At 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, 18 November, the United Nations will host an online round‑table discussion, entitled “Radio and reconstruction”. The discussion will consider how radio has been used to fuel genocide, but also how the same medium was used in the aftermath of atrocity crimes, to assist with the reconstitution and tracing of families.
Radio helped to marginalize, dehumanize and demonize the targets of the Nazis during the Holocaust, and the victims of the genocidaires in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. However, just as radio proved a powerful vehicle to foster and incite hatred, so it has been proved a significant vehicle for reconstruction after atrocity crimes.
In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, the International Red Cross, the International Tracing Service and radio stations, such as the BBC, broadcast lists of names of survivors in the hope that families would be reunited. Forty-nine years after the end of the Second World War and three months after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda had ended, the BBC began a radio project to support the people of Rwanda.
The first service, BBC Gahuzamiryango — “the unifier of families” broadcast the names of children who were looking for their parents and collected messages from refugees living in camps in the United Republic of Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi who were trying to trace their loved ones.
The panellists include Maria Petrova, Research Professor, Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies, Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Christian Höschler, Deputy Head of Research and Education at the Arolsen Archives — International Center on Nazi Persecution; Sara E. Brown, Executive Director of Change, the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education; and Ally Yusuf Mugenzi, Editor, BBC Great Lakes Service, and former presenter of BBC Gahuzamiryango. The event will be moderated by Ben Dotsei Malor, Chief Editor, Dailies, United Nations News, News and Media Division, Department of Global Communications.
“Radio and reconstruction” is the third episode of the live online discussion series, Beyond the long shadow: engaging with difficult histories, organized by the United Nations Department of Global Communications’ Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, the Remember Slavery Programme and the Outreach Programme on the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and the United Nations. The aim of the collaborative series is to develop a deeper understanding of the legacies of these painful histories — and through examining the past, consider how best to build a world that is just, where all can live in dignity and peace.
The event is open to the public. Please register at https://bit.ly/2IzdnYn.