The New York Times' alarming complicity in Burundi's "Blame the Tutsis" strategy

Here is the New York Times piece I refer to:

Rarely will you read a more scurrilous piece of journalism than this prominently featured New York Times story on Burundi and Rwanda. 

The story reports that top Burundian officials are accusing Rwanda of interference in their messed up political affairs. There is no evidence – not one shred – to support these potentially explosive claims. The article concedes as much, relying entirely on the self-serving claims of Burundian regime officials. The article's very existence can only serve to fuel tension in the region, directing suspicion and animosity at Kigali. 

To be clear, it is not surprising that Burundian officials are making such claims about Rwanda. It is a run of the mill political tactic in that region.To deflect attention from its own dysfunction, corruption and failure, of course the Burundian regime will resort to blaming the Tutsis in Rwanda. It is directly analogous to Tehran ramping up anti-Israel rhetoric in reaction to domestic strife.  

What is shocking is that the New York Times has allowed itself to be you used as the mouthpiece of the Burundian regime, and therefore complicit in fomenting the dangerous Tutsi-bashing instincts that have long plagued the region.  

Read this section as a case study in disingenuous reporting:

As Mr. Nkurunziza struggles to retain control, his top officials accuse Rwanda of tacitly aiding his enemies.

Then on Sunday, a top general close to the president was assassinated, threatening to further inflame a volatile situation.

The general, Adolphe Nshimirimana, had an outsize personality. He was feared for his brutal tactics and a linchpin in the president’s control of his security forces. He played a major role in crushing protests in the spring, leaving scores of people dead, and was credited with helping foil the coup. No one has yet claimed responsibility for his death.

There is no suggestion that Rwanda had any hand in it. But top Burundian officials say that Rwanda played a part in the failed coup.

“We know that some of the coup leaders now live in Rwanda, at least three of them,” said the foreign minister, Alain Nyamitwe, in an interview on July 22, the day after the presidential election.

While the Times has no proof – because no proof exists – that Rwanda is involved in the attempted coup in Burundi, let alone the assassination of Nshimirimana, words are expertly juxtaposed to allow the accusations to hang in the air.  

"His top aides accuse Rwanda...then a top general was assassinated". 


The entire case against Rwanda in this article is made by apparatchiks from the Burundian regime and a member of a virulently anti-Rwanda militia group. Oh, and a disgraced Belgian academic, obsessed with imposing a form of ethnic apartheid between Hutu and Tutsi, who advised Rwanda's genocidal regime, and who has spent the 21 years since the genocide attacking the people who stopped it.