Rwanda, National Museum, National Archive, and private institutions.

One of the many individuals Dr. Karegeye has introduced me to is Jose Kagabo, a historian with the French Center of African Studies. He has researched heavily in the social and political histories of Rwanda and the procedures of the ICTR. Additionally he has written a book about the influence of Islam in Rwanda, and he has contributed to eleven academic articles and journals. Unfortunately, those publications are all in French. Nonetheless, he does speak English and has offered to provide me with original copies of documents used in the trials at the ICTR, documents only in his private collection. These were documents used specifically in cases involving the broadcasters of the RTLM and should provide an interesting viewpoint of how international law has responded to issues of free-speech rights in genocide cases.

In addition to the Kigali Memorial Center, I have recently contacted the founder of another documentation center in Kigali through an introduction by the recent North Central guest Pamela Yates. I spoke to Mrs. Yates about my research and she informed me of the Iriba Center in Rwanda: A Media Archive to Remember History. The founder of this center, filmmaker Anne Aghion, has spent ten years working in Rwanda and made an award winning film titled My Neighbor My Killer that works to fostering co-existence between Hutu and Tutsi people. This center is gathering films, photographs, and audio recordings from the beginning of colonial rule in East Africa until today. Although I am still in the early stages of communications with this center, I believe it is another potentially viable source of information and research while in Rwanda.

At this point I am planning on spending approximately 10 days on a research trip to Rwanda. Because of the distance and the lack of direct flights, three of those days will be washed simply for travel; the best flights to Kigali leave Chicago in the afternoon and arrive in Kigali late the next night. The return flight will also take two days, but for the sake of creating a timeline I am only considering the day of departure. This leaves me with one week to do all of the research necessary before returning home. The majority of my time will be spent at the documentation center finding the transcripts and copying them to transport back to the US. The rest of my time in Kigali will be spent speaking with any of the sources Dr. Karegeye introduces me to. My primary goal of this trip, however, will be to collect my data and bring it back to America for analysis.

V. Dissemination of Results

The results of my exhaustive research will be written into a long and detailed final paper that will be applicable as my senior honor's thesis. Additionally, I will present my findings at the Rail Symposium for Undergraduate Research. There are several other conferences that I would like to submit my research to as well, such as the Illinois State University Conference for Students of Political Science, the Midwest Political Science Association, the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research, and perhaps even the American Political Science Association’s (ASPA) African Workshop. It is my goal to present my research to as many groups and organizations as possible, and perhaps continue researching this topic while in graduate school.

VI. Relevant Experience

I began taking college classes at my local community college at 16, and in a competition of twenty-five schools in the Midwest region, I was awarded second place for a research project on the repercussions of dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the final days of World War II. At seventeen I applied and was accepted into North Central College, at which point I entered the honors program. My junior year I researched the blood diamond trade and the public awareness garnered through television, film, and ad campaigns, and the result on the diamond industry. This research was presented during the Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research, at which point I was inspired to continue studying the politics of Africa. Last year I was an exchange student for a year in Taiwan and during my time there I lived alone and continued taking classes in the political science department, classes taught in Chinese. While in Taiwan I applied to and was permitted to take classes in their graduate department. Those classes in particular required long and frequent research papers that I was able to successfully complete. I believe a year of studying in a foreign country especially prepared me because it gave me the discipline to write on a variety of unfamiliar topics, and to do research in a library where the majority of materials was not available in English or organized the same as in the United States. Years of writing research papers coupled with the classes that have taught me political theory and the support of North Central faculty have made me confident that I will successfully implement this study.

VII. Personal Application

From a young age I have been interested in the African continent and the violent, catastrophic way history tends to develop there. I feel it is a part of the world where tragedies are frequently overlooked as a simple fact of living in Africa, as if the entire area was cursed. However, this simply is not true. The tragedies Africa and its people is a unique product of the environment, and if it is not studied and better understood, there can be no forward momentum or development. It is my goal to go to graduate school for foreign policy and security, intensive undergraduate research is something many American colleges still do not offer, and it would potentially give me an edge over other potential applicants for graduate programs. After completing my master’s degree, it is my goal to become a Foreign Service officer and work directly within the United States government to improve relations with the world around us and stop further potential tragedies, like Rwanda, from occurring.

VIII. Annotated Bibliography

Barnett, M. (2002). Eyewitness to a genocide. New York: Cornell University Press

Written by a staff of the UN in Rwanda in 1994, this outlines the fault of the UN in not acting in Rwanda and the internal factors that drove the mass slaughter, including political groups, the interhamwe, and the RTLM.
Chretian. (1995). Rwanda les medias du genocide. (2 ed.). Karthala. (Translated)

The original text regarding the use of media in the Rwandan genocide, this was written and published in French with an English translation recently available. Has the greatest print detail on the role of the RTLM on the genocide, although from a French perspective which tends to be more favorable than other Western perspectives.
Gulseth, H. L. (2004). The use of propaganda in the Rwandan genocide: a study of radio-television libre des mille colleens (rtlm). Informally published manuscript, Department of Politica1 Science, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

A thesis for a PhD candidate, this text comes from the perspective that the radio broadcasts had no specific blame other than base propaganda, and it was a later embellishment on the incendiary nature that led the station to assume blame.
Hatzfeld, J. (2003). Machete season: the killers in Rwanda speak. New York: Picador

A reporter for the Liberation since 1973, Hatzfeld has written several other books pertaining to first-hand accounts of genocide from the perspectives of perpetrators and victims. This book consists solely of transcribed interviews with perpetrators of genocide, specifically, what drew them to kill and how their surroundings affected their responses. This allowed me to get a better first-hand idea of the public mentality of Hutus was before and during the genocide.
Li, D. (2004). Echoes of violence: considerations on radio and genocide in Rwanda. Journal of Genocide Research, 6(1), 9-27.

A useful article written from the point of view that the RTLM had maintained violent broadcasts from the beginning, rather than transition during the genocide. The writer also outlined why the radio propaganda was particularly effective against Africans and Rwandans versus people from other nations.
Rajadhyaksha, M. (2006). Genocide on the airwaves: An analysis of the international law concerning radio jamming. Journal of Hate Studies, 5(99), 99-118.

This is a study of the international laws of radio jamming and other forms of communication disruption. After the Rwandan genocide, criticism arose that if the RTLM had been disrupted, the violence would not have become out of control. It then argues the legality of infringing on a nation’s right to free speech in order to protect that nation’s citizens.
Rwanda: broadcasting genocide: censorship, propaganda, & state-sponsored violence in Rwanda 1990- 1994. (1996, October 15). Article 19, Retrieved from http://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/28/en/rwanda:-broadcasting-genocide---censorship,-propoaganda-and-state-sponsored-violence-in-rwanda-1990-1994

Report done by London-based human rights organization examines and analyses the Rwandan media and whether it actually was a major cause in the genocide, or if it was simply a scapegoat to perpetrators looking to shed guilt.
Waller, J. (2002). Becoming evil: how ordinary people commit genocide and mass killing. New York: Oxford University Press, USA.

This is a text outlining the ‘age of genocide’ and the psychology behind ordinary people committing genocides and other crimes against humanity. It covers all genocides of the 20th century, but provides an outlook of how governments and media control the actions of citizens.
Yanagizawa, D. (2009). Propaganda and conflict: theory and evidence from the Rwandan genocide. Informally published manuscript, IIES, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.

Published study of a PhD candidate, this text researches the effect of the broadcast on increasing death of Tutsi minorities during the genocide. The author concludes that areas with access to broadcast had a 9% increase in violence and death.




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