Hate Media

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Thomas Kamilindi, author of Journalism in a Time of Hate Media, describes hate media as a form of violence, which helps to demonize and stigmatize people that belong to different groups.[1] This type of media has had an influential role in the incitement of genocide, with its most infamous cases perhaps being Radio Televizija Srbije during wars in Yugoslavia, Radio Télévision Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM) during the Rwandan Genocide and Nazi Germany’s Der Stürmer.

Hate Media as a Crime against Humanity[edit]

While the hate speech promoted by these type of media can be prosecuted differently under the national laws of several countries, because of its proven ability to contribute to and incite genocide the use of hate media in order to foment the cleansing of a particular national, ethnical , racial or religious group in whole or in part can be prosecuted under international law for incitement to genocide. Incitement to Genocide was declared a crime against humanity under the Nuremberg Trials.[2] Nevertheless under the laws of Nuremberg only hate media propaganda which calls for direct extermination is considered a crime against humanity.[3] After the crimes committed in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda this definition was modified and a new definition was provided for the Rwandan tribunals. According to this definition hate media propaganda considered to be a crime against humanity must be involved in the direct and indirect incitement of genocide which "must be defined as directly provoking the perpetrator(s) to commit genocide, whether through speeches shouting or threats uttered in public spaces or at public gatherings or through the sale or dissemination of... written material or printed matter... or through the public display of placards or posters, or through an other means of audiovisual communication".[3]

Radio Televizija Srbije (RTS1) and War in Yugoslavia[edit]

During the Yugoslav Wars, propaganda was widely used in the medias of all sides, including Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and, to a lesser extent[citation needed], Croatia. In the ICTY, one of the indictments against late Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević, was his use of the Serbian state-run mass-media to create an atmosphere of fear and hatred among Yugoslavia's Orthodox Serbs by spreading "exaggerated and false[citation needed] messages of ethnically based attacks by Bosnian Muslims and Catholic Croats against the Serb people..."

Propaganda as part of the indictment against Milošević[edit]

Two members of the Federal Security Service (KOG) testified for the Prosecution in Milosevic's trial about their involvement in Milošević's propaganda campaign. Slobodan Lazarević revealed alleged KOG clandestine activities designed to undermine the peace process, including mining a soccer field, a water tower and the reopened railway between Zagreb and Belgrade. These actions were blamed on Croats. Mustafa Candić, one of four assistant chiefs of KOG, described the use of technology to fabricate conversations, making it sound as if Croat authorities were telling Croats in Serbia to leave for an ethnically pure Croatia. The conversation was broadcast following a Serb attack on Croatians living in Serbia, forcing them to flee. He testified to another instance of disinformation involving a television broadcast of corpses, described as Serb civilians killed by Croats. Candić testified that he believed they were in fact the bodies of Croats killed by Serbs, though this statement has not been verified. He also corroborated the existence of Operations Opera and Labrador.[4][5][6]

Propaganda as a war crime in the Šešelj's case[edit]

Propaganda as a war crime (incitement to genocide) is the subject in the recent indictment of Vojislav Šešelj, the head of the Serbian Radical Party and an active player throughout the wars in the former Yugoslavia. According to the indictment, Šešelj bears individual criminal responsibility for instigating crimes, including murder, torture and forcible expulsion on ethnic grounds. It reads, "By using the word 'instigated', the Prosecution charges that the accused Vojislav Šešelj's speeches, communications, acts and/or omissions contributed to the perpetrators' decision to commit the crimes alleged."[7][8]

Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines and the Rawandan Genocide[edit]

RTLM helped to contribute to the Rwandan Genocide by helping the Rwandan authorities “to spur and direct killings in both those areas most eager to attack Tutsi members of the Hutu opposition and in areas where the killings initially were resisted”[9] Hence, it helped not only to raise hate against the Tutsis by emphasizing their cruelty and ruthlessness [9] and to exhort “all citizens to see killing Tutsi as their responsibility”,[9] but to give the instructions and orders which were necessary in directing people to commit genocide. As general Romeo Dallaire has argued the RTML was created specifically as a tool of genocidaires to demonize Tutsi, lay the groundwork, then literally drive on the killing once the genocide started”.[10] In accordance to the definition of hate media propaganda as a crime against humanity established in Nuremberg and redefined in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, both among the founding members of the RTLM were sentenced to life in prison under the ICTR.[11]

Der Stürmer and Genocide[edit]

This weekly tabloid was also said to incite the genocide of the Jewish people during the Holocaust by fomenting the hate which allowed such an event to take place in the German society.[12] It helped to promote this hate by vilifying the Jewish people and fomenting racial stereotypes, particularly amongst its less educated audience. (Showatler, Dennis, E. Little Man, What Now? Der Sturmer in the Weimar Republic. United States: Archon Books, 1982). For this reason, its publisher, Julius Streicher, was accused of incitement to Genocide during the Nuremberg Trials and sentenced to death by hanging.[2]


  1. ^ Kamilindi, Thomas. "Journalism in a Time of Hate Media". The Media and the Rwandan Genocide. Ed. Allan Thompson. New York, NY: Pluto Press, 2007
  2. ^ a b “Incitement to Genocide in International Law”. The Holocaust Museum. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007839
  3. ^ a b Biju- Duval, Jean-Marie. " 'Hate Media'- Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide: Opportunities Missed b the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda". The Media and the Rwandan Genocide. Ed. Allan Thompson. New York, NY: Pluto Press, 2007.
  4. ^ EXPERT REPORT OF RENAUD DE LA BROSSE "Political Propaganda and the Plan to Create 'A State For All Serbs:' Consequences of using media for ultra-nationalist ends" in five parts 1 2 3 4 5
  5. ^ Yugoslav Army's Central Intelligence Unit: Clandestine Operations Foment War Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Transcript pages 12732-12848". Slobodan Milosevic Trial. ICTY. 2002-11-11. Retrieved 2012-04-16. 
  7. ^ Milošević's Propaganda War, by Judith Armatta, Institute of War and Peace Reporting, 27 February 2003
  8. ^ ICTY indictment against Vojislav Seselj
  9. ^ a b c Des Forges, Alison. “Call to Genocide: Radio in Rwanda, 1994”. The Media and The Rwandan Genocide. Ed. Allan Thompson. New York, NY: Pluto Press, 2007.
  10. ^ Dallaire. “The Media Dichotomy”. The Media and The Rwandan Genocide. Ed. Allan Thompson. New York, NY: Pluto Press, 2007.
  11. ^ Des Forges, Alison. “Call to Genocide: Radio in Rwanda, 1994”. The Media and The Rwandan Genocide. Ed. Allan Thompson. New York, NY: Pluto Press, 2007
  12. ^ “Julius Streicher”. Jewish Virtual Library. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Streicher.html.