The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA)said the BBC radio services in the local Kinyarwanda language would be blocked while the affair was investigated, but English and French programmes could continue.
The BBC documentary, “Rwanda’s Untold Story”, was broadcast earlier this month.
It highlighted growing criticism of President Paul Kagame and revived allegations that his Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) — then a rebel group, now the ruling political party — was behind the shooting down of a plane carrying the country’s then Hutu president that triggered the genocide.
“Over the last three weeks, we have received complaints directed at the BBC. These have come from members of the public and civil society, especially genocide survivor organisations. They accuse the BBC of denying the history of 1994 genocide against the Tutsi,” RURA official Beata Mukangabo told reporters.
“After reviewing the complaints, RURA has assessed that these accusations are serious enough to warrant the temporary suspension of all BBC Kinyarwanda language programmes while investigations are conducted.”
“RURA will investigate the allegations of genocide denial and revisionism (and) the findings of the enquiry will determine further action to be taken,” Mukangabo said.
President Kagame told parliament earlier this month that the BBC had chosen to “tarnish Rwandans, dehumanise them” and accused it of “genocide denial”.
An estimated 800,000 people, mostly minority Tutsis, were killed in just 100 days by Hutu extremists — a rate of killing that was far faster than the Holocaust in World War II.
Prominent international academics, experts and diplomats have also accused the BBC of being “recklessly irresponsible” by allegedly promoting a revisionist account of the genocide in the documentary, notably by questioning the number of Tutsis who were killed.
The BBC, one of the country’s most popular broadcasters, said the programme in “no way” sought “to downplay or conceal the horrifying events of 1994” and subsequent events.
Earlier Friday, a Rwandan media regulatory body said it opposed calls in Rwanda’s parliament for the BBC’s FM licence to be withdrawn.
The Rwanda Media Commission, an independent body, said the BBC documentary was “insulting” and that the BBC was guilty of “distorting the history of genocide”, but added a ban “should not be the solution”- AFP